I Rediscovered the ’90s Caboodles Case in Lockdown—Here’s Why It’s the Greatest Makeup Organizer Ever

Ever since I started spending all of my time at home during the pandemic, I, like so many, have reevaluated my relationship to the many physical things taking up space in my tiny, cramped apartment. I’ve pared back my wardrobe (well, ish), streamlined and feng shui’d my living room, and most determinedly, taken my substantial makeup collection to task.

To give you some context: As a beauty editor with privileged access to samples, I try to be as scrupulous as possible with what I hold onto, but inevitably end up with an excessive reserve of pencils, pigments, pots, and palettes I just can’t bare to part with. For years, I would store it all beneath my bed or stockpiled in various makeup bags under my bathroom sink—no rhyme, no reason. So each morning when I’d go to do my makeup, I’d scavenge through heaps of shimmery liners and shadows I’d been saving for nights out, just to end up with the same roster of basics—a black or brown eyeliner, shade-matched foundation, cream blush, and lip balm. As senseless and time-consuming as it was, I stayed set in my ways until divine intervention arrived in the form of a Caboodles case. Yes, the same makeup organizer all of us ’90s kids used to decorate with Lisa Frank stickers way back when.

The truth is, my Caboodles was gifted to me as part of a brand mailer, and at first I didn’t plan to keep it, let alone begin using it right away. But one day, when I was looking to store a new edit of products I needed to test-drive, I tossed them in intuitively. I was immediately struck by how much easier arranging and viewing various products was thanks to its spacious storage, various-sized compartments, and auto-open tray. In tandem with my desire to live more simply and sustainably, this relic of my childhood was quickly catalyzing a long overdue, very adult lifestyle change.

“I’ll never forget the day I got my very first two-toned, pink and blue Caboodles,” says celebrity makeup artist Janice Daoud. “It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and I immediately started organizing my liquid Lip Smackers gloss, body glitter, and Hard Candy nail polish in it.” A few years ago, she reunited with her retro Caboodles and since then, she’s used them to store her glitters. “I have about a dozen,” laughs Daoud, who has been crafting Miley Cyrus’s bold, disco-ready makeup looks for the pop star’s Plastic Hearts promo tour.

Eventually I Marie Kondo’d my entire makeup collection, emptied my Caboodles case, and then refilled it with the tightest, most meticulous edit of products I’d realistically wear on an average day. It was a cathartic process; one that cut down on excess product and valuable space in a significant way. “It’s perfect for organization,” says Daoud of the Caboodles, which she likens to a “tackle box” for one’s beauty supplies. “It’s a great all-in-one case to house all your daily makeup and skincare products. The dividers are perfect for storing mascara, eye and lip pencils, tweezers, and tools.”

On top of helping with organization, the Caboodles has shifted how I want to approach managing my makeup collection going forward. Essentially, I’ve taken on a common clothes closet organization mentality: To be able to wear it, you need to be able to see it. The Caboodles, and similar vanity cases and makeup organizers, incentivize you to run a tight ship while visually making an array of offerings available to in one fell swoop, whether you’re running out the door (ah, the memories) or scrambling to do a five-minute face before a Zoom call. What’s more: During this tumultuous time, rediscovering my ’90s-era Caboodles has—much like classic Winona Ryder films—brought me nostalgic comfort, too. If you’re rethinking your current cosmetic storage options while homebound, consider it just one more incentive to get back to the basics.