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Traveling with Makeup: Tips & Tricks

What kind of trip is it?

What you might need for a trip will depend on where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how long you’re going for.  For instance, if you’re primarily going to be outdoors or underwater, perhaps you won’t need much, if any, but if you were going to a more formal occasion, you might want a full arsenal of your favorites.  Cold weather might dictate favoring certain products, while hot and humid weather will have you looking for your longer-wearing favorites.

What are you going to wear?

I like to decide what clothes I’m bringing first, and then I’ll assess what kind of makeup I’m likely to want to do with those clothes (plus, considering what I’ll be doing or where I’m going).  This helps me guide my choices and not bring everything and minimize bringing things I won’t use.  You can really plan out down to the last product, or you can simply come up with a rough outline, like whether you’ll wear mostly neutrals or you’ll need a more subdued lip color to pair with a really electric eye look you want to do.

Are you checking a bag, carrying on, or going by a less restrictive means of travel?

Depending on how you travel, you may need to be more minimalist or you really could bring everything but the kitchen sink (this always happens if I travel by car!).  When traveling with a carry-on, you’ll have to worry about meeting current liquid restrictions and fitting everything in a quart-sized bag, which can get challenging as it includes things like lotions, creams, gloss, mascara, foundation, and so on.  I admit that when I travel, I often impose on my husband’s quart-sized bag to get everything to fit!  Another option is to buy smaller, empty travel containers and take only the amount of moisturizer you might need or to put a week’s worth of foundation in a sample jar, rather than taking an entire bottle.  This is also a great idea for your favorite perfume; I usually try to grab sample sizes in my favorite scents when they’re available for free when you make a purchase at Nordstrom or Sephora.

How you travel may also determine how safely you need to pack your makeup, as checking a bag will require better padding and securing to minimize shifting in your luggage.  I like to put anything fragile sandwiched between softer items, rather than sitting on the sides of luggage, so if something sits on it, it doesn’t get the immediate impact and the clothes around it will help absorb that impact.  You can also lay foam, bubble wrap, or tissues over powder products (like a freestyle eyeshadow palette) to prevent movement and loosening while in transit.  You’ll want to avoid keeping too many glass containers next to each other, and if you have any pumps, a little tape can secure them in place so you don’t open your bag to a mess.  I also like to contain liquids in plastic bags if they’re larger (say a shampoo) or if I have several of them (so if one leaks, it’s not on your clothes).

How I Made My List

I traveled to Boston this past week for about four days for a family gathering, which I knew had a few semi-formal to formal events, so much of what I took was dictated by the four dresses I had planned.  I anticipated doing more neutral-to-warm-toned looks and didn’t expect to use much color, though I took some pops of color that played off colors in some of the dresses I had in the form of eyeshadow and eyeliner. I took more eyeshadow than I normally would, because I knew I was going to be doing my sister’s makeup as well, so I wanted to be able to give us both a variety of looks and finishes, and I also had a mega-sized palette that I felt like, “Might as well fill it!”  I always travel with my favorite cream eyeshadows, as they’re my go-to if I run low on time or end up with a very casual or lazy day, but I didn’t end up using them this trip.  They also work well as an eyeshadow base if desired.

Since I knew I was going for warmer looks, I took one warm-toned blush and one more neutral-toned blush, plus two highlighters that could be worn with either.  If I thought I might have a cool-toned look in the plans, then I’d also bring a plum or berry-hued blush, as that’s my go-to option for cool looks or use a neutral blush.

For lips, I wanted something light, mid-tone, bold, and subdued, and I always use lipgloss as a layering product to give me more lip color variations so I try to go for more dramatically different gloss shades (one that can lighten, one that can brighten, one that can darken, and one that I can wear alone).

When it comes to tools, I pack a few of the different sizes/types that I like, so I don’t have to worry about washing brushes while I’m away, and I can still use them as I would at home (which is typically one brush per color unless they’re really similar).  I actually forgot a pencil brush this trip, so I would add that (I ended up using an eyeliner brush for that function) normally!  If you don’t mind washing your brushes, I’d recommend a solid brush soap to manage the amount of liquids you have or taking a smaller amount of your go-to cleanser into a travel-sized container.

I packed all of my brushes and eyeliners in a medium makeup bag, and then I split any additional cylinder-shaped items between that bag and a second bag.  All of the other non-liquid makeup products fit into the other medium makeup bag.  I keep a third makeup bag for things like deodorant, cotton swabs, toothbrush, bandaids etc.  The large, freestyle eyeshadow palette I took with me fit perfectly within my purse, which I packed in my carry-on (I use a much larger bag on the travel days, then switch to my regular purse while I’m at my destination), and this helped to keep it protected.

