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Organize Your Makeup Drawer in 3 Steps

If you have a chaotic drawer full of makeup you don’t use everyday, there are some simple rules of thumb to help you pare it all down and put it in some kind of order.

First of all, you should throw out any products that have expired. Makeup companies aren’t required to put expiration dates on products, so you have to learn some basic rules about how long they last and what to look for.

Then once you’re done with that, we’ll take a look at how to organize everything in your makeup drawer.

Cosmetics laying on white table with open drawer

How to Organize Your Cosmetics Drawer

Throw away what’s expired

Getting rid of the old is important for your safety. Expired makeup can contain bacteria you don’t want anywhere near your skin. It’s also very helpful for organization.

So here are the basic rules of thumb for when to get rid of different items.

  • Concealer should be considered expired after 12 months.
  • Eyeshadow: 3 years
  • Water-based liquid foundation – 1 year, Oil-based, 18 months
  • Lip liner – 3 years
  • Lipstick – 4 years, but if it smells at all funny, toss it. You don’t want something that’s gone off near your mouth
  • Mascara – 3 months
  • Powder – 2 years
  • Nail polish – about a year, depending on the brand

Can’t recall how old something is? Try to remember an event you bought it for or wore it to. If you’re not sure but it seems like it was a while back, just toss it.

There are also some tell-tale signs a product has gone off:

  • Has the scent changed or gone away? Or does it smell funny? It’s probably not safe to use anymore.
  • If it’s liquid, has it separated? If you shake it and it starts separating again soon, you should toss it.
  • Has a waxy lipstick or eye pencil dried out?
  • If it’s a powder product, has the powder started pulling away from the edges of its pan?

Getting Rid of What Doesn’t Suit You

Now look at all the colorful cosmetics. Be honest. If it doesn’t go with your complexion, your wardrobe, or anything people have worn in the past 25 years, toss it out.

The foundations and powder – if you haven’t worn it in the past year, then there is no season where it works on you. Toss it. Actually, this one-year rule is pretty good for everything else, too.

Arranging Your Makeup

Now that you know what cosmetics you’re keeping, it’s time to decide how to put them in the drawer.

We recommend using a drawer organizer, but you don’t have to buy one. You can also use some small boxes or the plastic inserts from products like cookies. Just clean them first if they contained food.

Whatever you use as an organizer, it will help keep things arranged the way you want. Otherwise, items will move around every time you open or close the door and eventually become a jumbled mess.

Bonus tip: line your drawer with parchment paper to keep cosmetics from marking up the drawer. Parchment paper is great for this, but any thick paper liquid can’t sink through completely will work.

Keep your favorites at the front. This is the stuff you can wear every day no matter how you dress or what a hurry you’re in – near the front of the drawer or in a handy case. Think foundation and powder, concealer and maybe eyeliner.

Put your drawer divider in the back. Use the drawer divider to store items you don’t use every single day. Like various lipsticks, colored eyeliners, blushes, and eye shadows you like to change up from day to day.

Caterogize the cosmetics. Put like items together so it’s easy to find them. Put all your lipsticks together in one place. Blushes in one place. Etc.

Makeup caddy? If you need more room, you can buy a makeup caddy and put some of your items in it. Again, this is for the items you may not use every day.

You can also use a simple box or repurposed plastic container. Just use homemade dividers of some sort to keep it all from jumbling together. Sometimes you can use eye shadow palettes as dividers. 

You can even use old newspaper to keep things separated.

Enjoy Being Organized

Now your makeup drawer is organized. It will be easy to see what you have and find what you want quickly. This can take so much stress out of busy mornings.