Monday, February 9, 2015

What I've Learnt About Myself Through Decluttering My Make-up Stash

After my last post in the Capsule Collection series, where I talked about my lifelong habit of saving my favorite things for later and trudging through blahs in the meantime, some of you lovely people suggested that maybe I just shouldn't use (and own) those mediocre products, full stop.
I can't lie, it's a valid point - so it prompted me to do another make-up and nail polish purge. But this time, I thought that instead of just documenting the stuff I'm getting rid of, I'll try to actually learn something about my product preferences in the process, so I may hopefully avoid poor purchasing decisions in the future. Here's what I've found out:
As a sweeping generalisation, I have a hard time getting rid of 'so-so' products - you know, the ones that don't suck really bad, but don't do if for you either - like this Murad Skin Perfecting Primer in the Matte Finish, but pretty much all of the things shown in this post fall in that category. Another important lesson: I don't use loose mineral products for cheeks or eyes (but I do make an exception for loose face powders or foundations). If it's in a messy little pot and I haven't yet been bothered to press it, it needs to go, as exemplified by the miscellaneous Coastal Scents blushes in the photo above - I actually used them a lot when I first got them, but they haven't been touched in 2 years probably!
The next lesson covers my shade selections: I don't look good in pigmented plummy blushes (NYX Powder Blush in Raisin). My skin has enough of a cool almost purpley undertone, so anything leaning plum/ purple makes me look a bit bruised. I also don't use or look good in warm bronze shades, which is why I'll be passing on my untouched sample of the Rouge Bunny Rouge Bronzing Glow Liquid.
Staying on the topic of cheek products, I haven't been able to part with this Bourjois Pastel Joues Blusher in Rouge Corail for years, even though I'm afraid to actually put it on my face. I stole this blush from my mom years ago, who purchased it in Paris even longer ago - I want to say this blush is now 16 years old? I was keeping it for sentimental reasons: it's the first blush I ever owned, and it came from my mom, and it had that delightful old school make-up scent... But I figured that if I wasn't able to wear it (because it was just too old for my tolerance levels, not because the formula changed), I should let it go, and that my photos are enough to convey the memory of this product forever without it taking space in my collection.
Now for the eyes: again with the warm gold and bronze tones (also... red eyeshadow?!), they just don't look right on my cool-toned skin (Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencil in Eldorado, Wet n'Wild Khol in Bronze, a shimmery gold eyeshadow from Inglot) and I don't use loose mineral eyeshadows (Fyrinnae Kapir). There's also no sense in keeping eyeshadow dupes in an inferior formula (Annabelle Vanilla Chilla, a purple Wet n'Wild shade from one of the trios) - when am I ever going to reach for them? Certainly not when I finally use up the better eyeshadow these are dupes of, because... I never finish any eyeshadows.

I also need to remember that both cream eyeshadows and eyeliner pencils do dry out - so I shouldn't be stockpiling multiple shades. Ideally, I should only have as many on the go as I am able to use up within a year to two. Older than that, they become hard, stiff and difficult to apply. I'll be working on downsizing my eyeliner and cream eyeshadow collection further this year.
As for lip products - again with the dupable shades in an inferior formula (Wet n'Wild lipstick in Hot Paris Pink is nearly identical to my beloved Maybelline Color Sensational in First Class Fuschia), I'm just not going to get to them before they expire, so may as well let someone else enjoy them. As for lip glosses, my goal is to only keep a few around as I wear them much less often than lipsticks. My gloss preferences are as follows: I don't like lip glosses in pots where you have to dip your fingers in, I generally prefer no shimmer or glitter in my glosses unless it's undetectable on the lips, and I don't wear pigmented glosses in bold shades (NYX Mega Shine in African Queen) - they're just too messy.
Lastly, not too many lessons glimpsed through decluttering my nail polish stash - just again not to keep multiples of the same shade around, and that buying nail polish in little sets is a tricky business, because there's usually a shade or two in there that I don't like. For the same reason, I'm generally against beauty subscription services - you'll always end up with lots of minis that you have no idea what to do with, and they accumulate so fast; I still have my Birchbox samples that I received three years ago! I'd much rather save the money I would be spending on a subscription and just splurge on one full size product of my own choosing that I really want to try.

