Patricia Foster

Photo: Chris Eckert/Studio D

Patricia Foster

Age: 47
Her Weakness: Makeup
Her Rescuer: Makeup artist Troy Surratt

Trish's one-bedroom New York City apartment is pristine—clear surfaces, cool colors, an orchid blooming on the dining room table. But open her bathroom cupboards? Bins exploding with lipsticks! Compacts stacked ten high! "It's gotten so overwhelming," Trish says. "I used to enjoy the ritual of putting on makeup; now it makes me anxious." The products really started piling up after she turned 40: "I'm a sucker for anything that says luminosity, radiance, or glow." Here's how Surratt edited her formidable stash (to Trish's constant refrain of "Hey, I was wondering where that was!").

Counting It All Up

Trish's clutter by the numbers:
  • 169 lipsticks and glosses
  • 19 lip pencils
  • 33 eye pencils
  • 22 eyeshadow palettes
  • 24 bronzers
  • 39 makeup brushes
  • 8 pencil sharpeners

Space-Freeing Strategies

Skip Primers
They were first introduced almost 20 years ago, to help foundation go on more smoothly. "But today's foundations and tinted moisturizers have much more elegant formulas," says Surratt. "You don't need primer to make them easier to apply."

Know What You Have
Keep your makeup in clear acrylic organizers (Surratt loves the ones from Muji), and make sure it's easily accessible. Once products wind up in a bin under your sink, you may forget you have them...and buy them again.

Beware of "Pan Appeal"
"Beauty companies formulate products to look beautiful as a palette—they call it 'pan appeal'—but that doesn't mean they'll work on your face," says Surratt. Always try the color first, and ask yourself whether you really want to wear it—or just look at it.

Photo: Mauricio Alejo

What Made the Cut
Starting from Top Left:

Revlon Colorstay 16-Hour Eyeshadow Quad in Seductive, $7.50, drugstores.
When Trish surveyed her shadows, the only brights she had touched were purples. So: She'll pare down to this quartet.

Sephora Collection Outrageous Volume Mascara, $15,
Volumizing mascaras add both length and fullness.

Rimmel London Natural Bronzer in Sun Glow $6, drugstores.
Trish loves bronzer. But a single powder formula, two shades deeper than her complexion, is the only one she—or any woman—needs.

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, $19,
One lash curler (repeat: one) is a must in every makeup collection. It makes lashes look longer, eyes more open.

Mary Kay Lip Liner in Soft Blush, $12,
A pencil that's close to the color of your lips is the only lip liner you need.

Lancôme Le Crayon Khôl in Black Ebony, $25,
This is the black eye pencil Trish grabs most often ("It's easy to apply and doesn't smudge"). She can toss her other 32.

Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color Trio in BR 307, $33,
Most days Trish uses beige and brown shadows to define her eyes. This palette gives her three beautiful shades.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, $42,
Trish always returns to this formula—and no wonder: It leaves her complexion luminous.

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche le Gloss in Nude Illusion, $8, drugstores.
Trish's lip products can be narrowed down to three: this sheer gloss and an everyday tawny shade and a festive red.

Bobbi Brown Blush in Nude Pink, $24,
With a rosy tint on her cheeks, Trish looks more bright-eyed. A medium pink powder with the slightest shimmer is particularly flattering.

YSL Touche Éclat, $40,
Trish owns three of these highlighting pens (unbeknownst to her). She doesn't have significant dark circles, so she can pitch her pots and sticks of concealer—this light formula is enough to brighten her undereye area.

Clinique Chubby Stick in Whole Lotta Honey, $16,

Chanel Rouge Allure in Excessive, $33,

Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow Brush, Blush Brush, Powder Brush, and Angle Eye Shadow Brush $28, $50, $60, $28,
Every time Trish visited a makeup counter, she bought another (pricey) brush. But with just these four, she's covered.
Jill Goldsberry

Photo: Chris Eckert/Studio D

Jill Goldsberry

Age: 37
Her Weakness: Hair products
Her Rescuer: Hairstylist Anthony Dickey

"I'm in a constant battle with my hair," says Jill. "It's so hard to get it soft and manageable." Her solution: Build an arsenal of every hair product she can find. She researched them online, solicited recommendations from friends, paced the aisles of beauty supply stores. It wasn't until Jill agreed to our intervention that she realized how many products she'd accumulated. "I'd totally forgotten I owned some of this stuff," she says. Here's how Dickey brought her back to the basics.

Counting It All Up

Trish's clutter by the numbers:
  • 25 shampoos
  • 15 oil treatments
  • 40 conditioners
  • 17 styling products

Space-Freeing Strategies

Stay True to Your Hair Type
Jill's love of new! improved! award-winning! products blinded her to what her hair needs: hydration. Among her piles were mousses, volumizers, even a dry shampoo. Consider what you want a product to do for your hair (moisturize, soften, thicken), look for those words on the packaging, and ignore other claims.

