A few weeks ago, after writing about all the makeup I had bought recently, and the need to scale back, I decided to do a major makeup purge. Last year, when I did my epic closet clean out, it was extremely useful to me to look and evaluate all the things I owned. I was able to see some patterns in my spending that helped me avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over. For instance, I had owned seven black turtleneck sweaters. Obviously, I did not need seven, but why had I continued purchasing new ones every year? And why did it take me so long to remove them from my closet? I was able to figure out some of those answers, but that is a discussion for another day. Suffice it to say, I haven’t bought a black turtleneck sweater since!
I began the makeup purge by emptying every drawer of my vanity, and my bathroom, and gathering it all on the top of my bedroom dresser. I then sorted them into categories.
Shocking amount of cosmetics, right? If you don’t find it shocking, then you may want to consider doing a purge too! Here are the startling statistics of my accumulated makeup:
386 total pieces of makeup
BB & CC Creams: 12
Face Primers: 21
Face Powders: 20
Eyeshadow Palettes: 38
Eyeliner & Eyebrow Pencils: 22
Bronzers & Highlighters: 26
Lip pencils: 40
Lip glosses & Lip balms: 62
I immediately discarded over 50% of the pile. There were many items that were old, or I knew I didn’t like, or hadn’t used in a long time. Those items were an easy decision. Then there was a small amount of items that I knew I wanted to keep. These were the ones that I currently reached for frequently. The remainder of the makeup I actually felt I liked, but it was still just too much makeup to keep. Owning so much means I am shoving things into drawers, and end up forgetting what I already have. Just like when my closet was overstuffed and I couldn’t even see or remember everything that was in there. I knew I wanted to own less makeup, but would need to try it all on in order to decide which I loved most (same as I did when cleaning my closet).
With the help of my daughter, we first separated the lipsticks into color groups. No surprise that I consistently purchased many similar shades (just like the turtlenecks). After swatching them all on my arm, I made my selections. Each day, I’d try on a different eyeshadow, bronzer, foundation and concealer, so it took a few weeks until I could test wear them all. I needed to wear them for over eight hours to determine how well they lasted since most everything looks great when you first apply it, then hours later you look in a mirror and say “Holy Crap! How long have I been walking around looking like this?”.
So after weeks of testing, I made the final cuts. Well, almost final...I haven’t had enough time yet to wear all the lipsticks so I will continue to prune them in the weeks to come. Still, I reduced my total makeup items by around 70%. Here are the final results:
118 Total Pieces of Makeup:
BB & CC Creams: 4
Face Primers: 7
Face Powders: 5
Eyeshadow Palettes: 7
Eyeliner & Eyebrow Pencils: 7
Bronzers & Highlighters: 9
Lip pencils: 13
Lip glosses & Lip balms: 21
In case you are wondering, I threw out anything which I believed was past it’s shelf life, but most of the rejected beauty goods were happily taken by my daughter, her close friend and my goddaughter!
Honestly, I still feel I kept too much, but I didn’t want to get rid of things I liked just for the sake of getting rid of them. However, this is going to be an ongoing purge and I’m certain I’ll let go of more once I see I’m not reaching for them. With any hard and true purge, you learn something. So, what did I learn?
1. Keep a black Sharpie marker in my makeup drawer and write on the dates that I start
using a product so I will know when it is time to dispose of it. I honestly didn’t realize
how many of my products were beyond the recommended “throw away” time frame.
In case you don’t know either, here is what I found when I researched:
When should you throw out your makeup?
Foundation: 6 months to 1year
Lipstick/Lip gloss: 1 year
Eye pencils: 1 year
Liquid eyeliner: 3 to 4 months
Mascara: 3 months
Blush & powder: 2 years
Cream blush: 12 to 18 months
2. I am not a beauty blogger and don’t need to try every new product that is
released. I need to enjoy what is working for me until I either a) run out of it or
b) decide it doesn’t work for me anymore. It’s fine to change my colors with the
season, but 26 bronzing palettes is just plain unnecessary.
