Beauty Resolutions

A reader (hi S!) recently wrote me about my 25 item wardrobe resolution for 2014, and how that might extend to skincare/beauty.

This was a question that I struggled a bit to answer, because I actually already have a fairly pared down makeup collection. No, really! Everything fits in a small/medium Muji acrylic organizer on my counter, whereas I know people who couldn’t fit just their eyeliner collection in there (no judging! Eyeliner is important). Anyway, I had to think back a bit to how I arrived to this pared back state, and here it is…


via Ikea

Years ago I used to be a fairly frequent purchaser of beauty products, and had several acrylic boxes filled with all kinds of items. I can really understand why someone who loves makeup or does it for their job would have a ton, but neither of these were true in my case. A smokey eye at 8 PM, carefully applied with the help of awesome YouTube videos, always equalled raccoon eyes by 9 PM. I owned glittery blushes that only were appropriate for late night clubs, and I was going only clubbing, like, once a year. Upon which I’d forget to wear the blush anyway. Yet for years, I kept on buying more products. I eventually realized that I had to pare down my collection, and one day, I went through everything and threw out all the nail polishes, mascaras, and lip glosses that had expired, according to the rules. It was quite a lot.

Soon after, I realized that I was just wearing the same old things every day anyway – the same lip color, the same mascara, the same blush. And on top of that, I actually liked it. It was easy. I had the same routine to follow each morning. And it was fine to wear the same things on my face every day, unlike with clothes, where if I repeated the same outfit day in and day out it would surely be eventually reported to HR by coworkers.

I don’t want to sound like I took all the fun out of beauty – because I did, and still do, love a good product (lipstick, mascara, blush, whatever) now and then. Instead, a natural rule evolved after a while – where I only “allow” myself a certain number of lipsticks, mascaras, blushes, whatever at any given time. If I add more and I’m at my limit, I have to throw something out.

This has worked for me for years, and over time, led me to make better beauty choices too. The urge to hoard eventually faded, and I stopped adding glittery blushes and eye shadows to my beauty collection. I realized that even if I did miss out on a great new limited lipstick color, there was always something fabulous next year anyway.

So – if you are struggling with your beauty stash and want to pare it down – this would be my best advice. 1) Throw out everything that’s old, and then, 2) Determine the right number of beauty items in an ideal state. Be honest! Do you really need 6 different taupe eyeshadows? Who can really tell, anyway? Follow the allotment rule I outline above, and soon you’ll have a much more manageable collection. And then, when you really do find that perfect taupe shadow, it will be all the more satisfying.

Please share your own makeup philosophy (bulging drawer, medium, minimalist) and your own experiences in the comments!

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  • a
    February 24, 2014 at 9:47 am

    As a teenager I loved makeup. But as I grew older, there would be periods of months I wouldn’t even use makeup. Now I just use the most natural palette that hide my flaws. I’m using Dior now. They have a lip balm that puffs and colors (without it being an actual lipstick) your lips; I thought it was just gimmick, but you can really see the difference. Their spray foundation is very good too- they don’t smudge. Of course a good brush is essential to properly distribute the chemicals on your face 😉 I use the same makeup everyday, same lipstick: best possible combination to look my best everyday; I’ve reached an age where I don’t care about variety and experimentation-I just choose what best enhances my face.

    • Katherine
      February 24, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      What is the lipbalm? It sounds awesome! I would love to find just one go to brand that really worked for me – would simplify things even further 🙂

      • CD
        February 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm

        I think it’s Dior Lip Glow? My lips are sensitive and tend to peel with most lip balms. But not Dior Lip Glow. I highly recommend it.

        • a
          February 24, 2014 at 7:15 pm

          Yes, it is the Dior lip glow 🙂

        • Katherine
          February 25, 2014 at 12:42 am

          Awesome thank you!

  • Mod
    February 24, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Another great post, Katherine! I never wore much make up (almost none) throughout high school and college. Within the last two years, (I blame YouTube, which replaces my scripted TV consumption), I went through a make-up renaissance/hoarding phase, almost to a point of buying things just to have them. Things changed when I moved into an apartment this month and since then I have been really limiting what items I bring out of my boxes into my sacred sink and bathroom drawer space. I still watch YouTube videos and lust after beautiful products, but I’m really starting to differentiate what I need vs what is pretty. The new Hourglass blushes might qualify under both of those criteria though… 🙂

    • Katherine
      February 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you! I have heard very good things about Hourglass and they might be what I try out next…when there’s an opening in my makeup drawer 🙂

  • Angela
    February 24, 2014 at 11:16 am

    I had to do the same as you. I went through all of my products and everything that was expired got tossed – just seeing how much money I had to “throw away” because I had too much stuff really helped me see that I did not need to buy so much. My makeup all fits into a small drawer and it will take me about one minute to transfer it all to my travel kit. Every once in a while (one or two times a year) I may buy a “fun” lip color or something of that nature, but I have found that my tried and true favorites make me happy and make me feel beautiful – which I think is the point of makeup anyway.

