Declutter Your Life is a month-long initiative to help you manage stress and boost your health by learning the principles of banishing clutter and restoring a sense of order to your world.
The medicine cabinet is a hot spot for clutter—it’s all too easy to let expired medications, face creams, and makeup accumulate in there. But if you’re just closing the cabinet door and avoiding clearing out products you no longer use on a regular basis, you’re probably enforcing unhealthy habits.
“The medicine cabinet is prime real estate in your bathroom: It can make or break your commitment to your personal care goals for tasks that happen in the bathroom,” says Cynthia Bailey, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology. “If you have to reach behind products that come tumbling out amidst cluttered shelves, you just won’t be able to stick to your routine when you’re in a hurry.”
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For instance, if your facial sunscreen—which you should wear every single day, year-round—is overshadowed by a row of dried-up nail polishes, you may not remember to apply it in the morning and could put your skin in jeopardy. (Psst! These are the 9 best sunscreens if you’re over 40.)
Bailey’s tip: “Arrange your products in the order you apply them from left to right.” She keeps her facial cleanser at the sink, then organizes her toner, correcting products, moisturizer, and sunscreen (in that order) on her medicine cabinet shelf. “Put things you don’t need daily in storage boxes under your sink or in a cupboard."
Need a little inspiration to get your own medicine cabinet in order? We found six beautifully arranged examples to guide the way. Some are organized by category or color, others use genius space-saving techniques, but most importantly, they’re all designed to help their owners stick to a healthy routine.
To employ every inch of that cabinet space, do like DIY blogger Ashley Thurman and make the back panel magnetic. If you’re not very handy, you can do this simply with a magnetic paint (try Magic Wall Magnetic Paint, $30, amazon) or adhesive magnetic sheets (get 10 sheets for $10, amazon). This way, you can use vertical space to store bobby pins or display a reminder to take your prescription. (Here’s how cleaning the bathroom jumpstarted the best year of one woman’s life.)
If you’re a makeup junkie, you may want to store your arsenal of beauty products according to where you apply them (for instance: lips, face, and eyes). Have separate AM and PM skincare rituals? You can also go that route. What’s important is organizing it to suit your daily needs. Professional organizer Abby Lawson used acrylic spice racks to create this shelf-like space outside the medicine cabinet, but the same rules apply within one.
Here’s one way to start each day with a smile. Admittedly, most of us don’t have products in every hue of the rainbow like Color Me Courtney does, but even a more muted palette will look pretty on your medicine cabinet shelves. If you prefer to sort by usage but still want to add a color pop, categorize by shelf and then color code each row. (Here’s how getting organized can help you lose weight.)
For those trying to lose weight or be more mindful, a chalkboard panel on the medicine cabinet's inside door can serve as a source of motivation. (Pick up a can of Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint for $10 on amazon.) Use this space to reinforce an uplifting mantra or track the days you've worked out. If that's not your thing, you can simply jot down items you need to pick up at the drugstore or write a sweet message to your partner, like pro organizer Janet M. Taylor does here.