How To Minimize Your Personal Care Collection

If you’re like me and you spend too much time on Pinterest, you’ve probably noticed many awesome tips there are on how to declutter your life. On the contrary, there’s a ton of content about all the makeup products you need and the 27 critical steps in every skincare regimen. I have yet to come across advice on how to declutter and minimize your personal care collection, so I thought I’d write some myself!

During my undergraduate days, when I was experimenting with makeup, skincare, and hair care, I wanted to have a product for everything! Part of me wanted a mini Sephora in my bathroom cupboard. I never went on crazy shopping sprees or anything but I definitely bought stuff I didn’t need.

As a result, I now have a bunch of random partly used products that I don’t use anymore. This bugs me… I can’t bring myself to throw away a $50 CC cream foundation thing that makes my skin look green but I also hate that it takes up space. I’ve been trying to pair back and have just a few tried-and-true products that I use regularly.

Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful on how to minimize your personal care collection:

Use it up!

minimize your personal care collection by using up the products your already have
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch

If you’re like me, you’ve spent your hard earned money on some products you wish you hadn’t. That doesn’t mean it needs to be a complete waste! Commit to using up these partly-used products – half empty bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, facial cleanser, moisturizer, etc. Treat yourself to a spa day to use up a forgotten lotion, face mask, or hair treatment.

Using things up may take a while depending on how many products you have, but at least you won’t be wasting your money. Of course if something is long expired, causes irritation or an allergic reaction, just get rid of it!

Mix and match

mix products with opposing effects and see if you like the result
Photo by Canva Photos Team

Chances are you have a bunch of products sitting around because for some reason, they weren’t quite right. For me, one of these products is shampoo. I have tried many different shampoos trying to find the perfect one that is good for my hair and cuts the grease. As a result, I have high-end, sulfate-free shampoos that don’t actually clean my fine hair, and low-end shampoos that overclean my hair and dry it out.

If you can relate to this, one way to minimize your personal care collection is by playing mad scientist! I’ve found mixing a little of each of these types of shampoos gives a great result – clean hair minus the frizz-fest! Some of you may be cringing at the thought of mixing cheap and expensive shampoo but if not for mixing, I wouldn’t be using these shampoos at all and my money will have gone to waste.

As for the expensive, moisturizing, green-tinged foundation, I’ve found it pairs quite nicely with my cheap, drying, slightly orange foundation.

Use multi-purpose products

minimize your personal care collection by using products with more than 1 function
Photo by Canva Photos Team

I am fortunate to not have overly problematic skin, so I can get away with using a facial cleanser that doubles as a body wash. Personally, I like to use the notorious Gentle Skin Cleanser from Cetaphil. I like it because it’s fragrance-free, gentle, non-irritating, and has minimal ingredients but it gets a lot of flack for being basic and not targeting any specific skin concerns. CeraVe has a similar one as well but with more ingredients. These brands also have moisturizers that can be used on the face and body.

Using multi-purpose products like this allows you to reduce the number of products you have, which will help minimize your personal care collection.

Look in your kitchen cupboard

you can use some kitchen ingredients in place of personal products but be cautious in doing this
Photo by Kaboompics .com

Let me be clear: I am not advocating for DIY skincare! Despite what Pinterest tells you, please do not make your own skincare products with food. It’s not safe or healthy to put products on your skin just because they are natural or edible, especially if you have sensitive skin.

However, there are a couple personal care products you can replace with ingredients in your pantry if you feel inclined and as long as you aren’t allergic:

  • My favourite cleaning guru, Melissa Maker, recommends using baking soda as deodorant. I will be trying this after I use up my current deodorant. Sure, it seems weird but it’s one of the main ingredients in many natural deodorants. Baking soda is both a deodorizer and absorbent!
  • Currently, I use corn starch in place of dry shampoo. Since quarantine I haven’t been doing this, but I find it does a decent job. I have tried both high end and low end dry shampoos and have yet to find one I think is stellar. Plus, I aerosols aren’t great for the earth and the cans are wasteful. Corn starch isn’t crazy long-lasting, so it’s best to apply when your hair just starts to get oily and build up in the following days. A great bonus is that is has no scent!
  • I know some people use coconut oil to remove makeup or as a facial moisturizer. I have never tried this because it can clog pores and lead to breakouts for some people, but if it works for you – great! However, it’s probably a safer bet to use as a body moisturizer and/or a hair treatment.