See a full breakdown of what I took on a recent trip!

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Best Makeup Organizers: Acrylic Organization Systems Overview

Makeup Organization: Acrylic Organizers

Shopping for an acrylic makeup organizer? Hopefully this post will have you covered! I reviewed, stuffed, and critically eyed four systems: Muji 2-Drawer ($25.25), Muji 5-Drawer ($27.95), The Container Store’s Luxe Acrylic Modular System ($109.95), and Sherrieblossom’s Icebox ($415.00). It was important to me to see how the highest, more luxury-priced system compared to a more affordable system, because then I can tell you with confidence whether something is worth it or not, or where the trade offs are.

Full Reviews

Click the links below to view the full review for each system along with more photos.

Makeup Organization: Acrylic Organizers

It’s hard to compare the pricing of each system at a total unit cost, because each unit is a different size. I tried to take the equivalent of one, full-span drawer and its interior space, which is really what matters. I looked at the price per drawer and calculated the square inches in each drawer, which gives you an idea of the drawer’s space for a single layer of product, as it ignores the vertical space that exists but may not be used. I also took the volume of the interior of each drawer in cubic inches to get a price per cubic inches, which accounts for the ability to layer or stack products. For both measurements, keep in mind that it is very difficult to fully use every single inch of space, but it is a more helpful way to compare across the units, I think, that is more objective.  (I really hope I did all the calculations right!)

Muji 2-Drawer ($25.25) is going to be your worst-value proposition, as each drawer is typically too short to layer products but tends to be a little too tall for a really efficient single layer drawer. However, for storing makeup brushes like fluffy face and cheek ones, it is ideal, as it gives enough height for the brushes to slide in and out without getting caught, whereas the shorter 5-Drawer may be too short. The best aspect of the 2-Drawer system is that it should stack the best, so as you grow, it can grow and stack nicely. I would eye the use of this very, very critically and see if you are storing products that would really fill up the height well or if the shorter 5-Drawers would work just as well for you.

  • Best For:  Large/Face Makeup Brushes, oversized eyeshadows or blushes, thicker palettes
  • Pros:  Designed to be stackable, so good for expanding collections; drawers slide on well, low entry cost
  • Cons:  Costly for the space you get, not tall enough to layer most products but taller than a single layer of most products, may be hard to see in person, more prone to scratches
  • Where to Buy: Muji

Muji 5-Drawer ($27.95) is the best bang for your buck when it comes to displaying products in single layers. I also found the width of it to be slightly better for the majority of items I tried–things just fit better across with less wasted space. It could be deeper, as could the 2-Drawer, by an inch or two and be more efficient for makeup storage. The drawers slide on easily, full extend or can be removed and placed like trays on a surface, so it’s easy to access any part of your stash. Each drawer is shorter, so something like a foundation bottle will not fit, but it is ideal for blush, lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliners, eye brushes, lipgloss, etc. stored flat in a single layer. It is the cheapest for storing products as a single layer.

  • Best For: displaying products as a single layer — eyeshadows, lipsticks, gloss, blush, eye brushes, most palettes
  • Pros: Affordable/good price per sq. in., drawers slide in and out well, sturdy enough for most uses
  • Cons:  More prone to scratches, less stackable (rubberized feet, but you should be able to stack one more on top and keep heavier items in the bottom one), may be hard to see it in person
  • Where to Buy: Muji

The Container Store’s Luxe Acrylic Modular System ($109.95) consists of components so you can build your own system, so the one I purchased cost $109.95, but the pieces range from $11.99 to $29.99, so the actual cost will depend on what components you select (I made some combination recommendations here). I really liked that there was an option for a taller size, which would allow you to store quads, palettes, blushes, powders, and lipsticks vertically; the latter is more important to me, because labels facing upwards is my preferred way to find lip products. However, the tall is not tall enough for lipgloss (not even MAC Lipglass, which is a shorter gloss). Makeup storage systems are so dependent on very personal factors: 1) what you own, 2) how you use and reach for your makeup, and 3) how much you own, which is why the customization aspect of the height and width of the drawers is a huge advantage of this system. The major downside is that the drawers are flush with the exterior, so you can sometimes hear the drawers squeak as it rubs against the base, and if the drawers slid out more like the other three systems, it would be near perfect.  I felt like this was storing endless combinations and types of products, and things tended to fit well without having to offset a lot.

