Makeup Bag Makeover
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Makeup Bag Makeover

Makeup maven Bobbi Brown offers 10 steps to simplify and organize your makeup.

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Notice that your makeup bag keeps getting bigger and bigger? Perhaps as you add new items, you haven't taken the time to purge the old stuff. Consider the following tips for paring down -- and ensuring you have the essentials for a lovely everyday face.

  1. Survey your gear. Dump all the contents of your makeup drawer or bag on the floor and take a good look at what you have.
  2. Check "freshness." Toss out any makeup that's gone bad. If it smells funny, has changed color, or has separated, its time is up.
  3. Transfer broken makeup to new containers. Liquid foundation can be poured into a different bottle; lipsticks with cracked caps can be sliced off and put into a palette container or a pillbox with day-of-the-week compartments; lip and eye pencils missing their caps can be stored in a Ziploc bag.
  4. Purge if necessary. Get rid of anything that you haven't used in two years. If you still can't figure out how to wear the super-trendy color you got last season, you'll probably never wear it. And don't bother keeping anything that makes you break out or doesn't feel right on your skin.

Beauty Basics You Need

Once you've decided what to discard, make sure you've got the key beauty products for a fresh-faced look. Here, suggestions for the bare essentials in any makeup bag:

  1. Fundamentals of foundation. At most, you need two shades of foundation -- one that matches your skin now, and one that will work in a different season when you're either lighter or darker. Remember, foundation should disappear into your skin when you wipe a swatch of it on the side of your face.
  2. Pucker up and pare down. Lipstick is where many women overbuy. Be realistic about what you're going to wear. Chances are you're not going to wear the shade that you bought to match your last bridesmaid's dress. You should have a tried-and-true shade that you can put on without looking in a mirror -- imagine the color of your lips, taken up a notch.
  3. Three basic eyeshadows. All you need is three shades of eyeshadow to make eyes stand out. Get a base color -- like white, bone, banana, or toast -- that blends into your skintone. You'll also need a medium-toned color -- like taupe, grey, or heather -- that doesn't require blending. Use a dark color -- like mahogany, charcoal, or navy -- as liner. Stick to black mascara, or try brown as a softer alternative.
  4. Blush basics. Your blush should instantly make you look healthy. Own two shades: One that is the color of your cheeks when they're flushed, and a slightly brighter shade for a pop of color.
  5. Tools of the trade. The right makeup tools are just as important in getting the look you want as the makeup itself. Get makeup brushes that have their purpose printed on the handles ("eyeliner" and "blusher"), so you can't get mixed up. For easy application and on-the-go needs, use travel-size professional brushes.
  6. Bag it up. Choose a makeup bag that's as functional as it is stylish. It should be roomy enough to hold all your essentials yet compact enough to slip comfortably into your purse.

Save or Toss?

Wondering if it's time to toss it out? Here's are general guidelines for makeup life spans:

Makeup Type Keep For...
powder, blush 2 years
lipstick, foundation, moisturizer 12 - 18 months
concealer, eyeshadow, lip and eye pencils, eye cream 12 - 18 months
mascara 3 - 6 months