Organizing makeup – 10 ways to keep cosmetics in order

Arrange your stash like a professional with these expert ideas for organizing makeup

Three images of makeup vanity unites and makeup on a counter
(Image credit: Gunter & Co / Getty Images / Celine Interior Design)

Organizing makeup so it’s neat, tidy, and well-ordered is the best way to streamline your beauty routine. However, with varying-sized tubes, tubs, palettes, bottles, and brushes, implementing a system that’s both practical and aesthetically pleasing can feel like a challenge. 

The best place to start is by organizing a bedroom or makeup room to make the most of its potential. Whether you have an extensive collection or a few core cosmetics you use every day, they should be easy to find, easy to access, and easy to keep neat and tidy. 

‘It’s important to dedicate space to your collection – knowing what you have to work with means you can organize makeup in a way that works for you,’ says professional organizer Emma, of Declutter with Emma. Below, we show you the best ways to organize makeup.

Organizing makeup and skincare 

Along with decluttering, rethinking your makeup organization and investing in clever organizers will keep beauty clutter under control. We’ve put together inspirational ideas, tips, and strategies from the experts to ensure you organize makeup beautifully. 

1. Assess your current makeup collection

white fitted vanity between two closets. White with gold fixture, vase of roses and gold mirror, chinoiserie on closet doors

(Image credit: Celine Interior Design)

Before organizing makeup, start by decluttering your collection. Eliminate duplicates, and if you can’t remember when you last used something or you don’t think you’ll use it again, it’s time to say goodbye. Dispose of any makeup that’s past its use-by date. If you can’t see one, follow the guidelines of Jacqueline McLeod, APDO’s communications director and founder of Bancrofts Organisation Services:

  • Eye shadow typically lasts 12 months. 
  • Lipstick up to 24 months. 
  • Nail polish is usually best used within 12 months.
  • Mascara is good for three to four months (consider all that back and forth application)
  • Concealers and foundation last 12 months. 
  • Body cream can be good for up to 24 months.
  • Perfumes last 12 - 24 months before depreciating in quality. 
  • Non-reusable makeup sponges should be discarded after four to six weeks.

Rather than throwing makeup away, consider other, more sustainable options. Sealed makeup can sometimes be sold via online marketplaces or donated to women's shelters and other good causes. 

‘I get super excited when we have old mascara to discard because we get to send them to Wands for Wildlife, a non-profit who uses discarded mascara wands to clean the fur and feathers of wild animals at wildlife rehabilitation facilities,' says professional organizer Shannon Krause, co-founder of Tidy Nest.

2. Keep everyday makeup in one place

dressing table set in an alcove, neutral scheme , bespoke vanity and large mirror

(Image credit: Sara Cosgrove)

Whether it’s a bathroom cabinet, a bedroom drawer, or a countertop, having a dedicated space for makeup makes it much easier to keep on top of organization. With everything in one place and neatly laid out, you can see at a glance what you have, making it quick and easy to get ready. 

3. Group like-with-like products

One of the best ways to organize makeup is to sort by type: lips, concealers, foundation, eyeshadow, and so on. ‘Once you have an idea of what you’ve got, you’re in a good place to decide how you want to store it all, ' says Clint Brock, Omnia’s brush artist. 

You could also group makeup you often wear together – a particular eyeshadow and lipstick combination, for example. 

4. Arrange makeup by frequency of use

Just like you would when organizing a closet, think about what products you use most frequently and prioritize prime storage space accordingly. If you’re using a vanity, Juliette Thomas of Juliettes Interiors advises keeping the top drawers for items used the most and lower drawers for items not so often used. ‘Make sure you organize in a way that will have you finding the things you’re looking for instantly,' she says. 

For storing makeup you use all the time, a tray or small organizer can be left out on easy-to-reach surfaces – next to the mirror, for example, making it quick to access what you need. 

5. Store occasional makeup separately

During the categorizing process, you’ll likely come across make up that you don’t use all the time yet often enough to justify keeping hold of. While it makes sense to keep your everyday makeup in one place, if you’re organizing a small bedroom, it might be a good idea to store occasional makeup elsewhere.  

‘My biggest eye opener was when I removed any ‘going out’ make-up from my daily collection’, says professional organizer Vicky Silverthorn of You Need a Vicky . ‘I put those items in a separate box or use a make-up bag; that way, I don’t have to fight my way through them to find essentials in the morning.' 

