Beginner's Dilemma: Getting Organized & In Control of Your Stash

As I mentioned in my last post Beginner's Dilemma: Overwhelmed on the Order of Your Specific Products? I was inspired to switch up my plans for another post and instead focus on some of the most frequently asked questions I've been getting lately.  The focus of these posts is not to give you yet another in-depth guide like the ones you've no doubt already read, because chances are you've already read them and you're still confused.

These posts are short, to the point, and tactical in nature- last week I gave a simple 3-step method of figuring out where your specific products go in order.  This week I'm going to hit up how to get your stash under control, so you don't feel overwhelmed by your spending, your storage, or your lack of organization.

"How do you store/organize your stash?"


You don't have to, at least not physically.  You can organize it, and control it, without having to constantly be re-organizing your drawers and shelves with the same resigned dread one normally reserves for deep-cleaning one's shower stall or refrigerator.  You just need to re-think your organizational methods- and you'll have a great opportunity to do some exploration of your personal philosophy while you do it.

I personally use a spreadsheet, but that's not the only method.  I've also overhauled my spreadsheet, so that it's even more observer-friendly- any time you want to see exactly what I'm up to and which products I'm using for what step, just head over here and take a peep.

No one should feel overwhelmed or negative about something that's ultimately self-care.  Skincare is enough of a journey on its own without evoking feelings of loss of control, so time to put that stash in its place and show it who's the alpha here!

1. Inventory what you have

I know, it's going to suck.   I just moved cross-country, so I really, really get how much it sucks.  You might feel overwhelmed by what you already have.  You've probably got it stashed all over the house; in the fridge, in the bathroom, in the boxes it came in (I'm soooo bad for this one), in drawers, on shelves, in corners.

The thing is, skincare is consumable, and perishable.  What do you have now, and when does it expire?  Are you going to be able to use it up before it expires?   There's no shame in detashing something to someone who might be able to use it if you are feeling burdened, and not excited, about what you have.  We'll come back to that.

Personally, I find it easiest to pile it into a giant heap (of boxes) and then sort things out from there, but you know yourself best.  Pour some wine, use a special occasion sheet mask, whatever works for you.

This weekend I set to work unpacking all my #kbeauty stuff after my massive cross-country move, and although it looked absolutely terrifying (I will be posting tomorrow what it looked like before) once I sorted through everything, it turned out that I had 4 boxes of #empties and my ENTIRE #asiancosmetics stash fit into this ONE drawer set! With room to spare!!! Amazing. You might wonder what I'm doing with so many empties, but for #bbloggers, empties are our receipts. I have a massive "Year in review" empties post planned, and there's going to be so much #panporn that I'm not quite sure how I'm going to photograph it all. Hm. I'll think of something! I am so pleased that I don't have nearly as much stuff as I thought I did. #thanksnesus #notahoarder #justhighmaintenance #koreanbeauty #instabeauty #lowpHlife #rasianbeauty #snailsquad
A photo posted by Snow White and the Asian Pear (@snowwhiteandtheasianpear) on

Once you've taken stock of what you have, and you're feeling burdened, stressed, or alarmed about what you have, it's ok to put aside some things that you've got negative or ambivalent feelings about, and focus on organizing things that you're excited or happy about. 

2. Prepare to purge if needed

It's OK to let things go.  Really.  I'm a big fan of mindful, deliberate purchasing even if, or especially if, skincare is a hobby.   You can read more about my thoughts about this topic- I feel this a really critical topic for people to explore their own thoughts about- in this post: Thoughts on Hauling Responsibly, & Skincare as a Hobby.

 Don't even worry about making decisions about whether or not you want keep/destash the things you aren't sure about; it helps just to sort them out and move them from "obligation to use" into the "limbo" box.  They won't be forgotten; because the next thing you're going to do is to keep track of what you have in a way that won't require that you be constantly checking your drawers/shelves/boxes/cupboards.

