The best way to organize your makeup, according to beauty experts

Danielle Gonzalez
·6 min read

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Spend less time searching for the right shade and more time serving up fresh looks. (Photo: Getty)
Spend less time searching for the right shade and more time serving up fresh looks. (Photo: Getty Images)

It was a weird year for makeup. Working from home might have made you forget it altogether or embrace a more minimalist approach. For those who stayed faithful to their beauty routine, chances are you've struggled with smeared lipstick or foundation stains from wearing a mask. Now that things are really starting to open up and return to 'normal,' you'll have more occasions to wear a full face of glam and might even return to your everyday makeup look. 

If it's been a while since you've reached for your makeup bag, chances are you might need to replace a few expired items and figure out what you'll actually be using going forward. A makeup reorganization sesh is an opportunity to assess what you already have, decide what needs to be replaced and streamline your overall routine. Trust us: Getting ready in the morning or prepping for a night out will be much easier.

Does the thought of digging through a drawer of broken eyeliners, cracked compacts and ancient eyeshadows stress you out? We've got you. We spoke with a makeup artist and an organization expert for tips and tricks on how to sort and store makeup. Here's what they had to say. 

Clear the clutter

Kasey Spickard, Pinterest beauty creator manager and professional makeup artist, scrolls through plenty of beauty pins a day, especially creative ways to store makeup. Spickard's first recommendation? Declutter.

Makeup has a tendency to accumulate over the years, between the products we’ve hit pan on but can’t seem to let go of to the one-time buys that didn’t quite work — but we never returned to the store. And chances are, you’re keeping makeup way past its expiration date. 

Getting rid of stuff you don’t need or use anymore is by far the most important — albeit the hardest — step. Spickard recommends checking out Life Lutzurious by Lindsey for decluttering beyond the makeup drawer.

Categorize thoughtfully

Manny Gutierrez (aka Manny MUA), professional makeup artist and founder/CEO of Lunar Beauty, knows a thing or two about keeping palettes in place. As the first male face of Maybelline and a viral YouTube star, Gutierrez has no choice but to stay organized.

“For me, the most important thing when organizing makeup is the practicality,” Guiterrez says. “I like to organize by category of product so all the foundations together, the palettes, etc. As long as it looks good, I’m happy!”

It’s also a good idea to keep everyday products such as concealer and mascara within reach, and those more special occasion eyeshadows and lip colors stored away. Brushes should be stored standing up in brush holders so you can see the tops, according to Guiterrez. However, if you just cleaned your brushes you should store them sideways so that water doesn’t seep into the base and unglue the bristles of the brush.

Separate makeup into categories. Then organize further with tools like these clear lipstick caps and palette stands, available on Amazon. (Photo: Amazon)
Separate makeup into categories. Then organize further with tools like these clear lipstick caps and palette stands, available on Amazon. (Photo: Amazon)

Shop it: byAlegory Clear Lipstick Caps, $11, amazon.com

Shop it: hblife Clear Makeup Brush Holder Organizer, $6, amazon.com

Shop it: STORi Clear Plastic Vanity Makeup Organizer, $11 (was $13), amazon.com

Shop it: iDesign Clarity BPA-Free Plastic Divided Makeup Palette Organizer, $16 (was $17), amazon.com

Keep it clear

Storing your makeup in clear, acrylic containers makes it easier to see everything without having to dig through makeup bags.

“We’re seeing Pinners continue to invest in acrylic storage pieces with touches of elegance and whimsy. It’s all about the aesthetic,” Spickard says. “Pinners want to show off their beautiful makeup collections while keeping everything tidy.”

Never struggle to find that perfect red lipstick again. Clear containers let you see your makeup at a glance. (Photo: Amazon)
Never struggle to find that perfect red lipstick again. Clear containers let you see your makeup at a glance. (Photo: Amazon)

Shop it: Sorbus Cosmetic Makeup and Jewelry Storage Case Display, $28 (was $30), amazon.com

Shop it: 360 Degree Rotating Adjustable Cosmetic Storage Display Case, $27 (was $50), amazon.com

No counter space? Shelve it.

If you need more storage or you want to keep your vanity clear, then a shelf might be the answer. Searches for “vanity shelf ideas” recently doubled at Pinterest, according to Spickard. Floating shelves are a smart and stylish way to organize makeup — a great option for those who want to create a minimalist appearance. Alternatively, an over-the-door organizer or a dedicated cabinet can also save precious surface space.

Clear the decks. Floating shelves, a cabinet or an over-the-door organizer can keep your vanity free of messes. (Photo: Amazon and Ikea)
Clear the decks. Floating shelves, a cabinet or an over-the-door organizer can keep your vanity free of messes. (Photo: Amazon and Ikea)

Shop it: Misslo Over The Door Shoe Organizer 24 Large Mesh Pockets, $14, amazon.com

Shop it: Lack Wall Shelf Unit, $60, ikea.com

Shop it: Alex Drawer Unit, $80, ikea.com

Divvy it up

It’s nearly impossible to find what you’re looking for in a drawer filled with clunky compacts, rolling eyeliners and shimmer dust. The best way to organize makeup in a drawer is by using small dividers and bins to separate products by category. 

Also, keep that in mind when traveling: “I always recommend a makeup bag with different compartments because it makes it so easy to organize different areas of the face,” Guiterrez says. “It’s also great to separate in different sections — because unfortunately, sometimes with storage, it becomes so easy for things to open and ruin the other products around it.”

Dividers create a designated spot for your lipsticks, eyeliners, bronzers, and more. (Photo: Amazon)
Dividers create a designated spot for your lipsticks, eyeliners, bronzers, and more. (Photo: Amazon)

Shop it: Seseno 16-Piece Drawer Organizer Set, $13, amazon.com

Shop it: Relavel Travel Makeup Train Case, $19 (was $30), amazon.com

Practical can be pretty

Seeing your makeup beautifully styled and organized on your vanity is almost as satisfying as nailing a winged eyeliner in a single swoop. 

“It’s all about form and function, the functional elements of the vanity/space also help you get the job done,” Spickard says. “Mix and match your classic acrylic organizers with some unconventional objects that serve as storage vessels.”

Pinners have been loving the ceramic pineapple vase used to store hair ties in Mash Elle’s story pin and the storage bins with beautiful gold accents from Shore Society’s pin. The way you store your makeup should be as creative and thoughtful as the way you apply it! 

(Photo: Amazon & Target)
Glam it up with mirrored trays, gold accents and ceramic holders. (Photo: Amazon and Target)

Shop it: LanMa Beauty Sponge Blender Holder, $6 (was $10), amazon.com

Shop it: Readaeer Makeup Cosmetic Organizer Storage Drawers, $32 (was $40), amazon.com

Shop it: 9 Compartment Glass and Metal Vanity Organizer Copper Finish, $35, target.com

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