Monday, October 24, 2016

Here's Why I Won't Be Panning Make-up Anymore

Right now, for the first time in over 2.5 years, I'm not actively trying to use up any make-up. In 2014 and 2015, I participated in two year-long Projects Make A Dent, and then since July 2015, I did three back-to-back Project Pans, completely finishing or at least getting very good use out of some older products in my stash. My initial plan for 2016 was to do three 4-month seasonal Projects 10 Pan, and I managed to complete two - but as you know, with the arrival of our baby, I decided against doing that third Project, reasoning that I wouldn't have much time or mental energy to wear any make-up.

And you know what, I'm really, REALLY glad that I don't have any panning challenges going on anymore. Even if it wasn't for my imminent new mama lifestyle, I think I would have probably copped out of that final Project Pan for 2016 anyway. I've been thinking a lot about this for the past two months of desperately trying to finish as much as I could from my last Project Pan, and I came to the conclusion that at this stage, I really need to take a step back and reevaluate my reasons for doing these challenges in the first place, and whether they still apply to what I want to gain out of my make-up collection and make-up hobby in general.

If I'm being completely honest with myself, my main reason for panning make-up is to use up as much as I can from older and/or unloved products, and thus be able to remove them from my collection without feeling the guilt of 'good products going to waste'. That's it. Yeah yeah, I could also say that I love rediscovering old favorites, or experimenting with combining, layering and repurposing my products, but at the end of the day - no, I just want to get them out of my stash. Not because they're bad products; I've thankfully learnt my lesson and never include product hates in my Projects anymore - but for some reason or another, I know they're nearing their time and I just want to give them that last chance. Or, uhm, more like multiple months of daily wear number of chances. They may be old favorites I've abandoned at some point and no longer remember why; they may be products I've worn only a handful of times and don't know very well; they may be products I already have functional dupes/ back-ups of already in my stash. Either way, I just know I don't really need them anymore, and want them gone.

So if I want them gone so bad, why wouldn't I just declutter them, or in case or really old products, pitch them straight in the trash? Well, uhm, because like I said above - I mostly like, or at least used to like these products, and getting rid of them straight away triggers a lot of guilty feelings. And then it does happen on occasion that I just didn't know the product very well, and including it in a Project Pan makes me realize how much I actually enjoy it. But I don't think guilt trips are such fantastic motivation to make yourself use a certain product for months at a time. And in my two and a half years of panning, I've realized there's a lot of downsides to my method.

Unfortunately, I believe most project panners fall into the phenomenon of absolutely hating at least some of their chosen products at some point in their Project Pans. Obviously sometimes, a product just turns out to be a complete dud, but even in the case of the good ones, forcing yourself to use them day in and day out can quickly turn a favorite into 'I just can't look at you anymore'. You may have included your Holy Grail red lipstick in your challenge, but do you really now want to wear it a couple times a week? What if it turns out you're not into red lips at the moment? This is something I've privately dubbed 'abusing your make-up products'. You'd rather wear a My Lips But Better shade, but you've made the committment, so you reach for the red anyway. What used to be a cherished shade for special occasions becomes a high maintenance make-up statement you're dreading to wear on a casual Tuesday.

What I'm trying to point out is that whatever product selection you pull out for a given Project, those products become the driving force of your make-up style and application for the duration of the Project. Here are examples of some conundrums I've personally come across during my challenges: I like contour and bronzer SOMETIMES for certain looks, but I absolutely don't want to wear them every day with everything. I really like shimmery cream eyeshadows, but no, I don't want to wear shimmer on my eyes every day for months. I enjoy wearing a bold lip, but I'd rather decide spontaneously when and which shade exactly as opposed to making myself wear a deep berry at least twice a week. When I make myself wear these products as if on a schedule, I lose the joy of wearing precisely what I want at the time. That makes me feel frustrated, and unhappy with my make-up, or even itching to buy more products for my collection just to feel inspired again - even though I may already have things in my stash I could use to achieve my desired look.

