Photo: Instagram / loveforskincare

I don’t want to declutter. It sounds like too much effort.

Piled with past and present notebooks, my desk at work is a would-be bonfire of vanities. Entire drawers and boxes at home are stuffed with things that I have not looked at for years. Alas, I feel no shame. Self-acceptance has much to recommend it when it comes to having peace of mind.

But even I have to acknowledge that Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo has an undeniable appeal. A media phenomenon in recent years, she runs an expanding empire of books, apps and advice. Her name can even be used as a verb “to Kondo, or to KonMarie”.

Minimalism is still on-trend. Who doesn’t like gazing at photos of spotless rooms with all-white furniture and nary a stray television cable in sight? It’s also hard to resist conversion stories from the formerly messy, who saw the light after throwing junk out.

She’s selling a fantasy and I’m curious.


ALSO READ: Comfortable shoes that’ll take you through an entire day of Chinese New Year visiting


Photo: Instagram / loveforskincare

I decide to start small by Kondo-ing my make-up bag. It tips my kitchen scale at 860g – I live for accuracy – and holds my face-paint arsenal for the day.

This includes eight lipsticks (and a lip balm), two types of foundation (dewy and matte) and other bits and bobs. I barely notice lugging this behemoth in my handbag because I like feeling that I can change my look any time I want. This mostly translates into using a different lipstick after lunch once in a while. Still, it’s about having a sense of infinite possibilities, you see.

It turns out that decluttering can be painless. There are many multi-tasking products that will streamline any bulging make-up pouch. And a handful of items is enough.

Instead of liquid foundation followed by loose powder, pat on Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation ($58, available at Sephora). Its coverage can be ramped up from a light dusting of powder to a finished, matte look.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Luminous Blush in Camellia ($54, from Sephora) adds a warm pinky-peach flush to the face. Its subtle shimmer brings out one’s cheekbones.

Eyelash curlers and eye liners can be chucked in favour of the aptly named SilkyGirl Big Eye Waterproof Collagen Mascara ($14.90, available at Watsons). This mascara – a lash-extending, curl-creating workhorse – puts pricier rivals in the shade.

Tarte Tarteist Lip Paint in TBT ($32, available at Sephora) is an MLBB (My Lips But Better) hue, a term coined by make-up mavens. Its dusky rosiness would suit many skin tones. It seems to enhance and deepen one’s natural lip colour.

Finally, I can also return the elephant-shaped pencil sharpener in my make-up bag to its rightful owners. I’ve been using it to keep my eyebrow pencil pointy, instead of handing it over to my kids as I’d intended.

Shu Uemura brow:sword ($53, available at Shu Uemura boutiques and department stores) is an eyebrow pencil with a built-in sharpener.

Its angled tip is the shape of a naginata sword, which was used historically by female Japanese warriors. It’s a pleasing gimmick and the pencil itself works a treat, producing defined but natural-looking brows. With just five beauty products, my overweight make-up bag has deflated by two-thirds, its sides collapsing like loose skin.

This was a diet that worked. Am I going to scale up the operation, as they say in corporate corridors of power?

I’m afraid there’s “no learning, no hugging” here. While the rules of the sitcom Seinfeld probably aren’t the best moral guides, I feel no urge to declutter elsewhere.

Tidying up is a laudable goal, but there are so many other things one could be doing instead.


This article first appeared in The Straits Times.


ALSO READ: Lucky colours to wear for the Year of the Dog based on your zodiac sign