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  • Writer's pictureClaire Constable

Detox your Makeup

Make Up Detox | Blog Post

How often do you declutter your makeup products?

It's easy to let your makeup collection build-up. This area often gets forgotten about, since the products are small and there's room for them, why not keep everything?! Drawers and cosmetics bags end up filled with colours and shades we will never wear again, samples we've never got round to trying, bits from sets that we just won't use, and half used items that have since been replaced with shiny new ones.

Makeup is one of those quick-fix items that we are regularly tempted by. There's always something new to try that promises to make us look and feel better. With the popularity of beauty bloggers and vloggers on social media, all showing off their vast makeup collections and new purchases, it's hard not to get sucked into the idea that we need to have an Instagram worthy collection to show off.

I think most women are or have been guilty of hoarding makeup - me included!. Makeup can be very expensive, so it's hard to get rid of (even if you don't use it).

But, when you keep makeup that you don't use, you create an unnecessary use of energy each time you have to decide which one to use (your favourite one?!), and old and unhygienic makeup is bad for your health. Using products past their use-by dates can cause irritations and infections.

If it's been a while since you went through all of your makeup, its time to do a makeup edit.


The first thing you need to do is to go and get ALL of your makeup - your make up bag, from the bathroom, the bedroom, your handbag, your gym bag, your car and anywhere else it might be hiding - and pile it all together in one place (choose a wipeable surface to avoid getting foundation stains on your carpet). This way you can see just how much makeup you own (that you probably didn't even realise).

Raise your hand if you've bought things because you forgot you already owned them ✋🏻.


Divide everything up into main category groups, such as - base, eyes, lips and blushers/bronzers. You can use sticky notes to label your categories if you need to. Once you have your main categories sorted, pick out one to start working through and put the others aside for now.

Divide this group into further categories, for example, your LIPS category into lip pencils, lipsticks, lip glosses. If you have an extensive collection, you can keep going and also sort by brand and colour.


Next, we are going to work through each subcategory pile, and declutter!

Get rid of old products

The most important declutter - get rid of old and expired products. Yes - makeup expires! No-one should have, or use expired makeup.

Makeup breeds bacteria over time, such as Pseudomonas, which causes eye infections and Conjunctivitis and Staphylococcus which cause skin infections.

It is not a legal requirement to put an expiry date on makeup packaging. So, it is up to you to keep track of when it was opened. Most products have a jar symbol with a number and the letter M that signifies the number of months that you have to use up the product once it's been opened.

The expiration date of the product depends on what it is - a cream, a liquid, powder etc. Here is a guide of how you long you can keep products before they start to go off.

▫️Foundations and concealers - 6 months to 1 year

Liquid foundations that have pump and tube dispensers will usually last around a year before the formulation starts to break down as they are protected from air exposure. If you're using a stick foundation, you should really try to use it up and throw it away after 6 months. However, if you notice the liquid separates or changes colour on your skin through the day (known as oxidation), then it's time to throw it away.

▫️Mascara - 3 to 6 months.

Mascara has one of the shortest life spans as it collects a lot of bacteria due to the applicator being stored within the product. You really don't want to be putting bacteria-filled product around something as sensitive as your eyes.

▫️ Powder products - 1 to 2 years.

Pressed powders, blushers, bronzers and eyeshadows will last quite a long time, but they aren't supposed to be kept for longer than 2 years. The formula starts to break down as soon as they are used, as they are continually coming into contact with the oils in your skin.

▫️Cream and jar packaged products - 1 year.

Things like cream blushers, eyeshadows and eyeliner gels stored in screw-top jars will start to go downhill after around a year. This is because they are subject to air exposure, break down faster and attract unwanted bacteria as you dip your fingers or brushes to apply the product.

▫️Liquid Eyeliner - 3-6 months. Your eyes and eyelashes are especially sensitive to exposure to bacteria, so eyeliner presents a daily threat. Liquid eyeliners with felt tip applicators or smudge ends should be replaced at 3 months, due to the absorption and contamination of bacteria.

▫️Pencil products - 2 years

Eye and lip liner pencils, with regular sharpening, can stay good for up to 2 years.

▫️Lipsticks - 1 to 2 years.

How often do you finish an entire tube of lipstick? Most liquid lipsticks include the applicator so these should definitely be tossed these after a year. Lipsticks in tubes start to dry out after around 2 years, but if you notice the colour, texture or smells different before that time - it's time to let it go.

▫️Blenders and Sponges - 3-6 Months.

It should come as no surprise that a sponge is going to harbour some pretty nasty characters. Make sure that you are properly cleaning them at least once a week.

▫️Nail polish - 1-2 years. Depending on the formula. The main sign that it's time to let it go is if it's gone thick and gloopy.

Make Up Expiry Dates

Please note: The information in this post is a guide only. All products have different formulations so always check the packaging for each product for how long it lasts. Some natural products have much shorter expiry dates.

