The confession

My name is Sofia Kim and I am a beauty hoarder.

Being a beauty journalist comes with its perks. Not only do I get first dibs on the latest launches (from skincare to fragrances), I also receive loads of products to try and test out. Naturally, I have accumulated a beauty cache which I think is slightly above the national average, making organising a nightmare. I did the math: I had eight pieces of luggage fully packed with products weighing around 45kg – and these excluded the items already on my vanity. To compound the problem, I still bought a fair bit of other products because I am such a beauty fanatic. I came to terms with my hoarding problem recently when I couldn’t find a new box of mascara, feeling frustrated in my room while surrounded by beauty products everywhere. 

The purge

Prior to the Covid-19 situation, my schedule was constantly packed for me to confront the problem I have. Even if I did have the time, I’ll admit to being a lazybones. I guess circuit-breaker made me come to terms with this issue  – though I swear decluttering was my distraction to dealing with cabin fever. 

Believe it or not, I have a ton of other cushion compacts and refills that I keep in my living area. These are just the ones that I have been using, and they make touching up during my Zoom conference calls a lot easier and fuss-free.

I started by categorising each beauty product. It’s important that you be as strict as possible when it comes to this step. There were many times I wanted to keep a certain product, not because I will use it, but probably because I’d thought it came with a really cool packaging or was from a brand I loved. Don’t succumb to your urges. Be practical and go through this checklist: Will I really use it? When and how many times do I think I’ll use it? By asking such questions, I became more mindful and it allowed me to downsize my stash quickly and efficiently. 

My lipsticks are stored in a toolbox which makes selecting the shade you want easily at a glance.

Once I have sorted the products that would go into the ‘junk’ pile (these will end up with friends and family members), I started to arrange the remaining items in the different pieces of luggage which were not yet opened (most of them still had a year or so to the end of their shelf lives). For this step, I broke the items up into three groups: the first consisted of products that I (seriously) wanted to use; the second contained backup products; while the last was meant for products with the latest expiration date. 

These drawers contain products that I have been wanting to use and try. The two boxes on top are for unopened lipsticks and fragrances.

Then, I moved on to the products on my vanity. Here, there were plenty of items that have passed or nearing their expiration date. As much as I hate wasting half-used products, using them can seriously jeopardise the health of my skin and I did not want to take any chances. So yes, be heartless and practical. A good barometer to know when to toss out your beauty product is that once its packaging has been opened, it is good to be used for between six to 12 months.

I store products in opaque boxes in my living area to ensure that the formulas are not altered.

The ‘ta da’ moment

Once I knew which products I wanted to keep, I started shopping for drawers, cabinets, and finding other types of storage. Since my room could still not fit everything, I had to store at least half of my products on a shelf in my living area. I highly recommend opaque drawers and boxes instead of see-through or translucent ones to prevent your products from being exposed to sunlight, which may alter the formulations. I turned to trays to display my fragrances as scents are something that I use often and should be easy within easy reach. The last step was the fun and easy part: arranging and organising all of my products into the respective storage spaces and making them look as aesthetically pleasing as I can. 

These fragrances on display are the ones I use more often; however, I usually alternate the ones I have on my tray with the ones I store in the drawers.

The aftermath

After cleansing my beauty stash, I started using a wider range of products. In the past, it was challenging for me to find a new serum to try and I would end up on using the same one that was already on rotation. Since I am able to try a slew of different products which are displayed openly now, my night and daytime skincare routines have become more robust and holistic.

These are some serums, sunscreens and eye creams that I have been loving to use, with some products expiring at the end of the year.

At night, I indulge in more pampering skincare rituals; we are confined to our own living spaces so a little bit of self-care is definitely necessary. I pick out products to use based on my skin concerns and I mask more religiously. I have also included face massages – I use a simple gua sha tool – to achieve a slimmer face and apply body creams at night for a smoother skin when I wake up the next day. I have seen a difference in my skin. Previously, it was very prone to acne and it would flare up easily but not now – it is a lot more stable, less vulnerable with lesser breakouts, and I always make sure to hydrate at all times. If I had known sorting out my heap of products will sort out my skin, I would have not procrastinated.