Moving to college involves a lot of downsizing, but perhaps the most difficult “should it stay or should it go?” decisions you’ll have to make will take place in the bathroom. If you’ve spent your high school career experimenting with and collecting beauty products, by now your bathroom cabinets probably look, at best, like a Sephora and, at worst, like an episode of Hoarders. And if you’re heading off to a college where freshmen are stuck with communal bathrooms, you’re going to have to fit all of your must-haves into one shower caddy that you can easily carry down the hall. That means you’ve got a lot of de-cluttering to do. Luckily, we’ve already lived through dorm days and graduated to tiny apartments, so we’ve got lots of advice when it comes to scaling back your cosmetics collection.
Before you head back to school, line up all your treasured toiletries and give it to them straight. “Listen guys, you’ve been good to me, but I’m going to have to make some tough cuts.” For each product, ask yourself: Has the expiration date passed? Is the bottle less than half full? Have you used it in the last month? If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s not coming with you. Aim to bring only one item per category, such as your must-have face wash, your hardest-working shampoo or your most divine-smelling lotion. Everything else stays — and you can look forward to the novelty of switching things out when you come home for Thanksgiving.
Cram Your Caddy
While you’re shopping for dorm room essentials, get yourself a compact, waterproof caddy with a handle, ample pockets for storage as well as organization and drainage, so that you don’t end up with #mildewproblems. Only stock your caddy with the things you will actually be using in the shower — keep your post-shower products, like hair serum, deodorant or body lotion, in your dorm room, so you don’t have to lug them back and forth every time you scrub.
Pare Down Your Products
You know your shower style best, but there are a few essentials we think every girl needs in her routine. Don’t leave your dorm room without these crucial products: An all-purpose shampoo and conditioner (this is the one time in your life when you might be swayed to choose one of those two-in-one products, but don’t fall for it), your daily facial cleanser, a concentrated body wash (Dr. Bronner’s is ubiquitous on campus and now comes in a rainbow of aromas), soothing shaving cream, a washcloth and an exfoliator (hint: an exfoliating glove takes up much less space than a puffy loofah or a bottle of body scrub). If you’ve still got room, consider tossing in one of these add-ons; a deep moisturizing hair mask, pumice stone or facial exfoliant.
If you have simply too many necessities to fit them all in your caddy, pretend you’re going on a trip and scale back to travel-size. Many beauty brands offer mini versions of products, but a more eco-friendly option is to go to the drugstore and pick up a bunch of those airport security-friendly, 3-ounce empty bottles. Fill them with your favorite products — don’t forget to label them to avoid accidentally washing your face with conditioner — and keep the full-size bottles in your closet or under your bed. Refill as necessary.
A lot of high-quality razors come with adhesive razor holsters to stick on your shower wall. If you have a shower caddy with a smooth plastic shell, you can attach the razor holder to the outside of the caddy to keep your razor from getting rusty and free up the space inside.
While we’re on the subject of college bathrooms, there are a couple of other things that won’t be stored in your shower caddy, but you won’t be able to live without. We’re sure you’ve already heard of the horrors of the shower floors, so snap up a pair of cute shower sandals ASAP. For traveling down the hall after you’ve had your good, clean fun, invest in a plush robe so that you won’t have to worry about towel malfunctions. Finally, an ultra-absorbent microfiber towel is yet another space-saver that actually works better for drying hair than its full-size alternative.