  • Best For:  versatility, you can store the greatest type and amount of products across the various sizes; form and function (higher quality than Muji but lower initial investment cost compared to Icebox)
  • Pros:  customizable/versatile as you can select your components to best fit your stash and how you use/reach for products, quality acrylic, ability to see it in-store (to a degree; not everyone will be close enough to a location), stores a lot, enough weight to keep everything in place, easily expanded or rearranged as needs change (can also easily be repurposed for other things if you decide one component doesn’t work as well)
  • Cons:  drawers are flush with the exterior holder portion, so they don’t slide as smoothly as the other systems; possibly overwhelming on how to choose your components (they should create some “buy it all” combinations)
  • Where to Buy: The Container Store

Sherrieblossom’s Icebox Wide ($415.00) (provided as a press sample) seemed to have the highest quality of the four systems I tested. Muji’s acrylic is the thinnest at 2mm on its drawers, while Container Store’s was 3mm; Icebox had 5mm, so significantly thicker and more durable. It was also the one that looked the best after sustained use, and it had a clearer, more crystal-like quality to it. To me, this one is only worth getting if you really need the size (it’s quite large) AND you expect to layer your products, because then you can maximize the vertical space of each drawer. As it is a single unit, it is sturdier than the Container Store’s option. For storing single layers of product, there is a lot of wasted vertical space in each drawer. I also highly recommend the Skinny over the Wide, because the top section is 5 inches in height for more versatility, if going with this option. My favorite part about this system was how well each drawer slid out (they also can be removed) and inclusion of inserts for dividing up the space of each drawer. I think the functional use of space could be improved, even the quality of the unit is high.

  • Best For:  layering products — the two inch drawer height begs you to layer your products, can also store the average single eyeshadow on the side, which may be practical for more “long term” storage, or for someone who wants a higher quality acrylic
  • Pros:  high quality acrylic that’s very clear, thick, and sturdy; single unit means it is sturdier and the thicker acrylic contributes a lot of weight even when empty; drawers slide beautifully in and out, hinged lid enables you to use the top section without height restraints, inserts enable you to divide the wide drawers into compartments
  • Cons:  price (high investment cost and still expensive on a price per square inch/cubic inch basis), lower accessibility, will have a lot of wasted vertical space if you don’t expect to layer products
  • Where to Buy: Sherrieblossom

I personally found the The Container Store’s Luxe Acrylic Modular System to work best for storing makeup overall.  Its strength is that aspect of customization and that made it the most functional for me.  It’s not a cheap system, but it can be built in stages or as your needs expand, so you can spread the cost out over time.  I also really liked the Muji 5-Drawer and think it is an excellent solution for storing products in single layers with little wasted space, and the best part is that it ended up being the most cost-effective of the four systems.  Between the two, I highly recommend considering how you currently store your products; do you want them all laid out, do you want to store anything vertically, and so forth.  I don’t think anyone who’s housing their stash in acrylic organizers is throwing the units across the room, and the Mujis are plenty sturdy for sitting on a desk or vanity.

Acrylic organizers are best suited for stashes that fit inside one entirely, or for storing your favorites, essentials, or current rotation.  I think that an organizer on top of an Ikea Alex drawer unit (9-drawer is the most popular and costs $129) is an excellent solution that’s clean, looks good, stores a lot, but it offsets some of the cost of housing bulkier products or ones you don’t reach for as often by using the Alex for that purpose.

What do I use for storing makeup?  First, keep in mind that I have an archive of makeup, so my storage needs are extremely high.  I’ve gone through various systems over the years, but I’ve been happy with my current solution for the last four years.  I use a 16-drawer Ikea Besta unit with high gloss black drawer fronts, which you can see here, and I have three of them; this is the more permanent, long-term storage, and I use organizers within each drawer to maximize space and still be able to find things (this post details what I use).  They don’t sell the Besta frame I use anymore, but they have a single column frame (as well as smaller frames), which runs you $70, plus the cost each drawer and front (this is where it gets pricey).  Mine were $560 each, but the height of the drawers was more effective for me compared to Alex 9-drawers, as I can stand lipglosses vertically.  I use a Besta Burs (70″ version) as my vanity, and it has two pull-out drawers; it is not particularly efficient for storing products (and I hate that the drawers don’t fully extend), but it’s narrow and perfect for me as I keep the majority of makeup stored on the Besta units and only keep things like foundation, favorite blushes, and so forth in the vanity.

See more photos!

