How To Spring Clean Your Makeup Collection

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Anytime Of The Year

Spring is in the air!

This is the perfect time of year (and natural reminder) to start sweeping under all the couches and rugs, dusting the floorboards, and cleaning the windows. This is also the time of the year we go through our closets and consign or donate threads we are no longer wearing, maybe even sprucing up our lives with a new item or two. If you’re anything like me, you may also find that your personal collections might be collecting if you know what I mean.

When was the last time you washed your brushes? When did you buy that lipstick? Is that eyeshadow palette a decade old? Do you even use that contour palette? If you have listened to my podcast episode with Grishan Roof, you know editing your personal kit is so important for your sanity, your space, and potentially your wallet! You become in control of your inventory and become mindful of what is working for you in this season of your life moving forward.

For some, letting go of something you very intentionally purchased can be difficult. Maybe you had a vision, maybe you only used that neon palette once. However, letting things clutter our life is not self-serving. That’s why I put together a quick and easy post on how to spring clean your beauty products.

What even is editing a makeup collection? Why do I need to do it?

Imagine if you went to a professional makeup artist and they pulled out a selection of products that were purchased five years ago. Imagine if they used unclean foundation brushes, swatched the old product, and applied it to one of the most sensitive organs in/on our body. You would expect a breakout for sure. You should even brace for more serious infections or skin afflictions!

As a professional makeup artist, editing my kit entails:

  1. Deep cleaning for every client.
  2. Staying on top of expiry dates and cutting expired makeup
  3. Removing makeup that does not serve a greater, versatile purpose.

But I’m Not A Professional Makeup Artist!

Whether you are a pro artist or not, using dirty and expired makeup is NOT healthy.

Not only is using expired makeup a risk for your skin but the efficacy of the products wanes… powder products break down, the preservatives in creams/liquids separate, and lipsticks turn rancid. Not only that but all cosmetics harbor bacteria. Why risk your own skin health with a product that is no longer safe?

Plus, if you have any level of interest in beauty, it is SO easy to have your collection grow exponentially. In this industry, there is a “new” item every week that is the next best thing for some next best trend. Even if you’re not a trend follower, you might be a single-look collector; I know so many people that have a favorite shade of lipstick and therefore buy one dusty-rose lippie from every brand, sometimes unintentionally! It can be so easy to have some products fly under the radar and go seldom used before expiring silently at the bottom of some makeup bag or drawer.

How do I edit my makeup collection?

Following the same three principles I use for my professional kit, you can also cull your own collection!

1. Deep clean non-perishables.

This is actually a step you should be taking after each use and not just when you declutter your collection. However, I do know that it can become easily forgotten about, or at the very least something that sits in the back of your mind for a while before you actually get to scrubbing. Cleaning your brushes properly is the most important way to maintain the longevity of your brush bristles. My ultimate Makeup Brush Guide has my favorite cleaning methods, so be sure to check it out to get the low-down so we can start this spring off right!

2. Dump expired makeup.

The best way to start any spring-cleaning process is to remove the junk! If something looks like trash, is unuseable, or is unsafe to use, then it is trash. The best way to determine if something is trash, take a peek at the label.

You will notice a number with an open-jar symbol. The number corresponds to the number of months the product is shelf-safe after opening.

There is, however, a rule of thumb for most products. For example, wet products that tend to be applied near the eye without a new applicator tend to have a very short lifespan, and anything over two years old is too old. Additionally, “clean” beauty has a much shorter lifespan because it lacks preservatives used to inhibit bacterial growth. Therefore, never use a “clean” beauty product that exceeds its expiry date.

I quote “clean” because greenwashing is a real thing. Google it.

Generally, these are the lifespan rules:

Toss 3-6 Months After Opening:

  • Gel eyeliner
  • Liquid eyeliner
  • Mascara

Toss 12 Months After Opening

  • Concealer
  • Eye cream
  • Cream blush, bronzer, and highlighter
  • Eyeshadow
  • Foundation
  • Lip gloss
  • Nail polish**

**This is considered hazardous waste and should be thrown away properly.**

Toss 24 Months After Opening

  • Pencil eyeliners (that are sharpened)
  • Lipstick
  • Powder blush, bronzer, or highlighter
  • Setting Powder
  • Moisturizers (facial or body)


Keep in mind that these are generalized expiry dates you can reference in the event your product may no longer have its label legible. There are some eyeshadows, for example, that have a stable shelf life of only 6 months. Furthermore, defects and contamination are also possible and may cause products to expire faster.

