My life for the past four years has been very transient: I have spent each school year in a different apartment or dorm, and summers in Toronto with my family. I never managed to set up much of a permanent makeup storage situation because I’ve basically been hauling big rolling suitcases of my stuff back and forth between various cities (and countries) for four years.
Now I’m in a weird place: I’ve been in Toronto since April and will be here until August or September. That’s enough time that I want my surroundings to be nice, but not enough for me to set up anything permanent. But the tiny table I had been using as my vanity was becoming untenable: almost every square inch of it was covered in acrylic containers, and it was hard to see and reach everything. Additionally, I’m not a drawer kind of gal. If it’s not out in the open and easy for me to see, I won’t use it. So I devised a $40 solution that ticked all the boxes for me.
Namely, I bought 4 small square IKEA LACK shelves for $10 each, mounted two on either side of my table, and set up all my acrylic containers on them. Originally I had three, one on top of the other, but I realized that I a) needed more space, and b) I couldn’t reach the highest one. I picked up another one at my earliest convenience and rearranged them like so:
I’m actually really happy with this solution. I’m not sure that this is what I’ll continue to do long-term, but 40 bucks is a reasonable investment for the outcome.
Of course, I couldn’t show you the big picture without details…
This shelf holds my everyday essentials and all my lip products. In the past I’ve had various larger lipstick holders from Ebay and Amazon, but I’ve ended up transferring all my traditional bullet-shaped lipsticks into 9-slot holders from Dollarama. They’re $3 each and are really sturdy and well-made, and I like that they’re smaller because it gives me more options for configuration.
Most of my everyday products are in this shell dish that I got from Ten Thousand Villages last year. Next to it you can see my pencil sharpener and my Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough As Taupe, which I use on my brows every day.
Currently I have four lipstick holders on the go, though they’re not all completely full. The two in the back hold all my drugstore lipsticks, most of which are by Rimmel, Maybelline, Joe Fresh, and Collection. The one in the very front is all my prettiest lipsticks: MAC in the back, YSL in the middle row, and Charlotte Tilbury and Clarins in the front. (If I get more gold lipsticks they’ll definitely take MAC’s place.) The holder next to it is hard to make out since most of the products are black, but in the back row I have two Lancôme GWPs and a matte by Lise Watier. The middle has my two NARS Audacious lipsticks, and the bottom row has two minis, one by MUFE that I got at Winners and the Marc Jacobs birthday gift that you’ve already seen on four million blogs this year.
You can also see that I have a cup of lip liners in the back left corner. You can’t tell from this picture, but it’s a holographic cat cup that Aisling got me. (There’s another on my eye product shelf that you can see a bit better.)
I also have this multi-slot acrylic holder which I think I got from Winners. In the back I keep my liquid lipsticks, then jumbo crayons, then some random products (brow gel x2 and a mascara that I don’t use on a daily basis), then some cheek products that I don’t have another home for. Next to that I have my foundations, daily sunscreen, and moisturizer.
Next to that I have my cheek products. I really love the container I have my blushes in, which I got from Marshalls – I like that it has three different sections, though I pretty much have no room left for any new products. In the first section I have mostly cheap blushes – Sleek, H&M, Milani – as well as a Tarte blush that didn’t fit anywhere else. The second compartment is just for my beloved Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes. The last one is a mish-mash of mid-range and high-end stuff: Guerlain, Chanel, Benefit, and NARS. (I know it’s probably tacky to keep luxury products in their velvet sleeves, but there you go.)
Behind that I have a single-compartment acrylic container that I also got from Marshalls in a two-pack. I keep a jumble of stuff in there – my bronzer, my powder highlighters (and Topshop Glow highlighter), setting powder, a ColourPop blush that didn’t fit in the other container, my contour product, and a NYX concealer palette sitting on top of two boxes of false lashes. I have two loose powders and my dirty, torn-up Quo blending sponge which I desperately need to replace. (The bowl it’s sitting in has been floating around my house for as long as I can remember. I’ve used it variously to hold candy, my keys, and now my blending sponge.)
Next up: eyes! This shelf is overflowing, but oh well.
The main focal point is of course a stationery organizer from Dollarama which holds my most-used palettes. (Actually, I never use the yellow theBalm palette in the back, so I’m not sure why it’s in that organizer/my collection in general other than the two colours in it that I love.)
I use a napkin holder from Dollarama to hold my other palettes, which I don’t reach for as often but which are still nice to have on hand.
Here’s another of those one-compartment acrylic organizers. It holds smaller palettes and singles – you’re mainly seeing Lancôme GWP quads and Maybelline Colour Tattoos. (You’ll also spot my single ColourPop shadow, NARS Dual Intensity singles, and another velvet-pouched Guerlain product.)
The final shelf is a jumble of skincare things that I don’t use daily, backups, and samples. They’re housed in Vichy gift set boxes that a customer didn’t want. (I always have an eye out for possible storage solutions…) The vast majority of the stuff in these tins was given to me by brand reps at work. (Actually, the only things I see in those pictures that I purchased myself are the ELF brush cleaner, the Stila eyeliner, and the backup of Sally Hansen Pacific Blue.)
By the way, I took this photo when I was like thirteen and I went to summer camp for photography. Most of my pictures are pretty good but have wonky borders because I was very sloppy when developing them. This is actually one of my better border moments, though the picture itself is slightly out of focus.
My brush holders are vases from Dollarama with vase filler also from Dollarama. They could both use a bit more filling, especially the smaller one that I use for my eye brushes.
I keep a small hand towel to wipe off my brushes and dirty fingers, as well as baby wipes for, you know, wiping things. Mainly swatches, since wipes haven’t touched my face since probably the 1800s.
And there we have it: my inexpensive but functional and pretty makeup storage!
(And if you’re interested, a very different and even more temporary setup from February 2015 when I was living in Glasgow.)