Monday, July 26, 2010

The Beauty Clean-Up 101

Life’s messy. Before my daughter A was born, I spent what felt like weeks with my husband throwing out unnecessary things and deep-cleaning. Only for a whole new type of mishmash to enter our home: what began with countless diapers and stacks of bibs turned into Legos and doll accessories running rivers through our apartment two years later. My vanity used to be set up like a make-up playground, but now that I’ve got my hands full with the bee that is my daughter zigzagging about with broccoli bits in her hair, my beauty housing is now all about function.

Before child, I liked to either have my vanity down low so I could sit cross-legged in front of it, or at standard waist height, but without a chair. Overall, I’ve always preferred to stand and apply makeup because it allows for the most freedom of movement. And so when my daughter was born, in order to keep all the cosmetics and such out of her reach, it was easy for me to move the showcase- and most-used items to the top of one of my chests, which is at shoulder height,  making everything conveniently eye-level.

When I start spending more time digging through piles of eye-shadow dusted products to find the right mascara, than it would take me to actually apply the stuff, I know this Mama's gotta start pickin' up after herself.  But with the right organizational tools, involving merely a few simple containers and an easy-to-follow strategy, you can keep your vanity’s clutter at bay -- and the mess will be minutes from away.

Vanity Sanity 1-2-3:

1)    Only while putting together this story did I realize that I use the same, basic system to organize my cosmetics as I do my daughter’s toys: bins. For her, I’ve got big canvas ones with handles. And at the end of every day we sing the "Clean-Up, Clean-Up" song, throw the toys in, and then the bins get tucked away. For make-up, I favor rectangular or square trays for most beauty products, and a cup-like container for brushes, as a simple ways to keep things neat. I keep the items I use the most, in a single everyday tray, which rests closest to where I stand (see photo). I recommend these Stackable Acrylic Drawer Organizers ($3-$5), as they are nice and minimal in their design. For brushes try Sephora Collection’s Makeup Brush Box ($20), or even a tall and heavy ceramic or plastic cup will do.

2)    For items that I don’t use daily, I keep them stored away in special boxes (e.g. my “Lash Box” in the photo) or in drawers – ensuring that my little one can’t and won’t be tempted to go exploring. Within the drawers, I use the same tray system to separate the cosmetics by genre. The container store, in general, is a great place to find things like a 24-Lipstick Acrylic Organizer ($7), where you can put the sticks upside down to see the shade names (this lovely tip courtesy of my good friend, make-up artist, Jason Hoffman).

3)    Every couple of months I go through my make-up, as I would with clothing and shoes, and I do a super cleanse. Part of an easy tidy-up is not having that much around. Go through your beauty supplies and purge all those items that haven’t been of use to you. Don’t hold onto something just because the box it came in a year ago told you you’d be scar-free in seconds.  If you didn’t wear that eye shadow six months ago, chances are, you’re probably not going to wear it today.  Only keep what you use and need, around.


Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on

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