How To: A Makeup Audit

Maybe it’s because I’m moving, or maybe it’s because I often feel the need to purge and simplify. Whatever the reason, I recently had my friend Robin over for an audit of my makeup drawer, bag, cabinet, etc. And I love how much we got rid of! But let me backtrack and explain. A Makeup Audit is an ingenious idea my friend came up with where a makeup artist (Robin) goes through all of your current makeup and throws away products that are expired, unnecessary or just don’t look good on you. I am the perfect candidate for this because (1) I hoard free samples like there’s no tomorrow and (2) I don’t know a lot about makeup. Which means, I have a lot of makeup in my drawer that I either don’t know what to do with or could actually be making me look worse.

To give you a little background on my friend Robin, she’s been doing professional makeup for the last four years and works at events, with wedding parties and even does some TV work. Her passion for makeup is simple, because it allows her to flex her creativity while, at the same time, helping people feel good about themselves.

And now, onto which makeup pieces she trashed and why.  When going through my assortment of free samples and makeup dating back to sophomore year of high school (I’m not kidding about the hoarding), the reasons for tossing products varied. But Robin pitched the vast majority of them because they were past their expiration date -> see image 2, below. Most of these items come with an average shelf life (mascara is 5 months, lipstick can be a few years), but there should also be labels on your products. Look for a small icon that looks like an ointment jar with a number and letter on it, like 6M, which means the product typically expires in 6 months. On my mascara tubes or Boy Brow from Glossier, it’s on a little sticker on the bottom of the tube.

Once we lightened the makeup collection from tossing expired products, we moved on to other criteria. Listed below are the reasons we decided some makeup had to go.

(Image 1) Low Pigment Products

For a few items, I wasn’t sure if the colors were compatible with my skin tone. But Robin ended up eliminating some of these because the powders were low pigment. This means that you have to apply A LOT of product to get the color you’re seeing in the palette. You can test for low pigment by applying the product to your forearm and seeing how many brush strokes it takes for the color to show. Quality products with good pigment will show on your skin almost immediately, leaving a little room for you to decide how strong you want the color to be. Being a fan of both minimal makeup and time-saving application, this made tossing low pigment items a no-brainer.

(Image 3) Duplicate Color Products

These were also easy to toss as you can do it by simply looking at the products. Quite a few of my Clinique eyeshadow samples had the same colors, so we tossed all of those except the largest, which contained the most shades. For lipstick, we ended up testing similar colors on paper. And while some were slightly different, others (like the pink lipsticks shown above) were EXACTLY the same and there’s no reason to have two.

(Image 4) Bad Skin Tone Match

For this one, Robin’s help was essential and we decided to get rid of products for two reasons: (1) the color didn’t go well with my skin tone or (2) the colors were just dated (think 90s or 80s makeup trends). The pale, pale lavender eyeshadow and silver tube lipstick above are both frosted colors, which scream 90s to me and I wasn’t really interested in wearing that decade on my face. Then we decided that shade of pink lipstick wasn’t a good fit for my yellow-ish skin tone, in addition to the pink eyeshadow. Robin explained that purple, green and neutral eyeshadows are easy keeps because they look good on everyone, but the purple and green work particularly well on me since I have green eyes.

Tah-dah! All of our throw aways in the trash. Doing a makeup audit is something I highly recommend because I’m convinced purging leads to less mental clutter, and it also reminds you of the amazing items you have in your drawer that never get used. Though I do recommend finding a makeup artist to show you which shades are a bad match for your skin tone, everything else you should be able to spring clean by yourself. Happy purging!