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We got some makeup organising hacks from a beauty editor

  • Tips & Tricks
Jun 02, 2020

I’ve held one reigning title for most of my adolescent and adult life: beauty junkie. Ever since I can remember, my thoughts have been consumed by skincare and makeup, fragrance and hair products. I’m fascinated by everything to do with beauty; I nerd out at the science and psychology behind it as much as I celebrate the outward veneer it creates. All my spare change has always been funneled into my beauty drawer, and after I became a beauty editor nearly a decade ago, that ‘drawer’ has plurified at rapid speed. 


Now, one title I’ve never held, even for a week, is organised. Every arena of my life is happily unorganised, except for my make-up drawer. That space is always meticulously arranged, but it took a while to get here. After adopting many self-organised storage methods that only took a few days to fall apart, I finally arrived at a winning one a couple of years ago that has kept me on the track to success ever since. Here are my tricks:

Placing trays and boxes in your drawers, help divide products into categories and keeps them organised. Image courtesy, IKEA



  • Split It Up: I’ve divided my collection into two main sections:
    1. Daily Stuff: These are things I use every day to create my regular makeup face for when I’m working, have meetings or am seeing friends for brunch or coffee. 
    2. Everything Else: This is stuff I wear less often including crazy eyeshadow palettes, coloured eyeliners, false eyelashes, etc. This division helps because I have my essentials all within easy reach and I don’t rummage through fifteen identical-looking eye pencils to find the black one I use daily. 

  • Get Boxing: After categorising all your makeup into these two subsections, start arranging it. If you have large, deep drawers, like me, start collecting flat boxes. First, place like products in one box: group together foundations, concealers and powder in a ‘skin’ box; eyeshadows, pencils, and mascara in an ‘eye’ box, and so on. You don’t have to put the lids on them; these open boxes will act like trays to hold all your like products in one space. In fact, if the box lids are deep, they can serve as trays as well.

  • Start Stacking: Arrange your ‘trays’ over each other, starting in one corner of the drawer, with the least used items at the bottom. For example, I have acid green and glitter eyeshadow in the lowest box, followed by more wearable nude shadows in the box above. Make sure the stacking method you use for the products allows you to store trays one on top of each other. For instance, foundation bottles can be stored sleeping or horizontal in the tray, while compacts can be stacked vertically or upright.

  • First In First Out: You could use the same tray system to store your daily makeup, keeping that tray right on top of the other ones. Or else, make a pouch of your essentials, so you can use it each morning, and then carry it with you if you want your makeup to be portable for touch-ups. 

  • Keep It Clean: You can lift out the trays you need for your makeup, place them on your dresser, and replace them in the drawer when done. I use daily products straight out of the top tray in the drawer and make sure I put it back right where I picked it up from, so it’s always organised and cleanup is minimal. 

  • Pencils And Brushes: If your drawer is deep enough, store brushes and pencils upright in old candle jars or mugs. Brushes need to be kept away from dust, so it’s better to store them in an enclosed space, as opposed to on top of the dresser. If your drawer doesn’t have enough height for upright brush storage, get a brush roll which is a roll-up case for makeup brushes, or else, resort to laying them flat in a tray. Pencils can be grouped by category: eye, lip; or by colour: nudes, brights, reds; and fastened together with hair ties, and laid in trays, if you can’t keep them upright.

  • Essential Storage Solutions: If you don’t have drawers, get a makeup organiser, which is a set of slim drawers stacked on top of each other made of transparent acrylic, making it easy to see what is where. Starting with the bottom drawers, follow the same principle of storing products in ascending order of use.

If your drawer is deep enough, store brushes and pencils upright in old candle jars or mugs. Image courtesy, Freestocks/ Unsplash

  • Slim It Down: If your collection is getting out of hand, practice depotting. This involves removing the outer packaging and storing the product in slimmer containers. Lipsticks can be depotted into sectioned pill boxes available at chemists, while eyeshadows, blush and powders can be put into empty palettes sold by brands such as M.A.C., Inglot and Z Palette. Makeup artists use these techniques to keep their kits compact and portable. 



  • When To Clean: Keep an empty candle jar to put used brushes in. Every Sunday, wash the brushes and sponges you used during the week, so you have a fresh start on Monday. 

  • Where To Store: As beautiful as perfume bottles and prettily packaged products look on the dresser, that’s not the ideal storage space for them. I store all my makeup and skincare in my dresser drawers instead of keeping it on top, so it’s away from light, dust and pollution. This is especially essential for perfumes, as they degrade on exposure to light. Another no-no: storing products in a damp environment like a bathroom, which causes mold and makes products deteriorate faster. 

These small tweaks have made putting on my face so much more satisfying, and that feeling of bliss when I slide open this drawer of goodness is incomparable.


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