How to be a Beauty Product Minimalist


I like looking pretty and enjoy trying a new beauty product, technique, or style.  When I took a salon receptionist job as a teenager, I learned that I really loved makeup, hair color, and the perfect skincare/hair products.  I think nothing about this is wrong!  But just like all good things, it can be taken to an extreme. For me, this can happen in two different ways:

1) I can buy (literally BUY) the lie that there is no such thing as natural beauty, that women need the latest and greatest to be considered beautiful.  When cosmetics become my NEED instead of a way to enhance what’s naturally there or express personality, I’m going down a dangerous road.

2) I can take my purchasing habits to a materialistic extreme.  How much money am I willing to part with over mascara? moisturizer?  What else can I use that money for?  Buying these items is not bad; I use both every day.  But I don’t use 50 of them at a time.  And I don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars.

Also, I can’t travel frequently with so many products.  I pack a small cosmetic bag for trips and am completely satisfied – why should home life be different?  Tackling my beauty products was my first step in striving for the minimalist life.  I attempted a “realistic” approach since I still truly enjoy using lots of beauty products.  Keep in mind, I just downsized in February before a move.  This was 10x worse a couple months ago! Yikes.


1. Take Inventory

My makeup drawers were overflowing, so was the cabinet under my sink.  It wasn’t until I pulled it all out that I realized how many products I actually had.

#MillennialMinimalist Challenge: A good way to take inventory is to “pack” one cosmetic bag as though you were going on a trip.  Use only what you packed for a week.  See what you missed and what you didn’t.  If you never missed it, do you really need it?


*not pictured: shower products and my lipstick collection*

2. Create Throw-away and Give-away buckets

Throw away anything past its prime or empty. If you’re like me and have a handful of younger female family members, you can easily put the good stuff you no longer want/need in a bag and pass it along.

3. Get Rid of the Duplicates

Slimming down on the repeats is an easy place to begin if you don’t know where to start.

Exhibit A: 8 shades of blue nail polish.  Painfully unnecessary.  I cut it down to two.beauty_minimalist

Exhibit B: 13 Eye shadow palettes and 4 singles.  I cut it in half.


4. Put all the near-empty items toward the front

I still had some high-quality cosmetics that I enjoyed using, but were almost empty.  Throwing them away would be throwing away money.  Instead, I placed these items toward the front and committed to using them first.  In a month or so, my collection will be even smaller without waste.


The outcome:

Ongoing!  But I managed to throw/give away over half of my products.  I went from my makeup not fitting into five drawers to fitting comfortably in three drawers.  My nail polish now fits in one small container, my shower products take up a tiny corner of the shower, and my hair care bin is half the size.  Once I get through my almost-empties, samples, and my “I can’t believe I bought this, it’s so unnecessary, but I’m going to use it up anyway” products, I’ll have a collection that’s more manageable for me.  While still having fun cosmetics to play with.  I’ll post an updated picture once that happens.


Other steps I’m taking:

– Replace expensive products with cheaper and more natural options, like coconut oil as a makeup remover.  And use essential oils I already have for beauty boosters.

– Stop buying things I already have.  I don’t need to buy lip products for 37 years or so.  I have enough.  STOP THE MADNESS!

If any of my other fellow Millennials are minimalists, or are in the process of minimizing (like me!) – let me know! I’d love to hear your tips and possibly even link up to your work!

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling face. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Life your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. – Ashley Smith

Reading Resources For Minimalism

Click on the links before to learn more about my favorite books on minimal living.

1. Simple Living – 30 days to less stuff and more life


2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess


3. Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living



**Some links may be affiliate links. This means I can make money at no extra cost to you. As always, I only recommend products/books that genuinely adore.**

10 thoughts on “How to be a Beauty Product Minimalist

  • June 8, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Love this. The last time I went on a trip, I packed what I needed (the basics) for make-up. When I returned, I decided to just keep everything in that cosmetic bag because it made me realize how much I didn’t need everything else. I cleaned out my drawers and stayed minimal, which I really have enjoyed. Now I need to focus on also using more natural options, so I will be checking out your post on essential oils!

    • June 8, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      It’s amazing when you step away from the mass amounts of products on a trip, you realize just how little you need (or honestly even want!). So glad this has worked for you! I will write one on how I use essential oils in my beauty routine soon!

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  • June 9, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    You know what’s so funny… I don’t wear a ton of makeup and yet somehow I’ve acquired BAGS full of it. So I definitely chuckled while reading this because *HI* I can so relate! I’m probably about due for another purge but every time I go to do it, I think “Maybe I’ll want to wear this this year!”

    • June 10, 2015 at 9:07 am

      Haha YES! I use that line ALL THE TIME “Maybe I want to wear this…” Sigh :)

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  • April 19, 2016 at 7:39 am

    This semester of grad school I’ve been taking a spin class that requires me to shower in the gym before going to class, so I packed a bag of makeup to throw in my duffel. And I came to the same conclusion you did! There was so much stuff I didn’t use, any my daily routine is actually very simple! Loved reading your post!

    • April 21, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      That is SO how it goes! When we moved to Costa Rica for 8 months, we had 10 bags and my guitar. That was all we owned. I couldn’t believe we could live on that. Now we can’t believe how much stuff we brought and are planning of getting rid of 2 or 3 more bags.

  • July 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    I stick with a “uniform” of only about 6 daily products: primers, foundation, blush, an eye quad, mascara and brow pencil. Use the same products daily, get my makeup done in 5 minutes, and avoid the trap of cosmetics shopping for fun!

  • September 4, 2016 at 9:47 am

    I am about to clear out my makeup and cosmetics. I too realise that I don’t actually use that many products. I sorted out my vast collection of makeup today and tomorrow I pared down body products. I feel much better already.


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