The first time I properly wore makeup was when I was 12 years old – cast as a gypsy in a stage production of Pinocchio with the local youth theatre. I was awkward, terribly spotty and hid in my hair which only made matters worse.
Our Director had a friend who was a professional makeup artist for stage & screen that had volunteered to come in and run workshops with us. When it was my turn, I slinked into the dressing room, nervous and anxious for what was next. Sitting in the chair, awash in bright lights from the surrounding mirrors, I surveyed the tools of the trade laid out in front of me.
And that’s when everything changed.
My afternoon with that Makeup Artist showed me just how transforming cosmetics could be. Makeup became a tool of self-expression, and helped me recognize things in myself I’d taken for granted. For as much as I used it to “cover up”, it actually uncovered something in myself and became very empowering. I wore makeup because I wanted to, not to attract a suitor, but because I liked how it looked.
In my past life as a performer, having my makeup done took on a wonderfully mediative quality and was part of the process in becoming something else. To this day I find it really calming, and love having someone else do my makeup whether it’s my dear friend Diana (who’s a pro and long suffering for putting up with me), or whether an MUA at Sephora or wherever.
With that said though, I *am* a makeup hoarder.
I have WAY more than I need or will ever use. In trying to face my bad habit of hanging onto things head on, I decided to overhaul my makeup – a warm-up before attempting to tackle my wardrobe full on.
If you’re also in the process of decluttering, taking things a step at a time is really helpful. It’s less overwhelming and you can see the progress you’re making. These are a few things I found useful and you might as well too.
5 Tips to Help Downsize Your Makeup Collection
1. Throw out any old makeup.
Dude. Sunk cost. Throw it out if it’s old. It may “look” fine, but old makeup is gross. When I was going through my stuff I found MAC palettes I know I bought in 2001 when a friend was starting her career as a Make Up Artist. Eiii! Told you I was a total makeup hoarder. This alone helped me shed most of the excess I had. If you’re not certain on shelf life, here’s a general makeup expiration guide.
2. Cancel subscription boxes.
Hey…what? YES. DO IT. I love mail and trying out new products but when it came down to it, I didn’t use half of the stuff I was being sent each month. My hunch is that you probably have a bunch of dust gatherers from various subscription boxes as well. If this sounds too painful to unsub from everything, than limit yourself to one beauty box.
With any money saved from monthly subscription boxes you can put it towards something you’ll really use instead!
3. Be realistic about your lifestyle.
This is always a hard one for me. I like to be prepared for anything. However my day-to-day really doesn’t call for much dramatic makeup (also I’m lazy, I won’t be going full-Siouxsie to the grocery store any time soon as much as I love seeing people who do!)
So this isn’t to say you should ditch everything fun that you might use once in a blue moon, but try to see if you notice a pattern emerging with what you use; be it product type or colours you’re drawn to as this can help you narrow it down. Eg: I had 14 blushes, I next to never use blush – ergo I only need 1.
4. Decide on your optimal colour palette.
This was really useful for me – I had a rainbow at my disposable, but I rarely strayed from certain colours.
Be honest with yourself as to what looks good on you and what will you use? What colours do you gravitate more towards? You probably already have a good idea about this, so now it’s just a matter of starting to consciously craft a colour palette that’s right for you.
5. Take stock of what remains and pare back.
Are you a makeup artist? No? Ok, then you really don’t need 27 varying shades of black eyeshadow. Yes, I know that one is glittery and the other one is a limited edition released during the Blood Moon, and OMG you got that shade when you were in New York. BUT the aim here to cut back on what you have. Be ruthless!
Overall there isn’t a magic number of how much you should have, it’s really up to you!
I’m making a conscious effort to fully transition to cruelty-free beauty, so when really stumped with deciding what to keep and what to toss, this was something that made the decision easy. (Here’s another great list of cruelty free brands for your reference if interested).
I’ll definitely be adding more to my makeup collection in future. However now that I’ve done the initial cull, I intend to be a lot more mindful so I don’t wind up with eyeshadows in my collection again that are almost ‘old enough to drink’.