The best part of my job is unlocking the beauty closet every morning. I get to the office about half an hour before most to settle in and sometimes just spend a couple minutes in there “doing my job.” That means making sure the newest skincare, nail polishes, fragrances, and makeup are all organized, filed away, or displayed for optimal editor-eye-catching attention. But really, if I’m being completely honest, it’s the one chance during the day where I can feel the packaging, ogle at the jewel tones, and pray at my secret altar of Kylie Hair Kouture hair extensions, which we got in a few months ago but I no longer have the chance to “test.”
When the beauty closet is in order, it’s a beautiful thing—but it's also dangerous. Having access to everything doesn't make you more choosy; it makes you more greedy. A little La Prairie keeps the bed bugs away, right?
And it's not always easy to keep so neat. In the heat of a product launch season, the closet shelves are crammed, the drawers overflow, Hello Kitty Softlips live next to La Mer The Eye Concentrate. Total. Chaos. But we've gotten good at braving the storm and keeping things orderly. From our closet to your vanity, product holders unite—as long as everything is under control, there’s no reason to admit you have a problem.
First up: Makeup. Contrary to popular belief, you should not put new products front and center. Instead, put products you know you’ll be using every day in the front row. Because, if you’re not one with minimalism, you’ll know that “daily essentials' probably means things you don’t really use every day but think about using every day. Either way, put your absolute essentials—tinted moisturizers, sunscreen, mascara, what have you—at the front, so you don’t have to reach for them in the back and end up knocking everything over. We have a shelf dedicated to “Just-In” products, then below that, the products that were “Just-In” two weeks ago before they’re filed away in drawers. A lot of what works for the beauty closet is optimized for a larger operation than your personal makeup stash—but scaled back, you can apply the philosophy anywhere.
Organize your lipsticks by shade and color family. We have one drawer dedicated to lipsticks, filled with uniform, stackable containers that hold all nudes, pinks, reds, and berry lipsticks in respective receptacles. This makes life so much easier when researching for those Color Coding slideshows. If you’ve got limited space, Tamim (last summer's returning champ of interns) suggests organizing them in a gradient fashion. Reds filter into pinks, fuchsias, and the darkest plums.
For makeup tools like brushes and eyelash curlers, arrange your favorites in an emptied candle jar and keep the more specified ones (fan brushes, half-synthetic/half-natural, precision liner brushes, etc.) flat and stored away in a makeup bag or drawer so you can reach for them when you need them.
All those little spoons that come with fancy moisturizers and face masks aren’t just for Barbies. Your fingers are grimy, germ-infested vessels (dramatic), so instead of throwing those little spatulas away, save them as you would save bobby pins or safety pins. If you’ve got a mask that doesn’t come with one, now you have approximately 25 little black product spoons to soothe your germaphobic soul. Similarly, designate a little tray for all your samples, which inevitably tend to be forgotten after purchase. When you’re bored or just feeling a little experimental with your fragrances, makeup, skincare, etc., you’ll have a convenient little space to dip into instead of browsing Sephora.com and spending a sizable amount of your paycheck on lipstick that just ends up somewhere in that aforementioned spectrum of colors.
If space is really tight, count on these Muji stackable boxes to organize up instead of out. Sort according to the steps of your routine: moisturizers on top, foundation/concealers/SPF somewhere in the middle, color makeup at the bottom. When you’re done, everything is easily stacked back in place.
And as hard as it may be, you should also part with those products that are so old you don’t know what to do with them. “If you can’t tell if something is old, smell it.” Tamim said. “Some things start to smell like a foot…then you know. There were some lip glosses in the closet that smelled insane…” Nail polishes are no good if they’re too goopy—you can try adding in the tiniest drop of acetone, but if that doesn’t work, toss.
Finally, if you've got lotions and tons of skincare whose packaging just doesn’t vibe well together, decant the product into uniform Muji pumps and at least pretend you’re one with minimalist sensibilities.
Photographed by Tom Newton. Now onto your shelves...