I've also realized, mostly through using up my make-up primer and perfume samples, that I tend to use very, very little product in one application. A 1 ml primer foil packet lasts me about 2 weeks, meaning that a standard 1 ounce/ 30 ml primer tube would be lasting me over a year of everyday usage, and I don't wear make-up every day; I'm sure the same applies to foundation for me. If I can only finish at most 1 bottle of foundation and primer in a year, I don't think I should be keeping more than two on hand at any given time. I don't know how realistic that is - I love trying new foundations, and I like to have different shade and finish options; but maybe having three would be an achievable middle ground? Either way, I need to keep in mind how slowly I go through my make-up products.

That's about it for now; it's amazing how many things you learn about yourself when you analyze your habits. Looking at my little list of preferences, I'm able to squash some lemmings in the bud: no Colour Pop eyeshadows until I use up some (at least two or three!) of my creams, none of these new liquid lipstick thingies from Anastasia or NYX because they're just too high maintenance! Do you also try to reason with yourself in a similar way when new products are being released? Have you observed that you now know more about your personal tastes than when you first started collecting make-up?


  1. Hey Monika, I loved this post! There are definitely things you learn about yourself along the way. For example, I have realized I should never buy big palettes, however tempting they might seem. I simply don't reach for them enough. I have held on to several because they are easy to travel with, but on a day-to-day basis, there are always singles that I love more than the alternatives I can find in my palettes. I also know that I don't use glosses and nail polishes as often as I should, so I try my best not to buy too many (although part of my resolution was severely challenged when I discovered Rescue Beauty Lounge). I think that by now we all own a lot of great products, so there is no need to accumulate more of the "good" ones!

  2. This is the thing that always befuddled me-why people hang on to products that are just so-so, or try to use them up in pan projects. I don't get it. If you don't like it, pass it on to someone else or trash it. Life is too short for mediocre products! That's what I've learned in my makeup journey. Good for you for figuring out what you do and don't use!

    1. Hi, Tracy! I happen to be one of those people :) Let me explain: yes, I wholeheartedly agree that life is too short for mediocre products, but if I can't pass something on for hygienic reasons it feels wasteful to just trash it. Especially if it cost more than $10-$15. It just feels like a waste of money, so I try to use it up, at least a big chunk of it. It's very rare that I find a product I absolutely can't work with, but for stuff that's just OK - I prefer to make it work or experiment with it somehow.

  3. love love love this post. I'm on such a decluttering kick lately, and I've been taking a good hard look at my previous buying habits. Something I overheard from a friend the other day is that she likes decluttering, but she won't get rid of something if it still fits/isn't beyond repair, even if it's not something she reaches for ever. That was SO mind boggling to me until I realized I do the same thing with so-so makeup! If a bronzer works well enough, and (here's the clincher) if it was expensive, I'll totally hold onto it. At least, I used to -- I just gave up a whole bunch of Dior quints. Honestly? I don't miss them.

  4. Well, it took about 4 years (!) to find out my product, finish and colour preferences and I'm glad that you are doing fine :)

    I found out that I don't like matte lipsticks, translucent lipgloss, glittery nail polish, pastel colours and lose eyeshadow. I've put most of them for sale but I can not get rid of my Bare Minerals stuff. That is because I like the colours, it's still useable and expensive. The only thing I don't like about them is that they are lose. Anyway, I have to use them but I won't rebuy them no matter how I like THAT colour and that finish. Maah I think you know this problem well ;-)

    Some years ago I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could use or combine a product which dislike. Pressing pigments, combining lipsticks and stuff was not worth a try. I think it's best to get rid of these products.

    I've recently made a "blush rotation" (= wearing all of my blushes). Well, I find out that berry blushes are best for me. I don't look good in warm toned colours such as orange or even red @.@ Coral will be my next try. I'm looking forward to it.

    I've got the same problem with gold and bronze. They are wearable but they are not the best for me. The most terryfying colour for me is pink! I've never thought of that before reducing my make up stash but here we go.

    Well, you've told about INGLOT Duraline, why don't you revive your cream eyeshadows?!

    I don't buy nail polish minis. When I found a really good colour, I buy an OPI fullsize. That's the reason why I only have 5 of them (to be continued...) the rest of my nail polish army is inexpensive.

