I’m a Former Beauty Editor—These Are the Affordable Makeup Organizers I Swear By

published Dec 22, 2020
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Credit: Franke Chung

There’s a lot to love about makeup, from using it as a form of self-expression to its relative affordability. (A designer bag is out of reach for most people, but a designer lipstick is often far more accessible.) As a former beauty editor, I know a thing or two about amassing more makeup than I can put on my face—for years, I worked in offices where designated “free tables” offered up samples of eyeshadows, blushes, brushes, and who knows what else. That has resulted in a considerable amount of potions and powders, and while I’ve tried to stay on top of expiration dates, sometimes you need industrial-strength help to keep everything organized.

So I’m never surprised when someone spies my makeup organizers in an Instagram post and asks where I found them—though not everyone is a beauty editor, hanging onto several red lipsticks because each is different can be a universal plight. Here are five of the most useful organizers I swear by, all under $30.

Acrylic storage boxes

This makeup organizer is so popular, another beauty editor also endorsed it for Apartment Therapy. People always ask me about this setup, which I use to keep my smaller makeup items organized by product type. (The drawers are pretty narrow, so they won’t fit larger or bulkier products.) Because each of the drawers is stackable, you can configure it to fit almost any space you need. I currently have three rows lining my dresser under a wall mirror to create an instant vanity.

A Lazy Suzan

For bigger and bulkier products, I’ve found that an acrylic Lazy Susan works wonders. Not only does this one match my acrylic drawers, it also allows me to spin the piece around to find products I need or might have overlooked. This is also helpful for products you need to store upright, or even upside down, such as a felt-tipped eyeliner.

Empty candle jars

Credit: Lana Kenney

Though not technically a free product—you have to pay for the candle, after all!—the jars left over when you’ve burned all the candle wax away double as pretty catch-alls for tools, pencils, and more. Right now, I use a few candle cups to organize my lip liners and lip pencils by color: One houses a variety of reds, while the other contains nude- and berry-toned product. I’ve also found that a decorative mug works as well.

A travel case

Everyone needs a junk drawer—or, if not a drawer, a place where they stash all of the odds and ends they have no use for but might one day. I store trial and travel-sized versions of products in an overnight makeup bag. Not only do I know where the often-tiny vials are when I need them, but more often than not, their storage place means I’ve already crossed one thing off my to-pack list. Then, when I travel, I use up the trial products, many of which are sized for just a few uses.

Fabric drawer organizers

These cloth dividers don’t look like much, but they pack a punch. By arranging a few in a spare drawer, I was able to create a dedicated space for my hair products and tools. One box houses serums and sprays, while another serves as a catch-all for hair ties and bobby pins—basically everything I would absolutely lose if they didn’t have a home of their own. I also made sure the drawer was situated near a power strip, so I can plug my blow-dryer in without carting it to another corner of the room. Make sure your tools have cooled completely before storing them, otherwise you’ll singe the fabric on your dividers.