    • Katherine
      February 24, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      I’m jealous about the one minute transfer to a travel kit! It still takes me longer than that. Fun lip colors are also my pick me up – I have to be careful not to accumulate them.

  • christinebrightside
    February 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    very wise words! I love Beauty/Skincare and I also love reading Beauty blogs such as e.g beautylookbook..and yes I want it ALL when I see new stuff but luckily my sanity always sets back in. My secret is the numer 10: never have more than 10 lipsticks, never more than 10 nailpolishes, never more than 10 eye shadows and never more than 10 blushes. When it comes to mascara or other “basics”, I always just keep one until the next comes. With nailcolors it is easy since I only wear nude and red – three nude colors and three red colors are currently mine. Crazy colors do not work on my eyes/face, so I stick to neutral and dark colors for my every day-smokey eye, and one glitter for evenings… I cleaned out about 3 years ago and it is so relieving to have a managable, reasonable beauty section at home 🙂 Last but not least I am so proud to say that currently I have 6 nailpolishes, 6 lipsticks, 4 blushes, 9 different eye shadows only – still have some let’s call it “buffering emergency capacity” left for any omg-i-am-dying-if-nothing-from-this-limitededition-comes-to-me!!!

    • Katherine
      February 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Love the rule of 10! I think it’s a very manageable number. And I’m impressed by your nail polish number especially 🙂

  • bluepolkadotpjs
    February 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Can you share what the items in the picture are? I can tell a few (dior lip product, YSL lip gloss), but I would love to know what the rest of your holy grails are. Thank you for the great post!

    • Katherine
      February 25, 2014 at 12:42 am

      Hi Bora, unfortunately I cannot take credit for the photo (though I’d love to). It’s actually an image I found on Ikea’s site, lol!

      • bluepolkadotpjs
        February 26, 2014 at 6:55 pm

        Lol! =) Can you considering doing a post about your beauty and skincare items? I would love to see it. Thank you! Hope you are having a good week.

        • Katherine
          February 26, 2014 at 7:53 pm

          Hi blue, I’ll definitely try to do a post later! 🙂

  • Ella Pretty Blog
    February 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    I think over time I’ve realized what I use and what I don’t – which has helped me streamline my collection. I have a weakness for blushes, nailpolishes & lip pencils…but I do use them an rotate them so it’s ok.

    I hardly ever wear any colored eyeshadow (usually a nude color & a Stila Kitten-type highlighter), so I don’t let myself buy any eyeshadow palettes – no matter how tempting or beautiful the packaging is (…YSL & Chanel!)

    I don’t experiment with foundation much either – I have one favorite liquid and one favorite mineral formula which I switch between.

    However, I’ll never be a true minimalist – my best friend in college had ALL her makeup in one little bag – even back then I had a whole caboodle full of makeup LOL!

  • TheFashionableTeacher
    February 24, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I have never been much of a beauty person. The last time I wore a full face of make-up (foundation, powder, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, lipstick, eyeliner) was my wedding day in 1996. Now, my make-up routine consists of lipstick (Revlon being my favorite) and mascara. Eyeshadow if I’m feeling jazzy, and it has to have glitter or shimmer. That’s all. Nothing else.
    My skin routine is pretty simple as well-Bliss cleanser and Target moisturizer. Sometimes, I will switch out my Bliss for the Neutragena transluscent bar that I’ve been using since middle school. On Saturdays, I use the St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub. Once a month, I do a mask. With this routine, I only get the occasional hormonal acne. I’m a firm believer in gentle cleansing. I don’t put anything harsh on my face.

    • Katherine
      February 25, 2014 at 12:52 am

      I think the last time I wore a face full was at my wedding too, now that I think of it 🙂

  • Sara
    February 24, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I enjoy reading your blog. I appreciate how organized and mindful you are with your beauty products. I’m happy to say, after many years of purchasing beauty products on a whim, I have found what truly works for me. I buy Armani face fabric foundation, Chanel bronzing makeup base and Waxlene on my lips. That’s all for day. For the party, Mac funny face is a nice bright lip choice. Everything else, I am trying to purchase cruelty free products, I love Dr. Bronner’s magic soaps, Jason toothpaste and Alba coconut face wash.

    • Katherine
      February 25, 2014 at 12:53 am

      Hi Sara, thanks so much (though I can’t take credit for that organized beauty drawer – that’s Ikea’s vision 🙂 ).

      I love Bronner magic soaps as well! I always like to read the labels when bored, lol.

  • Celina
    February 24, 2014 at 11:43 pm


    Same Celina that commented on the Canada Goose entry – hope you’ll get tons of use as they are great jackets!
    May I recommend one of my favourite products to you?
    It’s a pro nail polish brand in Korea that is free of Carcinogens and has a special
    triangular brush so that application is a lot easier.

    Brand is Gionyx and though it is not available outside of Asia, I would
    love to send a couple over to you.

    Do let me know!

    • Katherine
      February 25, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Hi Celina, you are too kind! I love the polish description. I actually am scheduled to be in Korea so I can add it to my list while there. Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

      • Celina
        February 25, 2014 at 1:24 am

        Ah! That’s amazing, i’m here till June!

