The William Morris Project: 2014 | Makeup Drawer Redo

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The William Morris Project

The last time I worked on my makeup drawer, it was a total redo. I was proud of how much I had purged at the time, but looking at the after now, I see I could have tossed in the trash another bag’s worth of makeup.

Makeup Drawer, 1

My makeup drawer last week may have had less makeup than the first time I cleaned it out, but it was back to being cluttered and messy. Loose powders and compacts are dusty monsters.

Makeup Drawer, 2

Makeup Drawer, 3

I took out everything in the drawer and put it in a purge pile. The obvious items went out first. I admit, there weren’t too many obvious items. I knew I would start rationalizing, so I went into the project with some notes on makeup expiration. If it had expired, I tossed it out–with the exception of a handful of eye shadows because while the beauty editors at Allure says they expire in 3 months, other sources said 12 months. I wear eye shadow, at most, a few times per year. I don’t want to toss out everything I have and then buy replacements that will sit in a drawer. For now, some eye shadows stay until I can figure out a workable solution.

Sticking to bright line rules whittled down my makeup by at least 50%. After that, it was as simple as washing out my makeup caddy and putting the makeup back in place.

Makeup Drawer, 4

Here’s the new and decluttered makeup drawer. I admit that I will probably add some mascara to the drawer–or nice eyeliner since I shouldn’t wear mascara.


These are my notes in case you were wondering about the expiration dates. You can see them–sans scratch outs and misspellings–in the Allure link above.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. Rachel says

    Well I guess I need to toss my whole drawer then. I don’t wear makeup regularly. I think the last time was 2 year ago for a professional portrait. Before that was for a wedding. Explains why my eyeliner was too hard to use. I did buy some little ‘sample’ foundations to have on hand but I think they have gone off too. This is a bit of a dilemma as I do want to keep some on hand so I don’t have to buy everything for a special occasion. That is usually stressful enough without trying to find the right color foundation.

  2. Jeannej says

    I question the eye shadow expiration. Not to gross anyone out, but some of mine is years old and I have never had an infection or other problem with it. They are good brands like Estée and Bobbie brown. I suspicious of the marketing racket behind the advice to routinely replace makeup. As for nail polish? Most is gloppy in months! Looks good Jules. I have a plastic box of extra misc makeup awaiting my discerning eye. I’m inspired now!

    • HeatherL says

      Exactly what I was going to say!
      I always question these guidelines. Allure is supported by advertisers who want you to buy new makeup all the time. the mascara & liquid liners ones are the rules I follow. They also go visibly bad ( dry, clumpy) quickly. Powder products last for a long time as long as they stay dry. I also find that nail polish thickens quickly. I am too fickle with colors too bother thinning it. I need to clean that drawer out soon.

  3. says

    Oh, I love this post! I have made the experience that mascara and liquid eyeliner have to be replaced regularly, but lipstick and gloss, I don’t know… I only use them a few times a year (my husband hates both) and they seem to last several years.

  4. says

    I recently did a reality check about my current makeup needs, opened my drawer of “dashed dreams and broken promises”, and purged both products that may have had expiration issues & those that did not deliver “luminous skin, long lashes, the glow of youth” etc. The (few) remaining products in that drawer are actually being used now rather than sitting untouched because they got lost among all the crap and all the unused products just made me feel bad when I looked in the drawer, so I didn’t, so the good ones didn’t get used.

    I took the expiration timeframes as a suggestion to not only consider if the product was spoiled but if it was still “fresh” … colors, styles change and dated makeup can add years to a face that I certainly didn’t desire.

    I’ve now vowed to only purchase beauty products from stores that accept returns if you are not satisfied those products lived up to their marketing promise because much of what I threw away had not and I don’t feel it should cost me to be a test subject for their claims.

    And bottom line, I now only have makeup I like and works for me … what a concept … and the process of getting ready is more enjoyable and sends me off on the day with a smile on my face, a truly beautiful experience.

  5. says

    I love your handwriting! And yeah, I don’t change out my makeup that often either. I figure if it still works well and hasn’t changed texture or started to smell different, it’s probably fine. Right?

