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How to Organize Your Beauty Products to Streamline Your Routine

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You've likely seen or heard about Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or maybe you already bought it and are still trying to live by her organizational concepts. Either way, her tips seriously help you declutter. The basic premise? Get rid of any objects that don't bring you joy, in order to simplify and streamline your life. While that philosophy may be a bit hardcore when it comes to your beauty routine, there is definitely something to be said about spring cleaning your stash and starting the season with a fresh start and fresh skin. Here, industry pros share their top tips for decluttering your makeup, skin care, and hair products so you can actually use them.

For Makeup

  • Just like you would with your closet, start by dumping out everything you own, advises celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli. We're talking the stuff in your makeup bag (or bags), bathroom, closet, the whole shebang. "You need to be able to see it all and get your hands in it to better assess what you have," he says. Since makeup can harbor bacteria, throwing out anything that's old is a must. As a general rule, Scibelli says opened mascara should be thrown out after three months, cream foundations or blushes after six months, and powder products about a year. Another good rule to abide by? "If you haven't used it in a year—even if it's unopened—get rid of it," says Scibelli. "Make it a girl's night and invite some friends over to 'shop' from your stash of castaways."
  • Streamline by getting rid of any doubles (think different shades of the same foundation or bronzer), says Scibelli. Lipstick can pose a tricky conundrum since many women have way more colors than they're actually using. He suggests limiting your lipstick wardrobe to, at most, five shades: one red, one coral, one berry, one pink, and one nude. But if that seems completely unreasonable, try his handy storage trick: Use a butter knife to slice the lipstick off its case, then place it in a pill case to save space and create a palate. You'll still be able to keep all your colors, but the compact storage solution takes up much less room than a ton of individual tubes.
  • Keep the products that you use daily (foundation, mascara, a favorite lipstick) in a makeup bag that's somewhere easily accessible, like in a bathroom drawer. Store leftovers (say, that pill case of lipstick) in a closet or somewhere out of the way. Scibelli says he likes using clear acrylic drawers for this purpose. Just be sure to go through this stash every six months or so.

For Hair Care

  • Start in the shower: There's no need to clutter your corners with multiple shampoos and conditioners. John Mouzakis, stylist at Mixed Co. Salon in Chicago, recommends limiting yourself to just two sets—one that you love and know works well for your hair, and another rotating option that's either something new that you want to try, or a formula that helps you achieve a style you wear regularly (e.g., a volumizing option if you have fine hair).
  • Throw out any shampoo or conditioner that's been opened for longer than four months. While most shampoos and conditioner have a fairly long life span if left unopened, "once opened they can start to harbor bacteria, dry out, or separate and not work properly," says Mouzakis. Red flags that indicate it's time to toss your sudser include changes in consistency or separation. Because shampoos and conditioners often have so much fragrance added to them, they may not start to smell any different, he adds.
  • If you want to declutter your collection of styling products, you can replace multiple bottles with just one: dry shampoo. It can do the most. "It can be used as a hair spray to hold styles without feeling sticky, as a volumizer to give limp hair more body, as a texturizer to give hair a grittier feel and look, and of course to help clean your hair," says Mouzakis.

For Skin Care

  • Many skin care products will have expiration dates, which are good guidelines, but keep in mind that opened products often stop working as well as they should even before that date. Look for changes in texture, color, or smell, all telltale signs that it's time to throw something out. Typically, face wash is the most shelf-stable and can last up to three years, says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of the Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. Most other skin care products should be used within a year, with the exceptions being opened sunscreen or eye cream in a jar, both of which should be thrown out after six months.
  • Have 12 different eye creams or eight different serums sitting in your medicine cabinet? Bring your collection to your dermatologist. "Many products contain similar ingredients, and some may contain useless ingredients," says Nazarian. Your dermatologist can review your products to help you determine what's the best for your skin concerns, and the best use of your time and money, she adds.
  • Stick with skin care products that multitask—think things like anti-aging moisturizers with SPF or exfoliating face cleansers. You can likely replace 20 different products with three or four good ones that are doing more than one thing, says Nazarian.

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