Sherrieblossom Icebox Wide Acrylic Makeup Organizer Review & Photos

Sherrieblossom Icebox Wide
Sherrieblossom Icebox Wide

Sherrieblossom Icebox Wide ($415.00) contains five drawers and one top section (with lid), even in height. The unit is 15 inches / 38.1 centimeters in width, 12 inches / 30.5 centimeters in depth, and 12.5 inches / 31.75 centimeters in height. Each drawer has an interior space of 14.5 inches / 36.8 centimeters in width, 11.5 inches / 29.2 centimeters in depth, and 2 inches / 5 centimeters in height. The system comes with three sets of removable/adjustment inserts–an X (creates four triangle-shaped compartments), Slide (for dividing space into three columns), and Grid (creates six compartments) (each additional insert is $15).

It’s the heaviest, sturdiest, and uses the thickest acrylic out of the organizers I’ve reviewed today (full post of comparisons and thoughts coming next). The acrylic on the actual drawer component is 5mm in width, which is almost double the width of the other systems. There are indentations on the side of the interior of the unit for each drawer to slide out more easily so they don’t slide on top of each other. The acrylic used in the Icebox was also the clearest/cleanest in appearance from what I have tried. The unit comes altogether, so there’s no worry about drawers sliding off of each other. It comes with rubberized feet, but you’ll need to fill it or else I found that pulling one drawer would cause the whole unit to move forward (I had just one drawer filled and the others were empty, but when they were all filled, I didn’t have trouble).

These are all good things, but like I am with most things, function is also quite important. I really love that it comes with inserts so you can divide up the wide space and create smaller compartments, which I think works well for someone with a few of different types of formulas or a variety of brands, since like can be with like (which almost always uses space more efficiently). I don’t like the height of the drawers. I would rather see one drawer at four or five inches, another at three inches, and then shorter ones at one or one and a half inches, because I think you could make better use of the vertical space this way. It will be difficult to find the shade you’re looking for if you have two or three layers of products, as you’ll have to dig through it all. This is a default when you have a ton of products to organize, but this type of system really lends itself better to displaying products so you can easily pick the ones you want to use for the day. As a result, it is ideal to have things in single layers, and most products are either short or very tall (think eyeshadow vs. lipstick, stored vertically) and having every drawer have a two inch height is overkill for that purpose, yet it’s way too short to accommodate anything stored vertically.

I would have loved to see this unit come with a large, four inch tall drawer at the base, three drawers at one and a half inches tall, and then the top compartment at five inches. It could also work with shorter drawers overall and a large top compartment. The Icebox Skinny has a five inch tall top section, but the drawers underneath are the same two inch height, but I think that would be a better use of vertical space than the Wide based on my attempt to fit various products into it. The Icebox Wide fits a fair amount of product, so it is ideal for someone who has more than a traincase-full but not enough for a “makeup room”! It’s extremely well-made, and I can see a lot of thought into some of the details (like how the drawers slide out, customization of interior space), but I definitely had trouble maximizing the space in a way that I felt was efficient but still practical (from a usability standpoint).

What each drawer can hold…

  • 28 x MAC Blushes | no dividers, three rows of six, two rows of five
  • 24 x MAC Blushes | with divider (creates six compartments), each compartment holds four offset
  • 30 x ColourPop Super Shock Cheeks | with divider (creates six compartments), each compartment holds five
  • 48 x MAC Lipsticks | with divider (creates six compartments), each compartment holds eight
  • 25 x NARS Blushes | no divider, five rows of five, up to three layers, or six rows of five staggered
  • 24 x NARS Blushes | with divider (creates six compartments), each compartment holds four, up to three layers
  • 62 x Urban Decay Eyeshadows | no divider, seven rows of eight each, plus six offset on the side, up to two layers
  • 48 x Urban Decay Eyeshadows | with divider (creates six compartments), each compartment holds eight flat, up to two layers, can accommodate them on their side
  • 54 x NARS Lipglosses | three columns of eighteen each, up to three layers
  • 2 x Make Up For Ever Artist Palettes | divided compartment holds two layered, up to three layered
  • 24 x NARS Blushes | with divider (creates three vertical compartments), each compartment holds eight flat, up to three layers
  • 62 x ColourPop Super Shock Shadows | no divider, seven rows of eight, plus six along the offset on the side

What the top compartment can hold…

On the Icebox Wide, the top compartment opens with a lid, which is on a hinge and lays flat against the back of the unit when opened, or it can rest against a wall, if it is leaned up against one. If you leave the lid open, you can create an area where vertical space isn’t restrained. The Icebox Skinny has a much taller top section (5 inches). After using this one, I would highly recommend the ability to have a much deeper top section if you tend to have a lot of product syou’d want to store vertically, assuming you want to keep the lid closed. The top section comes with a cross-grid that divides it into four triangles. If you plan to store a lot of products vertically in this area, I would recommend swapping out the X divider for a Grid, as you can get six, rectangular spaces, which are much easier to work with and enable you to sort by type/brand/size and not have to fill each compartment as full in order to keep them all standing vertically. (Be careful pulling the X insert out, as it is very tightly fit into the space.)

