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Sunday, May 13, 2012

How to Make Your Morning & Evening Grooming Routines Simpler & More Seamless

I can’t speak for men, but I know as a woman that mornings are often harried affairs, perpetually leaving me in awe at just how long it’s taking me to get ready to walk outside looking halfway-presentable! Even if I’m doing the absolute bare minimum, I look at the clock & go, “You’re kidding me, how can have so little time left?!” Between my hair, face & body, I feel like I need an army of helpers sometimes to look my best & still get out the door on time!

One of the big time-stealers we usually cave into is that we attempt to fit our items (shampoo, deodorant, body powder, makeup, etc.) to suit the spaces allotted, instead of putting them in an order that makes sense- the chronological order in which we use the products each morning and/or night. These allotted spaces aren’t often custom-designed for just the products we personally use, or our owned storage containers. They’re fairly generic- even specialty cosmetic holders can be guilty of this. Storage isn’t one-size-fits-all. One example from my own life- I have three shelves in my medicine cabinet. They each allow only a certain amount of height for items to be stored. Already a shallow cabinet (strike one), typically, this height constraint made me set up items only by which shelf they’ll fit in- not in the actual order it’s used (strike two). Because the items may be in a certain-sized bottle or tube, I have to place them in such a way that I can’t even read the label straight on (strike three). This can make for a frustrating, time-consuming event simply to get dressed & groomed in the morning, or get ready for bed at night. Now, your brain may be so well-trained that this isn’t an issue for you personally. But for those of us with an aging memory- me included!!!- I’ll often realize I skipped a step in my desired self-care routine because I overlooked an item along the way. When I’m tired, distracted, have people in my household call out to me & ruin my train of thought, if the phone rings- it’s all too easy to end up applying my mascara only to realize that I haven’t even put in my contact lenses yet!

Here’s another little quandary I’ll describe that I’m sure you can relate to. My toothbrush, being an item that of course stays wet a lot, had to stay out on the vanity top because it can’t be stowed away (mildew, yuck!) My toothpaste, if not a tubular shape, would be sitting on the tallest shelf in the cabinet. Then my dental floss picks, in their own bag, were stored on the medium-height shelf, as that‘s where they fit best. Because the bottle is so large, my mouthwash & Dixie cups had to be stored down in the bathroom’s vanity cabinet- they don‘t fit in the medicine cabinet at all. I had to go through all these steps- open one cabinet, locate a particular item, shut cabinet, open new cabinet, get another item out, put it back, shut the second cabinet- all while I’m watching the clock anxiously, thinking about the day ahead, hoping traffic won‘t be bad, and a million other things. Sheesh- all this stress just to care for my teeth twice a day?! Since I’m not one of those people who can handle seeing stuff on a counter in disarray, I’d spend an inordinate amount of time just trying to pick out an item, use it, put it back in the right place, get to the next item in some totally different place, repeated over & over. What a drag.

However, if your products are laid out with care beforehand, placed not to fit the cabinet but to fit your logical grooming schedule, you will have a much better chance of not skipping an important step of your routine. This takes some creativity at times, I admit. If you have a small bathroom, linen closet and/or bedroom, I know that you’re probably thinking that this could be the impossible dream. But if at all possible, keep your products, whether they be stored out in the open or stowed away in a drawer or bag, together & in the order in which they’ll be used. This applies to your makeup bag, medicine cabinet, linen closet, and much more. It often takes serious thought & trial-and-error to design your items in such a way. It may require buying some additional storage units, or upgrading them.

I ended up putting my toothbrush & toothpaste in a pretty, clear acrylic tumbler. This did require switching over from Mentadent toothpaste to a brand in a traditional tube, but that's okay. The tumbler gets washed once a week. Next, my dental floss picks went into a matching, clear acrylic container with a lid (more sanitary, no dust getting in). My mouthwash bottle sits at the ready right next to the floss pick container, in a pretty crystal-looking decanter with it's own litte cup. Now, an interior designer isn’t going to give me any awards for a spectacular bathroom- they usually put every single personal item out of sight for the best visual look. But that interior-designer impression is not what I care about. I care about keeping my natural teeth in good condition, and the proper care of my gums getting done. :D Laying things out in their natural order & always keeping them in the same spot helps establish & maintain good habits. When you know where everything is, too, it’s easy to see when it’s time for replenishing them, as well. It may not be quite as aesthetically pleasing, but it will give you back precious time in the a.m. & p.m., it’ll help your distracted brain decrease it’s stress & if you have guests over, they’ll too be able to see where everything is easily. You should end up spending less money in the long run, if you've been finding yourself replenishing items that didn't need it, because you didn't know where the backups were placed (this used to happen to me constantly).