This is the real key to being organized, staying excited about what you have, preventing yourself from buying too much or things you don't need, and what you're able to consume within a reasonable time.  What's more, it's simple.

3. Write it down, so you remember what you have

Humans fall prey to "out of sight, out of mind" and I'm no exception.  If I can't see it in front of me, I'll forget to use it- this is why things that I have to keep in the fridge rarely get used.  Whoops!

Here's a secret: I actually have no clue how much stuff I have stuffed into my drawers and boxes.  Here's another secret: I'm not at all stressed about it.  Why?  Because I know exactly what I have, what it's for, how much of each thing I have, even when I received it so I know what's getting closer to expiring and therefore needs to be used asap.  Mmm, delicious, reassuring, empowering organization.

How?  I use a spreadsheet, but you don't have to use one.  You could use a notebook or organizer if you prefer pen-and-paper, or any sort of method of recording things that you find easy to use.  I just like the edit-ability of a spreadsheet.  As of the time of this post, mine has 4 tabs:
  • My current routine: this is just for other people's benefit, to be honest.  I like the transparency of showing people what I'm using, why I'm using it, and linking any applicable posts for further reading.
  • My stash: yep, the whole beast.  When I get a package delivered, I just add in the new items.  I personally track if I've tested it yet, how many I have left, and I cross out items (instead of deleting) as I empty or discard them, so people can ask me about things I'm not using anymore.
  • My sheetmask stash: because I had so many sheet masks it was causing Google sheets to go on strike trying to load my stash tab.  I also have a handy little tracker for how many I have vs how many I've used, but that's just because I like to show #receipts to my readers.
  • My testing schedule: This is the most important thing in my organization, and the one thing I strongly recommend that you adopt, depending on why your stash is "out of control."
If you want to see the full thing in action, you can check out Routine & Spreadsheet, but here's a quick screencap of the routine page with the 4 tabs mentioned above.  You are welcome to download a copy of it for your own use, but if you use it, even if you modify it for your use, please credit back to the post where you got it from.  Some people are really intimidated by spreadsheets, so if it helps to have a template to work off from, save away.

The tabs are located at the bottom, and are easy to miss!

Snow white and the pear spreadsheeet
You don't need to be this detailed, this page is mostly for people who are curious about what products I'm actively using.
My stash page is useful for me to keep track of things and see how much I have of a specific product, and it's nice to be able to "shop my stash" when I feel the urge to buy a new product- I can easily see the things that I haven't tried yet, and get excited against at the prospect of finally being able to use them.  I use sheet masks pretty much daily (sometimes twice a day) so I like being able to see all my potential sheet masks "at a glance" when I am picking out one to use.

What really makes a difference, though, is the testing schedule.

Why bother with a testing schedule at all?  Well, testing schedules are good if you are:
  1. Prone to "retail therapy" and you struggle with emotional shopping or lack of mindfulness
  2. Unable to resist putting everything on your face at once, a common beginner mistake
  3. Ridin' nerdy (in which case, ayyyy!  *fist bump*)
I've been using this spreadsheet for over a year, and I've come to realize this one tab is what really matters for me.  I load up products that I haven't tried yet into the queue, and I see how far out it will take for me to test everything.  In my experience, new skincare needs to be tested for a few weeks without anything else new added, to determine what reactions are a result of which product.  If you throw too many new things at your face at once, if your skin freaks out, you won't know what caused it.  Cleansers I can get away with a week, but everything else gets a full 2 weeks.

It also helps me resist purchasing things I don't need.  If I don't have 'room' to test it, no point in buying it.  Do I want to bump something off the list, or destash it entirely, just to make room for something new?

Here's what it looks like:

The important thing here is that it's automated.  I can change the start or stop time at any time, and it will simply shift all the following dates.  I often change the 'line up' when I get new things or things have been pushed down for a year until I'm ready to admit that I just don't want to waste time on them.