If you have no idea how old something is, but you haven't used it in the last 12 months, chances are you are not going to, or it probably has bacteria - let it go.

Aside from expiry dates, watch out for makeup that has dried out, smells funny or has changed consistency. Throw out anything that is missing its lid, they are not going to be hygienic. We always think that we can salvage these items and use them, but we rarely do.

Let go of any make that you don't feel good wearing

Let's face it. If your skin is snow-white, there is no way that the foundation named 'golden bronze' will ever match your skin tone. If you bought something because it was fashionable, but you're never actually going to wear purple eyeshadow - let it go. It's just going to go off at the bottom of your drawer.

Admit or commit! Admit it you are never going to wear that shade of red and discard it, or, commit to the red lipstick for a week to see if you are loving it after all.

Don't hang onto something because you spent a lot of money on it if it doesn't suit you. The money has already been spent, so its time to lose the guilt, and let it go.

If your skin reacts to it - let it go.

Do you have duplicates? This one is tricky as we all love to have a few different shades but if you have something very similar keep only one.

Throw away old brushes, and clean the ones that you do use.

Toss the stuff you know you don't like, and stop wasting your precious time and decision making on useless items. Better yet, if the items are new or barely used - donate them.


Please don't just throw everything in the bin. You can donate makeup, in good condition, via the following organisations;

Toiletries Amnesty work with homeless shelters and hostels, women and children’s refuges, mental health services, children and families centres, food banks, refugee support groups, schools and colleges, community groups, and other organisations in the UK.

Visit their website to find details of organisations near you, who would be grateful for your donations.

An initiative set up to provide beauty/toiletry essentials to people using food banks across the UK, founded by Sali Hughes and Jo Jones.

Visit their website for more details.

Unfortunately, most charity shops will not accept makeup unless new and sealed.


If your products have expired or past their best they will need to cleaned out and the packaging recycled wherever possible

If it can't be recycled via your household recycling bin, lots of brands and high street stores - including Maybelline, MAC, Lush and Origins accept empty packaging for recycling or offer recycling programmes.

For details, and more places to donate and recycle your make up please visit The Declutter Directory and search 'makeup'.


Streamlining your make up is a massive timesaver. The easiest way to simplify your makeup is to find a basic routine that works for you. Foundation, concealer, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick are all you really need - especially as you age.

Getting ready in the morning should be as easy and stress-free as possible, so you don't want to be facing the decisions of your entire makeup collection every morning. Keep it simple. Find your favourite go-to products and shades that will make you feel good and ready to face the day each morning.

Now you only have what you use and love, and is safe to use, you can put together a daily capsule make up collection.

Keep it together and organised in a makeup bag (or container, if you don't carry your make around with you). This also makes it much easier to grab if you're in a rush or packing for a trip or weekend away.


If you really love your make up and need a bigger collection than just your daily essentials, and a few extra bits to switch it up a bit, you need to make sure it's organised.

Toiletries Amnesty works with homeless shelters and hostels, women and children’s refuges, mental health services, children and families centres, food banks, refugee support groups, schools and colleges, community groups, and other organisations in the UK.

Keep it all together in one place, ideally as close as possible to where you usually apply it. Decide where it is going to live, and then look at storage options to fit that space.

I love clear acrylic drawers and containers, organised by type or category, for larger make up collections. You can keep drawers on a surface space or use trays and smaller containers within your drawers if you prefer to keep your surfaces clear. (I almost always recommend using drawer inserts and dividers for any type of drawer to give items a designated home).

You can buy online from Muji, The Container Store or Amazon have a large selection. Always check the sizes before buying online!

Keep your brushes stored in a pouch, brush roll or recycle a pretty candle jar.

If you have space, you can designate a little corner for all your beauty products. Add pretty perfume bottles and a few photos.


Keep it clean

Wipe over your makeup with an antibacterial wipe or spray regularly and wash your makeup bag.

Don't forget those makeup brushes! Not only is this essential to make sure that you don't spread bacteria, but it will also ensure the best makeup application and help your brushes to last longer. The detergents in some soaps can strip the brushes, so make sure you use something gentle like baby shampoo, rinse thoroughly and then air dry once a week.

Keep it organised

Add the purchase date to any new makeup with a little label or sharpie, so that you know how old it is and when its time to replace and treat yourself to a new one. As well as being good for decluttering purposes, this will also benefit the health of your skin and eyes.

Shop mindfully

Check what you have before purchasing anything new, and make an effort to reduce the amount that you buy.

If you're not committed to finishing a luxury product before its expiry date, or you've stockpiled your favourite mascara, you're going to end up wasting money.

Declutter regularly

If you buy in error and can't take it back, pass it on immediately to someone you know who would like it or donate to one of the charities mentioned above.

Do a makeup edit at least once per year - Add it to your calendar to remind you.

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