If you’re like me, you’ve been pacing back and forth in your bedroom for the past few weeks unsure of what the world will look like.

It’s been helpful for me to think in terms of what I can control—my health, my productivity, but perhaps most importantly, my skincare. Spring has started to sprinkle in through our collective windows, and the time for some well-needed cleaning is upon us. This weekend, I began with my beauty products – tossing expired items, opening others – and it’s kept my mind busy and my cabinets looking a bit more tidy. Below, are some tips I have for some best organizing hacks. The act of organizing has in turn, helped declutter my own mind and it’s helped lots with my own mental well-being. Hope it helps you, too.

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Organizing beauty products
(Photo by Alex Levy/ Very Good Light)

Take Inventory

Gather up all your beauty-related belongings and spread them out so you can see the scope of what you’re working with. For a beauty hoarder, this may mean you’re being exposed. But that’s okay! It’s good to take out everything you have and put it in front of you.

This helps for a multitude of reasons. For one, if you’ve been committed to a specific routine for a while, seeing everything you own can help inspire you to finally try a product that’s been sitting in the back rows of your cabinet. It can also push you to replace items you just don’t use. You can note this for the future and know that it’s not worth buying again. Instead, you can research and find better alternatives. A good site for discovering newness is Mira Beauty. The site is user-based and is organized by product category.

Finally, I like to group all products based on function to see what I have in excess or what I may be running low on. Now is a perfect time to get going on your spring skincare reset – and quarantining is a perfect excuse to do so.

Does this spark…joy?

Here comes the tough part. Like Marie Kondo before me, it’s time to ask ourselves which products are sparking *JOY* and which are simply filling the void. It’s important to do this for a few reasons. It sounds silly, but especially in trying times like these, but skincare is SELFcare, so take the time to really treat yourself with products you look forward to using. This doesn’t have to stop and end with how efficacious it is. You can use it simply because of the sensorial experiences: how it makes you feel, how it smells, or simply that it’s nice and comforting.

If you’re using products that don’t excite you, don’t use them! Another important reason to take inventory of your routine is that products have a shelf life and, if they’ve been sitting around for a while, they may not be as effective as they once were. Most products have an expiration date on them. Check the little jar icon (towards the bottom of most products) and it will tell you how many months the product is good for once opened. If not, check out Check Cosmetics here, and input each product.

Note that humidity does products no good and can lead to quicker product degradation.  If you think you’ve had the product opened for longer than the expiration date, it’s not the end of the world, but the product is likely not going to be as effective. Better to toss it than treat your skin with skincare leftovers.

Organizing beauty products
(Photo by Alex Levy/ Very Good Light)

How to organize – simplified

Now that you’ve thought about what products really get you excited to wash that beautiful face of yours, it’s time to figure out where to put everything to make it as easy as possible to use. This will be different for everyone, but look at what is necessary to keep in the bathroom and what can be kept elsewhere. Obviously, put products in places that make sense, that are easily accessible depending on when you use them.

If you use a cleanser in the shower, keep it in there. If you always find yourself slapping on a face mask before a bath, keep it in your bathroom cabinet. If you like applying a body lotion before bed, tuck it on your bedside table for easy access. Generally, the more you can keep products in cool, dark, dry places, the better they are for the product’s integrity. However, if you’re consistent in using that face oil after a bath, you’ll use it all before it degrades from any environmental exposure. Just don’t leave it there for two years and expect it to work the same.

Saying goodbye!

Hopefully you’re able to de-clutter your beauty routine a bit—finding what works, organizing it to fit your habits—and now you’ve got some products to get rid of. You could throw them in the trash, but it’s 2020 and Mother Earth does not deserve that ignorance. Although beauty products are notoriously hard to dispose of, as they’re usually made of mixed materials which cannot be traditionally recycled, there are ways to properly dispose of products without clogging nature’s arteries.

Organizations like Terracycle are out there to make recycling as efficient as possible, so gather your beauty products to recycle, find your local Terracycle drop-off (check online for specific locations), or check them out directly to see how to get them your junk. I like to keep a bag underneath my sink and throw empty, expired, or unloved products in as I come across them. Once it’s filled to the brim, I’ll take it to my local drop-off and may just reward myself with some more skincare. So long, fare thee well, goodbye!