Makeup No Buy

“Treat your makeup like jewelry for the face. Play with colors, shapes, structure – it can transform you.”
– Francois Nars

At the start of the year I gave myself a goal to not buy any new beauty or makeup products until my birthday in early June. This was partially to reset my buying habits for this, my favorite category of guilty pleasure purchases, and partially to help carve out a little extra savings by reducing or eliminating some necessary spending.

Time for some accountability reporting!

When it comes to skincare, I’ve already blogged about how my habits here are a real source of satisfaction. At 33, my skin is probably the best its ever been and my main goal is to keep it that way as long as possible. Drink water, eat healthy, exfoliate, and don’t screw it up with ingredients that muck up the delicate balance–easy! …Right?

Hm, on to makeup then. In this category I did need to make some purchases that were within the limitations of the self-challenge as I had no backups already on my shelves when they ran out. In the past few months I used up my Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and a Lancome stick foundation which doubled as a concealer for me due to the consistency of the product. I also used up a tube of Givenchy primer. All of these are excellent products that I’d easily recommend, but in the spirit of my financial challenges I wanted to see if I could find alternatives (at least for now) at lower pricepoints. With summer coming in and my skin in pretty good condition these days, I don’t need full coverage makeup and so picked up a Maybelline blurring primer from the drugstore, a skin tint from Glossier, and (the splurge) a Charlotte Tilbury concealer. All of this are working together really well so once again, I won’t be buying anything in this product category until I use them up.

So other than that, did I meet my goal of not buying new products? Well, no, I slipped up twice.

On a work trip that routed me through Heathrow Airport at an ungodly hour of the morning, the dutyfree beauty counters called to me and I wandered past Burberry in a moment of weakness. I’m not sure what’s happened to Burberry’s beauty brand, they were having a bit of a moment a few years ago under then-Creative Director Wendy Rowe, but that seems to have faded. This is too bad, because they had a lot of really good products and I wish they were easier to find these days. Alas for my self control at 4am, they ARE to be found at Heathrow and that’s how I came home with two additional lip products that I didn’t strictly need.

And then, because my brain really does exist in an all-or-nothing state, and because I had already broken my goal once, I found it easy to justify picking up a handful of beauty products whilst on holiday with X in Italy when we discovered a local brand shop and self indulged. I don’t even have the excuse of an early morning flight and sleep deprivation, it was just weak will. Beauty tourism is one of the pleasures of travelling with girlfriends and Italy is the home of many a global brand’s makeup manufacturing hub. It was always going to be a risk! In our case, we discovered the brand Wycon and I picked up a totally unnecessary highlighter, lipstick, and mascara. I also got a three-pan custom eyeshadow palette in the most shockingly basic shades…and I’m completely thrilled with it. It’s easily one of the most practical beauty purchases I’ve ever made. All of these items were at drugstore prices and, while a lapse, were not nearly on par with my infidelity with Burberry.

I atoned for both of these misdeeds by going through my arsenal to remove at least the same amount of items as I added. My sister is getting some more beauty products (that girl hasn’t had to shop for anything in years), and a few old or expired items went in the bin where they needed to be. My beauty shelves are still bigger than a lot of people’s but they are smaller than the last time I wrote about them. My love of beauty hasn’t changed but my tastes are shifting a bit, as is my knowledge as a consumer.

Most of all, my shopping habits in this area have shifted dramatically. As has been well-documented, I made the consumerist breakthrough with my clothing a long time ago that made me shop almost entirely second hand or through ethical brands with transparent production and labor information. Understanding my style preferences has also helped to shrink my wardrobe over time and shop less overall. The same is happening with my bathroom shelves.

Makeup and beauty is a bit different because they are perishable products, but the same basic premises of “reduce, reuse, and recycle” apply. This project has helped me focus on buying less, using what I already have in creative ways instead of justifying new products, and documenting what I use up (and how bloody long it takes!) before I recycle packaging. Where possible and reasonable I’ve also tried to shop from brands I’m happier to support with my dollars for their commitments to good practice, or just to support independent businesses.

Even though the project is officially ending, I think I’m going to try and keep the spirit of it going through the end of the year. While I may buy beauty items, I’ll continue to do so primarily to replace used up items and if I do buy something totally new, I will first get rid of something I already own that’s similar. I’ll also continue to do Empties blog posts (because I love them) a couple of times a year, so keep an eye out for the next one in August or so. In the meantime, watch this space for a few more posts on how my self has changed over the past couple of years, and why!

5 thoughts on “Makeup No Buy”

  1. I so rarely buy make-up that it’s interesting to read your posts….although you also work in an office and I so rarely have to meet clients face to face, which helps. My recent buys were a facial oil and blue mascara bought in Montreal from a brand I had never heard of; the mascara is meh and the oil heavier than I would prefer but I do like it.

    I hate beauty products experimenting because it’s wasted $$$ if I don’t like it.

    Did score Hermes’ Terre fragrance t the duty free, stored for next winter wear.

    Had my first facial in years this week and was delighted when the esthetician refused to believe my age. Not smoking, lots of water and exercise and sleep — and good genes, help.

    1. Hermes fragrances are lovely, I work Jardin sur la Nil for a couple of years and adored it.

      Good genes and hydration, man! I’m hoping the fact that I didn’t introduce alcohol until my mid-20s will help me out a bit when things start heading south.

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