        If you have time, do check out the restaurant called Bitter Brown! It is delicious!
        It’s located in Garosu-gil in Sinsa Dong!
        It’s a hidden restaurant but the quality of the food is amazing!

  • Ammu
    February 25, 2014 at 7:08 am

    I did the same thing as you about four years ago and streamlined my beauty cabinet. I now hold on to an eye pencil and concealer (both Laura Mercier), three lipsticks (Bobbi Brown 10, Mac Chilli and a red one by Sephora), Bobbi brown loose powder, a Mac lip balm in violet, and a few lip balm stains by Revlon, which I love. I also have a few blushes which I think I need to discard, since I never seem to use them.

    • Ammu
      February 25, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Oh and of course, I hold on to Maybelline mascara, a sephora eyelash curler and Chanel liquid liner.

      • Katherine
        February 26, 2014 at 12:07 am

        Raising my hand as another Maybelline mascara lover here!

  • DSK Steph
    February 25, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    I relate so much to your blog post today. I am starting to get my makeup addiction in check! lol Never felt better. 🙂

  • sesy hasan
    February 27, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    I am happy to see Vie Luxe candles in your drawer Kat..I am a big fan of St. Barths. They are perfect! My husband freaked out when I bough it. The price here in Jordan is more expensive than in US and that’s after 20 percent discount. Nevertheless, no candles can beat Vie Luxe, imho, hopefully Marjorie will keep making them.

  • Mel
    March 2, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Hello dear Katherine,

    my -downsized to the basic make-up – that works for my fair complexion, palette:

    Armani Maestro (shade 2) Sheer light and ”buildable” – Award winning!
    YSL Touche Eclat concealer (was always struggling -&buying- between 1 and 1.5, I finally chose #1)
    Urban Decay Naked Basics ( perfect mat colors, use the black as eyeliner when I want to, the box fits even in a clutch!)
    Estee Lauder MagnaScopic (BEST EVER…use it for over a decade…and I’ve tried so many others in
    Benefit Eye Bright ( does wonders when needed! )
    Benefit Dandelion powder ( sooo natural & dainty!!)
    And here is the fail..: about 40 lipsticks and glosses mostly in light pink or rose colors….One of the resolutions of 2014: get rid of them as soon as they expire & stick to 1 nude 1 rose and 1 berry colored each season.

    After experimenting in my younger days with every color and every kind of make up, I’ve found the above convenient to use every day (& night) and have them ready in my beauty case when traveling within a minute!
    Together with my skincare products 2 minutes! ( will tell you which I favorite when you do the skincare routine post).

    And the key of not getting tempted to buy unnecessary stuff ( clothes shoes make up etc…) is simply not to go for ”window shopping” whether this in ”physical” stores or strolling online.
    I go instead to a gallery, a museum, in the park, for a coffee-restaurant-drink ….This helped me a lot as I know my weakness to envy and to buy whatever I like. I still try very hard, but I have made a start.

    Warm regards,


    • Katherine
      March 2, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Dear Mel, thank you for such a long and thoughtful comment! I love the idea of just one perfect nude and berry – that’s probably what I would choose for myself as well, reds just haven’t worked for me (or I haven’t found the perfect one…)

  • C
    March 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    While I have 3 full sets of make-up due to frequent travel and somewhat living in 2 locations, I do tend to use the same basics over and over: NARS tinted moisturizer (after trying tons of BB creams), Dior Lip Glow (the color looks natural on me), Clinique quickliner for eyes intense (stays longer on me than urban decay), zuzu luxe mascara (I like that this is gluten free), Nars orgasm blush and bronzer duo (for when I bother) and eyeshadow I always use but I’m not picky, usually use one I acquired somewhere for free. I regularly need my makeup to last from 7 am though about midnight and while nothing is perfect, this seems to work the best for me.

  • Audrinajulia
    March 2, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I have one of each kind ( the basic ) then i manage to wait for the expiration before i venture to another brand if i like to try, ( since i don’t use them more often ) umm except for the lipstick that i always love using. Since i am prone to buying i bought an acrylic organizer to store nine tubes alone, and for that It helps me to wait for one to get empty before i replenish. That a good starting point for me to cut down on my purchase and lessen the spoilage.

    Great tips from you and nice to keep track again on your post. It feels like reading a book. Love.


  • Hazel
    June 11, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Have a problem with this as well! Had a phase where I got addicted to beauty tutorials (still watch occassionally, but the addiction has been pared down). Where do you get all this self-control? Every time I’m about to throw something out, it’s like a drama movie where I have these flash backs and then imagine future scenarios where I might need them. And these imaginings can get as elaborate as — what if I need this color again and the attendant doesn’t know what it’s called and is having trouble finding it for me? What if it goes out of stock and I’ll have the last piece even just as a collector’s item forever? Well, I’ll try again tomorrow. In other things I’m pretty sane, but the process of throwing out things gets emotional for me. Such drama over throwing out. Even broken things. I actually have a box for these what-I-call “memory items”. HELP! (again)

  • Anonymous
    September 26, 2014 at 9:34 am

    i think i need to show my sister this post URGENT!!!!