An organisation expert’s guide to the best ever #shelfie

Clean up your bathroom cupboards and sort out your vanity with this handy guide from organisation expert Michelle Hu. From makeup to skincare, haircare and beyond, there’s helpful tricks and storage solutions for every space and product line up.

Shelfies, AKA the beauty version of a selfie, or bathroom shelf selfie. They’re curated, colour coded and organised by category, height and how often you use them, but there is more to these product-storing methods than just being nice to look at.

From keeping your perfume out of direct sunlight and steam (yes, it’s a must-do), to making room for your everyday essentials (including all of the items you’ve been buying since COVID hit) as well as those annoyingly-tall hairspray cans, getting the perfect bathroom vanity should be practical and pretty.

But before you head straight to Pinterest for inspiration, we’ve got some expert tips and handy advice to create the perfect storage system that won’t go bust a week into your regular routine. You should also read up on our handy guide to recycling your beauty products before you start culling, too.

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Step 1: Empty your cabinets, drawers and cupboards

The first step is taking EVERYTHING out of every drawer, shelf and box. By laying all of your products and tools on to the table (literally) you’ll be able to see how much stuff you have, and how much stuff you don’t actually need. “Staying organised is easier with less stuff,” says Michelle Hu, organisation guru and founder of beauty story solution hub Etoile Collective. “Declutter and get rid of things you haven’t used, worn or looked at in a few months [bearing in mind Coronavirus, ofcourse].”

Be sure to check use by dates (you’d be surprised how many items go off and can harm your skin), or for any products that are basically empty. Recycle, reuse and refill accordingly. This step will also show you exactly how much space you have.

Step 2: Categorise your products

Once you’ve sorted the empties from the essentials (and given everything a wipe down) it’s time to start putting your products into piles. “Separate your most often used products from the rest. That way, you won’t ever be digging through piles of product that you probably won’t use,” says Hu.

Group together the items you use every morning and night, then categorise your makeup, haircare and bodycare – and then, if you have the collection of a YouTube makeup artist go further by sorting into each category again – like base (concealer, foundation and powders) eyes (mascara, eyeliner, shadow) etc.

Step 3: Time to restock

Take in your storage options and think about how you use your products then store accordingly – for example, you wouldn’t store your toothbrush and cleanser in a cupboard far from the sink. Start by putting all of your every day and most-used items back in the spots they should live in before moving on to the next.

Some nifty advice: keep your perfume in your bedroom away from direct light (in your wardrobe is ideal), that way it’ll last longer and you won’t forget to spritz after you get changed. If you like your bedroom light better than your bathroom, set up a small makeup tray in there, too. Body moisturisers, oils and night creams can all be kept by the bed or in bedside drawers for your pre-sleep routine.

Step 4: Sort out your space

If space is an issue, there’s loads of solutions. For mixed items like cleanser, hairspray and foundation try a storage holder. “The tricky thing about storing haircare, makeup and fragrance together is the wide assortment of sizes they all come in. We recommend using a holder that will keep everything contained but not be restrictive by having too many compartments that. This Double Tier Beauty Cube ($70, at Etoile Collective) is large enough to fit quite a bit of product but doesn’t have any internal dividers that will be restrictive, but the two layer system still allows you to segregate haircare from skincare or tall and short products,” says Hu.

If you’re lacking space, try to utilise the back of cupboard doors – they’re great for hanging hairbrushes, tools or even small items you use day-to-day.

Step 5: Dealing with drawers

Always store your most-used items in the first drawers, working your way down to the least-used. Much like kitchen drawers, the third-drawer is a great place for tools, and beauty bits and pieces.

“My favourite storage item are drawer dividers. They help prevent piling or stacking of products, (or from drawers jamming) and help to keep product in neat rows or columns,” says Hu. Seems simple enough, but these will keep your drawers organised for longer because you can see where all of your items are and put them back in their spot.

Step 6: Use what you’ve already got

According to Hu, the best makeshift storage solutions are: “recycled boxes from your online shopping can make for beautiful storage solutions – don’t let that beautiful packaging go to waste. Finished candles make for great brush, lip or eye pencil holders, too,” she says.

Spice racks can double as nifty shelving units, cake stands for fragrances, wine racks for hair product, get creative. Beauty products don’t have to live in the bathroom, either.

Step 7: Get down to the aesthetics

Once the real sorting is over you can make it pretty. There’s tonnes of inspiration over the internet and Instagram, but be sure to keep it practical – you’re more likely to put products back where they belong.