Raise your hand if you have drawers, baskets and cabinets filled with beauty products you don't use.
We thought so.
A cluttered beauty drawer might not seem like a big deal, and it might seem to have nothing at all to do with your finances. And yes, those shimmery turquoise and yellow nail polishes might have been only a dollar or two.
But each year, American women aged 30 to 49 spend approximately $1,200 on cosmetics alone, according to Newsweek. That's $12,000 over a decade, enough to buy a car!
If it seems ridiculous to you, we agree. When we look at that cluttered drawer of unused items, we cringe a little bit. Cringe no more: Today we'll show you the best ways to streamline your beauty regimen and clean out the excess—while still looking absolutely fab this summer. We promise.
The Value of a Smart Beauty Routine
Amazing beauty care isn't all about price; it’s often more about value, which is a combination of price and the number of times you’ll actually wear or use the item. So, that glittery eyeliner you got for $3 for New Year's? It's not as good in terms of value as the $30 powder blush you wore every day for six months until it was gone. (One was $3 per use and the other was 17 cents per use.)
To spend less on beauty while still maintaining your oh-so-alluring look, start making the smartest possible choices, which requires knowing what you love, what you need, what you’ll use and what looks good on you.
Follow our instructions, and you'll have a perfectly organized beauty drawer, a simplified beauty routine and—best of all—you won't be wasting money on products you regret. To make the most of this exercise, consider getting out a pen and paper to really take stock of what you have, and what you don't need. We'll explain.
Step 1: Clean Out Your Beauty Closet
Pull open all those drawers, dump out the baskets and empty your cabinets. (You can print out this page if you want to take these instructions with you. This is also a fun exercise to do with a friend and is especially good for pack rats.) Once everything is out on the floor, place each item into one of the following piles:
1. Special occasion items. Call it liquid confidence--liquid eyeliner, that is. Using these items is a luxurious experience that makes you feel like a movie star, though you wouldn't wear them to the office.
2. Items you use every day. These are the workhorses—the items that are appropriate for every occasion, the basics on which you build your beauty routine every day.
3. Things you never use or expired items. You have them for some reason ... but just never use them.
4. Things you might use more if … Once you clean everything out, you might discover a Chanel compact you totally forgot about, nail polish in the perfect color that dried up when you left the top off or an item you've been meaning to try and haven't.
5. Duplicates. Shoot, you totally forgot you had deodorant and bought two more. Oh wait, five eye palettes in brown?
Step 2: Examine Your Products
1. Special occasion items. As you look at each item, ask yourself why you love it so much and how it makes you feel. Write down what comes to mind: "glamorous," "brings out my eyes," "makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn," whatever. When you've gone through the whole pile, look at your sheet. You may notice certain patterns. At the bottom, summarize your findings. Write, "I love things that … " and fill in the blank.
2. Items you use everyday. This pile can teach you which styles, colors and functions not only work on you but are also versatile enough to be used in a variety of situations. On your sheet, write, "The products that work best for me are ..." and fill in the blank.
3. Things you never use or expired items. Again, notice your patterns. Do you buy pick-me-ups that languish at the bottom of drawers? Did you fall for a trend or let the sales girl convince you that the specially formulated lotion would change your life? Make a "Never Buy Again" promise list that includes characteristics of products from this pile, i.e. too-bright colors, products that take too much time and effort to use, items that overpromised, etc.
4. Things you might use more if … Go through this pile and be honest. Maybe you think that perfume is too nice to wear anytime except a first date. Perhaps you've been keeping that special serum around so eventually, someday, you'll get in the habit of using it in the morning. Or maybe not. Try to move a third of this pile to the "never use" pile.
5. Duplicates. For certain categories like eye shadow and nail polish in the exact same colors, you probably will only get around to using one up before the rest go bad. So choose the one of the highest quality and throw the rest in the "never wear" pile. Set aside items you really will get around to eventually, like extra face lotion.
Step 3: Set Your Space Back Up
Now that you know what you love and what you don't, put everything back in a system that makes sense to you. Here are some suggestions:
- Put your special-occasion items in one special place you'll access just for those big events.
- Put your everyday items in an easily accessible spot.
- Give away the good stuff you never wear to willing friends and family, and dump expired products.
- Put the remaining "I'll wear them eventually" items on your counter. Make a promise that if you don't use them within a month, you'll toss them or give them away.
- Designate a space just for duplicates and extras. Next time you run out of anything, check this area to see if you already have it on hand, before buying anything new.
Step 4: Save on Your Favorites
As part of this process, you should now have a list of the items you use every day and probably replace on a regular basis. Consider signing up for email alerts for these brands, "liking" them on Facebook or following them on Twitter. You'll know whenever there's a sale and you can stock up for less.
Notice we didn't tell you to sign up for alerts for your glamorous items. That's because you use these less frequently and they most likely cost more. It's only a deal if you would need it anyway!