This is why I like clear acrylic, plastic or polycarbonate items in the bathroom- and in other rooms, for that matter. Not only does the transparency usually make a need for a label on the outside unnecessary, but the contents show precisely when replenishment is needed. Clear acrylic items for storage are almost always completely unbreakable, can be thrown in the dishwasher (and should be cleaned frequently, if they’re sitting in a bathroom all the time). Good ones don’t scratch easily, either, and are usually lightweight to grab & move around when needed. They come in a zillion shapes, sizes, dimensions, and are usually quite inexpensive. There are ones with & without lids, with dispensing abilities, and many nice sectional slots built right in seamlessly. At least when you shop for them online, usually measurements are available- very important to know about before you invest in them. Buy nice enough ones, and they’ll pass for much more expensive & dangerous glass containers, making them look perfectly good to the average person. Using clear acrylic consistently for storage also gives a neat, polished, matched look to your bathroom, too. They go with every décor & style of bathroom, bedroom or closet.

Clear bags are an alternative to the dispensers & containers, and often give great flexibility, space-wise. If you are really minimalist & just own a few makeup items, a small clear zippered bag may be just perfect for you. Inexpensive PVC ones are available in just about every grocery, drug- & online container store. Zippered storage bags from the grocery store work fine, too, and some money might be saved by buying in bulk this way- but as they’re designed for food, they may not give the finished look you want, say, a makeup bag to have. Obviously, mixing & matching clear bags & hard containers will keep the consistent décor theme going, with all of the same previously-discussed benefits. Especially if you travel a lot and/or have very limited space, bags can be better than hard acrylic organizers for storage. The general downside with bags is that they can & do tear, may not protect your items as well from breakage or damage, and do not offer sectional organizing like a hard container does. They may not be as sanitary, and items like Q-Tips seem to do better in a hard case, where they’re not rubbing together & getting squished.

Caddies, drawer trays, cosmetic sorters, updated makeup storage bags & more are at the ready though. Only you know what you personally need to store. Take an inventory. Take measurements both of your actual square footage for storage & of what you need to sort. Write down exactly what you have to store & in the order it should be stored. Put like with like, category by category. Declutter what you don’t need or want. Play around with it, and don‘t be afraid to think outside the box. Maybe your bathroom truly has no real room for you to store your stuff, but you have a free drawer in your bedroom. Perhaps your linen closet is the nice, dry spot you need for your first-aid kit. Maybe you have a pedestal sink, and vanity space is non-existent, so you need to use the toilet tank’s top as additional storage. It doesn’t need to end up looking like a showplace, either. If you need to store a fair amount of makeup & it's brushes in a small space, a bag can work best. It's also much more portable & dust can't collect on items covered up in a bag. But do what works for you.

I once used an old-fashioned but eventually non-working TV (one of those monstrous, 300-lb. numbers from the 1980‘s possessing what was essentially a big rectangular tabletop) as my vanity table for years. I hung a gorgeous mirror over it on the wall, draped a pretty king-sized sheet evenly over the whole thing, placed lighted makeup mirror, makeup caddy & hair-care caddy on the tabletop, sat a comfy stool in front, and it was the best vanity table I ever had- nothing could overload that heavy table! I had so much room for my stuff! If your bedroom is an easier spot to get ready in, because it’s cooler, roomier or otherwise better-designed, put your grooming things in there. Go on Amazon or another big site containing storage supplies & search through the different storage options out there. Don’t be afraid to reuse what you already own though, in a totally new way. My old TV wasn’t as pretty, I suppose, as a specifically-designed vanity table, but it certainly served the purpose. I got years more good use out of what was an otherwise unusable item, and the world didn’t fall apart because I had an item with an inexpensive sheet draped over it in my bedroom. Actually, a couple of friends enviously said they wished their vanity tables or dresser tops held so much, ironically. Reuse & recycle, right?!

Have fun with this!




  1. I put all of these things (minus the toothbrush) in a large makeup bag, pull it out when I need it, toss it all back in when I'm done--all gone! I have an 8 oz mouthwash bottle that I refill from the economy size which I store under the sink. I love having everything in one spot.

    1. That's a great idea, Sheila. I'm a bit too much of a beauty junkie to fit all my stuff into one bag- it'd have to be a large Glad trash bag to hold everything I use. I'm a good old-fashioned Southern girl with good old-fashioned Southern hair, makeup & nails- trying to keep up with Dolly Parton, still. :) In my world of de-cluttering & simplifying, I have to admit that my big delight is still using my hair & face as a fresh & fun canvas each day. ;D

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