I’ll admit it: I am a beauty hoarder. Anything given to me or bought on a whim - even stuff tried and not liked – is stashed in a big glass-fronted cabinet in our bathroom. And there it remains. Nothing is ever thrown away.
The cupboard’s so full, small items tumble out whenever the door is opened. I feel queasy just looking at it. Plus it’s a health risk: billions of bacteria, gently multiplying in gunk. Time, then, for the Big Beauty Purge.
First up, I dump the lot on my bed for closer inspection. I’m actually shocked by the age of some of the products. There are lipsticks and pressed powders from when I worked as a beauty editor on a magazine in – ahem – the late ’80s. Madonna was still married to Sean Penn. Some of these mascaras and eye shadows pre-date mobile phones. I don’t use them now, obviously, yet here they lie, cluttering and slowly decaying for one reason only: because I hate waste.
I’m also addicted to things in mini sizes, the assumption being, ‘This’ll be handy for travelling.’ Fine if it’s quality stuff, but we’re hardly talking Cowshed here. Why am I hanging onto 13 tiny bottles of unbranded shampoo and a Novotel soap? Why do I thieve hotel toiletries at all, as if fearing some global shampoo shortage? Also: body lotion. Like most women in their forties I don’t relish the prospect of withering to a crisp. But still…. four tubs of body butter, all but one smelling decidedly rancid? I also find a metallic, glittery lotion so old it may have been purchased to celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall. There are bath salts purloined from a Cornish holiday house when my daughter was a toddler – she is nearly 14. I remember them being bright yellow. They are now beige.
Then there’s make-up: eye liners worn down to stumps and lip palettes that smell of old ladies’ drawers – and not in a good way.
It is great, though – the sorting, I mean. It feels purposeful and cathartic. I’m ruthless in my binning of the stale and the hideous, and discover forgotten treasures along the way. I’ve found perfectly good Boots No. 7 and Neal’s Yard cleansers, a bevy of quality serums and enough decent moisturisers (Lancôme and Guerlain – how could I have misplaced these?) to keep me going all year. So, instead of blundering around in beauty halls, buying stuff I don’t need, I’ll now know exactly what I have at home.
Post-purge, life already feels more streamlined. I can sit on the loo without having to avert my eyes from the chaos behind the glass doors, and can actually find the goodies I love, rather than raking through manky old tosh.
I now have the beauty cupboard of a proper grown-up, and I could kiss it.
Fiona’s new novel, Take Mum Out, is published on March 13 (Avon)