How To Spring Clean Your Makeup Collection

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How To Spring Clean Your Makeup Collection by Natalie Setareh

This post was originally published on April 13, 2022. It was edited extensively on April 19, 2024.

Spring Cleaning Your Beauty Collection with a Professional Makeup Artist Eye 

I’m Natalie Setareh. I’m a makeup artist, makeup educator, and author. If you want to learn how to wear makeup, make sure to check out all the ways you can learn with me here.

As a professional makeup artist, hygiene is paramount in my work. We have to keep our kits clean and sanitized after every use, in between clients. And over the years many of my clients and students have always had a curious interest in how I keep my makeup kit organized and sanitized.

But keeping your kit ‘clean’ isn’t limited to professionals… everyone in some way, shape, or form has a collection of self-care and beauty products that also need a deep cleaning.

And so just like I teach people how to wear makeup, I also like to teach people how to keep their ‘kits’ clean.

Aside from the ‘don’t share makeup with strangers’ advice, more in-depth hygiene practices in the beauty world aren’t common knowledge.

This blog post guides you through a 10-step spring cleaning refresh for your beauty routine and collection. Not just cleaning the products but also culling your collection and creating a streamlined system that supports your unique beauty goals and promotes healthy skin.

I was If you prefer

Step 1:  Gather All Your Beauty Items

This is the first step in your spring cleaning process. I recommend doing this according to the Marie Kondo method…gather all the products in your beauty collection (don’t forget all the contents inside your purse, gym bag, travel bag, beauty fridge, etc) and put them all on a large workspace/table.

Step 2: Group & Categorize Products 

Then, you’ll begin grouping products. There are many ways you can group them but I think it’s best to keep your skincare products separated from your makeup products separated from your personal hygiene (bath) products.

Depending on the size of your collection, you may want to categorize them into even more categories.

  • Cleansers
  • Serums
  • Moisturizers: Eye Creams, Hand Creams, Face Creams, SPFs
  • Face Masks
  • Sprays

Same is true for makeup. Depending on the size of your makeup collection, consider separating your makeup collection into the following categories:

  • Base Products: Foundation, tinted moisturizer, concealer, setting powder
  • Eye Products: eyeshadow palettes, eyeliner, mascara
  • Face Products: Blush, bronzer, highlighter
  • Lip Products: Lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm

After you’ve completed this, you may have already identified old products that you know you don’t want to keep. I have some suggestions later in the post on how to responsibly discard of these products.

If you identify unopened or unused products that you have no intention of ever using, and they aren’t expired, set those aside in a giveaway/donate pile.


Step 3: Check The Expiration Dates 

Before busting out your magnifying glass and doing some investigative work on finding the expiration dates on all those products, how about you add the products you haven’t used in the last year to the discard pile. And then trust your common sense (s). Even if a product hasn’t reached its official expiry date, toss it if the formula separates, changes consistency, develops a strange odor, or irritates your skin. These are all signs the product has gone bad.

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)

Why Can’t I Use Expired Products?

  • Skin changes: As we age, our skin becomes more sensitive. Preservatives in makeup break down over time, potentially causing irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Reduced efficacy: Expired products might not perform as well (less vibrant colors, less blendable powders, less effective skincare ingredients).
  • Bacteria growth: Expired or unclean makeup tools can harbor bacteria, leading to breakouts and skin infections.

Pro Tip: Batch Expiry Check!  Schedule a quarterly reminder on your phone to check expiration dates. This way, you avoid a massive decluttering session and can address expired makeup as you go.

Step 4: Check Formulations

Using products formulated for your specific skin type is key to achieving a flawless, healthy-looking complexion (makeup or not and regardless of skin type. When you don’t use products formulated for your skin type, your skin (and any makeup you put on top of it) will feel and wear uncomfortable.

Add all the products that aren’t formulated for your skin type to the discard pile.

Not sure about your skin type? If you aren’t sure of your skin type and if the products are formulated for your skin type, refer to my free skin type guide or my book.

Natalie Setareh Skin Type Guide

For a more in-depth analysis of your skin type and the different products best suited for you, I highly recommend scheduling a visit with a dermatologist or licensed esthetician. Both of whom can provide a personalized assessment.

Step 5: Go Through Remaining Skincare Products

At this point, you should easily spot the skincare products that you love and use often. You’ll also find some products that you might have forgotten about. This is when you need to analyze each of those skincare products and know-how (if) they align with your beauty goals (something I teach inside of my course and through my 1:1 coaching programs).

Set aside all the products that you’re excited to use as part of your skincare routine. (This is also a great way to identify any gaps in your skincare routine or introduce new products into your routine that perhaps were lost at the back of the drawer!).

Add the rest of the products to the discard/donate piles.

Step 6: Go Through Your Remaining Makeup Products

Before you toss out makeup that doesn’t serve you, remember that most makeup products are multifunctional!

Eyeshadows can double as blush or Du highlighter, and cream blushes can be used on the lips and cheeks for a monochromatic look.

So long as your foundation is the right undertone, consider mixing them (through experimentation and trial and error) for a perfect foundation match.

By this point, you should know what pigmented makeup products you will for sure use before they expire and which ones you won’t use.

Add the pigmented products to the discard pile.

