Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Make-up Inventory: What Would Be My Ideal Lipstick Collection?

When I first heard about counting all the make-up products in one's possession across different categories - in short, doing a make-up inventory - my first reaction was a major cringe. At the time, even with the mindset of wanting to only keep products I loved and was using, I just didn't see the point of inventories, other than a form of self-punishment for buying too much make-up that wasn't all going to be finished before expiring.
However, I've recently started looking at it a little bit differently. I still don't understand all that counting just for the sake of knowing the number (unless you're trying for a shock tactic to scare you off any more shopping) but I can see how listing and describing what you already own can give you a better understanding of your collection and hopefully help curate it according to your tastes and needs. This has led me straight to thinking about what I would like to see included in that ideal, well-rounded stash: which color families, undertones, finishes, product types. I've been doing a lot of panning and decluttering these past two years and my end goal would be to achieve that ideal edited stash tailored exactly to my personal preferences - my capsule collection. And since I'm a big lipstick junkie, why not start with the lip stash and talk you through my thought process?

I used to think it would be impossible to narrow down my lipstick collection to some arbitrary number. Last year, I owned two acrylic lipstick organizers for storing 24 lipsticks each. They were never full to capacity - hold your horses - but I do think I must have owned at least 40 lipsticks when my stash was at its largest. And that's counting only standard lipstick bullets; I also had a separate little drawer for my lipglosses, lip crayons and lip liners. Out of those I've had the most of those fat lip crayons/ pencils, and thankfully just a few (5 or so) of glosses and liners.

I reached a big milestone last year when I was able to get rid of one of those lipstick organizers. That was mostly due to doing several declutters rather than using things up, although I have mostly finished 4 lipsticks, 3 glosses and 1 crayon as well. Earlier this year, another big change I introduced to my make-up storage was emptying out my small lip drawer (shown in this vanity tour post) and consolidating all lip product storage is one space, using the remaining lipstick organizer for shorter, stubbier tubes of products and a longer box right next to it for longer tubes of lip gloss or pencils. It was the result of a lightbulb moment - I'm simply not into layering my lip products. I only ever wear a lipstick, or a gloss, or a lip crayon. And since I have multiple color choices across all three, how would I ever know if I had shade or functional dupes (products serving the same purpose) if they weren't all kept together? The separate storage was effectively causing me to reach for the glosses and crayons a lot less even though I had some lovely products in there that I wanted to wear more often. So this is what my current lip product storage looks like in my large vanity drawer, and I'm a lot happier with it.
I have started talking about functional dupes of products quite often in the past few months, and discussing my ideal lip product stash is the perfect place to elaborate on the concept. You know how the online blogosphere is obessed with finding cheaper drugstore dupes for high-end or limited edition products? Usually what is meant here is finding a product in a very similar or sometimes even identical shade - and while I don't wholeheartedly believe in duping because there are other factors than just shade to consider when making a purchase, I find the idea of a 'dupe' very helpful when trying to edit down one's stash. Because while colors, textures or finishes may be very different across all your different lip products, you would usually wear one or the other to suit a particular make-up look, a particular occasion, or a particular season. Obviously your individual decision process may be different, but I believe that's how most of us do it, and given these selection criteria, one could categorize their lipstick collection according to several factors: not just shade but even more importantly, function - or purpose. Do you wear only nudes and My Lips But Better (MLBB) shades to work or school? Do you wear corals or bright pinks only in the summer? Or maybe you like sheer finishes for daytime and fuller pigment lipsticks only for going out and/or weekends? Then there's your function for these product categories, and you can make your keep vs. get rid of choices for all of the lipsticks in that category, often regardless of the fact how similar or different the colors may look swatched on the back of your hand. I hope this theory makes some sense to you - but if it doesn't, here's how I applied these principles to my actual lip stash.

First, I took out all of my products and thought about which ones I wear the most and least often, which ones I like for specific seasons, and which ones I love to pull out for special events. I also reflected how my color preferences have changed somewhat throughout the years, and which of my products that used to wear constantly were not getting enough love in more recent times. I've actually kept these reflections in the back of my mind for a couple weeks, going back and re-evaluating, until I reached some conclusions about what I would realistically wear and want out of my existing collection. Some things I realized: I definitely prefer lipsticks or lip crayons over glosses, I like moisturizing lip products so matte finishes tend to be tricky, I currently like nudes and MLBBs for everyday because I tend to play up my eyes, and I'm not a big fan of classic red lipsticks.

