Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we’ll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day in January that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from going without a cellphone for 40 days to trying the polarizing low-rise pants trend.
When my fiancé and I were on the hunt for a new place at the end of 2018, we had one main priority: We wanted enough bedrooms to allow for each of us to have a dedicated room all our own. Having already lived together for a few years in a smaller apartment, we both knew carrying out our respective creative endeavors depended on this dedicated space. Little did we know, circumstances totally beyond our control would actually force us to work from home come 2020, so now that we do have our own rooms (his a traditional home office, mine an extended closet, beauty room, and workspace), we've each placed a heavy emphasis on making sure our rooms provide the most functional workspaces possible.
Working from home has presented all sorts of challenges, and as a beauty editor, the biggest one for me has been the sudden influx of beauty deliveries arriving daily at my doorstep. (I know. Tough life, right?) Now, it's my job to test products and deliver the honest tea about them, but I have to admit that having to keep all of it in my home, without any real method to the madness, had gotten very overwhelming. Since March, my entire home has been a makeshift storage unit for my beauty products. There were bins under my bed and plastic drawers under my bathroom sink, and my workspace looked like the wreckage in a Sephora store at the end of a Black Friday sale. It had gotten out of control.
Emboldened by all the professional organizing shows appearing on my Netflix feed and resolute to stop the mess dead in its tracks, I decided to finally commit to a beauty product organization solution that would not only free up some valuable space in my home but that would also make for a more efficient setup to help me do my job that much better. Spoiler alert: I did it! Keep scrolling to see the journey unfold.
To prepare for this mission, I hit the internet hard, watching organizational shows and trolling Instagram for all the inspiration I could find. Celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin recently shared an in-depth IGTV house tour detailing her ultra-organized space, including a lengthy section dedicated to her solutions for keeping all her beauty products in check. Right away, I noticed that she used tons of acrylic drawers and organizers, and if I know one thing, it's that The Container Store is the place to locate every variation of those clear bins and, really, any other organizational solution I could dream up. So I dove headfirst into its website to start planning.
To get some tailored advice specific to my situation, I asked Kelly Welch, a professional organizer and owner of Organized by KW, for some practical tips to ensure this project went off without a hitch. Here's what she had to say:
Tip #1: "With any area you are organizing—closet, kitchen, or, in this case, beauty products—the first step is to put everything, and I mean everything, out in the open! Take it all out."
Tip #2: "Now that you have everything out, it’s time to go through it all! First, check expiration dates and toss out anything that’s expired. Now the hard part: If you haven’t used that product in at least six months, toss it. Trust me. I know it’s difficult, but what you’re left with are the products you actually use, without the clutter."
Tip #3: "Now that you have a good sense of your inventory, the fun begins with categories and labels. Find a system that best organizes your products into categories that make sense for you. Everyone is different, but one general tip is not to go too broad to where you just end up with clutter again. Instead of face products as a category, try something more specific like lotions and serums."
Tip #4: "Now that everything is categorized, time to put it all back. Prioritize the products you use the most and put them in your prime real estate areas. Those can be places that are easy to reach, display areas for your nicer products, etc."
Tools like this mask are large and oddly shaped, making them hard to store.
Multistep facials are wonderful treatments to have on hand, but keeping them together means storing them in their original boxes, which can take up tons of space.
I'm big on luxury hand soaps, especially now that we wash our hands at least a dozen times per day. My only gripe is that storing the bottles can be tough since they're difficult to stack.
I'm a nail polish fiend, so I know better than anyone the challenge of keeping all those little bottles organized.
Similar to nail polishes, lipsticks add up quickly and can be tough to organize. You also can't always tell from the packaging which color is inside the tube, adding an additional challenge.
Anything is a tube is tough because of the shape. And if the cap isn't completely flat, it can be limiting because lying the bottles flat is the only option.
Hair ties might actually be the hardest thing on the planet to keep track of.
My biggest takeaways had to do with the types of containers I needed to use in order to keep myself organized (clear ones to give me a better view of all the products in my collection) and the method by which I executed the organizing process. I knew it would be necessary to wrangle everything into one place and that separating it all into piles was the only process that would be effective for me.
I divided my stash into piles for hair, skin, makeup, body, and nails. Once I went to load things into my drawers, I further broke down those categories so that each drawer would contain a hyper-specific collection of products. During this process, I was also able to weed out expired and unwanted products to trash as well as a huge box of giveaway items to send to the fellow beauty lovers in my life, like my mom, aunts, cousins, and friends.
I bought two of these nail polish holders with individual slots for every bottle to organize my entire lacquer collection and all of my manicure tools. They keep my polishes neat and tidy, and finding the perfect shade has never been easier. I'm obsessed.
Ever since I started my natural hair journey, I've accumulated tons of tiny perm rods, hair ties, hairpins, and other hair accessories that are super difficult to keep organized. This clear carrier has divided compartments perfect for all my hair knickknacks.
This isn't just any double-sided tape. It's ultra-thick, ultra-sticky double-sided tape that's almost like putty. It's super strong and keeps my acrylic drawers mounted firmly in place so they don't slide around on the smooth surface of the metal shelf that houses them. I know it will come in handy for many more home-improvement projects, too. (I'm planning to hang some light photo frames around the house with it.)
As you can see, all of my beauty products are officially beautifully displayed and organized. And the best part is that I can finally access each and every bottle without having to search in four different locations. The biggest lesson I learned throughout this process is that I need to take stock of everything in my collection much more often to avoid letting products go to waste. I have too many beauty lovers in my life and know of too many charities that accept product donations to be able to justify that amount of waste.
Though my organizing journey isn't done just yet (I found that really organizing all my makeup is going to require some more thought and planning with the IKEA Alex drawer tower I already own), I'm so happy to be on the path to a hyper-organized life.
The next step in my organizing journey definitely revolves around labeling. While I know the categories by which my beauty products are organized, labeling the drawers will make my system that much more efficient. I've read tons of reviews, and this is the label maker professionals, crafters, moms, and perfectionists love the most.
I love a good lazy Susan. For any oblong bottles or things I need easier access to, this would be a perfect solution that would also keep clutter at bay.
Here's another lazy Susan I'm highly intrigued by. It's multileveled and can accommodate tons of products without taking up a lot of space. If I'm being totally honest, I already ordered it!
This one is not exactly organization related, but my beauty room is in dire need of a lit vanity mirror. This Glamcor one has gotten the stamp of approval from countless YouTubers and content creators.
There's more organizing where that came from. Find out how one staffer added storage to her tiny NYC bathroom.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated