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Heads Up Beauty EAs: Organize That Beauty Closet Like a Boss

By Heather Taylor

Welcome to the most magical place on earth—a glossy mag’s beauty closet! Peek inside at its endless shelves full of products and try not to become a heart-eyes emoji IRL.

Between oohs and ahhs though, remember that this wonderland is still a closet. Space is tight and everything needs to be accounted for because new products arrive daily. If you snagged a gig in beauty editorial and need help taming the room, Ed’s got your back. His beauty edit pals are here to spill their secrets on how to give the closet an easy-peasy organizational makeover.

1. Think of the closet as a tool.
It shouldn’t make you feel panicked or overwhelmed. Instead, approach it with an “everything has its place” mentality, says Dianna Mazzone, assistant beauty editor at InStyle. Keeping the space tidy means nothing gets lost in the shuffle and it’s easy for anyone to navigate. After all, the closet is often an editor’s first stop when sourcing the coolest new products for both print and digital coverage, so keeping it organized is crucial, says Mazzone.

2. Pick a sorting style.
Coordinated is good and cluttered is bad—got it. Now, how do we really start organizing? Talk it over with your manager to see if there’s an existing system in place. If there is and that’s preferred, stick with it. If not, you can switch to one of these sorting styles.

  • Product type: Need a serum or moisturizer right now? Kaleigh Fasanella, digital producer at Teen Vogue, advises sorting by product type because it makes it simple to find what you want and know exactly where it will be.
  • Color code: “It makes things so much easier to locate, plus it looks aesthetically pleasing.” Fasanella says.
  • Brands: Erin Reimel, beauty assistant at Glamour, swears that the easiest system is separating makeup by brand. Then, separate brands by categories like designer and drugstore makeup. Take a category like hair and skincare products and separate those by use, such as cleansers and moisturizers. If you have too many products in one category, like shampoos and conditioners, separate by professional and mass brands.

3. Get sorting and labeling.
Here’s how the pros do it:

  • Store products in transparent, stackable containers. Each season, makeup brands come out with different collections. To keep track, Marissa Oliva, beauty editor at Hearst Women’s Beauty Group (for pubs including Cosmopolitan and Seventeen), stashes stackable drawers from The Container Store on the counters in their beauty closet. Every shelf and drawer is dedicated to a certain beauty category and labeled as such.
  • Put a label on it! Oliva then grabs her trust label-maker to mark the containers by season and product type (say, “Spring: Lipstick”), so they know when the items will be available.
  • Create subcategories. Taking labels one step further, Audrey Noble, associate beauty editor, brand experiences at Refinery29, says that depending on inventory and trend, you may want to create subcategories for the basics (think: beyond lipsticks is red lipsticks, or beyond nail polish is nude polishes, etc.)

4. Avoid rookie mistakes.
Never store breakable items, like nail polish or fragrances, on high shelves — Oliva admits that there have been too many instances where bottles have fallen and splattered all over the floor.

In addition, Meg Storm, beauty assistant at Town & Country, warns that not all mailings and press releases have the information you need to organize things correctly. “As an intern, I would sometimes mistakenly file away products that hadn’t launched yet because the press release wasn’t clear about when they would be available. When in doubt, do a quick Google search and reach out to publicist to ensure you know what’s new, what’s existing, and why something was sent.”

5. Keep the staff updated.
From editors to interns, keep everyone in the loop about filing incoming items. When training interns, Storm goes over how to handle sorting through all the deliveries they receive on a daily basis to have everyone on the same page.

At Glamour, Reimel keeps a daily list of which products come in for each editor. “I type them up as I open the bags and boxes and send the list out via email at the end of the day. If an editor asks me if a certain product already came in, I refer to my daily emails. We get so many deliveries, it’s impossible to remember them all, so when they’re written down and in my email, I never have to worry about not knowing what we have.”

6. Have fun!
Sure the closet might be perpetually out of room and an afternoon spent unpacking boxes might leave you covered in scratches, but Storm still feels beyond lucky to be able to experiment with the amazing products and services. “I still get excited every time I open a bag filled with new products,” she says. “It’s really cool to be able to watch trends emerge and ultimately translate all of it into stories for the magazine and website.” Enjoy!

Heather Taylor is a former entertainment writer turned brand mascot aficionado (and head writer) for Advertising Week’s Icon Blog. She shares her thoughts on pop culture at HelloGiggles and has been published in Brit + Co, The Drum, and BettyConfidential. Chat with her about anything from SNL to the Pillsbury Doughboy on Twitter @howveryheather. GIFs highly encouraged.

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