Look Good

The definitive guide to organising your make-up

We’ve compiled the ultimate, step-by-step guide to help you clean and organise your toiletry stash. There’s no time like the present…

Written by High Life North
Published 05.05.2020

Every year when Spring rolls around, it sets off an almost primal instinct within us, mimicking the seasonal connotations of new beginnings and making us want to start afresh, de-clutter and emerge shiny, tidy and new. As certified beauty hoarders, there’s nowhere we need to organise more than our over-flowing make up bags, boxes and that ‘throw in products on a whim’ messy drawer.

Being able to see the products we own stored in a neat display ultimately saves us time when getting ready, rather than rummaging around for that one great lipstick we swear we saw six months ago. But even if you don’t have a mammoth hoard of products, your make up will require a regular thorough clean to avoid a build-up of bacteria that could lead to acne, or skin becoming irritated. To help you declutter, we’ve compiled the best tips and tricks to Marie Kondo your toiletries.

This way for a cleansing sort-out…


There’s no two ways about it, our make-up collects dust and harbours bacteria which, if left uncleaned, could result in acne, skin irritation and even infection. The makeup products we use every day should be cleaned about once a week ideally.

Step one – remove all products and place on a towel

Just in case any product spills or cracks, we suggest putting a large towel down and laying all your beauty products out. We mean everything – make-up, brushes, skincare, body care, nail varnishes and hair tools.

Step two – Check product expiry dates

Did you know every beauty product includes information to indicate its expiry date? Somewhere on your product – usually on the back near the ingredient list – will be a small Petri dish symbol with a lid half-open. The number inside the Petri dish will tell you how long a product lasts – e.g. 6M is six months, 12M is twelve months and so on.

Step three – Make piles – bin, donate and keep
If a product is past its expiry date, beyond salvaging and not in a condition to donate – bin it. You’ll thank us in the long run. If you haven’t used a product but it’s still in date, there are some amazing charity initiatives in the UK who give beauty products to those in need. Check out Beauty BanksThe Hygiene Bank, and Toiletries Amnesty for further info and instructions on how best to donate. Tidying your own home and helping others = good work all round.

Step four – organise your ‘keep’ pile by product type

We find this the best way to begin organisation, after cleaning.

Step five – begin the clean…

Cleaning your products

To begin, wipe the area that’s stored your beauty products. Be it a drawer, cabinet or cupboard, ensure to thoroughly wipe the inside, handles and exterior with antibacterial cleaning wipes or a cleaning spray. On our beauty products themselves, we use EcoTools Cleaning Wipes.

Wipe over the entire packaging, but lids and caps especially, as germs can easily build up there. You can wipe over the tops of blushers, cream eyeshadows and lipsticks with EcoTools wipes, or use a 70% isopropyl alcohol, (do not use ethyl alcohol) decanted into a spray bottle to clean products.

If needed, you can cut off the top of a lipstick with a sharp knife when cleaning the surface just won’t do. The only product we’d always suggest renewing rather than cleaning is mascara. It can’t really be cleaned, so buying new is always best. Your lashes will thank you.

Make-up bags

We’ll be suggesting some fab new bags below, but if you already have sufficient make-up bags that do the job well, here’s how to clean them. Once empty, flip the bag inside out and use makeup remover wipes to clean the inside. If you have a cloth make-up bag check if it has a label inside, then follow the washing instructions as advised. If not and it’s a fabric bag, you can either hand wash or put it on a 30-degree cycle in the washing machine with corresponding colours.


To clean eyelash curlers, take the padded strip out and wipe with the EcoTools wipes. If cleaning with alcohol spray, leave 24 hours before using the curlers again. If yours are in need of renewing, you can buy replacement pads, here. When doing a deep-clean, we also wipe over eyebrow brushes and replace any spoolies with new, eco versions like these, from Flirties. 


Make-up brushes

Make-up brushes are notorious for holding onto product, thus they can be a breeding ground for germs. We recommend cleaning your brushes every two to three days – plus, make up will always apply better when a clean brush is used. To keep our brushes in check, we use:

Beauty Blender Keep It Clean – £17.00

To banish dirt, wet your brushes or sponges, apply the Keep It Clean cleanser, and gently rub onto a mat (or into your palms) to create a lather. Rinse and remove excess liquid to ensure your applicator tools remain flexible. Allow to dry thoroughly after washing.

Beauty Blender Liquid Blendercleanser 150ml – £16.00

This clever formula is gentle enough to keep your make up sponges and brushes soft, but easily soaks away excess product, residue and bacteria. Using this cleanser paired with the mat above will mean your make-up applicators are thoroughly clean and ready to use.


Once your products are clean, decide which you use every day and would like to display and which to store away. We like to keep our everyday products in neat but chic storage on top of our drawers, then group beauty products together in a variety of caddies, boxes and bags. To help you do the same, we’ve edited the best storage systems available right now so you can create a charming yet tidy display.