I then looked at my stash, which is organized roughly according to color family, and thought about how many products I would be satisfied with per their respective function. For nudes and neutrals, which I wear often, I own 4 lipsticks - in different shades and formulas - and one lip gloss. I'm quite happy with that number, although I do think I don't need a nude gloss; pale shades in sheer formulas tend to wash me out too much, so once I use mine up (or simply decide to toss it), I won't be buying anything to replace it.

I reach for my MLBB shades even more frequently than the nudes, and I currently own 4 lipsticks, 2 lip crayons, 3 glosses (one unopened) and 2 lip liners in that category. I do think I have some overlap here in terms of similar enough shades and formulas, and would prefer to own a few less (maybe 3 lipsticks and 1 crayon? Just 2 lip glosses instead of 3?), but at the same time I'm not particularly motivated to get rid of anything at the moment. I'll try to rotate my wear of products in this category as much as I can within the next few months and at the end, re-evaluate again - maybe I'll finish some, maybe I'll pass some on to friends and family.

Now for my trouble area: brighter lip products in hot pink, fuschia, peach and coral shades. While I used to use them very frequently, I just haven't been inspired to wear them much this or last year. In the past, I would usually reach for them more in the summer months, and sometimes wear a bolder pink in the colder season. But right now,  I've come to the conclusion that I don't need or want to have a lot of variety here, and having just a few would suit me perfectly.

However, this realization is clearly not reflected in the state of my stash: I currently own 3 full-size bright pink lipsticks, 2 unopened (and slightly more muted/ easier to wear) pink lipstick minis, 2 reddish corals and one bright coral lip gloss. I also own two completely oddball bold shades: 1 sheer purple lipstick and 1 matte bright orange lip crayon. Uhm... surely that's too many for my needs. But for whatever reason, I'm having a hard time getting rid of any of them: they're mostly all high-end and fantastic formulas, and what if my preferences change again and I go back to wearing them a few times a week? I kinda feel like I should get rid of at least one, and some days I'm close to putting it in the declutter box, while other days I try it on and I can't find anything wrong with it. But in the future, I will not be purchasing any more bright shades without reducing what I already own in a significant way.

Moving on to reds and darker vampy shades, while I don't wear them daily - because hello, high maintenance - I still absolutely love, love these shades and will pull them out whenever I get a chance, meaning weekend and evening wear, or sometimes casually in the fall and winter. I don't like classic reds on me all that much and I've pretty much decluttered all of them at this point, but I enjoy the two slightly darker red options I have left. In addition to these 2 reds (1 lipstick and 1 crayon), I own 2 vampy wine lipsticks, and 1 bright berry lip crayon. I don't feel like this is excessive in any way, and I'm happy with what I have; even though I realize these products will probably never get completely finished, they will all be worn and loved quite regularly anyway.

That's it - that's my full lip product inventory and my reflections on what I would like my collection to look like going forward. At the moment of writing, I own 18 lipsticks (including three minis), 5 lip crayons (including 4 minis), 5 lip glosses (1 mini) and 3 lip liners (I didn't know where to include my clear one). However, it's a very fluid number - I feel like most of this year, it's been changing every few weeks both due to decluttering a few items here and there and adding in new PR samples or free Gift With Purchase minis (so far I have decluttered the two lipsticks I purchased myself this year). Overall I strive not to inflate my stash even more, so if I decide to keep something new, something older in my stash will usually have to go into the giveaway box; you know, trying to keep some balance in here :)

I don't think I want to put an ideal inventory number to my lipstick collection at this point, but I do know that I don't want to have any more lip products in my stash at any given time than what I already have, and if possible, I would like to reduce even further - especially when it comes to my MLBBs and brights. (Okay, so I've now gone and put that one sheer fuschia pink I was debating over in the giveaway pile, and swatched two of the unopened minis against my other shades. One of them turned out to be a rose pink MLBB very similar to what I already have, so it's also going. Are you proud of me? So I guess now I own 'only' 16 lipsticks ;). I don't really see any gaps in my stash either, but I would like to try a liquid lipstick in a cooler mauve MLBB shade this year, so that's something I've put on my wishlist for the Sephora November VIB sale. I'm also very nearly out of my clear lip liner and have recently tossed two old lip pencils in a red and a wine shade, and I would like to own one transparent lip liner in my collection for bolder shades of lipstick - so that's going on the list as well.

There you have it; I hope looking at what I own and my thought process with regards to my ideal lipstick stash was somewhat helpful and maybe inspired you to look through your own collection as well. I have not mentioned actual product brands and names here because I wanted this post to be more of a general reflection than a 'look what I have', but if you're interested in the specific products I currently own, let me know and I'll show you everything. What are your feelings on doing make-up inventories and working towards achieving goal numbers for certain products? Is this something that you're already doing to maintain a curated stash or do you think it's completely unnecessary? How would you go about creating your ideal lipstick collection?