Step 7: Clean & Sanitize


Now that you’ve streamlined your beauty collection, now it’s time to ensure everything is clean and sanitized.

For a step-by-step list of all the products I recommend for sanitizing makeup, grab my clean guide here.

But in a nutshell, you’ll want to:

  • Grab a clean cloth or clean towel and wipe down the exterior of all your products.
  • Open the powder products and generously spray them with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
  • Throw your old makeup bag in the washing machine
  • Deep clean all your dirty makeup brushes, beauty sponges, and tools (weekly for brushes used daily, and bi-weekly for less frequently used ones).
  • This is also a great time to discard any other brushes that you have never used or aren’t ever intent on learning how to use.

Step 8: Organize Your Collection

An organized makeup collection is a joy to use!

Here are some tips to keep your makeup items accessible and in good condition:

  • Storage Solutions:

    I keep all the products I use daily or frequently out on my sink shelf and on my makeup ‘vanity’ (it’s not really a vanity but it’s where I lay out my makeup and do my makeup most days). I keep the rest of my makeup products in clear organizers and clear makeup bags. This allows me to see everything at a glance and prevents products from getting buried or forgotten.

  • Categorize by Order/Frequency of Use:

    I keep all my skincare products in the general order I use them, above my sink. Because sometimes I need to prep my skin differently for makeup (above and beyond my skincare routine), I keep those skin prep products there as well. I also keep my makeup separate from my skincare (since I do my makeup in a different place). I have my top 5 most used products in a small grouping, with easy access to my other makeup products (in clear containers) that I don’t use as often. I keep a lip mask by my bed and hand creams at my desk and in my car.

  • Store Products in Cool, Dry Places:

    None of my makeup or skincare products are in direct sunlight or rooms that run hot. Heat and sunlight can degrade the quality of your makeup and skincare products. For my professional kit, I store all my products in a cool, dry room away from direct sunlight.

  • Declutter Regularly:

    Schedule mini-decluttering sessions every few months to toss expired makeup or products you simply don’t reach for anymore. This prevents clutter from accumulating and ensures your collection stays fresh.

Have Lots Of Extra/Duplicate Products? Create a mini makeup bag for on-the-go touch-ups. I have one for my gym bag and one for my purse! Or consider depotting some of your makeup and building your own palettes.

Step 9: Sort Through Discard Pile

Not everything needs to be tossed just yet! 

For used/expired skincare products, consider the following:

  • Repurpose Old Containers:  Clean out old makeup containers and use them to store cotton swabs, bobby pins, or hair ties.  They can also be used for travel-sized portions of your favorite skincare products.
  • Recycle Programs:  Check with your local recycling program to see if they accept beauty product packaging.  Some brands even offer recycling initiatives – look for information on their websites.

For used/expired makeup products:

I created a series of makeup coloring books (for kids of all ages). You can still play and experiment with your makeup in a creative, fun, and safe way.  This is also a great way to get the littles in your life playing with makeup in a safe, age-appropriate way. Once the makeup is used it, you can see what/how to recycle the packaging products.

*Be Mindful of Sharing Makeup:  Sharing makeup with friends or family members can be a fun way to experiment with new looks. However, to prevent the spread of bacteria, it’s best to avoid sharing products that come in contact with mucous membranes, like lip gloss or mascara.

For unopened/unexpired skincare or makeup products, consider donating them to a:

  • friend/loved one who may enjoy them (and whose skin type is aligned with those products).
  • a shelter or non-profit organization
  • your guest bathroom (if applicable)

If you found yourself with a LOT of products in the discard pile, don’t feel bad. The beauty industry is constantly selling to us or trying to convince us to keep buying more, more and more.

Beware of Viral Beauty Product Hypes!

The beauty industry is full of trends and new product launches. While it’s fun to experiment, be mindful of falling prey to excessive hype. Focus on building a core collection (read a capsule makeup bag) of high-quality products that work well for you, rather than chasing every new trend.

Fortunately for you, you were probably able to reconnect and shop from your collection (without spending a penny!).

Consider signing up for my “no-buy challenge” that I host every November! Hop on my email list or contact me directly to be added.

By committing to not buying any beauty products for one month, not only will the accountability help you curb impulse purchases but it’ll also help you rediscover the gems you already own.

You might be surprised at how much you already have and how versatile your existing collection can be. And when you sign up, know that I’m here for you as your accountability buddy.

If you find yourself with little to no products to use, don’t feel bad. This is your chance to rebuild on your terms (and sustainably)!

Check out my post on the capsule makeup bag. Invest in multitasking products. Make sure your only buy what you’ll use up before these products expire!

Click here to see my personalized shopping services >

Last But Not Least, Embrace the Power of “Less is More”


Spring cleaning your beauty routine is more than just decluttering; it’s a chance to re-evaluate your relationship with your makeup and skincare shopping habits.

By following these tips and incorporating a regular spring cleaning routine into your beauty regimen, you can ensure your makeup collection stays fresh, organized, and effective. Remember, a beautiful and healthy complexion starts with a well-maintained beauty routine!

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the decluttering process, enlist the help of a friend or family member. They can offer a fresh perspective and help you make decisions about what to keep and what to toss. And of course, if you need more personalized help and attention,


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.

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