Let’s get into my favorite part: now that you’ve figured out how to go about organizing your makeup collection, how do we go about compartmentalizing everything in an organized fashion? The best and worst part… storage for your storage! 😬
It’s important to have an idea of how many products you own (along with general sizes), and you’ll want to have a rough idea of the dimensions of any drawer or flat surface you’re using.
If you have drawers, you want to ensure that the drawer organizers you’ve purchased aren’t going to be too tall or too wide! You may want to work out how you can fit together multiple organizers together so you can get sizes that work for your products but also the space.
On a budget or want to recycle? You can reuse boxes from online orders or gift sets (often more decorative and sturdier cardboard without being a literal, brown cardboard box). You can also take the box of many cosmetic items and cut it in half to store it–you can even glue them together to create your own drawer organizer (like for lipstick). You can use scrapbooking paper or stickers to decorate a lackluster box to better suit your aesthetic!
Best Drawer Organizers for Makeup
I like more freestyle organization systems, as this allows me to adjust the use of any organizer on the fly. If I have more glosses, I can store them in the same container I might use for eyeliners.
If you’re someone who acquires or declutters infrequently, having a more defined storage system (like an acrylic lipstick organizer) may be perfect. If you’re a bit unsure, freestyle systems give you more flexibility to learn as you go and figure out how best to organize in a way that’s useful to you.
The Container Store Linus Drawer Organizers ($3.99 to $9.99) are my personal go-to. I use these everywhere in my home. I use a combination of the Shallow Drawer Organizers and Deep Drawer Organizers. My pro-tip: REALLY measure and figure out the sizes you need, and if you need a lot, wait for a coupon for 15% off one item and buy a box of the size you need.
Here’s a breakdown of the various sizes and what I use them for…
- 3″ sq. (Shallow) — not recommended for makeup; works well for hair ties, rings, very small things
- 4″ sq. (Deep) — lipglosss, eyeliners, eyeshadow pencils, cream eyeshadows, lipsticks
- 3″ x 6″ (Shallow) — eyeliners, liquid eyeliners, lipglosses, lip balms, small compacts (think a MAC/Urban Decay eyeshadow)
- 6″ sq. (Shallow) — virtually anything! often use these for cream eyeshadows, larger bronzer/blush compacts, lipsticks (stood up), lipglosses (stood up)
- 6″ sq. (Deep) — same as the shallow version, just taller sides, and I use it similarly, though I often use this size for standing glosses or lipsticks up
- 4″ x 8″ (Deep) — a taller, slightly wider medium rectangle that is excellent for holding larger compacts, like eyeshadow quads, blushes and bronzers, etc. (MAC MSFs, Chanel quads, Dior quads all fit perfectly in this width); also excellent for lipglosses if you want to stand them up (taller sides)
- 3″ x 12″ (Shallow) — small compacts (most eyeshadow compacts fit, like Bobbi Brown, MAC, MUFE, UD), smaller blushes (MAC blushes fit, for example), lipsticks (stood up), lipglosses (stood up or lying down with two “sets” lying down with labels facing outward)
- 4″ x 12″ (Deep) — a longer version of the 4″ x 8″, it just holds more of the same; this is one of the sizes I use most often
- 6″ x 9″ (Shallow) — again, anything, as it’s a medium rectangle in size; I often use one of these for brands I don’t have a lot of products for, as I can fit an assortment of products together in it
- 6″ x 12″ (Shallow) — a larger version of 6″ x 9″–just longer–so it fits a slew of things; I use them often for cream and powder eyeshadows
- 6″ x 15″ (Shallow) — the largest rectangle-shaped drawer available; I don’t use this as it doesn’t fit my system (mine fits 12″ with about 3/4″ to spare)
- 4″ x 16″ (Deep) — a longer version of the 4″ x 12″ — as it is too long for my system, I don’t have any of these but they would work similarly to the others! Great for larger compacts, blushes, quads, palettes, etc.
- The Container Store Clear Storage Boxes ($1.89 to $21.99) are another personal-go to for all things organizing throughout my home. I use these for larger items, like skincare and hair care. I think these are less practical for someone who a few items; I use these for more bulk organizing for something like “100 liquid lipsticks I have to swatch someday” and less for products I want to use one-by-one (like in a vanity).
