InStyle – January, 2006
An organized, clutter-free bathroom can be your most valuable time-saving tool. With everything at your fingertips (Toothbrush? Check. Contact lenses? Check), getting ready is a snap. “The problem is that cosmetics and toiletries come in all shapes and sizes,” says professional organizer, Linda Rothschild, founder ofCross It Off Your List. “It’s easy to throw stuff in a drawer and forget it.” Having helped Christy Turlington Burns and Heidi Klum add order to their homes, Rothschild shows you how to organize your beauty stash in the bathroom as well as your makeup and grooming on the go. -Ning Chao
Most people don’t wear a watch in the bathroom in the morning, but beauty treatments and makeup routines often require keeping an eye on the time. Store a small clock on a shelf to avoid cluttering a counter.
Use them to organize tools such as tweezers, swabs and cotton balls. Small items get lost when you can’t see them in opaque containers.
If you have more than two jars or bottles in order to reach something, you’re less likely to use it. Leave enough room so that all products are easily accessible-and just as easy to put away.
Your contact lens solution, lens case and eye makeup remover should all be grouped together. “If things are scattered, you waste time trying to find them,” Rothschild says. “Buying extras when you can’t find something also creates more clutter.”
Transfer mouthwash, rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover from big bulky bottles into small, clearly labeled glass or silver flasks.
When you’re standing at the sink, your toothbrush, toothpaste, facial cleanser and other frequently used items should be within arm’s reach. Move medications and vitamins from the medicine cabinet to nightstand or fridge; the bathroom’s high heat and humidity can affect potency-especially that of antibiotics.
Before buying any new storage containers, lay out all your beauty products (cleansers, moisturizers, hairstyling items, etc.) so you can assess what you have, what you should replenish, how many containers you’ll need. Don’t forget to include any extra supplies you might have stowed away somewhere outside the bathroom.
Pare down your beauty arsenal by purging products that serve the same function (do you really need three toners?) and items you haven’t used for the last six months. “There’s no reason to save that almost empty bottle of sunscreen for next year’s summer vacation, “Rothschild says. Many products expire after a year. Toss any makeup or moisturizer that smells “off” or has turned brown or orange.
Use a container to group items you might want to use outside the bathroom. For instance, put your nail files, cuticle scissors, polishes and polish remover in a small caddy, which you can simply grab when you want to do a manicure. Rothschild also recommends labeling the front of bins so you’ll know what’s inside without having to pull the entire container off the shelf.
To prevent a clutter relapse, repeat this sorting process every few months. And resist the urge to buy in bulk if you don’t have the storage space (those 24 rolls of toilet paper may seem like a bargain, but they’ll occupy valuable real estate). When you do make a purchase, throw out or give away the old product before stocking the new item.
USE JARS WITH LIDS To help retain the scent of bath salts and soaps; transferring disparate products into similar containers also gives shelves a tidier appearance (glass canisters, $19-$44 each; at Pottery Barn).
SAVE ON COUNTER SPACE or neaten the area around your tub by storing items like bubble bath and scented oils along with towels in a stand-alone cabinet (Cartwright Tall Etagere cabinet, $749;restorationhardware.com).
ADD SCENT TO LINENS by placing them next to an open jar of perfumed soaps, bath salts or potpourri. If you keep the door closed most of the time, the fragrance will circulate inside the cabinet so your towels will always smell fresh.
PREVENT CLUTTER in drawers by using dividers. To separate items of different sizes, such as makeup brushes and pencils, use cutlery trays, modular organizers or self-adhesive divider strips. The plastic panels at left can be cut to fit any size drawer-organizer strips, $14-$20; stacksandstacks.com).
PLACE daily styling tools, like brushes and combs, toward the front of a drawer for easy access. Put special-occasion items, such as hair accessories or Velcro curlers, in the back.
SEPARATE MAKEUP from other grooming necessities. Clear plastic makeup bags (Alan Stuart cases, $7-$15 at Zitomer, 888-219-2888) keep spills contained and lipstick and tweezers in plain sight.
LABEL BOTTLES with waterproof ink or printed stickers (personal care labels, $1.79 for 36;containerstore.com) to identify what’s inside. You’ll never mistake your minty mouthwash for facial toner again.STORAGE SOLUTIONS
Mini reclosable purchases are ideal for storing a week’s worth of cotton swabs or vitamins (zip-top bags, $.79-$.89 for a package of 10; containerstore.com).
You can buy travel-size versions of daily essentials, such as mini bottles of mouthwash, nickel-size spools of floss, and pocket lint rollers at minimus.biz.
STOCK UP ON SAMPLES
Freebies from companies such as Kiehl’s Clarins and the Body Shop, which contain a few days worth of product, are perfect for a weekend getaway.
PACK MULTIPURPOSE products, like a conditioner that doubles as a styling lotion, or a shampoo that can also be used as a body wash.
Q: I have limited space around my sink. What should I do with my toothbrush and toothpaste?
A: Think up! “Few people take advantage of their vertical storage space,” says Rothschild. Instead of setting your toothbrush and toothpaste on the countertop, put them in a pretty cup inside the medicine cabinet. Liquid gel toothpastes usually come in plastic bottles that stand on their own, but if your favorite toothpaste comes only in a tube, a tube squeezer ($9;bindependent.com) that clamps to the bottom of the tube-and has a flat anchor that you can place on the shelf-will let it stand vertically.
Q: My hair-dryer cord always gets tangled. How can I avoid this?
A: Prevent knots by bundling your dryer’s cord with a large plastic clip (try Cordclip, $5; containerstore.com) when the tool is not in use. In a pinch, an extra-wide claw-style plastic hair clip can help keep a dangling wire in check when storing styling tools.
Q: What is the best way to store makeup brushes? Mine tend to get dusty on the counter.
A: Only the makeup brushes you use daily need to be easily accessible, says N.Y.C personal makeup consultant Raychel Wade (cheektochic.com) Keep the rest of them stowed away in a drawer or wrapped in soft fabric brush roll so they stay clean. Protect frequently used brushes (for most people, this means those for foundation, powder, blush and eye shadow) from dust and grime by storing them on a covered shelf; the bottom row of medicine cabinet (usually tallest) is an ideal spot. Wade suggests a quick way to remove dust: Wipe brushes with quick drying makeup-remover sheets (Sephora makeup brush cleansing wipes, $9 for 20; at Sephora), which won’t leave the bristles wet.
Q: I like to carry a variety of lipsticks in my bag so I have several options for day and night. How can I lighten my load without sacrificing color selection?
A: Custom makeup palettes aren’t just for professionals. A miniature palette from Japonesque ($11; 800-955-6662) allows you to store up to six lipsticks in a tiny compact that’s no bigger than a credit card. It can also be used for cream concealers or blushes.
Q: My supply cabinet shelves are packed, and I have a hard time reaching products in the back. Any advice?
A: Place your products on a lazy Susan (typically found in the kitchen section of an organization or hardware store). With a quick spin, all products at the back will be at your fingertips. Along with basic white plastic, new models are available in a variety of materials, from polished wood and marble to slate and stainless steel (below, single-tier brushed stainless-steel turntable, $10; at Linens ‘n Things).