Makeover Your Makeup Bag

I had just come back from a recent shopping spree carrying a bag chockfull of makeup goodies when my sister’s boyfriend turned to me and asked, “You bought more? There’s no way you use all the makeup you have!” Of course, with the amount of makeup that I find myself purchasing, he would be right. But the secret to keeping a growing makeup collection healthy is regularly cleaning out your makeup bag. The best way to justify buying new products is to get rid of the old ones that you haven’t touched in eons. If you’re anything like me, throwing out makeup (or anything, really) is difficult. I’m sure you can come up with a reason to keep almost any product. But excuses like, “this was my first real lipstick,” or, “I may need this cream shadow for some obscure party that may happen” won’t cut it anymore. If you meander over to your makeup bag and begin to dig through it, you might be disgusted at the amount of broken eye shadows and gloopy lip glosses you’ll find. Instead of ignoring the problem, face it head on; it’s time to clean out your makeup bag.

The first step is to dump all the contents from your bag (with caution!). The bag itself definitely needs a good clean. Broken eye pencils and leaking foundation bottles often end up trashing the inside of a makeup bag, and this gunk will end up getting all over your products if you aren’t careful. If the material allows, throw the bag in the dishwasher or wash it by hand. If it’s too far-gone, invest in a new one. Find a bag that’s pretty heavy duty; that way, it’ll last forever. Check out The Vacationer from Sephora ($42).

vactioner bag



As you’re cleaning your bag, remember to clean your brushes while you’re at it. Brushes should be cleaned once every two weeks, if not once a week. It’s important to keep up with this, because brushes can be a main source of bacteria. Oils and gunk on your skin will begin to clog your powder brushes, so they won’t pick up as much product as they should if you leave your brush dirty. The best part is that cleaning brushes is so simple; all you need is some water and baby shampoo. Some suggest using regular shampoo, but I would proceed with caution. Regular shampoos tend to contain harsh chemicals that may clean the brush, but they will also end up stripping the brushes of their hairs and could easily ruin them. Baby shampoo is much more gentle, therefore it won’t cause the brush to deteriorate. It’s super cheap as well; you can purchase a massive bottle of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo for around $4!johnsons-baby-shampoo11

To wash your brushes, put a nickel-sized dollop of baby shampoo in your palm. Run just a small amount of lukewarm water over the shampoo and use your brush to mix the two together. Keep rubbing the brush against your palm in circles, and you should soon see suds. If not, add some more water. The suds should be tan or colored, depending on what kind of brush you’re cleaning. Once the suds become white, your brush is clean! Rinse off your brush, reshape the hairs, and lay it on a table with the top facing outwards so the hairs don’t dry flat on one side. They should dry overnight.

Now it's time to sort your products into three piles: Keep, Throw Away, and Gift. Obviously keep the makeup that you use daily. If you can remember using a product within the past month, keep it. But if it’s a product that you haven’t used in quite some time, say over three months, it’s time to part ways. As for those products that you tried once and didn’t use again, think about gifting it. My sister’s makeup collection is essentially everything that I’ve tried a handful of times and decided just didn’t suit me. You don’t have to throw out products that haven’t expired; makeup isn’t cheap, so it’s better off being given to someone who could get some good use out of it.

Now, you certainly do not want to give a close friend an expired product, nor do you want to waste space in your makeup collection with products that are out of date. So when going through your stash, keep these expiration dates in mind:

Mascara: Three months. It doesn’t matter how often it’s used; mascara will begin to dry as soon as it’s first opened.

Gel/Liquid Eyeliner: since this touches your eye, which is a breeding ground for bacteria, three months is about the general lifespan of these kinds of eyeliners.

Lipstick: One year. This one is a pretty easy tell, since lipsticks can smell old once they expire, as well as dry out and break.

Foundation/Concealer: One year. If your concealer has a wand applicator that touches your face directly, or if you have been touching your fingertips to the opening of your foundation, the expiration date could speed up to six months. Bacteria breeds so easily with these face products, and continued use after six months/one year could lead to many acne problems.

Eyeliner/Lipliner Pencils: Unless these dry out, pencils are usually good for quite some time as long as you continue to sharpen them. Since eyeliner pencils do touch your eyes, try to throw them out after a year or so.

Cream eyeshadow: these tend to dry out after six months, and they can also become contaminated quickly if you use your finger to apply the cream.

If may be difficult to part with makeup, but the best incentive for throwing out expired products or giving away unused ones is the well-deserved shopping trip afterwards. Obviously, you have to restock your newly renovated makeup collection with some fancy new products! Need some help thinking of new products to amp up your collection? Try out some of these products:


Maybelline Dream Fluid-Touch Foundation ($10): A recent find of mine, this foundation has easily become my new obsession. With its delicate liquid-to-powder formula, this foundation has just enough coverage to make you look radiant and airbrushed all day long. It is low maintenance and can be quickly applied with your fingertips, which makes it a must buy for every on-the-go college student.


Revlon Colorstay ShadowLinks ($3): These shadows are perfect for anyone on a tight budget. Retailing at $2.99 each, these shadows are very pigmented and smooth for a drugstore eye shadow. The best part about these mini shadows lies in the packaging; they’re made to link up together so you can make your own customizable palette that you are free to change whenever you’d like!


NARS Audacious Lipstick ($32): If you’re looking to treat yourself, these lipsticks will do the trick. Boasting a new formula, NARS has come out with a line of lipsticks that will blow your lips away. The amount of pigmentation that can be found in one swipe of this product is insane. The formula is incredibly long-lasting and doesn’t dry out your lips. Try the color Charlotte for a deep brick-burgundy color that is perfect for winter, or Raquel for a nude that is quickly becoming a cult favorite.


Parting with makeup is always difficult, no matter how addicted you are. We tend to find any reason to keep something that we’ve owned for so long, but sometimes a good spring-cleaning is necessary. Make sure to go through this entire process once every six months to ensure that you are continually flowing through your products. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a not-so-oldie-but-goodie sitting unused at the bottom of your bag that will become a staple in your makeup routine once more.