August arrived in a blink of an eye and it made me realize that I haven't bought any beauty products for over four months now besides essentials like body wash and a replacement face mask. No other skincare or bodycare, no haircare or nailcare, and absolutely no make-up, which has always been my biggest struggle. I talked more about my limited shopping allowances in my June quaterly progress report (here), but I feel like I have more to share about my experience and since a lot of you seem interested in this topic, here it goes.
Right now, I find a complete no buy much easier to stick to than a low buy. In 2014 and 2015, I (more or less) successfully followed a limited allowance of 2 make-up products per month, and I've kept that goal at the beginning of 2016, buying a few things here and there. However, since my last purchase in March, I haven't been seriously tempted by anything. When that first month of not buying was over, my reaction was 'Cool! Now I can roll over my 'unused' purchases to April!' but then in April, there wasn't really anything I wanted either. Neither there was in May, June and now, July. The longer I keep not buying make-up, the less I want to buy any new make-up. Distinguishing between needs versus wants and shopping my own stash instead became second nature, and new releases would never get more of a reaction from me than 'It sure is pretty to look at, but I already have something similar/ wouldn't use it/ it's nothing special'.
It's definitely very true that the longer you follow a low buy or a no buy, the less tempted and more rational you become in your purchasing habits. But for me, I think a no buy is much less challenging than a low buy because I don't have that (limited - but still!) allowance to look at new things and agonize over which two I would like to buy that month. When I decide not to buy anything without exception, I can't/ don't/ won't occupy myself with researching products and putting them on and off of my shopping list. Since I'm not buying now or in the nearest future, spending mental resources on beauty buys isn't worth it, and instead I'm able to focus my energy on other beauty-related pursuits or even altogether different hobbies. This vastly reduces any lemmings, folks.
Deciding to do a no buy also completely eliminates impulse purchases, or even those purchases that you've been wanting for a while, but ultimately know are not right for you. You're not buying any beauty products, so why even go look at the beauty aisle in your local drugstore or grocery store? You know you won't buy that tempting new palette that just came out, so instead you put it on your wishlist and go experiment with what you own. In my personal experience, 9 times out of 10 I won't even be interested in it anymore in a few months; I either have a comparable product already, find something I'd potentially like better, research more reviews after the hype dies down and realize it's not that amazing after all, or realize it doesn't suit my needs and preferences.
And since this shopping freeze made me focus on my existing stash instead of new purchases when I was feeling inspired by a new to me color combination or technique, I wouldn't recommend doing a Project Pan or Pan That Palette while being on a no buy. If you see a beautiful coppery smokey eye featuring a just released eyeshadow palette but at the same time, you're not allowing yourself to go and play with all the warm shades you already have to recreate it, you'll be feeling like you need that new product right now. But it's so easy to burst the lemming bubble if you sit down at your vanity, admire what you own, and do that eye look - or something very similar - right away. It makes you feel smart, accomplished and excited about make-up all over again, all the more for not having to spend a penny to experience it.
Being on a no buy broke my vicious cycle of playing with a new product for a few weeks only to put it back and not see it again for months, or even years. In the past, I would buy a new product, test it out for the blog and play with it for a little bit, and then either have another new item to try out or feel so guilty about abandoning the rest of my stash - especially older products - that I would make myself put it back and use something else instead. This is a terrible habit of mine for various reasons: a) it shortens my attention span so that I always feel the need for new stimuli, b) it deprives me of experiencing full joy from what I just bought, c) it doesn't give me enough time to truly familiarize myself with the new product, so in case it turns out to be less than ideal in the long run, I can't return it anymore, d) it forces me to use 'just alright' products from my stash instead of what I truly want and what inspires me right now - which in turn usually makes me feel unmotivated and unhappy with what I own, and increases the need to shop for more.
At the moment, I'm not concerned about rebound or going off the deep end once I allow myself to buy. I have a much better grasp now of what make-up I like and what I already have that I really like, and I would rather play with that than run out to get new stuff that may leave me feeling disappointed. Sure, I have a few things on my wishlist - none of which I really need but would be fun to incorporate into my make-up game - but I'm in no rush to purchase them. I have unused gift cards to both Ulta and Sephora, my birthday is coming up in a month, and my husband just left for London - and none of these 'shopping opportunities' make me particularly eager to get new beauty stuff right now. So who knows, maybe this will extend into a 5-month beauty no buy? Or even half of the year? ;) I'll let you know what I decide.
Another reason I would rather wait with purchasing my wishlist items is that I prefer to use up or at least make a final decision to declutter some of my current staples before replacing them. Downsizing my stash, be it by project panning or purging to friends and family, made me visualize my ideal 'inventory' in more detail - the perfect (for me!) balance of having creative variety while being reasonable and not letting products go to waste. When (and if) I finally pull a trigger on a purchase, I want to use and enjoy it right away. No more back-ups, ever - and I'm talking about not just back-ups of the exact same item, but even functional (an unopened under eye concealer) or shade (another mauve lipstick) back-ups of items I already own and use in my make-up routine.
Not buying make-up has also made me more critical towards purchasing things from other categories: clothing, accessories, home and (yes!) baby stuff. I'm happy to say that not allowing myself new beauty products didn't turn me into a fashion victim, even though I had more money in my budget to indulge in those things. With clothes and accessories, since I'm currently pregnant and have finished shopping for my maternity wardrobe a few months ago, I again don't want to buy anything I wouldn't be able to wear right now - or anything I'd only for the next two months. I'm also feeling a little bit... cheap these days. Maybe it's because I started researching things we'll soon need for our baby boy (and even when trying to stay quite minimal it's quite a lot - and it will cost a lot), but buying just about anything right now that isn't absolutely necessary seems superfluous and frivolous. However, I have no qualms over spending that money on good food (be it organic veggies to cook with at home or a nice meal out) or experiences. It's not like I've become some sort of anticonsumerist hermit - I just really question the value of goods we bring into our life.
I think that about sums up my deep thoughts on not buying beauty products these past few months. I will add that while I haven't personally purchased anything, I'm lucky to have received generous PR samples (some make-up, skincare and haircare) that have helped to keep product boredom at bay. Before you all jump at me and scream bloody murder, allow me to say that I have been quite successful in either using those products right away - as I am also working on using up a lot of older back-up products and thus have started to need replacements - or passing them on if they don't suit me - or keeping them by incorporating a 'one in, one out' policy (mostly for make-up products that I can't hope to use up in a reasonable amount of time). Maybe that is cheating; but you get to see some new products on the blog and I get to stick to my non-hoarding goals all the same. So there.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out. Have you ever been on a no-buy? What was your experience and thought process like? Please share in the comments!