You’ve been collecting odds and ends from department store sampling promos, friends’ bathrooms and drugstore sale bins for ages…but how much of the makeup in your stash do you really use on a daily basis? Just like cleaning out your purse, trimming down your makeup load is at once a relief and the organization saves you precious time each application because you’re not digging through a bottomless pile of products. After years of helping clients ditch what they don’t use and find uses for stuff they forgot they had, I’ve developed these three rules that will help you gain control of your makeup bag or drawer!

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1. When in doubt, throw it out: Surely you’ve heard this saying before, and it is never truer than where makeup is concerned. If you can’t remember when you obtained it, and/or it doesn’t pass your sniff test (any odor besides a purposeful fragrance goes!) give it a new home…in the trash bin. A good rule of thumb is, if you haven’t used it in the past year (or God forbid—longer!), don’t feel any guilt about trashing it. Makeup can harbor bacteria and besides that, the ingredients can spoil and/or stop working all together. You know this if you’ve ever seen a lip gloss that has totally separated, or a powder that’s so gunked up with oil you can’t even get a good dusting no matter how much you scrape.

2. Scale down on similar colored products: If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that every woman has about 10 of the same shade in a similar product (especially in the lip category!). We always seem to gravitate to the same tones and wind up using our old standby anyway. Pull out all your lipsticks (or lip liners, or glosses). Arrange them by color. If you have more than two of any color, swipe the shade on your lips as well as a piece of white paper—this will show you how similar if not identical, the colors are. Decide which one you are more likely to use, and toss (or re-gift) the other. Repeat in all categories!

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3. De-bulk your stash by transferring crumbles into a smaller container: Got a few broken powdered blushes or shadows that you can’t bear to toss because you love the colors so much and maybe they’re discontinued? You don’t need a bulky compact or package to house your products if there’s just a little left. Re-purpose small lidded jars or tubes from empty beauty samples or purchase an unused stacking bead organizer (like these from Container Store). If the product is a powder, use a flat-edged paint spatula or the side of butter knife to shave the product into the containers. Keep all like products in the same stacker. You can do this with lipsticks as well—but contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to melt them. They are pliable so just use the above method to scrape them into the containers.

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