  • 55 x NARS Lipsticks | fit an assortment of Audacious and regular lipsticks
  • 55 x MAC Lipsticks | fit them horizontally, but as these have curved tops, you’ll need to pack it full in order to keep them standing
  • 3 x Urban Decay Naked + 2 x Naked Basics Palettes | fit three full-sized Naked palettes, plus the two smaller palettes flat and stacked
  • 3 x Z-Palettes + 2 smaller palettes | these sections were good for storing these wide, tall kind of products/palettes (your lid won’t close, if that wasn’t obvious!)
  • 3 x Liquid Foundations + Loose Powder | one section fit three liquid foundations (lying down) and a loose setting powder, so you could close the lid with this set-up; the foundations obviously can be stood up, too, and then the space would accommodate more bottles

See more photos!

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The Container Store Luxe Acrylic Modular System Makeup Organizer Review & Photos

The Container Store Luxe Acrylic Modular System
The Container Store Luxe Acrylic Modular System

The Container Store Luxe Acrylic Modular System ($11.99 for $29.99) includes a variety of individual units that can be stacked onto each other to create a customized makeup organization solution for your needs. I didn’t purchase all the different types of units, but I purchased a few to give a good idea of what you could store or how it might work. I decided on the Wide Medium Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer ($29.99), Half Tall Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer ($19.99), two Half Short Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawers, and Large Acrylic Makeup Organizer ($29.99) to sit on top of the other units. The system you’re seeing in this post cost a total of $109.95.

The widest and largest component is the Wide Medium Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer ($29.99) is 12.5 inches / 31.75 centimeters in width, 8.5 inches / 21.6 centimeters in depth, and 2.5 inches / 6.35 centimeters tall. There is also a tray version, which could be placed on top of your system of components, which is shorter (1.25 inches / 3.2 centimeters in height) and has no drawer/lid, but it would work for storing things like piecemeal acrylic organizers (like a lipstick holder), perfumes, foundation bottles, and so forth.

The smallest component is the Quarter Short Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer ($11.99), which would be useful for storing things like eyeliners, shorter makeup brushes, five or so lipglosses, or a few single eyeshadows; this is half the width of the Half Short Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer ($14.99) (which is featured in this post). There is also a Quarter Tall Acrylic Modular Drawer ($14.99), which is double the height of the Quarter Short and half the width of the Half Tall Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer ($19.99) (which is featured in this post).

I like the idea of the Quarter Short and having two stacked on top of each other; one holding eyeliners and one holding eyeshadow primers–I could see that working well. I wouldn’t go for too small of sizes unless you have a good idea of how you plan to separate and organize your products, as they can be limiting if you’re not quite sure. On the other hand, the Half Tall drawer is better suited for larger products or oddly-sized ones; while it can fit things crammed in, you will have trouble seeing what’s in it, so keep that in mind.

The strength of this system is its ability to be customized, so if you have a lot of single eyeshadows, you can get the right drawers for that. I like that they have the taller drawers available, as most lipsticks will fit vertically (labels facing you), which makes finding the one you want easy. Most lipglosses are not going to fit vertically, which is a challenge for nearly all drawer systems, so your best bet is to lay gloss flat or store them in the top unit, which has no height restraints. The acrylic is sturdy and has good clarity, and it doesn’t feel cheap by any means.

The system is modular, but it is really held together only by rubberized feet on the bottom of each component; they do not interlock by any other mechanism. The empty components are moderately heavy, and when stacked up, they stayed put despite shaking the table strongly. Once you load it up with your makeup goodies, it seemed even sturdier, so for most, I think it should be sufficiently stable. The drawers are also nearly flush with the holder itself, so you can hear the acrylic squeak sometimes as you pull out the drawer. They do not pull out as smoothly as I would like, though this seems to be common with acrylic drawers that are more flush.

What a Wide Medium Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer can hold…

Exterior: 12.5 inches / 31.75 centimeters in width, 8.5 inches / 21.6 centimeters in depth, and 2.5 inches / 6.4 centimeters in height. Interior: 12 inches / 30.5 centimeters in width, 8 inches / 20.3 centimeters in depth, 2 inches / 5 centimeters in height. It’s tall enough to layer some products if desired, and it is wide enough to fit an assortment of types of products or a combination of products.

