Spring Cleaning Your Makeup Bag (aka No, You Don't Need More Stuff)

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It’s that long anticipated time of year heralded by flowers blooming, birds singing, and often, beauty brands extolling brand-new makeup products just in time for warmer weather.

But wait—before you spend this week’s paycheck on that new eyeshadow palette, stop and consider if you really need it. This might seem obvious, but take it from someone who had enough lip products to fill up six pink Glossier pouches. If you already have your go-to pink lipstick or an everyday moisturizer, you probably don’t need another one.

Purging your makeup bag might seem simple in theory, but I found myself rationalizing to eye-rolling extremes when it came time to actually decide what to part with. “I mean, sure, I have five eyeshadow palettes that all have the same variations of bronze and gold,” I thought, “but this one has a bright yellow shade that I’ve never once thought of wearing, but might someday and therefore it must stay.”

It’s easy to form emotional attachments to our favorite lipsticks and eyeliners, and it’s just as difficult to separate a product from its sentimental value. But if you’re thinking it’s time for a little spring cleaning, here are some guidelines to effectively downsize your makeup collection.

  1. If you don’t wear it at least once a week, reconsider how much it means to you. We all need a few products for special occasions, but if you own 15 lipsticks and only wear two, get rid of the rest.

  2. Take the phrase “just in case” out of your vocabulary. In general, focus on the products you enjoy right now, and keep expiration dates in mind. Give yourself permission to let go of anything that has a question mark attached to it.

  3. Nostalgia isn’t always a good excuse. Maybe one moisturizer you bought three years ago has a familiar floral scent that reminds you of a simpler and more carefree time in your life. But cosmetics are made to be used, and you’re not doing yourself any favors by letting a product rot away at the bottom of your drawer. The real memories dwell in your heart, not in a plastic tube.

I highly encourage you to sell or donate unfinished products to people who will actually use them. Do this with products that haven’t come directly into contact with your skin (i.e., anything that comes with a pump or squeeze tube). Don’t pass along used eyeliners and mascaras, or anything else that has a reusable wand (such as liquid lipsticks and concealers), since you can’t sanitize them without drastically altering the product.

Remember to keep all this in mind when those tempting spring beauty launches start dropping. And if you decide to buy something new that you don’t already have, go for it. It’s okay to treat yourself! Just purchase with intention, and make sure you put what you buy to good use.

As someone who is passionate about all things beauty, I always thought that the more products I had, the more fulfilled I would feel. Now, I focus on quality—not quantity—and I appreciate my smaller collection now more than ever.