Tips for curbing beauty spending


I've been meaning to write this post for ages, and since I've been up all night with a sick pregnant tummy and don't feel like writing reviews, now seemed like a good time to do it.

This post was also front-of-mind because my husband took me to the Sephora sale yesterday (20 per cent off everything is nothing to sneeze at!) with the plan that I would buy a few things he could wrap up and give me for Christmas, and would you believe it, I didn't buy anything. 

Why? The only thing on my wishlist from Sephora at the moment is the Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette, and since that's out-of-stock everywhere, I didn't want to just buy something for the sake of it. Sure, there's plenty of other stuff that I wouldn't mind owning, but I have enough makeup for now and don't want to replenish my stores until there's room for a new item or two.

So I thought I would write this post in the hope that it's useful: I haven't always been very restrained when it comes to beauty products, so I'd like to share a few things I've learned along the way : )

Pan your products

This is probably my single biggest tip if you want to change your makeup-buying habits for good. Do Project Pans and do them often - whether year-long or seasonal challenges - and see how they alter your perspective on buying new things. 

Trust me, once you see for yourself that it takes a year of consistent use to finish an eyeshadow pan (longer for things like blushes and bronzers), you won't be rushing out to buy every new thing that hits the market or goes on sale at the chemist because you'll know how little chance you have of getting through a new bronzer when you already have six.

Panning changes your perspective on buying more stuff, and it makes you appreciate the things you already have much more. Your collection will also feel more precious if you're panning certain items and only reach for your other stuff once or twice a week - that other stuff suddenly feels new and special again, stemming any desire to add more things to your drawers.

Join a community

Related to the above, if you're going to become a panner, the best thing you can do is join the panning community. That way you'll be accountable to not only yourself but to others, and you'll have endless support and may even make some great friends in the process.

The panning community is the best, most supportive and kindest community I've found so far in social media - it doesn't carry the bitchiness found in some beauty circles - and I'm so glad to be part of that community. It's one of the best things about panning.

Track your spending

This one's scary but it will definitely help keep your spending at bay! Have you ever tracked how much you spend on beauty products in a year? Do it. Keep your receipts, log them, or just make a note of your purchases and then tally them up each month, and by the end of the year you'll have an accurate picture of how much cash you pour into beauty.

Once you've done that, ask yourself how much you've probably spent on beauty in your lifetime. The figure may frighten you, and if it does, that's a good thing - there's nothing better than hard facts when it comes to inspiring change.

If you work out exactly how much money you're blowing on makeup (particularly when half of it's not getting used), you'll be able to look at what else you could have bought with that cash. Are you missing out on a new car or an amazing holiday because of your spending habits? It's time to get honest and face the numbers in black and white.

Don't buy back-ups 

We've all been guilty of this one. Sometimes your favourite product will be on sale and you'll use the opportunity to buy a back up. Or five. 

While this isn't so problematic for eg a mascara that you'll toss in three months anyway, it's really not a good idea for anything that's going to be in your collection for longer. Even foundations take ages to finish, and we do change shades and preferences over time - particularly because our skin can change from season to season, year to year. It's no good having three back-ups of your favourite foundation unless you're certain you'll never use anything else. And who can be certain of that? Sometimes products that once worked for us stop working for no explicable reason. This applies to skincare too.

For staples, have one back-up, no more. For everything else, wait a year or even just six months (because believe me, it will be on special again), and buy more then if you're sure you still want it.

Reconsider your storage 

I personally think this one's super important, and it's often overlooked. If you're a blogger or youtuber and you have heaps of stuff/often get sent things to review, it makes sense to have some kind of storage system. Most people seem to use those Ikea Alex Drawers.

Similarly, if you're a makeup collector and you like having items just because collecting them makes you happy, then keeping things organised in drawers also makes sense. You have fifty eyeshadow palettes and haven't touched half of them, but this doesn't bother you because using them isn't the point - owning them is. I get that.

But for the rest of us? Drawers allow us to hide our products away and forget about them, which is really its own form of denial. Once I realised this, I stopped using drawers and I now keep all my products on open shelving. As soon as I enter my room, I can see my makeup shelves and exactly what's on them. If I'm tempted to buy a new blush, I just look at the bundle I can see and remember that I really don't need it. Don't hide your purchases away - keep them out where you can see them. Trust me, it helps.