John Lewis & Partners Beauty Products Storage Caddy

A stylish solution to storing your make-up brushes, this caddy will not only help streamline your make up kit, but it’ll also look wonderfully chic on your dresser, too.

Real Techniques Stick & Dry Brush Drying Rack 

If you’re looking for a way to keep brushes clean and within reach, this drying rack doubles up as a handy holder. The sturdy silicone will adhere to glossy surfaces, yet peel off easily it needed. It’ll give you a neat, out-of-the-way solution to drying your brushes after cleaning, and means they’re easy to grab when applying your make up. We love a two-in-one buy.

Primark Tortoise Shell Vanity Case 

This vanity case in trending tortoiseshell provides you with a pretty way to store your products. We’d use this case to house our blushers, bronzers and highlighters for ultimate organisation. Plus, it looks well beyond its price point at just £14.

Primark Tortoise Shell Vanity Case -£14.00

H&M Clear Glass Make-up Organiser 

This sleek storage system offers a practical way to house your beauty wares, that’d look great a-top your dresser. It’s perfect if you like to keep your everyday make up basics on display for easy access. We love this organiser’s polished look, complete with a touch of gold.

Estella Bartlett Clear Travel Case 

A clear case is our personal preference for storing make-up, as clear bags are both practical and easy to clean. We have one of these zip-up bags for our lip glosses and liners and another for our array of brow products. Follow suit to invoke a beauty storage system that means you always know exactly where your favourite products are.

Primark Nail Polish Storage Box 

This smart-looking caddy will bring a professional nail-salon vibe to your home. Plus, who can argue with that price point?

Primark Nail Polish Storage Box – £1.00 

The Flat Lay Co Tropical Leaves Make-up Bag

When we spotted this quick-to-tidy bag on Instagram, we knew we had to have it. The clever multi-way bag allows you to display make-up spread out flat, with a drawstring toggle fastening that allows you to store it away in seconds. The incorporated elastic holders helpfully hold brushes while small pockets store even more products. Plus, this looks stylish even when it isn’t stored away thanks to the trendy leaf-print design.

WOUF Black Leopard Cosmetic Bag 

If you’re on the hunt for a new, super-luxe cosmetic bag this is our favourite. We would suggest storing powders or products that could potentially, (though hopefully won’t) break in a clear bag that can be wiped clean – but would use this bag for lipsticks, nail polish, primers or small skincare items like eye creams.

Ikea GODMORGON Smoked box with lid 

To keep our skincare organised within our dresser drawers, we use these Ikea boxes in fashionable smoked grey. Perfect for separating out moisturisers, face masks, cosmetic pads, cotton buds and wool – they’re an ideal, affordable solution to your beauty storage needs.

Nikita By Niki ® White And Rose Gold Marble Make Up Organiser 

If you’re after something more opulent to sit upon your drawers, this marble and rose gold organiser is an on-trend way to keep things neat. Whether you keep it in your bedroom, bathroom or dressing room, the differing sizes of compartments means it fits an array of products.

Oliver Bonas Cream & Gold Ceramic Make-up Brush Pot

Oliver Bonas is our go-to right now for savvy yet stylish storage. Keep your makeup essentials in this gorgeous ceramic pot that is practical yet super-elegant. The scalloped edge and geometric gold-patterned details make it a must-have for a style-conscious organiser.

Ikea KUGGIS Insert with 8 compartments

Our in-drawer organisation just got a whole lot easier. We love Ikea for its affordable storage offerings, and this sleek drawer insert is no exception. An easy way to display all your best palettes, from eyeshadows to blushers.

House by John Lewis Ratio Storage Basket

If you like to have your skincare, bath and shower products on display in your bathroom in order to grab and go, use this to stylish storage basket to neaten the room in a modern way.

H&M wash bag 

Use this large wash bag to store a variety of skincare essentials – from day creams to serums and face masks. Plus, it’ll come in handy for travelling, too.

The Vintage Jar Co. Glass Bathroom Accessory Set 

Add a touch of vintage to your storage with these American-style mason jars. A great way to say goodbye to plastic, each product in this set is handmade, decorated with rustproof stainless steel lids and finished with a waterproof decal. These made-to-last accessories offer a unique way to display cotton wool, brushes, soap and more.

Oliver Bonas Round Marble Brush Holder 

Rather than rifling through drawers to hunt-down your make up brushes, why not store them in this trendy white marble and metallic pot? Pretty and practical, this holder makes a luxe addition to our cosmetics display – our brushes never looked so good.

Wayfair Chapman 4-Piece Makeup Organiser Set 

Keep the essentials at your fingertips with this four-piece set. Multi-purpose and versatile, use these to store cotton buds, hairbrushes, bobbles, hair turbans and so much more.

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