Is your bathroom vanity overloaded with a variety of beauty products, lotions, mascaras, and other magic potions? If you’re like most people, many of these came into your home making big promises then generally, after a few weeks of applying a tube of the latest and greatest, your hopes of becoming the next Angelina Jolie start to fade. Frankly, we’ve all been there.
It may be painful to come to that realization about some of these products, but it’s better to just face reality, turf the non-performers and move on.
Sort everything into three groups.
Take everything out and sort it into three piles: 1. Stuff you use just about every day; 2. Stuff you use occasionally but yeah, maybe not so much any more; and 3. Stuff that makes you think “did I ever seriously think I’d use that avocado-mango-papaya scrub?”
Pile #1. Things you use everyday.
The first pile — of things you use every day — are the only items allowed to live on the vanity. Even so, you want to balance out the convenience of having those items easily accessible with the calm you feel when your bathroom is neat and tidy.
The secret is to make it decorative. Add a tray or a container to put them into. After all, even if you do use that deodorant every day, do you really need to show it off? A bin will make regularly used items easy to find, stop you buying things you already own, and (perhaps best of all) set a limit for the number of “regularly used” items that you should have in your bathroom.
Pile #2. Things used occasionally.
This is the stuff you’re not using all the time, but aren’t yet ready to part with.
Attention: if any of it is past its expiry date, toss it! This is not up for debate — these products are going on your face and other places on your body. Why risk it? Remember a simple rule here: the closer to your eyes, the shorter the shelf life. So, mascaras last three to six months; nail polish a year, and perfumes for about three years.
Next, gather like items together. The goal is to reduce each group down to a very limited amount, so that it will fit neatly back into the drawers and cabinets in the vanity.
It’s time to be ruthless. How many types of eye cream do you really need? Toss items until you’ve reached a number that will fit easily in a single space — for example, one drawer. If you’re really having trouble letting go, my rule of thumb is you only get three chances to keep items that made you say, “Oh, I forgot I had that” or “Oh, I love that color, I need to try that again.”
Order items from front to back.
Anything close to its expiry date should be put near the front. The same goes for anything you’ve promised yourself you’ll try again soon. With the rest of the items, group them together by type and store each cluster neatly in its own designated area.
That way, you won’t waste time hunting for the one you want. You’ll also easily see how much stock you have and what needs to be replaced. The best bit is you’ll save money by not overbuying.
For storage purposes, I’m a big fan of clear plastic bins (so easy to clean and help with occasional spills) and using a lazy Susan under a sink to see what you have in the back. Also, don’t forget about the hanging space that’s on the inside door of the cabinet under the vanity. That’s the perfect spot for a hair dryer.
Cosmetics can be tossed but expired medications should be taken back to the pharmacist for responsible disposal.
Once your essentials have been put back in their proper place and your bathroom has been conquered, go out and buy some flowers. Every bathroom instantly looks (and smells) better with a few flowers in a small vase.
If you only have 10 minutes…
Grab everything that’s sitting out on your vanity and gather it into a big box or a bin. Then for the next couple of weeks, every time you use an item, figure out a nice place for it to go.
My Rule: only items that you use every single day and that are pretty enough to be displayed should be out on the top of the vanity. Everything else needs to find space in a drawer. At the end of the two weeks if it’s still sitting in the box, you can probably let it go.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.