    I got 5 foundations now, but I only need 2. At least I'm lucky that I can wear all 5 of them, but I've got only 3 open and won't buy new ones as long as 4 aren't finished or dried out xD

    It's still hard for me to get rid of all mediocre or "useable but not likeable" products. I've sorted about 100 for sale (or trash bin haha), but I think there are another 50 products which I don't like at all which I haven't found out yet.

    1. Hi Nadine! You've done an amazing job finding out your preferences :) I concur on the bareMinerals stuff - for example, their eyeshadows are really good, I just wished they were pressed (I love their READY formula). I did however attempt to press two of their eyeshadows myself and they turned out pretty well - this way I'm reaching for them a lot more often, and they take up less space. But I agree that sometimes the extra effort of mixing or pressing isn't worth it in the long run if you're still forcing yourself to use a mediocre product.

      I love Duraline to be able to use up what I currently have, but ideally I'd prefer to keep a smaller number of fresher things around, if that makes sense. The cream eyeshadow in the photo was beyond saving and started to have a very strange scent to it.

      Gosh, only five nail polishes - that's fantastic! My collection is way too big, I just like experimenting with different shades and get bored easily.

      Give yourself some time to sort through all of your products and make up your mind about them - sometimes opinions change too. I did sell some of my nicer products in a blog sale in the past, but most of them I've just given away to family and friends; it feels less wasteful than throwing away, even if they in turn decide to just trash it.

    2. These could be my words, Monika!
      I tried to press stuff with alcohol and some of my pressed eyeshadows just looked messy or lost their intensity. That's why I don't press eyeshadows any longer.
      I think you got me wrong. I got 5 OPIs, 2 Essie and... 80 other inexpensive nail polishes in all colour of the rainbow (exept white, lightblue and yellow because they don't fit me!). That's way too much but all in all I love my collection. I just keep on trying not to buy more nail polishes. Otherwise some of my favourites would dry out ~.~
      Well, I think your suggestion concerning giving some time with decisions is fine. I don't like that idea of throwing away products, but some of my products are too wasted and to mediocre to keep them.

  5. One thing I've realized is that I definitely have a preference for products and it's my goal to stop buying things when I know I don't use it! To name a few, pencil liner, nail polish (viola player...have to have short nails!), concealer, etc. I just purged a bunch of makeup too and it's really making me want to be more selective and picky when it comes to trying out new products

    1. Ha, this reminds me of my sister-in-law, who plays the piano, and can never wear nail polish on weekdays - but she still loves to paint her nails on the weekends, I'd say she probably does her nails more than I do! That's so interesting, concealers and pencil liners are among my most used products :) I don't really like liquid liners though, so I need to stop buying them!

  6. What a great post, Monika! I have been learning about myself too, and find that I really absolutely cannot buy anymore cream products no matter how beautiful they are. In my country's weather, they go bad quicker and really, it takes ages to get through 1 pot of cream anything, let alone 20 of them? I'm better at not buying just anything now - they must be good! I declutter my stash fairly often so that I keep a manageable size, for a beauty blogger that is :-)

    1. I agree with you on cream products, Lily - they do go bad much faster in any climate, but I can especially imagine they're quick to expire in your humidity! Hahaha, yes, I like to think my stash is a reasonable size for a beauty blogger too, whatever that means ;)

  7. I love this thoughtful post, Monika! I think all of us can learn from analyzing our own problem and soon it'll become automatic.

    I, too, have problem giving away sentimental items. My Stila collection, for example, I still keep them. They are old, old.. *old* I'm surprised nothing grows on them yet :-) Kudos to you to take that Bourjois Blush picture and letting the blush go. I think that very mindful act will release you tons of energy and needless keep in the future. I know I'm still working on mine -- makeup-wise or any other area in my life, giving up something of sentimental value is the hardest, and probably the last "frontier" so to speak.

    And yes, those rationalization that you found from destashing will slowly become your mantra. Once you meet a bold-lipgloss for e.g. you'll say to yourself, "too messy, nope" or "loose mineral shadow, messy" or "pot gloss, yuck!" Pretty soon, you'll self-edit yourself to the point where you don't even feel the pull of buying a certain product because you know ahead of time it won't work. I think I'm at that point where I know a certain trend is for me, and some is not, and in a sense, I don't have much lemming other than things that may really work for me (and in which case, I'd go check them out in person).