  • 35 x Urban Decay Eyeshadows | five rows of seven in each, up to three layers, and you can have them on their side, though it will be a challenge to find things, of course!
  • 35 x ColourPop Super Shock Shadows | five rows of seven in each, up to two layers, you can have them on their side as well
  • 3 x Urban Decay Naked + 2 x Naked Basics Palettes | single layer of three of the larger palettes, the two smaller ones stacked; you can stack all three of the larger Naked palettes together
  • 12 x NARS Blushes | three rows of four each, up to three layers
  • 36 x MAC Lipsticks | two rows of fourteen each, plus a few loose ones in the excess space
  • 28 x NARS Lipglosses | one row of eighteen, plus two vertical rows above of five each

What a Half Tall Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer can hold…

Exterior: 6.25 inches / 15.9 centimters in width, 8.5 inches / centimeters in depth, 3.5 inches / 8.9 centimeters in height. Interior: 5.6 inches / 21.6 centimeters in width, 8 inches / 20.3 centimeters in depth, and 3.25 inches / 8.3 centimeters in height. I found that in practice that I didn’t like this size as much as I expected to. The height works well for storing products vertically, like lipsticks or short lipgloss, but you need a lot of them to keep them from falling over or else create a divider. I would go for the Quarter Tall, which halves the width but keeps the height. This wider size will be better for more of a mish mash of products or larger, more oversized products that don’t fit elsewhere–say extra foundation bottles, eyelash curler, or giant bronzer. It can also be used to store some palettes, depending on how large they are. It may be more ideal for quads and the like as well if you have more than a handful.

  • 36 x NARS Blushes | two columns of fifteen, plus six along the side
  • 70 x NARS Audacious Lipsticks | ten rows of seven fit perfectly
  • 70 x MAC Lipsticks | ten rows of seven fit with a little give but nothing will fall over
  • 17 x MAC Powders | two rows of seven each, plus 3 along the back
  • 20 x MAC Blushes | two columns of ten each
  • 7 x Urban Decay Naked Palettes | all three of the full Naked palettes fit along the depth, and you could likely fit at least four more or so (or other comparable palettes)
  • MAC Quads, Dior Quints, Chanel Quads | these fit within the height of the drawer

What a Half Short Luxe Acrylic Modular Drawer can hold…

Exterior: 6.25 inches / 15.9 centimeters in width, 8.5 inches / 21.6 centimeters in depth, and 2 inches / 5 centimeters in height. Interior: 5.6 inches / 14.2 centimeters in width, 8 inches / 20.3 centimeters in depth, and 1.25 inches / 3.2 centimeters in height.  This is a great size for single layers of products that you want to keep separated, rather than in a single, wide drawer.  I like that there isn’t too much height, so you don’t get a lot of wasted vertical space when using a single layer of products.  It fits a good variety of products as well.

  • 14 x NARS Lipglosses | one column of five, one row of nine, up two layers
  • 11 x ColourPop Super Shock Cheeks | two columns of four each, plus three on the side, one layer only
  • 15 x ColourPop Super Shock Shadows | five rows of three each, one layer only, excess space on the side
  • 4 x MAC Powders | four fit offset, very inefficient use of space
  • 6 x NARS Blushes | two columns of three each, up to two layers; you can fit eight if staggered slightly
  • 18 x MAC Lipsticks two rows of seven each, plus four loose at the top, labels facing outward, one layer only
  • 6 x MAC Blushes three rows of two each, one layer only
  • 15 x Marc Jacobs Eyeliners one row of fifteen, up to two layers possible
  • 16 x Sephora Eyeliners one row of sixteen, up to two layers possible

What a Large Acrylic Makeup Organizer can hold…

It’s 12.5 inches / 31.75 centimeters in width, 8.4 inches / 21.3 centimeters in depth, and 3.5 inches / 8.9 centimeters in height. This component has several different compartments, so it really can fit an endless combination of things. It also includes a removable acrylic lipstick organizer that fits twelve (each has a defined square-shaped slot).

From the left side, there are three wide components (about half the width), and the bottom one is designed to hold the removable lipstick holder. These larger compartments can hold a variety of things. My recommendation would be for taller items (like foundation) as well as for anything you might reach for every single day without fail.

