Vaseline the pulse points and melt the mascara! 14 ways to get the most out of your makeup

Smart shopping

Look for items in packages that can be opened easily, such as a cleaner in a large jar where the product can be fully squeezed out or a tube that can be opened with scissors.

Buy a roller wrench to squeeze out the last drop of toothpaste and tubes of hand cream.

Store like a pro

Think of your beauty products like fresh fruits and vegetables. To keep them in top condition, they must be stored properly. A hot, steamy bathroom prompts issues like mold. Instead, you want somewhere dry, dark, and well-ventilated. Dermatologist Dr Alexis Granite suggests watching your toilet at different times of the day. Notice where the sun hits it and if the room temperature changes when the shower is running. If a bathroom rather than a bedroom is your only option, a mirrored cabinet or vanity case is better than an open shelf.

Be very careful with the active ingredients

Niacinamide serums and retinoids are the items you’ll spend the most on, so they’re worth paying extra attention to. Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is also very sensitive. When exposed to light or air, it can turn into dehydroascorbic acid, resulting in a less effective product.

Most brands use dark packaging to minimize this risk, but for greater safety put it in a cupboard. While retinol is not as sensitive, it still needs to be stored in a dark, cool place. When purchasing, look for ones that come with a dropper or pump, which reduces the amount of air that can enter. Always replace and tighten the lid even after use.

Cool down

Dr. Granite says most things with active ingredients can be stored in the refrigerator. It’s not a must, but it’s a bonus. “It’s a bit of a hassle walking from the bathroom to the kitchen to fetch them, but if you’re concerned about steam, a refrigerator will make sure your produce lasts as long as possible,” he explains. Also add eye gels, sheet masks, and jade rollers for an added cooling effect.

Anything oil-based should be stored at room temperature. Just like a salad dressing, if it gets too cold the oil will separate and the texture will change. The same goes for clay products.

Mini cool boxes in pastel colors have become a staple on Instagram and TikTok. But since most UK bathrooms don’t have a plug socket (plus who wants another power-sucking device?), try squeezing your beauty stash in between your condiments instead.

Speaking of condiments, a lazy Susan is ideal for making sure produce isn’t left gathering dust at the back of a cupboard. Rotating spice racks and cutlery trays that divide your makeup into different categories will ensure you remember to use what you already have.

Beauty products in a refrigerator compartment

Many products benefit from being refrigerated, but oil-based products should be stored at room temperature. Photography: Olga Yastremska/Alamy

Best before the dates

Storing products correctly will only make them last so long. Some will have a dot after the open symbol (a number, followed by an M and an open jar) on the package. So, a “12M” with an open can symbol means you should throw the product away 12 months after opening it.

As a general rule, once opened, cleansers last 12 months, vitamin C serums last three to six months, and mascara lasts three months. If the product smells funny or the texture changes, it’s best to throw it away. Always wash your hands before use or apply with a spatula and avoid sharing products with others.

Sense of proportion

Avoid wasting products by using the correct amount. Dr. Granite suggests a pea-sized blob for active ingredients and eye creams. When applying cleansers and moisturizers to your face, use an amount equal to a £1 coin, while the SPF should measure the length of two fingers (the index and middle fingers) or a drop the size of a £2 coin .

Smart application

Stop squandering products by rubbing them between fingers and palms first. Instead, where possible, apply them directly to the face. Detergents can be dotted and worked on; for oils and serums, tilt head to one side, then move dropper above.

When using a sheet mask on your face, scrape off any remaining product from inside the pouch and apply it to your neck and chest. Avoid using a cotton ball to apply products like toner – you’ll end up using more as the ball absorbs it. Instead, attach a cosmetic spray pump (available on Etsy) that you can cut to size.

Let one product dry before applying the next, but you don’t need to rinse your hands in between.

Ditch the brushes

Beauty writer and makeup artist Madeleine Spencer recommends using your fingers, rather than a brush or sponge, to apply foundation. She “she Remember that you don’t need to cover your entire face: start at the center around your nose and work your way out.”

Mix your foundation

Elle UK beauty editor George Driver likes to mix a couple drops of foundation into his moisturizer or serum in the morning. “This makes the amount in the bottle last longer, but it’s also great if you have a full coverage foundation that you no longer like. Mixing it with a moisturizer will slim down and give you a much more modern and dewy finish.


Dupes is short for duplicates — TikTok is full of cheaper alternatives to designer beauty products. M&S Warmth eau de parfum (£9.50) continues to sell out regularly thanks to a viral video claiming it is similar to Le Labo’s Santal 33 (£157), while Maybelline’s Lead the Way pastel is said to (£9.99) gives a similar effect to Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Lipstick (£27).

Lather up

For anyone looking to cut down on plastic, using a bar of soap rather than a plastic liquid dispenser is an easy swap. Those little shards that remain when a bar runs out are annoying, but there’s a lot you can use them for…

Create your own custom bar of soap
Pat the flakes dry, then use a cheese grater to make fine flakes. Place them in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir and repeat until smooth. Add any essential oils or fresh herbs you like, then place them in a muffin pan or ice cube tray (whichever size you like) and let sit.

Secret perfumes
Alternatively, place the ends of the soap in a sisal bag and use it to exfoliate in the shower, or hang it in the closet or even in the car for a scented touch.

Care for eyebrows
Dampen an old toothbrush or coil with facial mist, work the bristles into the old bar of soap, then brush your brows. Soap contains a fat known as glycerin which coats the surface of the hair to keep it in place.

Arrange and fix

Use a micro spatula to soften the ends of a lipstick bullet. “Remember that you can also use lipstick as a blush or eyeshadow, and you can mix it with liquid highlighter or concealer to change the color or finish,” says Spencer.

Most tubes of concealer and lip gloss have a small ring that removes excess product. This can be removed with tweezers to make it easier to slide more from the bottom of the tube.

For crushed powder palettes, use a palette knife to mix a small amount of water or rub rubbing alcohol into the powder. Then use something smooth like the back of a spoon to push the powder back together. Let it dry and voilà: it’s as good as new.

“If you have eyeshadow residue lying around in the corners of the pan, take a brush, spray it with setting spray (or water), and swirl it in the remaining powder to create an eyeliner,” suggests Spencer.

Powder eyeshadows and blushes can also be mixed with coconut oil or petroleum jelly to create a tinted lip balm. For dried mascara, pop the container with the wand inside into a cup of boiling water and let sit for five minutes. This will dissolve any remaining product. When using, rotate rather than pump the wand to avoid introducing more air.

Spice up your recycling

Both Boots and John Lewis reward customers for recycling everything from travel miniatures to eyeliner pencils. Even better, try buying from brands that offer refills, which are often cheaper as well.

Perfect your perfume

Rubbing in the perfume causes friction, which warms up the skin and alters the scent. Just spray and let the liquid sink in.

TikTokers swear by dabbing a little petroleum jelly on pulse points first, then spraying; many claim that this delays the drying process which causes the scent to fade.

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