Some of you may say that what I'm describing here can be easily avoided if I just allowed myself to rotate my chosen products with other things in my stash when I feel like switching my looks. However, based on my individual experience, I can't do that at all if I'm hoping to finish my Project Pan products in a reasonable amount of time. And by reasonable, I don't mean a short amount of time at all - in fact, I'm absolutely incapable of using up anything within a couple months. Examples of my personal panning 'times': 3-4 months for a creamy pencil eyeliner. 4 months for a lipstick or lip gloss when rotated with two other lip products. At least 12 months for a pressed face powder and foundation. Closer to 2 years - or more - for a concealer. Probably about 2 years for a bronzer or a blush, used exclusively. Don't even want to think how long for an eyeshadow palette - here's my progress on the small-ish Nude'Tude, used for 8 months straight. See what I mean? If I was also wearing other make-up while trying to finish items from my Project Pans, I would probably need to spend over a year doing just one little challenge.

And ultimately, what for? Just to proudly display my empty make-up containers for all the Internet to see? To feel a little less guilty about having a crap ton of stuff in my collection that will never be used up completely? What am I trying to prove to myself? Maybe the time has come for me to finally accept that most of my make-up will expire before I'm able to finish it. Is that such a bad thing? Is it so terribly wasteful to pass on, or toss an eyeshadow before I scrape the last bits out the pan? Can't I just enjoy it for as long as I want and then simply move on?

I've realized that I don't want to force myself to use anything in my stash at the expense of completely abandoning other perfectly good products that I'm naturally more inclined to wear at the time. While in theory, it makes sense to get good use of older or less used products first instead of constantly reaching for the same selection of current favorites, in practice you're just making yourself miserable by preventing yourself from using what you're inspired by at the time. Make-up should be fun, right? Then why go to all these lengths to make it seem like a chore?

Now, I feel the need to point out the obvious and say that this is just MY (current) experience. I do feel a great sense of achievement in finishing make-up products and I think it's a lot of fun to share my make-up empties here on the blog or on Instagram. However, that fleeting satisfaction from seeing a large amount of pan in my powder doesn't outweight the fact that I'd probably much rather be using something else and just remove the damn thing from my sight. Your experience may be different though; make-up is extremely personal and I can see a whole number of reasons why panning may work much better for other people. So you do you - I'm just trying to explain why it no longer works for me. You know, all in the spirit of friendly discussion :)

This is also not to say I'll never finish another make-up product in my life - I AM hoping to use up things in my collection, but I'd just much rather not put any deadline on myself to do so. I'd rather it happen organically and spontaneously, just by me wearing what I feel like at any given time. I now want to get to know every single product in my stash, not just a select handful. I'm hoping that by having a better grasp on everything I own, I will not only become more creative and satisfied with my looks, but maybe also be able to further downsize my make-up stash (uhm, we'll see about that). In terms of an actual 'game plan', I'm planning to utilize the 'make-up basket' system from now on - basically rotate my products every couple weeks or so to make full use of my stash. I don't want to be super strict about it though - if I feel like using something else and have the exact picture in my mind of the product/look I'm aiming for, I'll just reach for that instead. If after a couple months, I notice there are certain products I'm actively avoiding in the rotation, then that's a good indicator that they should hit the road. We shall see how that works out - let me know if you sometimes want to see my make-up baskets in the form of a blog post!

How do you feel about Project Pans and using up make-up in general? Is this a system that works great for you or you can't even imagine making yourself reach for a specific dozen of products for a few months? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

15 comments:

  1. I have accepted the fact that i have never finished up a makeup product in my life (not even mascara or eyeliners), and I probably never will. I do see how a no purchase period can be useful from time to time, so that I can use more of what I have in my stash - but I can totally understand how panning projects can be mentally exhausting and take away fun of makeup. Now if I realize I don't like a product, and I've tried so many times to just use it up but feel tortured, I would just throw it away immediately (this includes skincare too).

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    1. I'm working on having the same approach as you in regards to getting rid of unloved products immediately - but I still go back and forth and sometimes convince myself against my better judgment that I maybe I could use this one product some time in the future. It's a struggle sometimes!

