Acrylic Drawer Showdown – Amazon/eBay drawers vs Muji
Let’s talk about storage, shall we? For years my entire makeup & brush collection fit in a single makeup bag with room to spare. Then I decided it would be worthwhile to have more than one eyeshadow quad, and well, you can guess what happened after that. I quickly outgrew the makeup bag, and decided to set up an actual vanity with actual storage. I loved the look of the acrylic drawers that I’d seen on some youtube collection videos, so a-hunting I went.
My first acrylic drawers were from Amazon. I can’t find them from the exact seller anymore, but they were this style. Similar (possibly identical?) products are also available on eBay if you search for “acrylic drawers” and run around $25-35 for the 3-drawer versions. Late last year, however, I learned of Muji drawers. The style I wanted – the 5-drawer acrylic case ($27.95) – is really popular and goes out of stock frequently, so I only got mine a few weeks ago. The drawers are pretty similar, but there are definitely pros and cons to each one.
As far as looks go, the Muji drawers are much sleeker. I’m a big fan of the minimalist look, so the beveled edges and bulky handles on the Amazon drawers aren’t as appealing to me as the Muji’s clean lines. The acrylic is thicker on the Amazon drawers, which makes them a little less compact.
Functionality is also really important, obviously. On both types the drawers can be pulled all the way out, which I like; it lets me get to things in the back of the drawer easily. It also means you have to be careful about pulling the drawer out of the case by accident. Usage-wise, there are two things that made me choose the Muji drawers over the Amazon ones. First, the footprint of the Muji’s is a bit bigger, meaning I can store more things in each drawer without stacking them. I like to have everything spread out so I can see it – when things are buried, I kind of forget to use them. Stacking also makes it a little less convenient to use things, since they have to be shuffled around.
It’s sort of a good thing that there’s more ‘floor space’ in the Muji drawers because the internal depth is just a hair more shallow. In the Amazon drawers I can stack two Burberry compacts and the top one is flush with the top of the drawer, but if I try to stack them in the Muji, the top one sticks out just enough to keep the drawer from closing. On the other hand, even though you can’t always stack as many items in the Muji drawers, you get 5 drawers vs 3 for a similar price.
Second, it turned out that the Amazon drawers had a usability issue that was a deal-breaker for me. The top of the drawers have a groove running around the edge that’s meant to allow you to put an accessory organizer on top:
But – the bottom has two ‘feet’ that run all the way across from front to back:
The feet don’t fit into the groove on top, which makes them impossible to stack unless you put something between them, like cardboard or thick cloth. My vanity is really small, so stacking is a must, and I didn’t like the look of having cardboard between each set of drawers. Not to mention it still felt a little unstable, and pressed powder makeup isn’t really known for its success in drop tests.
The top of the Muji drawer is completely flat, and the bottom has a little rubberized button at each corner. This lets multiple sets stack nicely without sliding around. Also, the different Muji sets (2-drawer, 3-drawer and 5-drawer) all have the same footprint size, so you can mix and match them.
One area where the Amazon drawers have the advantage is in construction. They’re made of a heavier acrylic, so they’re more sturdy. In fact, when I got my order from Muji, the drawers had been damaged during shipping – one set was cracked a bit, and one was completely unusable. Muji has great customer service though, and I had replacements (in perfect condition) about a week later.
The thicker acrylic on the Amazon drawers also lets you stack heavier items on top of them. It’s fine to stack multiple Muji sets together because the weight is distributed to the corners. However, I noticed that when I set smaller heavy items (a loaded set of the Amazon drawers, in fact) on top of the Muji, the ceiling bowed a bit, making it difficult to close the top drawer properly.
A few people have asked me about what will/won’t fit in these, so here are some items for reference.
Things that will fit in both the Amazon and Muji drawers:
- Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder
- Maybelline Color Tattoo
- Urban Decay single eyeshadow token
- Two stacked Kevyn Aucoin compacts
- Two stacked Shiseido blush compacts
- Two stacked Laura Mercier compacts
Things that won’t fit in either type:
- Benefit Erase Paste
- Laura Mercier Creme Eye Liner
- Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer
- MUFE HD Powder
- Two stacked Tom Ford compacts
Things that will fit in the Amazon drawers but not Muji:
The drawer depth is so similar that most things that fit in one will fit in both. The only exception I’ve found is stacking thick compacts like Burberry blushes.
In short: Both types of drawers are great, it just depends on what your needs are. My biggest requirements were good looks and the ability to stack the sets vertically, so Muji wins for me.
ChelleJanuary 15, 2014 at 12:12 pm
Ohhh nice review! Thanks for the breakdown of what does and does not fit. I’m looking into buying some cases for my own collection and have some concerns over whether or not certain compacts will fit in the sleek Muji drawers and you’ve given me a much better idea of stuff I can put in there.
NikkiJanuary 15, 2014 at 12:22 pm
Glad to help! I’ve found that things have to be pretty thick before they get too big for the small Muji drawers. I don’t have the large Muji drawers yet, but I think they should be deep enough to fit most other things.
ChelleJanuary 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm
I’ll be visiting one of the actual Muji stores in NYC in March (as opposed to just blind ordering online), so I’m fairly certain I’m going to go into acrylic case shock and end up taking wayyyyy more home with me than I need!
NikkiJanuary 16, 2014 at 7:58 pm
So jealous! If I got to go to a Muji store I’d probably be so excited I just shut down. You should definitely post your haul!