Elimination game: whichever one expires first

AMtoPM organize beauty inventory stash homekeeping

Before #shopthestash was a thing I made a spreadsheet that covered all of the stuff in my possession. It was complete with open and expiry dates. I started my year-long experiment prepared.

What is it:

It’s fairly straightforward: use everything up in order from first to expire to last to expire.

This is a long, unavoidable process. Sorry. Go through every single product you own and check for the expiry date. If you don’t have a date, there should be some sort of marker to denote freshness. Use that as a guideline and mark it on the calendar from when you first used the item. If you can’t remember, guesstimate as best you can.

If that isn’t possible and the dates are a mystery to you, go by clues: how long you think you’ve had it for as well as characteristics about the product. The smell, the consistency, its appearance and its efficacy could also be used to judge how long a product has got left in it.

Use your memory and the dates to create a list of things that you will use up starting with the things that will expire soon.

I have this on Google sheets and have it synced on my laptop and phone. I always have my phone on me and it’s nice to have an accurate picture of what I own when I go shopping (pre #shopthestash days, of course). This can also be done on paper; it’s more messy but there’s that satisfying thrill of physically crossing off an item that you can’t get electronically.

How did I do:

I am proud to say this worked well! Unlike most of the elimination posts I’ve discussed, I have used this throughout the experiment.

It’s been the best.

That’s not to say that it was an easy thing to adhere to all the time. Some of my stuff didn’t work out well with the seasons. Sometimes I needed to add another product for moisture into my routine.

The good:

I was really lucky to have made a sheet of expiry dates and built-in reminders on a calendar of when to throw things out. I had been working on the system for a couple of months prior to #shopthestash so it was really easy to follow.

Working based on this system really cuts down on waste and it gives me a little boost of confidence every time I finish a tube/bottle/vial/tub. It’s so satisfying to see them pile up. It’s also an eye-opening exercise. Apart from cleanser and SPF, I believe that variety is the spice of life. I have multiple tubes of toner and moisturizer and essences/serums/emulsions open at one time. They are trial sets, samples and potions for dry, cold days and hot, sunny days. Seeing all these open products in the open is a visual that continue to haunts me.

The bad:

Most of this is mental. It’s a matter of sticking to a routine. I hate routines. I don’t like them on any level. I love flexibility–including with my skin routine. Sometimes my skin wants a stronger moisturizer, but I was firm on not straying from the spreadsheet. That forced me to think creatively. Maybe I layered a couple of applications of a toner, or added in a sheet mask, or took a bit of the serum from a recently used mask to compensate.

It’s a bit difficult to truly use a product within a season. Maybe it carries over into the next season. Personally a full-sized tube of facial cleanser lasts me a long time. A little over six months, thanks to my shower net. That’s a bit of a conservative estimate, considering I use far less than I probably should since I find it to be a bit drying.

Sometimes the expiry dates overlap. If you have a pretty streamlined routine with one of everything, you are amazing! If you don’t and have multiples of a product, it can prove to be a bit problematic. Not only do you have to finish one thing but maybe two or more at around the same time. Rotating them is an option, but it might not be a good one if all the products are at the same level or you have one or more that are barely touched.

The solution: see if you can rotate them or come up with extra uses for your products–double up on things and find more uses for them (like a toner mask).


Do you go through products from first to expire to last?
Let me know in the comments below or via social media!

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If you like this, you might like:

Elimination Game
Elimination Game | the 1 at a time principle
Elimination Game | easy wins
Elimination Game | the swap


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