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  2. Good points. I can see how panning challenges could be fun and satisfying, but when it stops being, it's probably time to stop! Personally I've never been able to bring myself to use the same products over and over for months. Part of the problem is that I worry that while I'm focusing on one thing (lipstick, etc.), something I'm neglecting will go bad and I'll have to throw it out without having enjoyed it very much. I'd rather get a little use out of a lot of things than finish one thing and waste others. (Obviously that doesn't really apply to powder products.)

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    1. You're absolutely right - using up one product completely at the expense of several other barely used ones going bad in the meantime is pretty silly. I would love to say that at any given time, I'm making good use out of at least 90% of my collection; and if a product is not being used, I should just remove it from my possesion by purging or giving it away.

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  3. I like your thought process and think it reflects a healthy attitude towards grooming and beauty products :-) Personally, I've never understood why anyone would want to force themselves to "use it up" or become orgasmic over "pan porn". If the product was a mistake and it can be sanitized, then pass it on to someone who will enjoy it. The same goes for products that bore you or we're bought for an occasion and will probably never be worn again. Sanitize them and pass them on to friends or donate them. (Many women's shelters love clean, unused or gently used cosmetics/toiletries for women who have had to flee with only the clothes on their backs.) If the product is old and worn, though, or the case is damaged, just toss it. Nobody wants your castoff junk. As for products you liked but which are no longer fashionable or no longer suit you, just consign them to the trash without any regrets. There's nothing shameful or wasteful about purging products that don't make you feel beautiful and confident. Tucked in the back of a drawer, they're not getting used anyway. Just my opinion.

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    1. Ha, Eileen, you're always a voice of reason :) I still get super excited to see signs of usage in my make-up products but I would now much rather just wear whatever the hell I want rather then focus on one thing - even if it's a favorite - just to see a sliver of pan.

      In terms of guilt or shame over products being wasted, I guess maybe it's just being carried over from the negative feelings of knowing you've purchased in excess. But that's a whole other can of worms and something else I've been working on this year.

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  4. "Maybe the time has come for me to finally accept that most of my make-up will expire before I'm able to finish it. Is that such a bad thing? Is it so terribly wasteful to pass on, or toss an eyeshadow before I scrape the last bits out the pan? Can't I just enjoy it for as long as I want and then simply move on?"

    I'll be honest, that's what I used to think while reading some of your Project Pan posts. It seemed like you were inflicting a lot of unnecessary stress and guilt on yourself. But I totally get it: I still feel the same stress and guilt about my own makeup usage. It's taken me a long time to accept that I don't have to use up a product to truly love and appreciate it. I do like the habit of giving neglected products one more chance before I toss them: that's how I rediscovered some eyeshadows I now wear regularly. But if they don't impress me after that one last chance, then bye.

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    1. You know, I had fun panning some of the items in my Project Pans, but yes, definitely not all of them. By the way, I was in awe when you showed your lipstick stash and most of them showed signs of being well loved - most lipsticks in my stash look barely used.

      Did you decide in the end not to try panning your the Balm Nude'Tude? I thought you were aiming to see how far you could get in a year. Would you still consider showing what it looks like now in a blog post? I'd be really curious!

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    2. Funny you should ask that, because I destashed Snobby and Sassy just last night--I was tired of looking at them and knowing I'd never, ever use a frosty white or a bright yellow gold. I'm not actively trying to pan Nude 'Tude anymore, but I'm using it a lot more than I used to, so I do think I'll post an update before the end of the year. Now that warm neutrals are so trendy, I might actually try experimenting with the warm matte brown for the first time in four years...

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  5. I'm ok knowing I won't pan most of my stuff...but I kinda miss the time where I would get 1 item and use it up completely. Time is too precious to waste on stuff that makes us feel bad; be it makeup or people! The one thing I do now is plan before buying stuff; I'll ask myself if I *need* it (some stuff are needs; mascara for example). Some are wants and that's ok too; especially if I know I'll feel amazing when using that item (statement lipsticks go in this category!) Slowing down thepace at which I add to my stash has helped too, I can easily not buy stuff for a couple of months and then I won't feel bad when I splurge.

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  6. This was a great read, Monika. It takes the stress away from using makeup and keeps it more pleasurable rather than a chore.