Sharing is caring

share products with those you live with
Photo by House Method on Unsplash

Adam and I use the same face/body wash, shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste of course. Someday, I may splurge and buy the Olaplex shampoo and conditioner, and when that day comes, I will likely be more protective. Until then, sharing certain products helps keep our bathroom clutter at a minimum.

If you live with roommates or siblings who are on board with minimizing personal care products, consider sharing agreed-upon products. That being said, I never grew up with sisters so maybe this is bad advice…

Skip the free samples

try not to collect free samples as these almost always end up as clutter
Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

Unless you actually want to try a specific product, skip the free samples. I know it’s tempting when making a purchase online or in-store and they offer free samples, but it’s best to pass. These samples can build up on your vanity and then you’ll have to go through the process of intentionally using them up (which is going all the way back to the top of this list). Also, think of the packaging you’ll be saving the world from by saying no thanks to the freebies!

Empty a product before repurchasing

don't stock up on more than one of the same product
Photo by Canva Photos Team

This is a principle I like to use all around the house – cleaning products, food, laundry detergent, etc. For some reason, stocking up on items stresses me out. I feel like I’m adding clutter to my house even if it’s something as frequently used as hand soap. You can rest assured that I have not been hoarding TP during this pandemic!

I’m not advocating for putting yourself in a position where you’re out of shampoo and have an interview the next day, but try waiting until you have just a few uses of a product left before repurchasing.

The reason for all this is because if you repurchase too soon you may start using the new product right away while the half empty one goes to waste or becomes clutter you have to use up later. Another possibility is that your half-empty product might last longer than you thought and your new one will get old.

Last year I bought the SPF moisturizer I try to use everyday because it was on sale and I thought my current one was nearly empty. Guess what? I still haven’t opened it and the original bottle is still going strong! And for some reason, the expiry date on the unopened bottle has already passed while the original bottle is still good…

This tip also goes for when you’re trying a new product. Wait until the product you’re currently using is nearly done and then get the new one. Trust me. Then, if you don’t like the new one, return it (some stores like Sephora allow this) or pass it on to a friend who you think will like it. You might feel like you’re losing money because you’re not stocking up during sales, but you can still keep an eye out for a sale when you’re nearing the end of the product. Furthermore, having half empty bottles of stuff lying around is also losing you money.

Use less product

minimize your personal care collection by using less product
Photo by Cindy Malette from Burst

One of the reasons my no-stocking up rule works for me is because I don’t go through items very quickly. Most of my skincare, makeup, and hair care products last over a year! Try not to lather on thick layers of creams or makeup or use so much cleanser, shampoo, or body wash that you turn into Santa Claus. I know it’s fun, but it’s just not necessary.

Furthermore, a lot of treatments (for hair and skin) don’t work better just because you use them more. Many are only meant to be used every week or so. You can cause build up in your hair by overusing hair treatments and you can exhaust and damage your skin by using certain treatments every day (especially strong treatments, peels, and exfoliants). Using less product is better for your hair, skin, and body, will prevent the need to stock-up and thus minimize your personal care collection.

Edit your collection

re-evaluate your personal care collection often
Photo by Valeriia Miller

Despite your best intentions, it’s still possible to collect products that just take up space. For instance, you might end up rarely using something you thought would be useful. Regularly examine the things you have and try to recall the last time you used each product.

If it’s something meant for daily use and it’s been a month since you’ve used it, give it the sack. If it’s something for occasional use and its been several months, scrap it. Try to pass it on to someone who you think would actually use it unless it’s a little too personal of a product to share, or see if any local women’s shelters will accept it. Many do if it’s a product that’s safe to share.

If it’s well past the expiry date then rinse it out and recycle. (But please, if it’s a medicated product don’t rinse it or flush it, but toss it out. It is nearly impossible to filter pharmaceuticals out of the water system and they will accumulate).

I have also had success bundling a few gently used products and listing them on Kijiji for free. Maybe this seems gross to you, but there are people who cannot afford to buy personal care products and who would be happy to try out yours!

I hope you find these tips on how to minimize your personal care collection helpful! I still have some things to use up, but I am looking forward to the day with I open my medicine cabinet and there’s only a handful of products that I love and use regularly.

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