Monday, September 9, 2019

The No Buy/Low Buy Makeup Tag

A few days ago I saw a new makeup-related tag on Angelia Nyqvist's YouTube channel. Even though I'm not technically on a low buy/ no buy (since I don't have specific start and stop dates), I thought it may be interesting to answer these questions.

1. How long have you been on your low buy/ no buy?
It's been roughly three years since I started becoming more conscious of my spending habits. I remember going on different variations of a low buy/ no buy in 2016. I started the year convinced I didn't spend that much but decided to document every purchase I made. And yes, I didn't spend that much, especially compared to the YouTubers I watched, but I quickly realized how often I was buying makeup at the drugstore. I didn't buy anything other than makeup at CVS or Walgreens, so every time I went it was specifically to buy makeup that was on sale, which, spoiler alert, was basically every week. That was before I learned how sales cycles worked and before I recognized that Buy One Get One Half Off is a horrible "deal."

2. What motivated you to try a low buy/ no buy?
The Makeup Rehab subreddit was definitely the biggest factor for me. I joined it around the time it originated, and back then it felt like a small community who were around the same stage in their makeup journey. Barely anyone had already done a yearlong no buy. Instead, we were all learning together.

3. Are there any YouTubers who motivated/ inspired you on your low buy/no buy journey?
When I was in the midst of changing my habits Jacquelyn Lovene was definitely one of my biggest motivators. She was one of the first YouTubers I watched who purposefully decluttered to a smaller collection. Other panners I watched would talk about how they felt overwhelmed by the amount of makeup they owned, but then they would continually buy new makeup while barely making a dent in the items they already possessed. Jacquelyn helped me feel okay about not having multiples in different categories, that it was fine to have a few favorites and call it a day.

4. What is a positive aspect that you’ve experienced in your low buy/ no buy?
I've definitely become more comfortable with the products I own. I don't feel the need anymore to constantly seek out new or "better" products. I mean, do I think their might be a better eyeliner out there than my trusty Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil? Sure, I'm not discounting that notion. But I also know that I don't want to spend that energy researching new products when I'm content with what I'm already using.

5. What is a negative aspect that you’ve experienced in your low buy/ no buy?
I still enjoy makeup, but it doesn't have as big of a wow factor for me as it once did. Maybe it's just because I'm no longer a newbie where every release is exciting. Also, I know I'm not going to be buying certain categories anytime soon, so I stopped seeking out information on those things. Sometimes it's disappointing not being able to discuss opinions on products or being able to compare products I do own to releases that others may be able to relate to.

6. Do you think a low buy/no buy is beneficial for everyone? Why or why not?
Yes, but I think they need to be in the right mindset for it to actually be beneficial. I've seen some people who say they're on a month-long no buy until the next Sephora sale but then end up spending hundreds of dollars at the sale. I think when people use no buys to prolong a purchase it's not as meaningful as others who say "I like this, but I don't need it. Let me use something I already own instead."

7. What is some advice that you have to people starting a low buy/ no buy?
If you're just starting I think it can be really beneficial not to completely avoid the makeup aisle. I know that feels counter-intuitive, but I really feel like it's important to recognize that you have control over your spending habits. You can like something and appreciate something without owning it. It's okay to go into Sephora and swatch items that catch your interest. If you have to leave your wallet elsewhere while you do so, just to ensure you don't come home with new items, so be it. But you have to realize that you're the one who can change the cycle.

8. What have you learned from this experience?
I've learned that it's okay to have a small collection, that I don't need to keep up with the size I see all around social media. I get more enjoyment from specifically choosing the products that work for me than I do from owning things others told me I should like. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Obsession With Palettes

I don't understand the obsession with pre-made palettes. They are constantly released, and so many people seem to jump on them each time. If a YouTuber isn't buying it, they're probably doing an antihaul on why they're not. Often the reason for not buying a palette is because it is too similar to ones they already own, which I feel like just reinforces my idea that there are too many palettes released throughout the year. 

It reminds me of when I first became interested in Mac and there were constant "limited edition" releases month after month. However, now it's on a multi-brand level. So even the brands that rarely seem to release palettes are grouped into the same category as brands like Too Faced, which constantly puts out gimmicky palettes that are easily talked about throughout YouTube. By the time Urban Decay came out with Naked Heat (and especially Petite Heat) it was considered too late by many YouTubers who had already acquired multiple warm-toned/orange palettes. 

It seems like a rite of passage sometimes to own so many palettes, like your rank in the beauty community is determined by how many you own. I find it interesting too to look at makeup flatlays and be able to tell fairly quickly when someone started buying makeup based on which popular eyeshadow palettes they own. 

