8 Ways I’m Condensing My Makeup Bag & The Brushes You Need

It’s time to streamline (again)…

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It’s been a while, but I have been re-bitten by the decluttering bug. Poor Mark is like ‘You wrote a book on this lady! Isn’t that enough?!‘ whilst he warily eyes up everything in the house that he knows will be in a bag destined for the charity shop in approximately five minutes. I did a MEGA kitchen declutter that will up on YouTube channel next week, but a big area that I’m focusing on are my beauty drawers. I buy A LOT of makeup, skincare and general beauty bits and I’m also sent a fair amount given what I do, so it’s a high-traffic area that no matter how ruthless I try to be, fills up fast.

When I couldn’t fit a moisturiser into my skincare drawer (I was very excited to purchase the Kate Somerville Peptide K8 Power Cream* FYI), I knew it was a sign that a serious streamlining needed to happen and so I’ve been making a conscious effort over the past month to do exactly that. Here are eight ways I’ve been making that happen (and the makeup brushes that I’ll never get rid of)…

Be Realistic About Colour. Back in the day I loved a red lip. A berry lip! A fuchsia pink lip! Oh I did them all. But it’s been yonks since I wore one on a regular basis and it feels like hoarding to keep a load that I don’t see me wearing anytime soon. I’ve kept a handful, but I no longer carry multiples in bold lip shades and instead have held onto things like *Glossier’s Generation G formula where I can go for a bold-ish type shade in a sheer finish.

Look At Expiry Dates. It’s the simplest way of streamlining your stash. Take a look at this Who What Wear article for the all the info, but the key takeaways are that powder lasts yonks, but anything that is a liquid or cream needs to be assessed by having a whiff and going with your gut. I had some glosses that smelt preeeeeety funky.

Mix It Up. If there’s something you’ve got that just isn’t quite vibing with you and you feel like with a little tweak it could be perfect, then become your own makeup mixologist, make your dreams happen and USE IT UP. Of course this only really works for cream and liquid products, but if you feel like a lipstick is just a little too drying, then mix it in a pot with some balm – make it happen, you know? Waste not, want not and all that.

Make Your Own Palettes. Gather up any eyeshadow singles that you have and love and create your own personal palettes. It’s an easier way to store them and putting them all together means you’re more likely to use them up. I’ve done exactly that and now it’s my favourite thing to use. I’ve done a detailed run-through with swatches and everything in this video if you want to see what’s in the palette pictured above.

Narrowing Down Skincare. A big area that needed streamlining in my drawers, was the skincare one. I found it best to really narrow down what my skin needs. Holding onto a mattifying SPF for oily skins just isn’t a step that I will ever use. So instead I’ve just held on to products that act as back-ups for categories of items that I already have in my routine that I know I will eventually get round to using up. Everything else has gone to friends or I will donate (speaking of which, here is a great article on where to donate unwanted beauty bits in the U.K!).

Decant It Out. If you have a tiny, little, minute amount of product left in a gigantic container then decant it out into a smaller one (I use *these little pots). Not only does it make a clunky product easier to store, it might mean that you use it up quicker because you can actually see what you’ve got left. I also find this step really helpful for lipsticks that are slowly melting into one gigantic mass that’s becoming tricky to use.

Lean On Multi-Taskers. Another nod to Glossier, but their *Futuredew product is such a brilliant multi-tasker that it works as a SUPER dewy primer and on-top-of-makeup highlighter too. Of course these multi-taskers are brilliant to have in your stash anyway, but once I’ve used up highlighters I’ve got I won’t be purchasing more and instead will just use this. Tick off the boxes that these types of products already do you for and see where you can cut things down.

Find Your Weak Spot. My weak spot is foundations. I could live with a small handful of lipsticks and never feel short-changed, but foundations!? GROAN. I just like to have choice, you know? But ultimately I reach for the same ones again and again, so it’s time to downsize. In an ideal world I’d have a light base for everyday and more medium-coverage base for occasions when I fancy a little more. Of course I haven’t narrowed it down to *just* two bottles (ONE DAY!) but I’m one step closer.


The One Stop Buffer Brush – *Westman Atelier Blender Brush. This is THE brush. It does pretty much everything to do with complexion for me; I use it to apply primers, foundations, often buff in concealers and use it at the end of applying my base to seamless blend in bronzer too. I love it. Of course it comes with a ridiculous price tag and the *ZOEVA 104 Buffer Brush is pretty much a spot-on dupe (although I’d say the W.A cleans up a little better). A flat-top kabuki brush in some form is a must for me.

The Detailer Brush – *ZOEVA 114 Luxe Face Focus Brush. I’m exaggerating a bit here because I wouldn’t say that I use this every single day like the others I’m mentioning, but it’s still a nice addition to have and let me tell you why. If I’m being slap-dash and super quick then I tap in concealer with my kabuki brush or just my fingers, but sometimes I want to take a little more time over that step and that’s where this brush comes in. Light and pliable with a little concealer massaged into the bristles it works as your own personal perfecting tool applying coverage or brightness depending on the tone of whatever product you’re using. It’s nice for when I’m feeling a little fancy.

The Face Diffuser Brush – *ZOEVA 090 Luxe Grand Powder Brush. If I’m using bronzer of any kind, then I’m using this brush. Cream, powder, whatever – this brush. Some people prefer to be more precise with their bronzer application; I prefer to slap it on all over. I guess the nicer way to put it is that it ‘diffuses‘ warmth beautifully all over the face. I must mention my contour brush here too. I don’t contour everyday, but if I do I use the *Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush that I’ve had since the brand launched and it still looks brand new. I rarely do blush (and if I do I use the C.T brush), and I apply all highlighter with my fingers as I feel like you get the most natural result.

The Everything Eyeshadow Brush – *ZOEVA 228 Luxe Crease Brush – (a few are ad – gifted, but I’ve purchased my own ones too). Please don’t make me count how many of these eyeshadow brushes I own. I don’t want to know. This eyeshadow brush is THE BEST if like me you just fancy a light wash of pigment all over the lids and not much else. I use it for powder, cream and liquid eyeshadows and it never lets me down. A swirl into the product and a couple of wipes across the eye and I’m done; it creates a soft smokey look in a matter of minutes. There’s a reason I own seven of them. Oops.


Photos by Mark Newton