by Susan Caplan McCarthy
A Year of Decluttering: February - Decluttering as Self-Care
If the edge of your bathtub or the counter around your bathroom sink is crammed with beauty and grooming products, it’s time to simplify. And, by “simplify,” I don’t mean that you need to get rid of everything but a bar of soap and a lip balm. However, by paying attention to how you use (or don’t use) these products, you can create a routine that saves time, money, and stress.
Yes, stress. It’s ironic that routines that are meant to help us unwind or take care of ourselves can leave us feeling overwhelmed. For example, do you have multiple body washes perched in a caddy hanging in the shower? One, you’re investing energy in decision-making every time you go to take a shower (What scent will it be today? Tropical? Romantic? Sporty?)
Two, you’re making it so much more difficult to clean, which might mean you skip the task until the layer of soap scum has you cringing.
Also, if you’re in the habit of starting a new product before you finish the one you were using, it becomes easier to lose track of how old a product is. Perfectly good products might end up hidden behind new purchases.
I’m not going to list must-have bath and beauty supplies because a must-have product for one person is a never-need-it product for someone else. So, how to simplify? Be your own guide by examining what you use and don’t use.
Gather Your Bath and Beauty Supplies
Gather in one place all the bath and beauty supplies that you have, both open and brand-new. This should also make you aware of where you store products. Do some products end up under the bathroom sink, while other items are tucked onto a shelf in your bedroom or linen closet? Do you buy products and keep them in their shopping bag until you need them (or remember them)?
Sort Your Supplies by Type
You’ll probably need more space to sort through your supplies than you have in your bathroom, so bring everything to a table or countertop in another room. This way, you can match similar types of products – so, put all your shower gels together, all the nail polishes in another group, hair styling products in a group (or subgroups if you have a variety).
Check the Condition of Products
Check all the products’ smell, color, and texture to make certain the product isn’t breaking down.
Ditch What You Disliked
If you remember disliking a product, why are you holding onto it? Are you really going to use again? You aren’t going to get your money’s worth by letting it sit on the bottom shelf of your linen closet for the next two years, so let it go.
Hint: Create a plan for what to do with current, and future, products you realize you won’t use, let alone finish. Will you ask a close friend or family member if they’d like to try it? Will you make yourself use it until it’s gone? Can you donate opened products to a local shelter? If you make the rule now, then you won’t have to decide what to do each time you find yourself with a product you aren’t happy with.
The rule I give myself – I can’t buy a new product until I’ve used up an old one that has a similar use. So, I’ll buy that new shampoo only after I’ve finished the one that I’ve been using.
If you have multiples of similar products, line them up from least to most full and determine to work your way through each product. (When you put these items away, make sure you keep them in this order, so you use up those partial bottles of body wash, shampoo, etc.)
Store Everything Together
Determine a space where you’ll store the products you have and plan to bring new purchases to this location. Unless you’re going to put something into immediate use, keep new and not-in-use products in one place so you don’t forget that you already have three new sticks of antiperspirant at home when that sales display catches your eye.
Eliminate Future Impulse Purchases
If you notice products that you don’t (and won’t) use, remind yourself that it’s unlikely you’ll use similar products in the future. Yes, it can be difficult to throw away a nearly full product (even if it’s been shoved to the back of a shelf in your home for the past seven months) but holding onto it won’t recoup the money spent on it.
Consider that you spent the money learning that you won’t paint your toenails blue or green or that you can’t stand the feel of styling gel in your hair. To get your money’s worth, pay attention to what you learned. Yes, you love the look of bright, fun color polishes on other women’s toes, but you’ve learned that they aren’t for you, so stop looking at that display of the new spring colors.
Remove Rarely Used Items
Next, consider if it is worth holding onto rarely used products. Do you really need the mascara or lipstick you only wear on special occasions? Why are you saving that perfume? Products degrade over time. If you only wear mascara twice a year, why bother?
The same goes for masks, hair treatments, and other spa-like products that you rarely use. Treat yourself in a way more meaningful to you than a cuticle cream you’ll never think to use.
Simplify Your Routines
Simplifying your bath and beauty routine ultimately comes down to noticing what products and routines you enjoy and which ones you never make the time for. This isn’t saying that you can’t try new products; however, if you know that you purchase but rarely use face masks, then use that knowledge when you find yourself gazing at the display of new face masks on the market. Or, buy a one-use mask to try that night.
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I help people focus on what's important to them by guiding them through clearing clutter and distractions from their lives. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; courses; speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.