While it can be easy to view wearing makeup as essential, it’s more difficult to sort out what’s worth keeping – and how best to hang on to it.

Over time, a cosmetics collection can grow: the average consumer owns almost 40 makeup products but only uses and carries five on a daily basis, according to a 2015 survey by Stowaway Cosmetics.

Even if there are some products you don’t wear every day, you’ll likely want to hang on to them for special occasions, later use, or when the season changes. And if you’re moving or keeping some items in storage, taking proper care of makeup during the process will keep it in good condition.

Follow these guidelines to make sure you’re storing the makeup you need in a way that promotes cleanliness and top quality.

makeup head

Know What Works

“Makeup should never be too expensive and finding the right color can be difficult,” said Connie Lansberg, songwriter, jazz singer, and author of “The Perfect Tear.”

For face makeup, if Lansberg purchases a shade and finds it is too dark, she often uses it on her legs.

“Otherwise I toss and make a note never to get that color again,” she added. “Lipstick colors can be combined, so if I decide I don’t like the color, I’ll mix it with something else.”

Throw Out What Doesn’t

Before organizing and storing a large collection of cosmetics, spend some time going through the products. If you find items you haven’t used in a year or more, discard them.

You may also find products that are in good condition, but just don’t work for your skin type. For instance, if a lotion is designed for skin that is oilier or drier than yours, it’s best to get rid of it.

Just about every makeup container should have a date on it, explained Lauren Carelli, director of operations at Blushing Brides Boston. It often is listed as a number and letter, such as 6M or 18M, and indicates how many months a product will last after opening.

Also look for signs indicating the product has deteriorated and is no longer fit to use. Foundations or other liquid-based makeup can change color, nail polish can dry out or get clumpy, and mascara can take on an altered smell.


Clean Up Your Act

When you know what makeup to hang on to, check that everything is free of dirt – especially if you plan to store it for some time.

“Clean your cosmetic items on the sides and outside before storing,” said Emma Gordon, storage specialist at Clutter.

Even if a lotion, face mask or foundation has a very slight odor, the smell can compound over time, especially in a small space.

“Store your makeup in a clean, dry area, away from dust and other contaminants,” added Carelli. Keep beauty supplies far from toxic products, such as household cleaners.

Closeup makeup brushes

Pack With Care

If you’re moving or need to store a makeup collection for several months, use bubble wrap around glass bottles and cases.

“Pack up your cosmetics with cotton pads to prevent eyeshadows crumbling,” added Gordon.

When using bags to pack or separate items, opt for ones with a strong seal. “Garbage bags or plastic shopping bags do not keep out moisture, which can mean mildew, weird smells, or discoloration,” Gordon said.

Small boxes with labels will help keep products organized and in good condition. Pack a number of small boxes into a larger one to make it simple to move from place to place.

If you have several products you use every day, don’t pack them up with the rest of the collection. Keep them in a travel bag so you can easily access what you need on a daily basis.

Avoid Moisture and Heat

If you keep products in a place that has mildew, toxins can get into the makeup, explained Carelli.

Also, makeup can melt in high heat. If you live in a warm climate, store products in a place that remains at room temperature, such as between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rachel Hartman