Your product could be expired or contaminated if you notice any of the following:

  • Rancid odor
    • waxy, plastic-y smell
    • any fragrance is noticeably turned
  • Mold
  • Discoloration
  • Unusual separation
  • Clumpy, bubbling, or piling product
  • Poor performance
  • Noticeably dry
  • Use of product suddenly causes a non-allergen, bacterial affliction
    • Ex: stye



Black specks in your makeup sponge are mold.

Pssst…Here’s an industry secret:

If you have a hard time remembering when you opened a product, keep some masking tape or label stickers handy and mark products with the date you opened them! Time flies when you have fun so might as well make it easier.

Now that the easy part is out of the way…


3. Separate your least-used products and find them a new home.


Yes, even that random red glitter that you totally were going to wear for that one New Year’s Eve party.

When you buy clothing, do you buy it on the basis that you will wear it once and only paired with a very particular pair of shoes, coat, top, or pants? Or do you buy clothing with the intention of wearing it as often as you can, with as much assembly power as possible? The latter is most likely the most practical choice.

The same idea can be transferred to makeup products! If you’re unsure about a product, make sure to check out the 6 questions to ask yourself before buying and How To Build A Capsule Makeup Bag.

Now, I am as big of a fan of novelty or graphic makeup as any beauty enthusiast is! Instead of collecting it on my own, I like following and adoring the Makeup Museum collection — you may even consider donating your vintage makeup to a safe place, where your vintage makeup can be loved by so many and for years to come.

However, the practicality of using eye glosses or neon liners or rainbow glitters is slim unless this is the sort of look you gravitate towards on a regular basis.

For this step in the decluttering process, follow these two mindsets:

Question 1. Do I already have a lot of similar products? Which one do I use more frequently? Which one is my favorite?

This is important if you have a ton of peachy lip glosses or black eye shadows. How many of the same type of product do you really need? A lot of these products can potentially go unused because you may only grab one in particular or you alternate between the variety, but never use any one in particular in its entirety before they eventually expire.

Question 2. When was the last time I wore this? How often do I use this product?

If this is something you almost never wear or only tried out once, then you already know the answer. This product is not serving your kit well and is simply taking up space!

Once you identify the products that are either redundant or not your style but are fresh enough to not be simply thrown away, there are several options for you! If the product is virtually unused and not contaminated, consider donating to a shelter that accepts cosmetics. If you are anything like me, I like to donate the things that do not fit me to family members or close friends that do not mind that it is slightly used (as long as it is still sanitary).

Question 3. Should I really stop buying my favorite makeup because I can’t finish it before it expires?

Do not fear! If you have listened to the downsizing podcast episode with Grishan Roof (@depotchopra), then you may remember the term “kitsplitting“. This is when you divide a product into different parts to be shared with others in an effort to only take what you may need. While the likelihood of you ever needing chunky holographic glitter is slim, it is not zero. The amazing thing about makeup is that it is so fun to play around and let your creativity flow. No matter if you are a stage performer, a raver, or just a local that likes to try something new and glamorous occasionally, you should be able to explore the power of makeup transformation. That being said, if you are someone who likes to dabble, I suggest finding a buddy and splitting those funky colors.

Now, if you tend to buy full palettes just to use one or two shades available, then I recommend shopping for pro palettes where you actually choose each color individually and can easily refill with a new pan once ready. This is something I mention in my sustainability podcast, so feel free to check that out to make sure you waste less on your hobby or routine!



That being said…

You can of course do a good deep clean any time of the year! Being Persian, we celebrate our New Year at the start of the spring season, marking the end of winter with new blooms and life. One way we celebrate is by cleaning the whole house, getting rid of things that may be taking up unnecessary space, and receiving new clothing. I hope with these tips you, too, are able to open yourself up to a revitalized, lighter, and functional collection.

Don’t forget to check out my ultimate sanitation checklist and stay sparkling clean! As always, let me if you have any questions, and feel free to share with your future kitsplitting buddies!

makeup kit sanitation checklist for the everyday makeup user

Bonus Video: Wash Your Brushes with Me!

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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

kevyn aucoin