The other benefit of doing this is, you can keep and display all your pretty packaging. Part of enjoying my makeup collection for me is just looking at it, and having things out on shelves allows me to do this. Plus it's encouraged me not to buy certain items because I don't like the packaging. It's a nice filter: if I had everything in drawers, I wouldn't care what it looked like.

Go through your collection on a regular basis / keep an inventory

Related to the above, if you want to stop buying so much stuff, it's a good idea to always know exactly what you have. I've seen some youtubers say that, when they're tempted by eg a new eyeshadow palette, they pull out a swatch book of all the shadows they own and realise they have dupes for most of the new palette's shades anyway, so they don't buy it. A great idea.

Keeping an eye on your collection also helps you notice which items you do and don't use. Once you know this, you'll have a better idea of which new products will get used and which will sit around gathering dust. This will help you make more informed purchases in future, and less of them.

Depot and mix products

It's only been this year that I've started depotting and mixing my products, and it's one of the best things I've done. Depotting all your single and duo eyeshadows into a Z-palette fools you into thinking that you've suddenly got a new palette, and hey presto, things that weren't getting used suddenly are.

I also change my Z-palette around from time to time, which again fools me into thinking that I've got a brand new palette. It's also encouraged me to look at my shades in a different way and learn to mix them so I have more new shades. This helps keep an older collection feel more fresh and new.

Also also, I've learned to mix eg my lip products more. Recently I was looking to buy a lavender lipstick or gloss, until I realised that I could mix a crazy purple from my collection with a subdued pink and get the exact shade I wanted. Yay!

Think laterally/double-purpose what you already own

Related to the above, it's worth looking at your collection with a critical eye and working out what you can use in new and different ways. An obvious example and one I often do is, use my bronzers as crease colours on the eye. This has staved off a purchase or two because I really don't need any more brown eyeshadows for the moment (no matter how much I use them): I have six bronzers that can fill any gaps.

Project Pan also teaches you to double-purpose what you own because no one wants to use the same shades for the same thing all the time - so if eg I'm panning a highlighter, I don't always have to use it on my cheekbones. It works on the eyes or body too.

Double-purposing what you own will also fool you into thinking that you have more things than you do, and 'new' products to play with.

Don't fall for brand hype: buy one thing, try it, then buy more

Man have I done this one. Only recently did I start buying fancy eyeshadows because I'd always steered clear of playing with eyeshadow (I have hooded eyes - it's all too hard sometimes) and had opted to buy eg more blushes instead. But eventually I decided that I 'needed' at least a few good eyeshadows, and over the course of six months or so I collected four Nars duos and two singles - before I'd explored other brands - because, well, it's Nars so it has to be good, right?

Big mistake. In my experience, Nars eyeshadows suck and I seriously regret buying so many before exploring other formulas. Nars shadows are generally hard and sheer (so they don't feel luxe and I don't enjoy using them), plus they're drying (not good for those of us over 30) and the pigment is lacking. I regret buying so many. Why didn't I just buy one or two and then try other brands before going back for more? Ridiculous. Don't do it!

Have a wishlist and revisit it later on

I've talked about this a lot via my wishlist posts, so I won't say much more here other than that it helps to have a wishlist and not buy anything on that list for at least a month - more, if you can manage it.

Reason being, you'll be surprised by how many products drop off your wishlist as the months pass. You may really want them for a while, but soon enough, something else comes along and you'd prefer that. So aim to only buy those items that have been on your wishlist for ages - you'll save yourself many a purchase, promise.

One in, one out: aim to streamline, or at least to maintain

I've found that quite a few product categories in my collection have hit 'critical mass', in that there's no room for any more items in specific categories and I'll start to feel overwhelmed if I let the numbers get any bigger. So work out how much of any product is something you're comfortable with, and aim to keep your collection within those bounds.

Eg for me, four or five bronzers is a good number. Any less isn't enough and any more isn't manageable. At the moment I have eight bronzers, although one isn't used as a bronzer (it's my only contour powder) and one is an unopened mini, and three of those are showing serious pan - so I don't feel too out of control but I'd rather whittle things down a touch. What I'll do is finish two or three and only replace those with one, and after that I'll only buy one when I finish another. That will help keep my collection contained but still varied enough.

In sum

That's my list! Hopefully there's something useful in there for anyone hoping to curb their beauty spending. 

Do let me know if you have any tips for saving pennies - I'd love to hear : )

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