Dump everything onto an empty countertop. (This can be a fun trip down memory lane – what were you thinking with that orange glitter?) Check expiration dates and be ruthless: toss powders that are over two years old; foundations over a year old; and mascaras over three months old. If you can’t find an expiration date, use your judgment – dump anything with a funny smell or texture.
Ideally, you should clean brushes every two weeks, and at least once a month. Being diligent has double benefits: fewer breakouts and longer lasting brushes. Using a gentle foaming face wash or baby shampoo, run brushes under cold water, carefully lather the bristles, and rinse until the water runs clear. Lay them on a clean towel to dry. You’re not done yet: scrape off the grimy top layer of eyeshadows; sharpen eye and lip pencils; wipe lipsticks with a bit of rubbing alcohol; and spritz-clean compact mirrors. Resurrect broken shadows and blushes by transferring them to empty cartridges.
Now comes the fun part: filling in the blanks of your arsenal. Make sure you have all the basics, including a great moisturizer, perfect foundation, and everyday blush. For our foundation picks, see Faking Perfect Skin, and for brush basics, see Four Essential Brushes.