  1. I've read every single word you wrote. Lovely post, I enjoy your style of writing. And also feeling ashamed at having even bigger amount of lipsticks, going decluttering right away. I'm trying to purge everything that doesn't make me happy - usually keeping higher-end brands and focusing on small but gorgeous collection. :)
    The only downside is blog comparison - sometimes I find myself searching for dupes that I have - but I got rid of them as soon as I've realized it.

  2. Maybe I'm weird, but I find it really soothing to make inventories of my makeup. I need to continue the lipstick destashing project I started earlier this fall, because I don't think I wear more than 3/4 of my lipsticks regularly. I doubt I'll ever get down to 16, though!

    I've been wearing brights less often, too. I think the current trends have something to do with that. I don't follow trends all that consciously, but I remember that bright lipsticks were so much more popular a few years ago.

  3. Well, counting the numbers is a kind of shock therapy and it seems to work well after a while ;) I would stop counting numbers when I've finished emptying everything I do not really love (I donated, sold and trashed some stuff, but there is a bit of half-used ready to wear stuff lying around which I want to use and empty) or which I own twice. That could still take a while. The listing helped me a lot to figure out my needs and my obsessions.

    I totally agree that having all products in one space can be quite enlightening.. I merged my whole nail polish collection into one box and sorted it by colours. Besides there is a small space with exact dupes I want to take out first. I proceeded with my lipgloss and lipstick stash the same way. Hopelessly, my amount of blushes and eyeshadows is still too big to do this, so I've sorted the blushes by colour (one box of peaches and rose blushes - the other with plum tones) or by occasion (one box of eyeshadow is opened, the other one is full of back ups and the third one is high end stuff and duochromes). I'm looking forward to merge it all into one, but I think that it is impossible in the next two years...

    I'll link to your post in the end of the months. Its great that I am not the only one talking about functional dupes. I own lots of rosewood, mauve and one nude lipstick, but nearly all of them have the same purpose: All-day usage. The only one which sticks out is the perfect nude, I'm only wearing for cetain occations because its a real understatement. I dont think that I need 5 of those shades, when 1-2 good shades would be sufficient. There are some other product catagies where I like variety. To me it's blushes. Though mauve, rosewood and peach are all good for daily usage, I found out that not every blush workds well with every eyeshadow... Therefore I won't size my collection down except of shades I don't need to have once again or which I own twice.

    I'm having some more experimental and darker vampy lipstick shades, but I love them all. Sometimes I'm in the mood of wearing dark burgundy, sometimes I like nearly black and sometimes I'm more into pink. I don't wear these often (once or twice a month), but I love the variety. Long time ago I only owned one darker shade of red and I really got tired of using only this one, though it fits me well. Wearing nude lipstick in the night-time is totally not my taste -.-

    Thats what my lipstick collection looks like after reordering it into functional dupes:

    1x nude
    3x rosewood
    1x brown
    5x red (classic, wine)
    3x mauve
    2x dark pink
    3x berry (magenta, berry)
    3x bordeaux (dark red)
    1x dark berry (red-black, deep violet, black)

    3x rosewood (warm, muted)
    2x rose (neutral, amplified)
    1x brown
    1x red
    2x mauve
    2x dark pink
    1x berry

    I want to size my lipstick collection down to one of each kind (exept mauve which dont fits me that well as rosewood). Concerning lipgloss, I only need a good rosewood, a plummy shade of mauve and violet. My stash makes more fun since I gave away everything which I absolutely cannot wear.

  4. I agree with the shock therapy effect of doing inventory. I struggle with being satisfied with functional dupes when it comes to lipsticks. As far as face products and even eyeshadows go I'm more than happy with have one or two of the same shade family, but with lipsticks in particular I have the hardest time with that! I feel like I have a particular and very distinct use (or maybe appetite would be a better term?) for a true nude, a rosey nude or a brownish nude - to name an example- that doesn't overlap, so even though in the last few months I decluttered about 25% of my collection, I'm still stuck with about 40 or 45 lipsticks! Which I know is a ridiculous amount and I truly struggle with it, but unless they are exact dupes or it's a color that doesn't look good on me, I can't seem to be able to part with them.
    The up side would be that I do wear most of them fairly regularly, so I know even though I have so many, there's not one shade in my collection that I don't love

  5. You did a GREAT job! I'm already downsizing quite a bit but I want to take it even a step further now.