Minimal “Ish” Series: Curating Your Beauty Collection

My ventures into minimalism have varied dramatically over the years. I could never quite figure out why I couldn’t completely follow through, even though I was sick of owning so many things. Eventually I realized, minimalism isn’t for me. Or at least, the minimalism that the internet was pushing onto me as the supreme way to live one’s life wasn’t for me. I don’t want to live in a small house, I don’t want to have no furniture or decorations in my house, I don’t want to cook with one knife, pan, and a fucking blender. I don’t want to use a single bar of soap in the shower and never shave my legs and only use four makeup products. That sounds fucking miserable. I don’t think throwing out all of one’s possessions is a magic fix-all to make yourself happy. I also think that its quite presumptuous to assume that everyone has the luxury to just toss things out.

I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the overall philosophy really resonated with me. Now, I’m not really one to believe in energy of inert objects, but it’s cool if you do. So the whole hold my belongings and “feel” the joy they bring to me…got a good couple eye rolls out of me. But whatever. I’m a cynical bitch sometimes. I don’t think the universe gives a shit if I have ten different body lotions I never use, but if it works for you, hats off. Instead, I created a system based of Kondo’s philosophy that I think will be useful to those who aren’t quite sold on the more spiritual aspect of her book.

Gather Everything

This is something I took from the book as an essential step. It’s incredibly useful to see everything of the same category that you own in one pile. Visualization is key here. I separated my beauty products into the following piles, but do whatever works best for you:

  • Shower products (excluding face wash, this went with skincare products) like body wash, soaps, shampoo’s and conditioners
  • Facial skincare products
  • Body products such as body lotion, deodorant, and body oils
  • Hair products and tools
  • Makeup products
  • Makeup tools
  • Perfumes

Within these piles I placed all items of the exact same use together. So, for example, within my shower pile, my shampoo’s were together, the body washes together, etc.

Toss It

This is where you let instinct kick in. Be rapid, and do not second guess. Toss whatever you hate but have been holding on to “because”. Throw it in a garbage bag. Empty into sink and recycle what you can later. Don’t pause or get distracted here.

Make a Profit

When I was downsizing I sold a lot of my items that were new or barely used on apps such as Poshmark and Depop. You might have to discount them quite a bit, but hey, you were probably going to toss them or let them sit there unused until they went bad anyways. Keep these in a box outside of your other products. Consider them as inventory rather than personal belongings.

Be Thoughtful

Now is when you get to think things over a bit more with what is left in the piles. Pick up each product and ask yourself these questions:

  • will you be able to finish it by the time it expires?
  • how many more items like it are sitting right next to it in your pile?
  • how does it compare to its companions?
  • is it a “love” or is it adequate?
  • will it be better off in someone else’s hands?

Ultimately, it is up to you whether or not you keep each product, but if you’re holding onto something that you think is just ok but want to use up, you’re more likely to set it aside and move onto something else while it sits there forgotten, taking up space. It’s ok to toss something that isn’t terrible, but you just don’t love.

Do this for every single product. It may be tedious, but its worth it to only hold onto things that are loved or functional in a way that cannot easily be replaced.

Catalogue & Create “Ins” and “Outs”

Depending on how much you have left, this can be quite tedious. I’m a bit of a geek, and I really believe that hard data can be eye opening. Create a physical list, a text document, or an excel sheet. Based on the amounts that you own, tailor a system of “ins” and “outs”.

When I first did this with my collection, I had 8 different highlighters left. Clearly, highlighters belonged on a no buy list for me. Ins/Outs is a common technique used to by minimalists and people curating their beauty collection. I think being specific is important here. If I finish up two concealers, I need to repurchase concealer, not highlighter. So, I created a rule for myself that I had to specifically finish 3 highlighters in order to purchase another. The number of out’s is up to your discretion, but I recommend being a bit harsh with your ratio’s: 8 highlighters is plenty. 

Here are some of my other numbers:

Shampoo: Out-3 In-1

Mascara: Out-2 In-1

Foundation: Out-3 In-1

Face Cream: Out-4 In-1

As you can see, I set this up in such a way that I don’t keep my collection static. I don’t reward myself by replacing one finished product with another, and I won’t until I’m down to a very curated collection, but this is my personal preference. When you’re happy with the level you are at, the 1-in 1-out rule is useful for maintaining that level.

Be Patient

Over time you will find yourself with a smaller and more focused collection. The limitations of purchasing serve as an incentive to make sure what you do use and have is well researched, effective, and incredibly useful to you as a consumer. I find myself happier when I know that I have products at my disposal that have been through the ringer. If after all of this, they still stand, I know I’ve found a gem.

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Vitamin C fulfills an essential need of my skin, and therefore I have a 1-in 1-out rule. I only own one vitamin C product at a time. My Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drops (see my review) have served me well, but I’m eager to try the cheaper and well reviewed Vitamin C Suspension 23%. So out goes my Klair’s and in comes the Ordinary’s product.

I finished one of my all time favorite products, Dior’s Lash Plumping Serum, which I use daily and consider an essential. I had a miniature in my collection waiting to be opened when I finished this one.

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