How to Stop Hoarding Beauty Products in 2015
Photo by: Taylor Cox
I never thought I would be the type of person to read a book about home organizing. I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so I don’t have that much stuff, and also, I’m usually too busy not being a giant nerd who reads books about home organizing.
But The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by professional organizer Marie Kondo is different. You’ve probably heard about it, as its been winning over converts in the U.S. since it was published here in October (it was already a bestseller in Germany, the UK and Kondo’s native Japan). There’s something so zenlike and universal truth-speaking in the way Kondo writes about material things and their place in our lives that reading the book feels less like a chore and more like a meditation session.
Her approach to curbing the hoarder tendencies that exist in all of us (to one degree or another) is to ask of each item in our homes, “Does this spark joy?” All those stretched out socks, shirts you swear you’ll wear once you get the missing button fixed, and lame gifts you’ve been keeping around because you feel too guilty to toss them most certainly don’t. Kondo’s method is based on giving yourself the permission to give these items a send off, thanking them for the role they’ve played in your life. Yes, she also has a charming and very Japanese habit of assigning human feelings to inanimate things — instead of tossing accessories in a haphazard pile, she urges us to tell them, “Thank you for making me beautiful” and then putting them away with respect. It’s really kind of genius, and once you start thinking like she does, a decluttering switch suddenly flips in your brain.
My own inner hoarder, and I bet you can relate, is unable to part with beauty products. Kondo doesn’t spend much time in the book writing about beauty products specifically, but I recently used her method to purge my own collection and learned a few lessons in the process.
If you’re stockpiling, you’re wasting money.
We all have things that we amass in bulk. Kondo describes one client who stockpiled 20,000 cotton swabs (to be fair, the Japanese ones are amazing). For me, it’s mascara. Once, a few years ago, I dropped my mascara in the toilet mid-makeup routine and had to run to Duane Reade to buy an emergency replacement. Ever since then I’ve packed a drawer full of tubes so I’d always have a backup…or 20. But no single person can go through that much mascara, and many of the ones I’d hoarded had expired. Meanwhile I was taking up space in my apartment with this collection, which means I was paying rent to keep it around. Yes, it was just a drawer, but when you live in a four-room apartment, every little bit counts. I forced myself to downsize to a couple backup mascaras and gave the rest away.
If it doesn’t make you happy, you’ll never wear it.
That lipstick that’s just a shade off? I always told myself I could mix it with another color to make it more flattering, then proceeded to shove it into the back of a drawer, never to be used. Now I know better. I thank the lip color for teaching me that I can’t pull off aubergine, and I toss it. I feel instantly lighter and less anxious. The same goes for the moisturizer that I spent too much money on only to find it makes my face break out, or the perfume I liked on the blotter but never really loved on my skin. Thanks for teaching me to sample before buying, old friends.
You’re allowed to indulge your obsessions.
A big part of Kondo’s approach is about intuition, which means she doesn’t have hard and fast rules like, “You only need five pairs of shoes,” or “If you haven’t used it in a year, throw it out.” This is a relief if you’re the type of person who needs a rotation of seven different brown eyeliners to feel complete. (They’re different, okay?)
“What is the perfect amount of possessions?” Kondo asks in the book. “As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head and said, ‘Ah! This is just the amount I need to live comfortably. This is all I need to be happy. I don’t need anything more.’” Trust me: read it. Your 2015 is about to get a whole lot tidier.
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