Organizing cosmetics for college

Our youngest daughter leaves for college in August. Moving belongings from home to a dorm room halfway across the country is a challenge. We have only seen photos of the dorm room and we still have some questions about storage space. According to the dorm’s private Facebook group, the bathroom vanity is almost non-existent and there is no storage area in the bathroom for cosmetics or hair accessories.

Currently, our daughter keeps these items in drawers in our bathroom. She uses a sectioned organizer in one drawer and a set of storage trays in the other drawer. This system works well at home but it definitely will not work in her dorm room. Also, she will want to take her cosmetics and hair supplies with her when visiting her brother or grandparents on an occasional weekend or traveling home for longer holidays.

In tackling this challenge, our first step was to unclutter. Our daughter went through her things and discarded all of the items she no longer needed or wanted. Some items, such as the black nail polish, were given to friends. Broken hair clips and worn out hair elastics, expired cosmetics and toiletries went into the garbage. Make-up and hair brushes were cleaned and dried. She also invested in silicone make-up applicators because they are easier to keep clean than sponges.

Once the uncluttering was complete, we took a look at what items remained. We also thought about what needed to be transported and how often. She needs to transport all items in one unit so she doesn’t have to keep running back and forth between the bathroom and her dorm room and be able to get her items from home to school and back on an airplane. The items should also be easily accessible because she will need them on a daily basis.

After some deliberation, we settled on a train case. It is sturdy, lockable, and easy to transport. The wide opening allows access to all the items. It can sit on a counter or the floor. Apparently, it can be open, closed, and carried without smudging wet nail polish. All of her items fit inside and there is extra space for storing small bottles of shampoo and other toiletries. Along with a backpack, it would be all she needs for a weekend away.

This organizing dilemma has been solved for us but I’d love to hear cosmetics organizing solutions from our readers.

10 Comments for “Organizing cosmetics for college”

  1. posted by infmom on

    I’m glad I went to college in 1968. All a hippie needed was a comb. 🙂

  2. posted by Speedknitter on

    What a waste of time and money.

  3. posted by Susan on

    “In tackling this challenge”

    I suggest putting less thought into the “challenge” of organizing toiletries and more thought into, like, studying.

    “We have only seen photos of the dorm room and we still have some questions about storage space. According to the dorm’s private Facebook group”

    Good grief. How do you spell “helicopter parenting”?

    @Daughter: Run away to another country. Throw out your makeup organizers. Delete private Facebook dorm groups — strike that, delete Facebook altogether. Write your parents the occasional postcard to let them know you’re ok and otherwise concentrate on living your life and doing your growing up your way. Otherwise you’ll one day find yourself in a life all organized the way your mom thinks is best.

  4. posted by Margaret on

    I’m with the comb generation. 🙂
    I have 3 daughters who went away to college, and came home for visits, and I travel myself. I have no idea how my daughters packed toiletries, but I’m sure they managed. The youngest had to find an apartment across the country that would accept her boyfriend and 2 large dogs. I’m guessing she threw what toiletries she needed in a tote bag.
    Here is a great idea I picked up from my middle daughter who has travelled a lot around the world: A pencil case! The kind with the double zipper on top. If it doesn’t fit in there, you don’t need it. It will hold travel size shampoo and conditioner, and a toothbrush and whatever else. I bought one for myself for long trips, but for short trips where I don’t need to take shampoo, I downsize to a little case that is 6″x3″x2″. Another tip: if you travel to visit grandkids on a regular basis, hide your favourite shampoo at their place. It amuses them when you show up the next year, and retrieve your shampoo from a kitchen cabinet.

  5. posted by Laurie on

    Wow. An organizing post on an organizing website and wow, the comments. If it doesn’t apply to you, move on and read the next one. Maybe it’s helpful for someone else, maybe the daughter asked for help. Maybe it’s just a organizing post instead of a post to place all your judgement.

  6. posted by Mixinitaly on

    This website is about helping ourselves and others. While some of the ideas may not apply to you, an intelligent person can still take something valuable home from the lesson. There is no space for negativity here, please!

  7. posted by Angie on

    This is organizing advice, why should you judge the family? My daughter also was preparing for college year ago and she also looked for advice in Facebook groups of her college. And let me tell you they have a very valuable advice. Because it is very important to efficiently organize your morning and evening routine so that you can maximize your studying and sleeping time. What she found useful to take to the shower is this tote:
    It is made of mesh and will dry quickly and will not accumulate any water on the bottom. And you can put it anywhere, either on the hook or on the floor or near the sink and then run hot water through it to clean before taking back to your room. I do not recommend to keep toiletries that may get wet in the train case. As for the makeup and other skin care she has a simple cosmetic case. Wish your daughter the very best in college.

  8. posted by SkiptheBS on

    Makeup is a form of self-expression. Some do it as an art form. We oldies often look worse in full war paint.

    The train case is an excellent idea–if it locks. Roommates may “borrow” makeup without consent; bacterial or fungal contamination is a real possibility.

    A second possibility is deliberate contamination, especially if you are a person of color. Nobody wants a toothbrush which has been swished in the toilet, and a recent legal case proved that judges are lenient on white-skinned perps.

    Finally, your offspring may encounter drug thieves. These may not limit themselves to painkillers–I had coworkers who stole a steroid inhaler from my purse and passed it around hoping for a high.

    Vaultz makes good boxes with resettable combinations. Get the brand of your choice, but get something secure.

  9. posted by Sarah on

    I’m just curious in general (being of the “comb, lip gloss & mascara” generation): If there were no Instagram, would young women need entire train cases for their makeup? That is a serious question I’m asking.

    I realize some young women wear a lot of makeup, and some are makeup artists. But when I went to school (back in the Pleistocene era), no female I knew (and I lived in a dorm!) had a supply of makeup as extensive as is described here. Even one of my roommates who was a MODEL didn’t have this amount of makeup.

  10. posted by Olivia on

    @Susan – Being the daughter of the writer of this post I would like to personally address you in saying that I benefit very much from the organisational tips and help I get from these posts and from my parents. “Running away to another country” is not what I am doing. I have simply chosen the best college to meet my needs and my parents are not “helicopter parents”. They want to see me succeed and be productive with my education and lifestyle so I openly take any suggestions and advice on organisational skills. My make up items are limited to only what I need and I myself decided the makeup container was useful to my needs and I am thankful I bought it because it clears up so much space for other things and it holds everything I need so I know where to find it.

    Instead of being disrespectful to someone giving tips and personal experience on how this, and other items are worth your time for organising, I would kindly ask that you do not assume what goes on in our lives and carry on what you are doing with yours.

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