Lots of people have a thing that they purchase compulsively. Magazines. Office supplies. Shoes.
Beauty products are my thing.
I've written about it before on the blog. I moved from my parents' house to an apartment in NYC straight out of college with a giant plastic bin full of beauty products.
AKA where my beauty products went to die.
I rarely went in there, unless it was to store something I wasn't using. When I decided to roll up my sleeves and make some space, I realized that there was little chance of me using anything in there.
All of the beauty products I actually used were in my bathroom. Really, the bin was just a pacifier that was temporarily cushioning the blow of throwing stuff away. It had been hard for me to do that, because of all the money that went into those dead-end beauty products.
I didn't want to spend my money on and take up valuable storage space with dead-ends anymore.
Decluttering my beauty product graveyard that first time was eye-opening, but I did not change my ways overnight. In fact, it took me years to figure out that I needed to take a step back and figure out a plan for streamlining my purchases in this area of my life.
When I streamlined my beauty products, I streamlined my budget and my routine. I also made space physically and mentally. If I can do it, you can too. Here's how.
♡ Do Some Research
One of the main reasons why I was so susceptible to buying something new all the time was because I didn't have a clear picture of how all of the different products fit together. You're never using a single beauty product in a vacuum, so this is really important to grasp.
I started thinking of beauty products like an assembly line. Each product has a job, or several jobs to do. I wasn't in tune with that at all, and I had a lot of products that all did the same job, and some that did jobs that I didn't need done.
At the same time, I had huge blind spots. A lot of beauty advice out there is biased and/or doesn't show the whole picture. I didn't realize I lacked this education until I came across the book How to Look Expensive by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig. It's a fun, easy read that allowed me to identify what kinds of products would serve me, and how they all fit together in a routine.
♡ Let Go of "Should"
Even armed with knowledge, there are seemingly endless possibilities for beauty routines and products that could be used. The lists I made during my research still overwhelmed me. I didn't want to take an hour to get ready. I didn't want to spend more than I could afford and clutter up my bathroom with products. I wanted things to be simpler.
I realized that when it comes to conventional beauty routines, there were actually a lot of steps I wasn't willing to take that I felt like I "should", like blow-drying my hair or painting my nails a million different colors. I assumed it was a given to own a lot of products and tools related to hair and nails, but the truth was that I didn’t have much motivation to use them.
I'm not saying that you should throw out your nail polish and blow dryer. What I am suggesting is that you ask yourself if there's anything that you're keeping in your space that makes you feel like you "should" do something that you actually have no desire to do.
When I let go of the “should” in my beauty routine, I simplified my routine and made more space in my bathroom. I also freed up energy and mental space that I didn't realize I was using.
♡ Take Inventory
Once you know what products you need and how they all fit together, it's time to take inventory. First, see what you already have that fits the bill.
You may have some duplicate products - not necessarily the same exact product but the same type of product. Depending on how many you have, and how much space you have, you may choose to set a limit for backups that you're willing to store.
Next, comb through what's left that doesn't quite meet your needs. Is there a lesson you could learn before you toss it?
I learned a lot about what I don't like from the things I discarded, and that's useful information for future shopping. Because I have a really good memory, I could also recall patterns to some of the circumstances under which I made poor shopping decisions and learned to be mindful of my "retail therapy" triggers.
♡ Fill in the Gaps
In your research, you might learn about products that you hadn't thought to try before that would actually enhance your routine in a positive way. Or you might find that you haven’t found a product that’s a good fit for a need, yet. If that’s the case, it’s time to search them out and fill in the gaps.
Now mindful of my shopping habits, I choose to put myself in empowered shopping situations and avoid situations where I might not make the best decisions. In my case, I learned that I did better with shopping when the purchases were planned, researched, and made out of a specific need; as opposed to spontaneous and random.
So now, when I have a specific need for a certain product or a certain job that needs to be done, I do research first. I check reviews, I check the ingredients, and If possible, I try the product first in the store.
Even if a product doesn't wind up being my absolute favorite, this strategy almost always allows me to find something I'm content to use until it's done, allowing me to save money.
♡ Learn What Works for You
These strategies have empowered me to learn, over time and through experience, what products and ingredients work well for me. Through this knowledge and experience, I continue to make even more empowered choices.
If you love beauty products, you know there's always something new to try. And I love trying new things. The difference is that now I have a basis for trying new things, whereas before I was taking random shots in the dark.
Through following these steps, I have transformed my beauty product arsenal from a giant plastic graveyard to a small drawer in my bathroom.
I get a lot of use out of every product in that small drawer, rather than have a ton of random stuff lying around unused. I have control over my spending and while purchasing high-quality products that meet my needs.
I would never go back!
With Love + Gratitude,