3. Stop purchasing Nude pink lipsticks for a year.
4. Come to terms with the fact that I will never wear a dark smokey eye look or any
other eyeshadow colors besides beige, pale pink, peach, and shades of brown. Those
palettes with Crayola inspired shades are beautiful to look at, but I’m never going to
reach for the magical unicorn purple or sparkling sunset orange! I’m just not bold
enough for any color that isn’t a neutral shade. I accumulated 38 eyeshadows and
palettes. Why? I can only believe that I am attracted to al the pretty colors that I’ll
never use. Knowing how many I bought and how many I let go, convinced me not to
buy any more eyeshadow anytime soon!
5. The only explanation for 25 foundations, is that I have been on a quest for a Holy
Grail foundation. My skin is drier now ( Retin-A use...menopause?), and my old favorite
was no longer working well for me. This is the reason why I seem to have purchased
every foundation and BB or CC cream that a blogger recommends. It may take a lot of
trial and error to find a new fave, but there are two things I can do to prevent having
a drawer full of “meh” foundations. First, I can go to the store and ask for a three day
sample to bring home. Sephora, Ulta and department stores will happily provide this.
I should be able to determine if a foundation is good for me after three days. If you
purchase drugstore brands and can’t get samples then save the receipts! This is true
for whichever store you purchase from. Going forward, I will save all my packaging
and receipts for a month. Ulta allows 60 days to return a product, and you surely will
know in 60 days if you like it…or not. Do not hesitate to return makeup that you do
not like..even if you used it a few times. I’m going to implement this trial period for all
new cosmetics going forward, so I don’t end up wasting money and drawer space on
6. Don’t buy cosmetics online that require a color match. Okay, this may be obvious to
some, but I have learned the hard way that it is very difficult to choose foundation
and lipstick colors online! This may be problematic for some people to do if you don’t
live near a mall or Ulta, but if cosmetic stores are located nearby, then take the
time to visit them (with your mindful list in hand). Also, be wary of the weird store
lighting! So many times I’ve liked a lipstick shade on me in the store and then hated it
once I looked at myself in the car rearview mirror. If possible, leave the store and take
a better look in natural lighting prior to purchasing.
7. By carefully accessing what I had, I was able to clearly see what I needed. I didn’t own
a red lipstick, yet I’ve always desired one, and I wasn’t picking out a red lipstick online!
So, the day that I had traveled into the city to see the show “Shoes and Baggage”, we
got there early. My sister-in-law and I decided to walk around a bit, since it was a
course I thought it would be an opportunity to get that red lipstick. Within just a few
minutes, the resident makeup artist chose the perfect red shade for me and
coordinating lipliner (which apparently is a must when wearing red). He handed me a
mirror to walk outside and double check the shade in outdoor lighting, and I loved it!
So ironically, I went shopping on my way to go see a show about over shopping!
8. Just because I purchase the same makeup a beauty blogger is wearing, does not
make me look like them! Their reviews and demonstrations can be very helpful, but I
am me - not them, and I need to remember that what works for one person
doesn’t work for every person. I need to pick colors that work for my skin tone,
hair and eye colors.
This was a great exercise, and I am so glad I took the time to complete it! I thank my daughter for her help sorting, swatching, taking photos for me and also finding homes for all the still usable discarded makeup. Now that my cosmetics are neatly organized agai, and I can clearly see what I own, I must keep this structure going forward. Certainly, I need to begin shopping for cosmetics the same way I shop for clothes...with more discipline and mindfulness.
I just received three foundation samples from Sephora which I will be testing out as I continue my Holy Grail quest. The Sephora girl was very helpful in assisting me with the shade selection, and also agreed that I should bring home the samples to try first. Yes, it may take longer this way, but I’ll be certain to know if I like it before purchasing, and it also provides me a pause to determine if I really need to get this right now. I won’t just buy a lipstick because I liked it on someone else, or a blogger said it was “so amazing”. I’m taking my time, listening to myself, and making better decisions. No bottle, tube or compact is going to provide any magical formula. I still have freckles, dark circles and wrinkles. I’m still aging and that is what it is. Aging is a good thing! Once again, I’m reminded that “You can’t get enough of what you don’t really need”, and it seems that is exactly what I was doing with my makeup mania.