On the right side, there are four smaller square compartments next to a medium rectangle at the top with a larger, wide square on the bottom right. The smaller square compartments would be ideal for eyeliners and makeup brushes; anything with a small diameter and more length. These could also hold something like mascara, but you can only fit one tube of an average-sized mascara in it, so it’s not the most efficient use of space. Here are somethings that fit well into it:

  • 8 x MAC blushes | two columns of four each on the bottom right compartment
  • 12 x Lipsticks | organizer naturally holds twelve lipsticks in the bottom left compartment
  • 4 x NARS Lipglosses | each small square compartment fit four
  • Makeup Brushes | each small compartment on the top right half of the unit fit brushes well
  • 35 x Eyeliners | when placed in the top right most compartment
  • 3 x Urban Decay Naked + 2 x Naked Basics Palettes | fit in the top left most unit (two of the full-sized stacked, and then the two Basics palettes stacked with the third full-sized)
  • 2 x Eyeshadow Palettes | upper left most component fits up to two MAC/Z-Palettes

Some combination ideas…*

  • Extra Large | 2 x Wide Medium Luxe (bottom two drawers), 1 x Half Tall Luxe, 2 x Quarter Tall Luxe, 2 x Half Short Luxe, 1x Large Acrylic Makeup Organizer ($163.92)
  • Large | 1 x Wide Medium Luxe (bottom drawer), 2 x Quarter Tall Luxe, 2 x Half Short Luxe, 1 x Large Acrylic Makeup Organizer ($119.94)
  • Medium | 1 x Wide Medium Luxe (bottom drawer), 2 x Half Short Luxe, 1 x Large Acrylic Makeup Organizer ($89.96)
  • Small | 1 x Half Tall Luxe, 2 x Half Short Luxe, 1 x Large Acrylic Makeup Organizer ($79.96)
  • Brushes | 3 x Wide Medium Luxe ($89.97)
  • Eyeshadows/Lipglosses | 6 x Half Short Luxe ($89.94)

* Please note, it’s hard to really quantify someone’s collection, so these are just suggestions. For instance, if your stash is more like mine, this system isn’t going to work for all of it, but it can work for essentials, favorites, or a current rotation. About one drawer of my personal organization system fits into the acrylic organizer I bought for this post.

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Muji 5-Drawer Acrylic Drawers for Makeup Organization Review & Photos

Muji 5-Drawer Acrylic Drawers
Muji 5-Drawer Acrylic Drawers

Muji 5-Drawer Acrylic Drawers ($27.95) is a single unit with five drawers that pull out completely, so you can take out a drawer and set it down like a tray, which gives you greater access to anything you put into it. The unit measures 10.2 inches / 26 centimeters wide, 6.9 inches / 17.5 centimeters in depth, and 6.6 inches / 16.5 centimeters in height. The interior space of each drawer is 9.4 inches / 23.9 centimeters in width, 6.5 inches / 16.5 centimeters in depth, and 0.9 inches / 2.3 centimeters in height. These drawers are shorter than the 2-Drawer system by 0.85 inches / 2.1 centimeters, and while you can stack this on top of the 2-Drawer unit, it is a tiny bit wider and slightly deeper.

The weight of your products help to keep the drawer from falling out, even when extended quite far, but you can also fully remove the drawer to access anything stored in the back. I prefer this, personally, as it means you can really maximize every inch of the drawer. It’s also a nice way to store lipsticks with labels facing outwards so you can read them quickly, rather than having to pick up, read, pick up, read to find the right one. The 5-Drawer has a moderate thickness on its exterior sides, while the drawers themselves are slightly thinner. The unit sits comfortably on counter tops without sliding around as it has rubberized feet on the bottom to prevent slippage. The drawers sit on “tracks” so they pull out easily without rubbing against the drawer above or below it.

The shorter drawers won’t allow you to hold products like foundation bottles, larger tubes, and cylindrical loose powder containers (among other things!). The short height is ideal for someone who only wants to have a single layer of product per drawer, as it wastes very little in vertical space as a result–too tall drawers often waste space unless you plan to layer or have specific products that are tall enough to fill it. These drawers fit eyeshadows, lipglosses, lipsticks, blushes, bronzers, pressed powders, slim palettes, eye brushes, eyeliners, eyeshadow primers, and things of that nature very well. It has a decent footprint, where it’s not going to fit for everyone’s play space, but it is a good option for those with a vanity about two to three feet in width or on top of an Ikea Alex drawer unit.

