8 Tips For Spring Cleaning Your Makeup Collection

As a bit of a makeup hoarder, whenever I start to notice my drawers reaching capacity, I get a little sad. I try to not add extra storage space to accommodate a growing makeup collection, but rather try to pare down my products to fit the units I already have. That way, I know I don't have more than I'll ever be able to use. (And by "ever," I mean, like, in a lifetime.) Although deciding what needs to be tossed or donated can have me waxing nostalgic and wishing I could just keep and realistically use everything, having a clean and organized collection can really help keep my mind clear and organized as well.

So even though general spring cleaning isn't always something to look forward to (seriously, where does all that dust come from?), spring cleaning your makeup collection can actually be pretty fun. Not only does it give you a chance to really go through all of your products and rediscover old favorites, but it can also help you make room for new products. And really, what better way is there to reward yourself finishing your chores than with a fresh tube of lipstick? So you can quickly and easily decide which products should stay in your collection for another season, here are eight tips I use when trying to clean and organize my makeup:

1. Check Expiration Dates

The first thing I like to do when trying to clean out my makeup collection is check the expiration date of every product that I know I didn't just acquire within the past couple of months. This step is pretty easy because there are no pros or cons to weigh to decide whether to hold on to something. If it's past its expiration, in the trash it goes. For products that may not have an expiration date, give it a good sniff and a once-over. If it has started to separate or looks or smells funky, it's better to be safe than sorry: Toss it.

2. Consolidate Like Products

Next, group your products together by category: Lipsticks in one pile, eyeshadows in another, foundations by themselves, etc. This will help you see exactly how much of each type of product you have, and quickly determine which categories you have too much (or maybe too little) of. Once you have a better gauge of what you own, you can decide where to start paring down your collection, or if you need to change how you organize certain things (maybe you can fit three build-your-own palettes into a single palette that will take up less space).

3. Swatch Everything

Tastes change. Just because you used to like something doesn't mean you still do. So it's helpful to swatch all of your products to see if the colors and finishes are still to your liking. This can also help determine if some of your products that passed your sight and smell tests have actually started to go bad— maybe a lipstick has started to dry out and no longer applies as smoothly as it once did. Maybe a concealer that used to be full-coverage now swatches streakily or has oxidized and is now too dark for your skin. Especially if you're easily distracted by packaging (welcome to the club), swatches will help you see your products for what they really are on the inside.

4. Look For Dupes

Before washing your swatches off, compare the ones that passed the test. Do you have any dupes? If you don't think you need more than one matte, taupe eyeshadow or blue-toned, red lipstick, move the version you don't reach for as often into a donate/discard pile.

5. Ask Yourself The Last Time You Used It

Whether your tastes have changed, or you've simply found a brand you like better for a certain type of product, it's helpful to go through everything and ask yourself the last time you used it. And sure, maybe you only use certain products during certain seasons. But if it's been over a year since you used something, or you realize you always reach for something else (maybe you have five eyeshadow palettes but only ever use two), it may be time to rid yourself of the superfluities.

6. Re-Evaluate Your Skin Type

Although it tends to happen slowly, your skin type can change as you get older, make lifestyle changes, or move to a different climate. So while you may have previously sworn by mattifying and powder products, your skin may have changed to allow room for (or even prefer) cream and liquid formulas. Even if something used to be your holy grail, if you find yourself reaching for something else that better suits your skin type, it may be time to get rid of an old favorite.

7. Be Realistic About Your Coloring & Preferences

I don't know how many products I've held on to over the years because "I might get that tan this summer" or "I may want to do a purple smoky eye one day." Now there's nothing wrong with keeping various shades of foundations, concealers, or bronzers because you become darker in the summer and paler in the winter. But if you've never actually been that tan or that pale to warrant using a certain color, chances are, those shades you've been hoarding won't do you any good this year either. And while I'm all for experimenting with colors and trends, if, for example, you know you only rock a smoky eye a couple times per year, you probably don't need five different, dark eyeshadow-bases, right?

8. Strive For Visibility

If you find yourself unable to get rid of some products that you think may still work for you or perhaps you just forgot about in the back of a drawer, give yourself some space and time before tossing them. Try moving the products to a shelf or drawer you always reach into, and organize them so you can clearly see what's what. Give yourself a time limit like two or three months to use the products. If you're able to work them back into your routine, great— keep 'em. But if you only reach for them once or not at all, or find they don't work so well with the rest of your beauty routine, it may be time to clear them out and make space for new things.

After all, a smaller collection can have room to grow again.