Living with Less: The Bathroom {Series}


Living with Less Part TwoLive with Less (2)We began our journey to living with less last time by starting small because small victories, won over time, are how we are going to win the war against stuff. This time, I’m tackling another small but overwhelming area: bathroom cabinets.

The thing about bathrooms is that most of us work hard to keep our counters clear. Clear counters are good (they help me sleep at night) but clear counters can also top some pretty serious chaos. Out of sight, out of mind they say – and they are right. In this case, out of sight = out of mind = out of use.

Before we jump in, let’s acknowledge a truth about how most of us use space: if you have multiple drawers or cabinets, you keep the things you use the most in the same few areas. Let’s say you have four drawers like me; I really only use the stuff in the top two (I’ve done informal polling on this and I know it’s not just me). The bottom drawers end up being catch-alls for items that are hardly used, if ever. You could probably just open those up and dump the contents right in the garbage and you’d never notice a difference. Do it – I dare you!

Dealing with the bathroom vanity forces me to cover categories of stuff that can be pretty touchy, specifically for the ladies. Cosmetics, skin, hair, and personal care products are serious business. Many of us have spent decades trying to find products that do just what we want just when we want. So that’s the criteria we’ll use to determine what to keep and what to toss.

Here are my tips for living with less stuff in your bathroom cabinets:Living with Less (4)

1. If you have not used it in a year – toss it. Whether it’s a color that has made it through four seasons without use or a lotion that you haven’t opened since your five-year-old was in diapers, you aren’t using it. If you aren’t using it then it is just taking up space and there is no reason to keep it.

2. If it doesn’t work the way you want it to – toss it. I have curly hair, most days. Since babies it’s even more unpredictable. I have tried a vast assortment of products that don’t do what I want them to do. Why do I keep them? I don’t know. I’m tossing them, today.

3. Make tomorrow a special occasion. Use the “special” perfume every Tuesday from now until it’s gone. Use the fancy mascara next time you go to Costco, because you can. Use the stuff you love. Use the stuff you love. Don’t save it, enjoy it. We are not promised tomorrow friends, so wear the red lipstick.

Living with Less (3)

4. Limit samples and selection. Gifts with purchase, Birch Box, and other promotional offers give us lots of things to try, and that’s just fine – try it.  But if you don’t love it – toss it. When it comes to cosmetics and personal care products, like just isn’t enough (especially when it’s free).  Limiting selection helps keep life simple. I really do use 20+ different lipstick/lipgloss shades in the course of six months, but I don’t need to. I have my favorites (the ones I worry about when they start to get low), so I’m sticking with those 8 because I am committed to living with less.

5. Do these quick tests: 

a. Pull out all the cosmetics you have that you did not buy (free stuff, gifts, etc.).  If you are like me you’ll notice a high correlation between what you use and what you pay for. If you didn’t buy it and you aren’t using it – toss it.

b. Pull out all your skin care. Line up the washes, the moisturizers, the creams and serums. Now, pull out what you have used in the last 7 days, then what’s been used in the last 30 days.  Whatever is left is extra (and should probably be tossed). With skin care in particular it’s rare that it’s intended to be used occasionally because in order to do whatever it’s supposed to do (shrink pores, fill wrinkles, etc.) it probably needs to be used daily.  If you aren’t using it then it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do. Save yourself the continued disappointment – toss it.

c. Pull out things you bought because they looked great on someone else. You know, that awesome skin-colored polish that everyone was wearing in 2011 that made your hands look like you’d been dead awhile? Those fabulous fake lashes you got because you just never knew when you might have an inkling to use glue on your eyelids? Those awesome nail stickers you bought at that party because everyone else said they were “so cute!”? Stop buying things for other people friends, and if you’ve already bought them and aren’t using them – toss them.

If your drawers aren’t overflowing that’s great. Maybe you have plenty of storage – awesome! You can still live with less (if you want to) because you already are. Most of us use less than half of the products we have, and love even less of them. You decide how many lipsticks are enough, how many nail polish colors are ideal for you, and how many tones of purple eyeshadow you need (I need three). Whatever you decide, I promise you can live with less that you have. I have already been through this exercise and I was able to eliminate all the unused products in the top picture in 20 minutes.

Be comfortable with empty drawers friends. Margin in your schedule, margin in your checkbook, and margin in your drawers will help you sleep at night – I promise.

Who’s with me? I’d love to see your before/after!


  1. Casey – this is awesome. I’m committing to going on this journey as well. Just read “7” and now this! Clearly there is a nudge here! Very excited to follow your posts & get to the other side of life with way too much ‘stuff’! Magazine rack – check. Bathroom & plastic container cabinet in kitchen – check. Thank you so much for your posts! Can’t wait to tackle the next spaces.

  2. Casey- I should have known you’d written this before I saw your name at the bottom because I always love everything you post. We’ve recently been attempting the KonMari Method and realized we have SO. MUCH. STUFF. I just did my bathroom cabinets this week. I think the kitchen’s next, and I’m afraid. Haha.

    • You are too sweet! I haven’t read this one in awhile but I laughed out loud because I (just this morning) threw away a bunch of products I don’t use – again. Minimalism is a constant process for me, and the stuff is just the symptom.

      I have some thoughts on the kitchen for sure! That was a tough spot to tackle. Keep going, girl! It is worth it.


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