How to Create & Manage Your Beauty Inventory

One of the biggest tips I can provide to anyone looking to reduce the amount of money they spend on makeup (or other items) is to create an inventory system. While the term “inventory” isn’t exactly exciting, creating this type of system is a helpful way to see everything you own in a particular category.

Preparing to Inventory:

Pulling a page from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I started the inventory process by pulling out every beauty item that I owned. (Please note, Marie Kondo does not discuss using an inventory system to declutter, but when decluttering she advocates for looking at all items within the same category at the same time and only keeping what sparks joy). To paint a picture of my collection at this point, my entire dining room table was covered with products.

When displaying my collection, I tried to keep items of the same category together so that I could easily compare and take note of what I owned. However, the process of cataloging items did not start immediately. First, I plucked the items that I knew I did not love. If the unloved product was unopened, I donated it. If the item had been used, I gave it away to friends and family. Other items that were too old made their way to my trash can.

General Makeup Organization:

Once I was generally satisfied with my collection, I started to log each item using excel. Each major category got its own sheet in the Excel workbook:

  • Palettes (both face and eye)
  • Eyes (eyeliner, mascara, Eye Primer/Base, single eyeshadows, brow)
  • Foundations (primer, foundation, concealer, setting powder/spray)
  • Face (blush, bronzer, highlight)
  • Lips (lip pencil/primer, gloss, lipstick, liquid lip)
  • Skincare (face wash, makeup remover, moisturizer, body scrub, acne solution, treatment, masks)
  • Haircare (shampoo, conditioner, treatment, styling product)

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Additionally, I created two overview tabs. One tab kept track of the number of products within each category in-real time, as well as included charts that tracked the products that had been finished, donated, trashed or sold. The second overview tab contained the number of products I ended 2016 with and pie charts and graphs that showed how many products I was moving out of my collection compared to my goal. (Pro-tip: when trying to move products out of your collection, use as many visuals as you can.)

As you can see from the above charts my goal was to decrease my collection by 20%, but by the end of 2017, I had finished, donated, etc 68% of the number of items that I had at the start of the year. The more I saw my pie-chart grow, the more excited I was to finish products.

Creating Categories That Work for You

Depending on the category, I made note of product characteristics such as brand, shade, texture, color scheme, but for all items, regardless of category, I logged the monetary value. Additionally, I marked the monetary value for gifts and deluxe size samples.

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Categorization example for concealers

Having been a VIB Rouge for the past few years (i.e. someone who spends $1,000+ at Sephora during a calendar year), one of my other goals for 2017 was to NOT re-up my Rouge status. Keeping track of the money my collection was worth made me more hyper-aware of how much I had been wasting. Finishing products made me feel less ashamed of the price tag, but whether I used something up or trashed it, I was sickened to know how much money I burned through in a year.

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Year-End Empties/Declutter Value

The Benefits of Keeping a Beauty Inventory

When I want to make a new purchase, I can look at this spreadsheet to see how much I already own overall, as within a particular category. This helps me to assess whether I already own something similar, as well as to see what I’m already working through. Logging my progress and products through an inventory system makes me more aware of how long it takes to finish certain products, too. For example, in 2017, I finished or got rid of 49 skincare products, but I didn’t finish a single blush or bronzer. Therefore, while my blush and bronzer categories might be the smallest, I don’t finish these items quickly enough to justify more purchases.

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Do use an inventory system for makeup? If you’re downsizing your collection, what method helps you most?