    Another "mantra" that I've adopted much is, "Where have I seen this before?" Whenever I feel an impulse buy coming (which is not much lately, but still..) I'd dig in my stash and inevitably, without fail, I'd find something similar or at least similar-on. Most of the time, that alone stops me from ever pursuing the product. If for some reason the product has more compelling reason (such as unscented, and the one I own is scented), then I'll definitely check it out.

    One other pitfall is buying product sight-unseen. I've been doing this a couple of times, true, but now I think it is easier to make an educated guess by reading blogs, reviews, etc. But still, without knowing your own preference, you'll be bound to repeat the same mistake. I think this type of mindful editing trains that "muscle memory" in exercising judgement and I'm confident the result will be quite exciting because now you open yourself up to so many other choices within the limits of your preference. You have more freedom-so to speak- to buy & choose products you really love rather than chained by guilts of keep buying products that you don't like.

    O.k. I'm stepping down the soap box now. Pat yourself on the back, Monika, you are on to something.

    1. Claire, your comments are always so incredibly helpful by way of shedding new light on a problem, and new ways of circumventing it.

      You're so right saying that sentimental items are 'the last frontier' - I find this also rings true for items I've been gifted. Unfortunately, there's always a portion of things you've been given that just does not work you for a specific reason; like I once was gifted a wallet from a relative in Poland that's too small to hold dollar bills. Yet, four years later, I still hold on to it!

      I also agree that convincing yourself to check out products in person is a very effective way of squashing a lemming - and if possible, requesting a sample at Sephora helps to make up one's mind too without having to decide on the spot. I find that extremely helpful (or even indispensable) when it comes to buying products like perfume or foundations.

      And yes, realizing you've seen something similar before or may even have it in your collection is a great tool too! My other line of internal questioning goes like this: 'Is everyone saying this product is a must-have because of the initial hype after the release, or because it really is tried and true and stands apart from other products of the same type?'. I think this is why I like decluttering videos on YT so much, it shows you peoples' real preferences in the long run.

      Thank you, Claire - sending big hugs your way! <3

    2. Oh yes! the must-have, hype-full products everyone blogging about, usually at around the same time -- I can think of a handful of products that are so hyped because it is all over blogs & YTs and everyone said they are must-haves, which can be true, to some. It's confusing, isn't it, to tease out whether or not the particular thing is really a novelty or just a made-up novelty.

      But we've all been there and have a nice discussion about what influences these bloggers & YTs. I think even if the product merit the hype, individually we have ... a responsibility (I don't know if that's the right words) to ourselves to see if that product fits our needs & life. This is why sometimes we need sobering reminder that our lives are not the same as YT, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, etc.. like what my English teacher always said, "Everything that can be edited can't be 100% representation of the truth."

      Hugs back at you, Monika!

    3. I totally agree to that, Claire! I keep pictures of my collection on my smartphone. Just in case xD It avoided lots of impulse purchases.

  8. I really, really need to go through my collection and do something like this. I did something like that with my lipsticks the other day, and the amount of products I was keeping "just in case" was way too large. I want to get rid of things I don't really love (because let's be honest, they are just sitting there gathering dust), and do some kind of Make a Dent project to do some damage on the ones I do love (so I can try new ones, lol).

    Somehow I feel I really need to reflect on myself, not only on makeup, and learn more about my tastes and what works for me. In general, be more selective with what I own and purchase.

  9. It's funny, I seem to know at this point whether something will work for me (barring unexpected formula difficulties) - in terms of shades and actual product type. But I'm really committed to not outgrowing my storage, so I've been passing stuff on, too, and what I noticed is that I find it hard to get rid of the stuff I really like but just don't use that often! I don't think I necessarily get into a rut, but I *do* forget I have some things, even if I really like those things.

    I should probably be more careful buying new things, now that the MUA Swap feature is gone...

  10. I go through my collection once a year (usually during summer break), and it's funny how most of the stuff I hold on to has a weird "sentimental" value to it - someone gave me, I bought it during some trip, it came on a beauty box, blah blah blah. I always give away a bunch of stuff every year, and I don't know why sometimes I still buy products from brands I don't like that much ?? Maybe it's the advertising or some amazing bloggers' sensation product? Hahaha
    Loved your post :)