Blessed are the few with bathroom storage aplenty. And truly, there must only be a few. If I gave a survey to everyone I know, I bet each one would come back with a large, desperately scratched-in checkmark next to "I could definitely use a bigger bathroom." And that's just us civilians. I don't know how beauty editors do it.
I once had a three-month Birchbox subscription gifted to me, and I'm still stubbornly hanging onto the samples, trying to figure out where to put them. I can only imagine that when you're a beauty editor, the sample avalanche could easily eat your bathroom alive.
Welcome to Beauty Stash... where we ask everyone from beauty editors to drugstore makeup junkies how they store and clean their products. Interested in submitting your beauty stash? Reach out to us at email@example.com.
So we reached out to one such editor (in fact, the beauty editor of beauty editors)—Jane Larkworthy, with a pedigree from powerhouse brands that include Jane and W magazines—to reveal how she uses, cleans, and stores her stash.
Name: Jane Larkworthy
Location: The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Occupation: Beauty and food writer, branding consultant
AT: Tell us about you and your beauty products.
It's probably fair to say that the beauty editor is an exception when it comes to product amount and the storage predicaments that ensue. I always compare the constant packages of beauty product arrivals to that "I Love Lucy" chocolate factory episode–you can't keep up. I know; cry me a river. But where to put everything is a dilemma, so I'm always very curious to see how my beauty peers store their stuff. At any given time, I've probably got somewhere around 80 products in my purview (there are so many good brow groomers, alone!). Being a beauty editor, there are always the transitory visitors—products I'm testing, whose lifespan is TBD.
Currently, I've been pretty loyal to Drunk Elephant skincare, of which I use about seven or eight products for the regimen. I use only four makeup items—eyeshadow palette (which doubles as shadow and liner), mascara, brow tint and bronzer for my cheeks. I've stopped using foundation and concealer altogether, which is quite liberating. I'm much, much less loyal with hair products, so that's where the numbers really add up. I rotate among about 30-40 shampoos, conditioners, hair masks and smoothing stylers in that realm. Add in the 20 fragrances on my dresser top and we're close to 80, actually. Oof.
AT: If you could only use one of your products every day, which one would you pick?
Sunscreen! I'm not super loyal to which one I use, but it has to be a gentle one, so it has to be a physical one. Chemical sunscreens are a bit too harsh on my skin. I love M.D. Solar Sciences, Beauty Counter, Bare Republic, 100% Pure. If I could only have one, I'd need it to be a stick, though, because I'm addicted to lip balm, so I'd need to be able to use it on my lips, too.
AT: How do you stash everything?
It's funny, our old house was built before closets were invented, I guess, because none of the bedrooms have them (or they're tiny), but the bathroom has a fairly large linen closet, which has pretty deep shelves, so I have taken over almost the entire closet with products. My husband gets about half of one shelf while the other three are, by and large, mine.
I divide things by shelf. The top shelf is for bath and hair products. The skin products live below that—also, sunscreens, makeup removers, muscle rubs (Lord Jones!) and cleansing balms. (My makeup case is also here, but tucked off on the side. It used to be a Tom Ford makeup brush gift set, but I emptied it out and it now holds all of my makeup, and there's waaaaay too much. It's a big mess but at least it's contained.) My husband's shelf is below that, but he hardly uses any products (my job is wasted on him...), so it also houses scented candles, and a gray felt box where medical stuff goes. The bottom shelf holds my hairstyling basket (blow dryer, smoothing serums, gray root cover-up, dry shampoo) and random things that I'm too lazy to properly place in their category. Tucked on the far right side of that shelf are bath mats and wash cloths. The actual towels that we use hang on an antique rack that I inherited from my mother, and guest towels are folded in a pile on a chair that I bought at a tag sale or antique shop—I can't remember.
AT: When it comes to storage, what's more important: form or function?
I'd love to say function, but I have superficial tendencies when it comes to design, so it's probably form. Either way, I always get too lazy to take advantage of something that actually IS functional and always end up just tossing everything into the nearest receptacle, so the aesthete in me has to say form.
AT: What smart storage solutions have you discovered?
That repurposed Tom Ford case I mentioned, and the gray felt box, which originally held packets of cookies from an erstwhile cookie delivery service. Also, I love Muji's plastic drawers. They come in every size and shape. But, I mostly use them to store products that I'm keeping for research in our NYC apt.
AT: Do you have a favorite product or organizer you swear by for product organization?
Makeup palettes make me wonder why anyone would use single shades. Nars and Urban Decay are my favorites. I also use the fact that our bathtub is against a wall, so more than a dozen products line up along that wall. Ditto for the nice windowsill just behind the tub.
AT: How often do you clean your products? How do you do it?
Um...? When I remember, I wash my makeup brushes with some hand soap, then just rest them on the edge of the bathroom sink. Nothing too interesting, or sanitary....
AT: How do you stash your products to go?
It's all kind of a loose jam into my makeup bag. I have a roomy one from Bumble and Bumble which has a Donald Robertson painting on it. It even holds all of my Drunk Elephant products.
AT: What's your beauty sample strategy?
Samples are the BEST traveling companions! Even ones containing products I don't care for I will empty out and refill with a few doses of products from tubes or jars that are too big to carry on. I guess I decide to invest in full size when I stress about running low. That's a sign that you're hooked.
AT: What's your beauty storage Achilles heel?
Eye pencil caps. They never seem to stay on, then seemingly come alive in my makeup kits and draw all over the insides like naughty children when left alone.
AT: How would you describe your beauty stash in three words?
Minimalist (if not minimal), moisturizing and sun-protective.
AT: What do you do with samples or products you know you aren't going to use?
When I was at W magazine, we would clean out our closets a few times a year and sell the inventory, with proceeds going to a charity of choice. Now that I'm a free agent, I'm still doing that. I actually have held two sales here in the Berkshires and given the proceeds to a women's shelter. We had so much left over that I just gave it all to the shelter as well. To say they were overwhelmed is an understatement.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.