Interview Your Hairstylist
Ask her exactly what products she's using on your hair and in what order. Take note of the ones that make your hair feel best.

Spread the Wealth
If a product's not right for your hair type, don't hold on to it. Perhaps it could work for a friend with different needs.

Photo: Mauricio Alejo

What Made the Cut
From Left to Right:

Uncle Funky's Daughter Curly Magic, $25,
An alcohol-free gel won't leave curls dried out or crunchy.

Aura Cacia Tea Tree Oil $8.50,
Tea tree oil exfoliates the scalp between shampoos.

Hair Rules Blow Out Your Kinks, $21,
When Jill wants to blow her hair out straight, she should use a blow-dry cream instead of a gel. It coats the hair and protects it from heat damage.

Infiniti Pro by Conair Tourmaline Ceramic Straightener, $46, drugstores.
This 446-degree flatiron gets even kinky hair silky.

Argan Oil, $15,
Argan oil is a great weekly moisturizing treatment.

Carol's Daughter Chocolät Smoothing Shampoo, $18,
A creamy, sulfate-free shampoo with minimal suds is gentle on Jill's very dry hair.

Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque, $30,
Superdry hair like Jill's calls for a superthick conditioner.

L'Oréal Paris Eversleek Humidity Defying Leave-In Crème, $9, drugstores.
Jill should swap her leave-in conditioning sprays for a thicker formula, in a pump or tube.

Remington Fast Finish Dryer, $28,, and Small Pick Nozzle, $5,
Straightens curls fast.
Cindy Rachlin

Photo: Chris Eckert/Studio D

Cindy Rachlin

Age: 57
Her Weakness: Skincare products
Her Rescuer: Dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD

Cindy sees her extensive skincare collection as a costly attempt to rewrite history. "SPF didn't exist when I was growing up," she says. "I was a redhead who would lie in the sun slathered in baby oil. Now I'm trying to reverse all that damage." The possibility of finding the miracle product that will revitalize her skin can keep her in Sephora for hours. "I get energized by the hope that this is going to be the answer," she says. Here's how Fusco culled her collection.

Counting It All Up

Trish's clutter by the numbers:
  • 12 body creams
  • 13 facial moisturizers
  • 8 hand creams
  • 3 exfoliators
  • 7 (dried-out) facial sponges
  • 6 cleansers

Space-Freeing Strategies

Be Patient
It usually takes at least one month for a skincare product to make a difference. (And retinoids, the gold standard of antiaging skincare, can take about four.)

Forget Toners
A cleanser and H2O are all you need to remove dirt and oil from your skin.

Organize Your Samples
Those minis you get at the department store counter can be great for travel—but Cindy had collected 77 tiny packets and tubes and didn't know what she had. A better system: Keep samples in ziplock bags organized by category.

Photo: Mauricio Alejo

What Made the Cut
Starting from Top Left:

Gold Bond Ultimate Soothing Skin Therapy Lotion, $7, drugstores.
This fragrance-free, nongreasy lotion is the only one that Cindy needs to soften her dry hands.

Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion, $9, drugstores.
A body lotion with glycerin and petrolatum will smooth Cindy's dry, sensitive skin.

St. Ives Apricot Scrub Gentle, $4.50, drugstores.
A gentle scrub buffs away dead cells so moisturizers can penetrate skin more effectively.

Clarins Hydraquench Cream SPF 15, $49,
Every skincare collection needs a moisturizer with SPF.

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, $25,
At night, apply a richer moisturizer than you would during the day.

Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, $23, drugstores.
Vitamin A derivatives, like retinol, have been proven to smooth lines.

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum, $144,
A few drops of this antioxidant-rich serum cover the face, neck, and chest to protect against sun damage.

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, $12, drugstores.
This creamy cleanser uses ceramides and fatty acids to rehydrate, so Cindy's face won't feel tight.

Photo: Thinkstock

The Toss-It Timetable

3 to 4 Months

Mascaras and Liquid Eyeliners
These dark, moist tubes breed bacteria. (Never keep more than a couple in rotation; you'll forget when you opened them.)

6 Months

Sunscreen, Retinoids, and Acne Products
Sunscreens and prescription products must carry an expiration date. But whatever the date, once opened, use the product within six months. The ingredients can degrade.

1 Year

Liquid Makeup and Cream Shadows
They start to get dried out or goopy, and the color may change.

1 to 2 Years

If they're in a tub or jar, they'll become more quickly contaminated (because they're exposed to air and your fingers), so toss them within a year. Moisturizers in a tube or pump can last two years.

2 years

Shampoos, Conditioners, and Gels
The oils and water in the formulas may start to separate. You know they're past their prime when their texture, color, or scent changes.

2 years

Loose and Pressed Powders
Bacteria grow more slowly in powder products because they contain very little water.

Pencil Lip Liners and Eyeliners
Sharpen them after every few uses to keep them clean

Lipsticks and Glosses
Toss them sooner if they start to smell "off" or feel waxy.