Moreover, looking at the pending "queue" of things, while still having the flexibility to switch all of it around, keeps me excited and thinking about what I want to try next rather than hung up on what I shouldn't be buying.  It's like the philosophy of filling up on healthy, nutritious foods rather than obsessing over not eating that chocolate bar in your pantry- it's not about denying yourself, it's about feeling more satisfied with what you already have.

It also helps me realize when I have similar products already ready for testing, and thus I need to let that essence or serum go, or that I don't have any new creams ready to be tested in the next month or two, and I either need to rebuy the one I have or get a new one to try when my current one empties.  It helps avoid panic shopping when you realize that you're dangerously low on a step and you don't have a replacement!

So if your stash is out of control and stressing you out, here's a quick recap:

1. Inventory what you have
2. Prepare to purge
3. Write it down, so you remember what you have

It's a great feeling when you're in control of your stash and your spending, and are confident that the purchases that you make are mindful and guilt-free.

If you have a question that isn't covered in the guides out there, or that you see commonly asked and/or hasn't been answered yet, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and let me know!

Have something you'd like to share with me? Snap a pic and tag me at @snowwhiteandtheasianpear on Instagram, because I'd love to see them!
All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products reviewed/mentioned in my blog, unless expressly stated to be press samples which were provided for honest review, are 100% purchased with my own money; regardless of their origin, my opinions are entirely my own.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog will receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. This is a great reminder! I have my own version of spreadsheet but it's all about spending. I'm prone to buy a lot of things especially during sale so I tracked down everything and list them. But after reading this post I think I do want to do something like this. I usually just write down what I want to use within a year and get the products but yours are so detailed I love it!
    Thanks so much for sharing, dear!
    Mira |

    1. I think a spending spreadsheet is a great idea! I had one for a while where I tracked how much of a discount I was getting through the buying methods I was using, but I started getting caught up in how much I'd been spending so far in the year, rather than focusing on the fact that I've remained firmly *inside* my skincare budget, and that's what really matters. :)

  2. Fighting a battle in my head between jealousy over the amount of stuff you have and horror at imagining me trying to figure out how everything fits with everything else. The spreadsheet is a thing of beauty.

    1. I do love my spreadsheet. Just remember, anything with a strikethrough is empty or discarded, and everything fits into that one little drawer set on wheels! :D

  3. You have an extremely systematic approach! I'm bookmarking this post for less hectic days.

    In my case, the strategy you outlined here will probably have the greatest impact on my makeup stash as opposed to my skin care stash, given how my standards for efficacy and what ingredients are in my skin care make me less prone to impulse purchases in that area as opposed to my collector mindset with makeup. I went on a search for my HG foundation and felt that it took more than the amount in generous samples to test out each brand and shade in various lighting and endurance situations, feeling a bit remorseful about the idea of mass-returning many half-consumed bottles of higher-end foundations a few months closer to their expiration dates given the high cost of living in my region with respect to what the SA's are paid.

    Thus, I'd likely add my own column on the spreadsheet for the expiration date, return policy, progress of how each product is working out, include in my notes a "deadline" to decide whether or not to purge, and if so, who has expressed interest in a partially-consumed/decanted sample of whatever the hell products I want to purge.

    1. I think that's an excellent idea (organizing your makeup stash) because being able to see everything you have at a glance definitely helps control the urge to buy new things without checking if you have something similar already. Thumbs up!

      Take care!

  4. I just discovered your blog and has been spending the whole morning browsing through. What amazing posts you have!

    When my stash started to overwhelm me, I took photo of EVERYTHING I have and organise them into Google Photo collections (like face wash, serum, etc). That way, I can pull out my phone to check what similar items (or queue of items) I have before buying anything in the shopping mall or online. That has been helping me a lot.

    1. That's a great idea- I've also been considering pinterest as a form of organizing my wishlists, so I can have visual references. :D