How To Spring Clean Your Beauty Cabinet Like A Pro

From the ultimate brush cleaning method to knowing when to chuck out old buys, here's everything you need for the big beauty spring clean

beauty clearout

by Annie Vischer |
Updated on

Time at home comes with a few benefits - suddenly there's space in the day for a spring clean. And when it comes to decluttering beauty, there can be even more of an upside than just more space in your bathroom. Marie Kondo writes in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, 'It's a very strange phenomenon but, when we reduce what we own and essentially 'detox' our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well.' And anything that helps calm our minds right now feels like a much-valued plus in these uncertain times. So let's get to it. Roll up your sleeves and turn out the entirety of your bathroom cabinets and dressing table drawers. The time has come for an efficient dose of beauty admin.

clean make-up brushes
©Hazel Olayres

Clean Your Brushes

Let's talk make-up brushes. We often use them daily, buffing them into every nook and cranny on our face, so it’s important that we keep them clean. Bad brush admin can lead to anything from breakouts to eye infections, not to mention uneven make-up application, so it’s vital we’re disciplined in keeping them clean. Renowned make-up artist Katie Jane Hughes talks us through her toolkit routine.

Frequency: ‘I clean the brushes in my professional kit after every single job. When it comes to the brushes in my personal make-up bag, I wash them at least twice a month.’

Method: ‘First I rinse them under water, then I hold them onto my Beautyblender Blendercleanser Solid Pro, £40, and swirl them around. I swirl them on the palm of my hand too, to get the suds going. The most important part of this process is rinsing the suds out. When soap gets into the ferrule (the metal band on the brush) it loosens the glue and the brush may begin to shed bristles. Getting all of that soapy water out is key. I leave them to dry on a flat surface, or hanging upside down’.

On-The-Go: ‘If I’m on a job and want to clean a few brushes whilst I’m there, I use a spray’.

What To Chuck And When

As much as we’d like to hold on to every last bit of our favourite beauty buys, the reality is that some of the ones we have stashed away in the depths of our bathroom cabinet will have to go. Commit to a clear out and run each product through our thorough list of criteria to decide whether it stays or goes. Only the freshest will survive.

1. Read The Label

First, look for a PAO symbol (period after opening). It’s usually a number, followed by a capital ‘M’ and an open jar image. ‘M’ stands for ‘mensis’, the Latin for ‘month’ and the number dictates the number of months the product can be used for after it is opened.

2. Take A Good Look

Can’t see a PAO symbol? Asses the look of the product yourself. According to founder of Paula’s Choice skincare, Paula Begoun, ‘if a product seems unusually discoloured, runny or lumpy, has separated or has developed a strange odour, throw it away.’

3. Consider The Ingredients

Water: For Paula, a high water content makes for a shorter shelf life. ‘Water encourages the growth of bacteria and other microbes.’

Plant Extracts: ‘Plant extracts are susceptible to bacterial contamination and breakdown too. Just think about how long fresh fruit lasts on your kitchen counter!’

Preservatives: ‘If a product is labelled preservative-free, take extra caution. Without some kind of preservative system, bacteria can flourish easily’.

Shop: The Best Brush Cleansers Around


Shop: The Best Brush Cleansers Around

Bobbi Brown Brush Cleaning Spray, £161 of 4

Bobbi Brown Brush Cleaning Spray, £16

Clinique Make-Up Brush Cleanser, £142 of 4

Clinique Make-Up Brush Cleanser, £14

Dior Backstage Brush Cleanser, £15.303 of 4

Dior Backstage Brush Cleanser, £15.30

Beautyblender Blendercleanser Solid Pro, £404 of 4

Beautyblender Blendercleanser Solid Pro, £40

4. The Beauty Breakdown

Still not sure? Paula has devised a rough guide to help you decipher an item’s shelf life.

Lipsticks: 6 months – 1 year

Cream, Liquid or Stick Foundations: 6 months – 1 year

Mascara: 4 – 6 months

Liquid Eyeliners: 4 – 6 months

Powder-Based Products: 2 – 3 years

Cleansers: 1 year

Toners: 6 months: 1 year

BHA or AHA Exfoliants: 1 year

Moisturisers: 6 months – 1 year

Serums: 1 year

Shop: The Best Beauty Organisers


Best Beauty Organisers

beauty organiser1 of 7

iDesign 3-Drawer Box from The Signature Series by Sarah Tanno, £33.74

beauty organiser2 of 7

iDesign 13-Compartment Organiser from The Signature Series by Sarah Tanno, £22.01

beauty organiser3 of 7

Muji Acrylic Box - 5 Drawers, £34.95

beauty organiser4 of 7

Rotating Makeup Organiser, £29.99

beauty organiser5 of 7

Oliver Bonas Pink Gold & Glass Beauty Storage Shelves, £39.50

beauty organiser6 of 7

Rio Cosmetic & Brush 360° Rotating Carousel Organiser, £19.99

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5 Tier Cosmetic Organiser, £52.99

READ MORE: How To Organise Your Make-Up And Beauty Products Like A Pro

READ MORE: 10 Best Facial Cleansing Brushes You Can Buy In The UK

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