Make sure any makeup you’re storing – whether used regularly or not – is stored in a cool, dry place to ensure it lasts as long as possible. 

6. Use drawer dividers

Bathroom vanity with drawer open with bath in room with neutral floor tile

(Image credit: Utopia)

If it’s a streamlined look you’re after, storing makeup away in drawers out of sight is a good option – or at least the overflow items that we don’t want on display. However, just because it’s not on show doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be kept neat and tidy. 

‘Although makeup and accessories that stowed away inside a vanity do not have to be aesthetically arranged, ensure that it is kept functional with ergonomic drawer dividers to stop all your products spilling out back onto the countertop,' says Steven Jacques, national development manager for Pelipal at InHouse Inspired Room Designs.

Consider lining the bottom of drawers with a non-slip liner – like this Gorilla Grips drawer liner from Amazon – to stop items from rolling around. 

7. Contain makeup in clear containers

White bathroom with vanity area and table

(Image credit: Kate Marker Interiors)

Quick and easy access is key when it comes to organizing makeup so, as with organizing jewelry, opting for clear storage that enables you to see what you’re looking for is a good tactic – labels help, too. 

We like to use plastic containers – like these Sorbus Makeup Storage Drawers from QVC. They are easy to wipe down because inevitably something will spill’, says Shannon. ‘If you’re placing smaller containers in a drawer, add clear, self-stick bumpers to the bottom of the organizer to prevent it from sliding around as it shuts.'

8. Choose space-saving storage

Stackable bins, drawers and containers can hold all your collection without eating into square footage; handy if you’re organizing small spaces. You can use the inside for overflow makeup then place your essentials (or more attractive products) on top. 

‘Makeup brushes take up much less space when stored vertically in a small round container or glass,’ says Janet Bernstein. ‘Many bathroom vanities have nice deep drawers so use the vertical space or position them on countertops for easy access.'

9. Create a stylish display

bespoke dressing room with curvy furniture, fitted wardrobes behind

(Image credit: Scarlet Splendour)

If you’re limited on space, storing makeup on show might be your only option. To ensure it doesn’t look cluttered, professional organizer Emma recommends being mindful of your storage options – style and practicality are equally important.

Consider reusing old candle jars or small plant pots to store makeup brushes,' she suggests. 'Stylish storage baskets placed on shelves or chests of drawers are handy for keeping your unsightly items close to hand without sacrificing a stylish scheme.' 

If you’re limited on surface space, Emma advises thinking vertically. ‘Pegboards are great for hanging containers or picture racks – the depth of space might be small, but you don’t need much to hold makeup, and it forces you to keep on top of editing your collection.'

10. Stay on top of makeup organization

Even with the best intentions, it’s all too easy for your makeup to descend into chaos, particularly if you’re using it every day. Whatever system you’ve decided upon, make sure it’s one you can stick to – take the time to put things back in the right place and declutter regularly.  

‘Routinely assess your products and get rid of anything you don’t use to keep clutter under control and avoid bacteria build-up or product expiration,’ advises Catherine, co-founder and interior designer at Clairrow.   

Invest in a beautiful makeup organizer, and you'll find it much easier to keep up with your schedule. 


white bathroom with marble topped vanity and make up space. Mirrors, chair for make up vanity end

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop/Chad Mellon)

How do I organize my makeup in a small space? 

When space is at a premium, we recommend separating your makeup collection into every-day and occasional collections. The latter can be stored elsewhere, freeing up storage space and enabling easier access to your essentials. 

If you’re limited on surface space, think vertically; clear stackable containers can contain a lot without eating into square footage. Lazy Susans or turntables are a great way to store skincare bottles, as they are space-saving and spin, so you can easily access what you need.

How do you declutter beauty products? 

Start by gathering all your makeup together in one place and get rid of expired products. Cull duplicates and anything you don’t use – be honest with yourself. There’s no point in holding onto shades that don’t suit you.  

Don’t be too quick to throw makeup away – there are more sustainable options. While most charity shops won’t accept makeup, especially if it’s not sealed, there are other places that can make use of them as long as they’re in good condition, shelters for example. 

Some makeup and cosmetics should be stored in the fridge to retain their quality and expand their lifespan. It's also important to ensure that you are cleaning makeup sponges and brushes regularly to avoid bacterial growth. 

Contributing Editor

For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G. 

With contributions from