KonMari Your Cosmetics

One of the first steps in the KonMari Method(™) is to imagine your ideal life. Take a minute right now and imagine your ideal evening skincare routine…

Confession time: my “routine” used to consist of using a cheap, janky makeup remover wipe in a feeble attempt to smear off some of my makeup. That’s when I had a lot of energy. When I was tired, I’d not even bother to do that much. Don’t worry, my daughters made sure I realized that’s gross. I’d periodically buy a variety of face washes and lotions and creams in a burst of optimism, but deciding which one to use was clearly too much for me so I rarely used any of them.

Then a few months ago, after I complimented a friend on her complexion, she gave me a kit of skincare products for my birthday. The containers have huge numbers on the sides. I don’t have to make a single decision.


My evening skincare routine is this:

Use 1

Use 2

Use 3

Easy as 1-2-3 is definitely my jam. I haven’t missed an evening or morning in almost 3 months. Simplifying it made all the difference for me.

We talked about being overwhelmed by too many choices in an earlier blog post (see the story of the never-ending jeans shopping trip.) Part of the beauty of the KonMari process is that after you declutter, you decrease the number of choices you have to make from then on, which is a glorious thing.

I helped a client tidy her toiletries and makeup this week. When we gathered everything together, the array of products literally covered her dining room table.


There were obviously far more things than she could ever use before their expiration dates came and went.

The problem was, with all the choices and clutter of products in her bathroom, she was overwhelmed and sometimes ended up not using any of them.


She greeted me at the door one morning saying, “I haven’t even washed my face. I still have on my makeup from yesterday.” She obviously had plenty of products, the problem was that she had too many choices.

Once we went through all the products and she pared them down to the things she really loves and uses, her bathroom cabinet looked lovely. We put the makeup in a pretty basket, and her skincare products above the sink so they’re all together and easy to access.

She’s getting rid of all the products she purchased and didn’t end up using.

Her inventory is much smaller, hence the number of decisions she has to make is smaller. She has children ages 5 months, 3, 4, and 5, along with 3 teenagers, and is making a million decisions all day long while being chronically sleep-deprived. Not having to decide which of a multitude of products to use made her so happy. She said she’s excited to start taking care of herself again.

The problem is, it can be hard to let go of cosmetics because…

1. It seems wasteful to throw them away.

There are options for discarding them rather than throwing all of them in the trash. (See below) Keeping them and letting them expire is more wasteful than possibly donating them to someone who would gladly use them.

2. They’re relatively small, so shoving them to the back of a cabinet doesn’t seem like a big deal.

The clutter of a lot of small things is still clutter.

3. you spent a lot of money on them.

Keeping them won’t bring your money back.

4. You think you might change your mind and actually use them sometime.

If you haven’t already used them, you probably never will.

What can you do with the new or partially used products you are ready to release? (Excluding used mascara or lip products due to the possibility of spreading bacteria or infections.)

  • Give them to a friend or family member.

  • Check with your local women’s shelter to see if they accept donations of new or lightly used skincare products. If you’re in Little Rock, Lauren Straub from Our House says the ladies they serve would love some makeup.

  • Project Beauty Share® collects personal hygiene, cosmetics and beauty products and distributes them through non profit organizations who serve women and families overcoming abuse, addiction, homelessness and poverty.

  • List them on a site like Freecycle or Buy Nothing.

  • If they’re new, sell them on ebay or another online site.

To keep from backsliding once you’ve decluttered, use these principles Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice recommends:

  • Unless you’re truly dissatisfied, stick with what you always buy.

  • Don’t be tempted by ”new and improved.”

  • Don’t worry that if you do this, you’ll miss out on all the new things the world has to offer.

He says to remember “there is a world of marketers out there trying to convince you that “good enough” isn’t good enough when “new and improved” is available. In the complex, choice-saturated world we live in, [being satisfied with a choice that’s good enough] makes peace of mind possible. Learning to accept “good enough” will simplify decision making and increase satisfaction.”


When you have used up a product you’re satisfied with, there are some options for recycling the empty containers. If you’re in Little Rock, you can take them to Park Plaza Mall and deposit them in the Origins bin located in the Dillard’s makeup department (the counter manager, Jessica, was very helpful and told us all about the brand’s commitment to sustainability). They accept containers from all makeup brands, not just their own. There is apparently also a bin at the McCain Mall. They ship the empty containers to be recycled or used for energy recovery.

Terracycle has several programs you can sign up for to recycle used cosmetics containers. They offer free shipping on many of them, like this one for Burt’s Bees.

Used mascara wands can be cleaned then shipped to Wands for Wildlife. They use them to help take care of animals like this cute little guy.

To buy cosmetics with zero waste in mind, check out this site. The products were developed by a woman who was in my KonMari Consultant training group.

Let us know if you have other ideas!

Happy Tidying!

Sue Fehlberg is Arkansas’ only Certified KonMari Consultant.