    I love pan (which I seldom see for myself), because it is a sign of things well loved and used more so than of grit and tenacity. When my stash get a bit unwieldy, I sell it off, of give them away. While I feel a bit of remorse about waste and about spending from time to time, I try to remedy the situation by getting rid of things more than use things up.

    And as you mentioned up how long things take up to use, I saw that one has to use something like an eye shadow quad every day for a year+ to see pan or use up. And a blush for years potentially! I seem to have picked an interest/hobby in something that doesn't easily get used up. :)

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  7. Whenever these kinds of posts appear, there is a recurring theme: guilt! Why is it that so many people feel guilty about tossing/gifting/donating makeup that they don't use? Is it that they've spent more than they can comfortably afford? Is it that they are compulsive shoppers? Is it that they beleive spending money on themselves is bad? Is it a cultural background that deems makeup "sinful"? Is it that they were raised with a waste not want not philosophy? What spawns the feelings of guilt? The answer to that question is probably as varied as are the people experiencing that pang of guilt. Perhaps if people could identify the root cause of their feeling, they could let go of things more easily. In any event, I think it would be an interesting subject to explore.

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  8. Sorry, for my belated answer, but you write about a very interesting topic. I have thought about giving up the pan project several times because it forces me to use products I do not really like, but I have found a quite nice way to continue.
    Currently I'm organising my project pans with products I totally forgot in my stash or which stuff I own twice or even thrice. Products which I don't like only make out a minor part of the projects. Another thing is, that I don't want to make project pans of nearly full products and I avoid using the same projects for a year or so. After decluttering, tossing and selling lots of products, I feel so much better. I think only 5-10% of my current stash consists of stuff I don't like, 20-30% of my products are nice to have but not worth another buy. Its not that they have an awful quality, they are just colours I use to seldom or which I own many times. I decided against tossing these products, because I won't get even half of the money I paid for and I still have use for this stuff.
    I totally agree that it is better to toss or sell projects which you can only use in combination which other stuff. I also fell into the phenomenon to absolutely hating my stash or even the products of the project pans. I think its okay to stop the challenge and to choose other products.
    I am also quite thankful, that I learned my lesson. I finally found out, which colours and types of products fit me the most, though I still haven't found holy grails in all areas. I learned to avoid buys of stuff which can be found the whole year in the drugstore, but most of all I learned to combine my stash in a better way.
    It's great that you talk of functional dupes and back ups. In history, one of my major points was to match exatly the same colour. I bought lots of stuff which is quite similar but not the same. This year, I found out that it is better to talk about functional dupes, meaning that a daytime lipstick can be nude or rosewood aswell.
    I applied a make up basket for quite a while, but my rotatin period is about 3-4 months. I'm doing well with it, but I do not exchange my lipsticks and lipglosses because they tend to expire soon.
    After six years of panning I agree, that make up should be fun. My blog is not mostly about paning my stuff, its more about avoiding accumulations and keeping a reasonable way of consumption. Of course it would be great if all hated products and functional dupes. Thats the goal I'm having for the next years and I think that this is quite more reasonable than panning or finishing your whole collection.

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  9. You didn't mention in this post how useful panning can be in teaching yourself to low-buy! I still like to set up project pans for myself whenever I'm getting an itch to buy something new. I think a lot of panners use panning as a shopping deterrent. You might ultimately buy a new lipstick, say, because you really want it even though you're trying to pan another lipstick and are very aware of how much product and time one represents. At least it will make you pause on impulses and whims! Money saved :) But I do think stuff you don't like anymore has already served you and you should declutter, as you mentioned. Makeup is supposed to be fun and if panning loses that you should definitely not feel guilty giving it up.

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    1. Yes, you're completely right - doing Project Pans makes you realize how much time it takes to use up things and serves as a great deterrent when wanting to pick up a new product! It's not that I think Project Pans are not useful or that I dislike them (I still love following other people's progress on blogs and YouTube), it's that for the time being, I'm over doing them myself. But I've learnt a lot about myself and my preferences through doing them for over two years and would absolutely recommend anyone to try it at least once in their make-up life :)

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