What each drawer can hold…

  • 23 x Urban Decay Eyeshadows | four rows of five each, plus three offset on the side, one layer maximum
  • 23 x ColourPop Eyeshadows | five rows of five each, plus three offset on the side, one layer maximum
  • 8 x MAC Blushes | two rows of four each, with a fair amount of space, one layer maximum; the two rows fit more comfortably in this unit than the 2-Drawer unit due to the greater width
  • 2 x URban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palettes | fits two next to each other with space along the right and bottom of them (could fit
  • eyeliners along the bottom, possibly eyeshadows on the right)
  • 20 x NARS Lipglosses | two rows of ten each comfortably, one layer maximum
  • 14 x ColourPop Super Shock Cheeks | three rows of five each, two offset on the side
  • 6 x MAC Powders | two rows of three each
  • 24 x MAC Lipsticks | two rows of twelve each
  • 9 x NARS Blushes | three rows of three each with some excess space on the right OR stagger them slightly and get four rows of three each with labels facing up; if laid flat, you can get two layers in
  • 29 x Marc Jacobs Eyeliners | single row, single layer; two layers possible
  • 29 x Sephora Eyeliners | one column of 18, one row of 11; two layers possible
  • Brushes | fits brushes of various length; round or fluffier face brushes may have too large of a diameter to fit well but will work for eye brushes and smaller/flatter face brushes

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Muji 2-Drawer Acrylic Drawers for Makeup Organization Review & Photos

Muji 2-Drawer Acrylic Drawers
Muji 2-Drawer Acrylic Drawers

Muji 2-Drawer Acrylic Drawers ($25.25) is a set of two, clear, acrylic pull-out drawers. Each drawer full extends out, and it is on a “track” so it doesn’t rub against the drawer above or below it, so it is also less noisy. The acrylic is thin along the interior drawer edges with the exterior edges being slightly thicker. The unit itself is 10.2 inches / 25.5 centimeters in width, 6.8 inches / 17 centimeters in depth, and 3.75 inches / 9.5 centimeters in height. Each drawer is 9.6 inches / 24.4 centimeters in width, 6.25 inches / 15.75 centimeters in depth, and 1.75 inches / 4.5 centimeters in height. There is a slight pocket of empty space between the edge of the organizer and the top of the drawer, so you have a little margin for error.

I like the slightly taller drawers, as it gives you some room to play with and layer products if you get a little overflow, though with this type of system, it is ideal to use single layers so that you can see what you have. You can also get the same version with a clear lid (here) for $26.75, which would enable you to keep it open to use the top drawer as a standing area for taller products. For a moderate size stash, I would recommend getting four drawers with one set having a lid, so you can keep foundation bottles, setting sprays, larger powder containers, and so forth there. If you have a makeup room-sized stash, this type of system is best for storing essentials or everyday products, but it’s not space or cost efficient otherwise.

It has moderate weight; enough not to feel flimsy, and it sits on slick surfaces without rattling around, especially once you’ve loaded it up with your stash. The acrylic used isn’t quite as crystal clear or as thick as top tier price ranges would dictate, but I think it would be sufficiently clear and streamlined for most. It seems more prone to picking up scratches and visible smudge marks from dirty fingertips (hey, it’s makeup!), but I don’t tend to notice either unless I’m really looking. Once you put your stash into the drawers, the weight of the products keeps the drawer from falling out even when extended by 75-80%.

What each drawer can hold…

  • 3 x Urban Decay Naked + 2 x Naked Basics Palettes | fits two of the full-sized palettes stacked on top of each other
  • 20 x Urban Decay Eyeshadow Singles | five per row, offset, one layer maximum
  • 22 x ColourPop Super Shock Shadows | five per row with two fit in the “notches” of the rows, one layer maximum
  • 8 x MAC Blushes | two rows of three each comfortably, with room for two more offset; one layer maximum
  • 20 x NARS Lipglosses | two rows of ten each, vertically maximizes space; two layers possible; easier to remove glosses with two rows of nine glosses
  • 8 x NARS Powder Blushes | two rows of four each, two layers fits most comfortably, three layers comes right up to the edge (doesn’t seem to scrape, but it is very close)
  • 24 x MAC Lipsticks | two rows of twelve each, labels facing outwards makes it easier to read from either end of drawer
  • 6 x MAC Large Powders | two rows of three each, six fit comfortably, one layer maximum
  • 14 x ColourPop Super Shock Cheeks | three rows of four each, two fit offset to the side, fit comfortably, one layer maximum
  • Makeup Brushes | fits various makeup brushes, including longer ones (like Chikuhodo) as well as fluffier ones (like Chikuhodo Z face brushes)
  • 22 x NARS Audacious Lipsticks | two rows of 11 each, labels facing outwards for readability, one layer maximum
  • 29 x Marc Jacobs Eyeliners | single row fits approximately 29, but easily could have three or four layers
  • 28 x Sephora Eyeliners | arranged in column of 17 and a row of 11 for maximum capacity (fits about 25 in a single row across)

Today is all about acrylic organizers, and next up, we’ll take a look at the Muji 5-Drawer system, followed by Container Store’s modular acrylic system and Sherrieblossom’s Icebox, and we’ll conclude with a round-up and comparison of what’s best and for what and how to maximize these systems.

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