- The Container Store Clear Stackable Drawers ($12.99) come in a few sizes, and you can also purchase dividers (the best part about the system). I like these for how they store product BUT I am not personally enthused over the feel and quality (they just feel very thin and squeak when I pull drawers out). For The Container Store, I was ho-hum on them, but they are very functional… they’re just far noisier and thinner than anticipated.
- The Container Store Luxe Acrylic System ($7.99 to $29.99) is a modular system using acrylic pieces, including drawers, open units, and things like lipstick holders (see my review here).
- byAlegory Makeup Organizers ($9.99 to $22.99) are for those who either have smaller collections where spending $20 on a holder for a dozen lipsticks is acceptable or for someone who has a big budget and wants to go all-in on acrylic organizers. I find acrylic organizers just get to be very expensive and aren’t as space-efficient for my personal needs (since I have a metric ton) but are gorgeous for those who more edited stashes or aren’t looking to maximize every bit of storage space. I reviewed their various organizers extensively here.
- iDesign Onyx Organizers at Ulta ($9.99 to $39.99) — iDesign seems to be the same company that makes a lot of favorites, and if Ulta is more accessible, it might be a good option!
Best Makeup Organizers for Brushes & Eyeliners
First, you’ll want to determine whether you want to keep your brushes covered, protected, or on display. Some are concerned about dust, while others fear a pet getting hold of a brush! Others may prefer the convenience of having them reachable on top of a vanity. What works well for brushes tends to work well for eyeliners, as they have similar length and diameter!
There are two major types here: continuing to use drawer organizers, which allow you to keep your brushes tucked in a drawer (perhaps even a bin with a lid if you want to store on a shelf) or a brush roll, which is designed to hold a myriad of brush shapes and sizes. The latter is really great for those who travel with their makeup, as it’s a compact, tidy solution and travel-friendly.
You can also try using pencil cases and soft, makeup bags to hold brushes, though I’ve found that this can sometimes result in larger, less-dense brushes getting misshapened.
- Brush Rolls — pricing varies, and my favorite place to shop for this type of solution would be on Etsy! (If you sew, you could even make your own.)
- Clochees and Bell Jars — these are domed, glass tops that can be used to protect more open-based solutions — perhaps you don’t mind leaving brushes open when in heavy use but want to keep them protected when on vacation.
- Glass Canisters with Lids ($9.99 to $19.99) which are often used for food storage can work well to visually see your brushes with the protection offered by the lid–I prefer ones that lift off for ease of use (make sure to measure the length of your longest brush and add some extra to give space; you’ll likely want something wide enough to easily pull a brush out of it, too).
- MyKitCo. My Brush Buddy ($48.00) has four sections to help divide tools for on-the-go use, and it’s easy to clean.
- Sephora PRO Brush Caddy ($24.00) works well for at-home (by having it open, you’ll get two “cups” effectively) or travel and stands up well on its own.
- Sephora PRO Easel ($32.00) has 32 slots for brushes and stands up like an easel. It’s kind of like the makeup lover’s brush binder.
- Smith Cosmetics Smithfolio ($96.00) is a well-crafted, leather case with three brush plates and a mesh pocket; it’s pretty much the ultimate, more indulgent solution for storing makeup brushes and/or eyeliners on the go. This is what I typically use for travel (if it’s a longer trip).
Anything that is cup-shaped effectively can work well as a brush or eyeliner holder/organizer. This means pencil cups, glassware, barware, toothbrush holders, candle holders, empty candles, vases, mugs, utensil holders…
My recommendation is to find something that allows you to evenly divide brushes by function (e.g. eyes brushes in one holder, face brushes in another) or keep them all in one holder (so go for a wider holder). It is ideal to have something that has enough height to support the weight and length of multiple brushes, too.
Pro tip: If you want the fancy glass beads that are often found in brush holders, the only place I’ve found that’s really reliable has been here ($6.99 for 1lb. bag, and I find 1lb. bag works well for two glass tumblers).
A traincase is a larger storage unit that holds everything, opens and expands in place, but then quickly folds back up for easy on-the-go traveling. They’re popular with makeup artists, but I found it essential when I lived in a college dorm and traveled home for the weekend or a holiday break.
Oh, and depending on your aesthetic, a tacklebox (for fishing!) may work just as easily, but with the accessibility of products via the internet, it’s a lot easier to find an array of traincases at lower price points these days.