There was a time when my collection of cosmetics rivalled that of a professional makeup artist, although I certainly did not have the skills to match. I had a terrible habit of picking up one or two new things every time I walked passed a Sephora. Two years ago I began to minimize and simplify all aspects of my life, and when I started to downsize my professional makeup collection, I found it overwhelming.
As a full-time entertainer who often performs as different characters, each with a very specific look, I believed that I needed an elaborate professional makeup set up for my job. The giant makeup case pictured above on the left was my mainstay, a beauty with a set of working lights, extendable legs that fit into the base for transport, wheels, and a telescoping handle. It was super cool, expensive and very, very heavy, which meant I rarely took it to gigs. I had originally purchased it with the fantasy that I would cart it around from dressing room to dressing room and would always have everything at my fingertips, but instead it just became an overly fancy makeup storage box that sat idly in the corner by my vanity.
As I whittled my collection down slowly over months, I discovered a few downsides to my mound of cosmetics:
When you have a huge makeup collection it can be difficult to find what you need which puts you at risk of buying doubles or even triples of the same thing.
It’s almost impossible to keep track of how long certain things have been sitting around. Makeup expires
which is a bigger concern for people like me who suffer from acne-prone and sensitive skin.
A large collection can make you more susceptible to makeup trends; what’s one more cream, lipstick, or specialty brush when you have the space in that giant vanity?
It took a lot longer than I expected to sort out what was essential for me but it was worth it. I went from a case the weighed over 50 pounds when fully loaded, to one that is just over 2 pounds. One of the best parts of minimizing any collection is that the focus shifts from quantity to quality. It is an opportunity to reconsider your values and how your purchasing decisions can reflect those values. For me, minimizing was a shift toward high-end products that are vegan, cruelty-free, minimally packaged (ideally with no plastic), and do not irritate or dry my skin. That is a lot to expect of a product, so often I have to compromise on one of those elements as well as be willing to pay a little more.
Minimizing has also helped to make my setup more travel friendly. I have been touring full-time for 8 months now and it would have been impossible to take my previous makeup case on the road. Reducing my collection to a well-curated set of just my ideal tools means I have everything with me all the time, no risk of forgetting something at home. I’m also less likely to leave something behind at a hotel because everything has a place, a quick glance will reveal an empty slot and therefore a missing item.
If you’re interested in minimizing your collections here are a few tips you might find helpful.
Be like Marie Kondo and get it all out in the open. Start by collecting everything into one place so you can get a sense of how much you actually have. Might be a lot more than you expected.
Group like items together (lipsticks, foundations, brushes, etc.)
Toss all expired products.
Toss unflattering items, such as foundations that are 3 shades off or that grey lipstick you hate the look of.
Toss or give away all impulse buys or trendy fad items you never use. The trill of buying the fun shiny thing is long gone and now it’s ready for a new home.
Make note of the things you use most often.
Clean your brushes and wipe down your containers.
Display remaining items in a way that allows you to see the most-used products at a glance and put everything else away so they are organized and easy to find when you need them.
Consider your values and ask yourself if you see them reflected in the items you have. Are you interested in zero waste? Vegan? How can you collection be a better reflection of your values.
I’m so happy with my current set up, it’s perfect for life on the road, but it took over a year of testing to get here. It’s a lightweight, well organized set and an one of the most beneficial things about this new minimized makeup kit is that it’s made getting ready for a performance a more satisfying ritual that focuses me before the show.
Bellow is a full list of everything in my kit for the curious.