  6. Susan G says

    Powder eyeshadow? I can’t believe it really expires that quickly, if ever, to be honest. Otherwise – those sound like reasonable guidelines. Sigh…I see a drawer purge in my future.

    • Susan G says

      Oh – and nail polish – I found a great solution. I have too many colors (Essie is my weakness) and they do get thick. I bought a bottle of thinner at a beauty supply store and it works great – only takes a couple of drops. It’s a big bottle and I’m pretty sure my grandchildren will inherit it (i.e. have to throw it away).

  7. says

    I, too, question the eye shadow expiration. I would think that as long as you keep your tools clean, the eye shadow would be fine for much longer than 3 months. Contamination from unclean tools near the eye is probably the reason, which is why I don’t question the eyeliner. But I go through eyeliner much faster than eye shadow. It’s about the only thing I wear consistently, since the humidity of SC causes most make up to slide right off my face!

    You have lovely handwriting!

  8. says

    Yeah, I’m going to join the chorus of people questioning those expiration dates for (powder/dry) eye shadows. If you’re applying them to a clean face and you’re good about keeping your brushes sanitary, it really shouldn’t be an issue. Honestly, I think the best approach with cosmetic shelf lives is to trust your eyes and nose. If something smells off or has an oily residue or is cracking or whatever, toss it. Wash your brushes every couple of days, don’t carry stuff around in a filthy pouch, and use common sense!

  9. Bec says

    I am a make up junkie and take the utmost care of my collection. Eyeshadow only being good for 3 months is complete bollocks. I have some eyeshadows that are nearing in on 7 or 8 years (you have those colors you love, but just can’t justify all too often). Use the smell/discoloration test. Does it look off? Does it smell off? No? You’re fine. If you haven’t used it for a little while, dip a qtip in some rubbing alcohol and then lightly brush over the surface of the eye shadow, let it dry completely before use. This will help keep it sanitary. Using make up brushes will significantly increase the length of your makeup’s life :)

  10. HeatherL says

    Good job with the purge! I don’t agree with all of the guidelines, but if you aren’t using it frequently, there is no need to keep it all. I am a big purger in the rest of my life, but my make up is ridiculous. I just got rid of 10 lip sticks/glosses & that was probably about 1/3 of my stash. When I purge, I also find myself buying new things right away. I like to have options!

  11. Maria says

    I still have and occasionally use the Lancôme blush compact I wore on my wedding day in 1992! And I haven’t caught the Creeping Crud (yet) from last millennium’s blush.

  12. says

    Haha! I love that everyone here has makeup as old as I do. I just can’t justify buying new shadows when I wear the ones I have so infrequently.

  13. April says

    I couldn’t care less about makeup as I never wear any… But I just had to say you have gorgeous handwriting! I wish mine looked half so nice.

  14. Patricia says

    Nail polish doesn’t need an expiration date like face cosmetics do. The quality of the products aren’t what the expiration date is for usually, it’s for the safety of the consumer. Also products that have SPF, check the expiration date before you purchase them, these dates are different. They’re based on manufacturing dates and not the date you open them. You don’t want to use them too much past the expiration date either. The SPF starts losing its effectiveness. And if your nail polish is too thick, you can try nail polish thinner but not nail polish remover. That’s the worst thing ever!

  15. Susan says

    Yeah, I even question the liquid foundation rule. Its the one thing I spend big bucks on, and it takes me about 2 years to go through a $70 bottle. No way am I throwing it away sooner and I’ve never had problems. I don’t even notice a difference in my skin or in the quality of the product when I do crack open a new bottle. If I did, that might inspire me to switch them more often. Until then, I’m using them past the guideline :-)

  16. says

    Thank you Mrs. Julietta for the entirely too helpful make up toss check off list. I sorted through all my make up (while referencing your list) and cleaned out my make up case. Yes, I still have a make up case. I keep it because I hope that when I work out of it magic will happen before my very eyes and presto! A camera ready face. This rarely if ever happens, but I can dream :)

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