I’ll admit it, I’m an OCD hoarder. If you could see my bedroom…well, maybe it’s best if I don’t post such traumatizing, disturbing pictures of disorganization and junk stacks on the Internet. (LOL) And besides notebooks, scraps of paper, and purses, I have also hoarded beauty products most of my life. Hey, having it at home is better than having to go out and buy it, right?
…WRONG. When your bathroom countertops overflow into the sink and onto the floor on a regular basis, and the under-sink cabinets are stuffed full of products whose bottles have ruptured and/or otherwise leaked, you know you’re in trouble.
Yet I let it lie like this for years, stymied, paralyzed. I couldn’t do anything with the junk, even the junk I KNEW was junk, because…well, if I got rid of it, and then I needed it later, I’d have to go out and re-buy it. Torture.
The Breaking Point
The stalemate between me and the growing mess finally broke one spring afternoon in 2011, when I was, ahem, otherwise occupied in the bathroom and had nothing better to do than to stare at the mess covering the countertops.
As I watched, a series of large perfume bottles (Bath and Body Works-sized) slid slowly into the sink, piling up on top of each other like a fragrance avalanche. The noise and rumbling of the perfume bottles set off a couple of smaller avalanches of facial wipes boxes, soap containers, and shampoo bottles, cascading into the floor like so many mountain boulders.
My first instinctive thought was, “…REALLY?” I’d dealt with the mess associated with hoarding most of my life, but I’d never seen a mess move on its own, not like this, anyway.
This had to stop. It was no longer just an innocuous pile on countertops, but a threatening mass that was making it impossible for me to use my own bathroom space, let alone anybody who dared to come into the house. This…HAD to stop. It was beauty-product madness.
The War Begins
My first volley in the war on beauty clutter was to rid myself of all the obviously expired products–all the stuff that had mold growing on it, had exploded, or was otherwise unsuitable for putting on my face or body anymore.
My awesome boyfriend proved his love ten times over by helping me with all of it, since it hurts a lot for me to squat down and/or stand in one place for very long. (He is awesome, focused, logical man, especially when this little bird gets overtired and cranky.) Together, we unloaded the overstuffed cabinets into trash bag after trash bag, discovering the following gems in the process:
- a can of prehistoric hair spray (kidding–it was only from 1996…I think)
- several crushed shower gel bottles
- dozens and dozens of dusty, gummy little-girl hair scrunchies
- more sanitary pads than the world’s women will ever need
- three cream-to-powder foundation palettes which had some kind of horrible splotchy mold on them
- a hoard of toothpaste tubes, which were keeping one of the cabinet drawers from opening AND closing
- a vial of liquid foundation that was literally puke-green in color. It used to be the color of my face, about ten years ago.
- one shampoo bottle that had apparently become volatile and EXPLODED, leaving green slime all over most of the cabinet’s inventory
- a can of brown spray paint that had somehow “eaten” itself and rusted almost completely away. (We were both like, “WHAT is this BROWN POWDER in this CABINET?!” And the smell…*UGH*)
The Hardest Part: Purging What Was “Still Good”
Once we got rid of the obvious trash, which was fairly easy, I faced the largest obstacle: getting rid of stuff that still had life in it, was still usable.
For me, getting rid of still-usable stuff is hard, because I look at the pile of stuff I’m getting rid of and think “wasted money.” It makes me literally sick to think of all the dollars going out the door in trash bags. Thus, another reason why I hoard, I guess.
I started having real trouble with it, was almost too daunted to keep going, until my boyfriend said, “Honestly, honey, how long has it been since you used it? If it makes you happier to keep it, please go ahead–but this doesn’t look like it’s been touched in years.”
My instant argument back was, “Well, I would have used it if I could have FOUND it in this mess!”
“True,” he replied, “but do you have anything that does exactly the same function?”
He had a point. In some cases, I did have something (or several somethings) that fulfilled exactly the same function (like the 7 nail clippers–I wish that was a jest). Knowing that part of my junk problem lay in having multiple copies of the same item was an important key in getting over my attachment to the items I’d bought.
In the case of the nail clippers, I kept 3 of the 7, because one was a specific, larger toenail clipper, one was regular nail clippers, and one was an itty-bitty nail clipper/file combo that I put into my purse. The other 4 went away–2 got given away, and 2, we found, were irreparably broken/rusted anyway, so they were trashed.
Systematically, we hunted through all the stuff. Endless iterations of Night-Blooming Jasmine shower gel and perfume (which I stockpiled because B&BW only offers it twice a year), 10 different Clinique compacts of pressed powder, literal hundreds of lip glosses…all were evaluated, condensed, and the excess removed. (We found that 4 of the jasmine perfume bottles were all just alcohol anyway…no fragrance smell remained. SAD)
By the time the organizing carnage was (mostly) over, my bathroom cabinets were cleared; their interiors were empty and dusted out, left to air out overnight after long years of being shut away in shame. The countertops were also cleaned and polished up, and new systems of organization went into place atop them, showcasing my jewelry, my fragrance bottles, and my impressive scrunchie collection (hey, I grew up in the 90s, all right?). I also FINALLY had a place for all my makeup–at least, what remained of the huge collection I had (but more about that later).
At last, after years of getting ready (somehow) amid a torrent of products, my bathroom had become a true lady’s dressing room and ablutions room. I finally had room for everything, and everything that I had was stuff I was really going to use and really enjoyed, from shampoos and conditioners to fragrances, from powders to lipsticks and everything in between.
Next Week: The Makeup Survivors
Next week, I’m going to show what remains of the massive collection of old makeup we cleaned out. I went from several LARGE zippered bags of makeup to two tiny drawers-full in a five-drawer countertop organizer…unbelievable as it sounds!