I’ve used a variety of options in the past, have moved on from them, have married others, and have figured our what works well for me and my bulk-sized collection… but also have a nice grasp on what would be excellent for more typical makeup enthusiasts and those in-between!
Having a vanity is a luxury and gives one the space to apply makeup as well as to contain and/or display it. It also keeps makeup out of humid spaces, like a bathroom (which is usually not advocated but not always realistic).
If you’re fortunate enough to have more space and can create a dedicated area to house your collection in more furniture-like organizers, then a dedicated storage system might be the option you’re looking for!
A vanity is really no more than a table top, which may include a built-in mirror and a drawer or set of drawers, but it is a lot like a desk, too. I find that “vanity” is often like the word “wedding” and can just add an upcharge for being a “vanity.”
You can easily turn most desks into vanities by adding a mirror onto the wall or getting a standalone mirror to put on top of the desk.
Vanities + Desks for Makeup Storage
There’s a reason why you see a lot of Ikea makeup storage solutions on YouTube… they’re cheap, effective, and fairly accessible (at least in the US). A makeup vanity is usually has a flat surface, room to slide a chair or stool under it, and has a mirror; it may or may not have drawers. The mirror might be attached.
This is why items that might be thought of desks also work well as a makeup vanity–the only modification they need is the addition of a mirror, which is easy and allows for customization. You could get a standalone mirror, like simplehuman’s Pro Sensor Mirror (a favorite of mine) or mount one on the wall (I actually have both — I use the standalone as a magnifying mirror and the wall-mounted one as my big picture view).
I personally use Ikea’s Besta Burs (mine is wider than what’s sold these days), which has two drawers and a glossy finish (super easy to clean). I love mine, and the only complaint I have is that the drawers could extend further out to make accessing the back of the drawers easier.
Here are some more classic vanity options available that should work in a variety of spaces. I’ve found that vanities have a smaller footprint than typical desks, so they have less depth (which you may or may not prefer) and aren’t as wide, which allows them to fit in more situations.
Here are thoughts on other Ikea desks that I think would work well for a makeup lover:
- Ikea Micke ($49.99 to $99.99); the smaller version would work well for tighter spaces, maybe a corner in a bedroom, for getting ready. It will not offer tons of storage but should hold some of your basics like face products, brows, a few blushes, etc. within its drawer. The larger version is just about double the size, so it’ll offer a lot of area to spread out, which works in larger spaces, but it will be a poorer choice if you still need to fit actual storage units or drawers with it.
- Ikea Alex ($149.00) now comes in a desk-form with two pull-out drawers. The Alex series is hugely popular for its drawer system, and if you like the look and feel of an Alex, you might actually prefer getting a standalone table top and laying it across two Alex drawer-units instead of the desk, which would work for smaller stashes and those with more space.
- Ikea Linnmon / Alex ($126.99) is exactly as I mentioned: Alex drawers with a tabletop, though this system has two legs on the right side with the drawers on the left. I’ve seen many set-ups that have drawers on both sides. I use an Ikea tabletop with legs as my photography table and find it has held up extremely well over the years (at least five). This version would work well for someone with lots of space or who wants their vanity to double as their work space (as an actual desk).
- Ikea Knotten ($159.00) is a standing desk, available in white and birch, with two open shelves and small drawers. This would work well for someone who prefers to stand and do their makeup and is tight on space. It is not going to be the most effective for storing all the products but would work well for someone who has less (or more storage space elsewhere) and wants to display their products.
For those who are looking for more stylish pieces, here are some stunning options:
- CB2 Avalon Desk ($699.00) includes three drawers with a gold-hued base
- CB2 Drommen Desk ($599.00) is a wood desk with two tiers for good display and accessibility of items
- CB2 Fullerton Modular Desk with 2 Drawers ($1,640.00) is a stunning option for those who have larger budgets and would work well for storing a mix of larger and smaller products in the drawer units (but pay attention to the larger bottom drawers and how they’d work for your purposes–good for hair dryers, body lotions but not so much for lipstick!).
- CB2 Runway Acacia Wood Desk ($499.00) is very similar in look and feel to the Micke but is a more expensive option that may be more aesthetically pleasing to some.
Bookshelves as Vanities (and Storage!)
Bookshelves double as excellent storage solutions that display makeup well (for easy access of your favorites!) and often come in shelf/desk hybrids for those who like to sit or enable those who prefer to stand to do so.
I think they’re a good fit for those who have items they really want to arrange and display in a more aesthetically-pleasing manner and/or prefer to stand while doing their makeup or may do more of their application in a separate area (like the bathroom).
Here are some options:
- 45MInSt 5-Tier Bookcase ($189.99) — I have something very similar and use it to hold various makeup organizers, bins, etc.
- CB2 Helix Walnut Desk ($249.00) — two shelves and a desk section for the more minimal beauty lover
- CB2 Helix Bookcase with Drawers ($499.00) — two shelves, plus a lower section with flat surface and two drawers
- CB2 Helix Bookcase ($219.00) — includes four, open shelves (I see this unit in backgrounds often!)
- CB2 Tesso Bookcase ($349.00) — available in a mix of glass and metal (black, silver, or brass) with five shelves is sleek, slim, and perfect for standing
Dressers as Standing Vanities + Makeup Storage
For those with larger stashes, dressers might provide the necessary storage space while also keeping things tidy. For the majority of the products I’ve kept, I keep them in large dressers that have a lot of drawers (16 each!).
Dressers are an excellent choice for someone who has a lot of larger items–say a lot of haircare, hair tools–or has a larger collection. It is also good for someone who wants everything to look tidy but isn’t known for keeping their things tidy, so being able to tuck everything away in drawers maintains an illusion of tidiness to your guests!
The downside to dressers is that they can encourage over-purchasing, since they often hold more, and it can be harder to see what you have at a glance. If you’re someone who needs to see what you have to use it, this might not be the best option.
Dressers also come in a lot of different heights and widths, so they are versatile; they can fit in a lot of space sizes and vary as much as our individual heights can (for those who like to stand and do their makeup).
I use the Ikea Besta drawer system, which is extremely customizable, and I ended up customizing to have 16 drawers in high-gloss black–they were not inexpensive but have held up through four moves (and I’ve moved with the makeup IN those drawers!).
The Ikea Alex system is also very, very popular as office storage as well as for makeup storage. It comes in different heights, and it works well tucked under a wider desk.
I like them but find that some of the drawers are too short for my preference (part of why I prefer my Bestas!) but they work just beautifully for most collections–if you are a big lipgloss lover, you’ll need to store those laying down in most instances!