Over the past two years there has been a shift to talking about a palette's "color story." Nowadays it seems to matter more that the colors in a palette are unique and appear harmoniously together in their pans. Swatches neatly grouped together are sometimes more important than how likely someone is to actually wear those colors. I can appreciate a piece of art with blue and green, but I know I'm not going to wear that. Similarly, while the monochromatic 9-pan Colourpop palettes are quite appealing to look at, I know that I don't need 9 similar shadows. 

I also feel like prettiness is more important than function sometimes. I remember reading posts on Reddit about how someone bought a new palette and was so afraid to use it (or even swatch it) because they didn't want to ruin its pristine appearance. The first thing I did when I received my Sydney Grace shadows a few weeks back was to swatch them and start pairing them with other singles I already had. 

My custom palette does not have a color story; it's just colors I like that pair well together. There are browns, creams, yellows, mauves, and more. The silver looks out of place, but it actually works quite well with many of the shades in there. It seems like a jumbled mess and probably is, but that's fine with me. I feel like some people expect too much out of pre-made palettes. They want so much variety and uniqueness from a palette while still expecting it to fulfill their every want. But then they get mad at palettes for containing boring colors or yet another cream shade. 

I think people forget that single shadows exist sometimes. Maybe they're too afraid of creating their own palette because they expect it to be this beautiful work of art from the get-go. They want everything to look harmonious when it really doesn't need to be. I would love to see a shift happen back to single shadows. But if that happens, I really don't want it to be like receiving deconstructed palettes. I want to see people choose the one or two shadows that speak to them most, not the whole collection. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Makeup Packing for a Quick Weekend Trip

This weekend we went on a roadtrip to visit my husband's family six hours away (though it was more like seven with all the stops). We left Saturday morning and returned Sunday night, so it really was a quick trip. As I haven't been wearing makeup that much lately, I probably wouldn't have packed a makeup bag normally. However, we were having family pictures taken since everyone was finally going to be in town at the same time for once.

I'm generally a minimalist when it comes to packing makeup, even before I stopped wearing it consistently. For example, I remember when my husband and I went to Miami a few years ago for half a week I only brought a face primer, a small face trio that doubled as eyeshadow, two eye liners, and two lipsticks. Now my "necessities" have shifted away from the eyes and more onto the face though. I know it may not seem that way considering I didn't pack an eyeshadow palette before, but that combination of the face palette and the eye liners gave me just enough possible creativity to not feel stifled during that trip.

Now though I'm more likely to even out my complexion than to play around with eyeshadow if I'm just throwing on some makeup before I head out. My current complexion routine consists of applying a combination of the Urban Decay Optical Illusion Primer and the Becca Backlight Priming Filter with the Urban Decay Optical Illusion Brush and setting it with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light using a mini Elf brush I got in some set a few years ago. Those five items right there already took up the majority of my makeup bag, so there wasn't much real estate left.

I would have loved bringing my new Sydney Grace shadows or some Mac shadows. I thought that a simple mauve eye would look good for the pictures. But my only options for transporting my single shadows currently is my large Z-Palette or my 12-pan Mac palette. Neither would fit into my makeup bag, and I didn't want to pack something that large separately if I was barely going to use it. (A weeklong trip would be different, but not for a quick weekend one. I should probably purchase an empty 4-pan palette next time I'm at a Mac store.) In fact, the only palette that could fit in my makeup bag at that point was Petite Heat, and considering my love for that palette I was fine with that.

Add in the Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita and three eyeshadow brushes, and that was all I packed for this short trip. So my total comes to five products and five brushes. Our next trip is in November and will be a week long. I'm curious to see what changes and what stays the same.

Monday, August 19, 2019

"New Makeup Releases" Videos

I've been inadvertently developing a habit lately of listening to "new makeup releases" videos to fall asleep. At first I would just turn on something from my Watch Later playlist, but after a while I realized I was still trying to pay attention to the content instead of going to sleep. (Now, I know the best answer to this dilemma would be to listen to something like white noise instead of speech, but that's not relaxing to me right now.) With the makeup releases videos though, I rarely am interested in the content, but I'm familiar enough with the YouTuber's voice to tune it out. It reminds me of when I was in high school and used to fall asleep listening to Aladdin or Hercules.

Part of me feels weird using these videos to fall asleep though. Makeup isn't nearly as big of a hobby of mine as it was a few years ago, but I feel like I'm still trying to cling on to that last bit. I still read Reddit, and I still watch YouTube videos, though the type of content I've been watching has changed drastically over the last few years. I remember a time when I was so excited to watch a video discussing new releases. But now? It seems like barely anything interests me. Maybe it's because I tend to like safe and boring makeup, and that's rarely the type that's discussed on the channels I watch. (I'm okay with that though, because I know I don't need constant encouragement to go buy things. I watch much more for the people than I do for the product reviews.)

But as someone who participates in the beauty community, how do you stay involved when it feels like the majority of people just want to talk about what's new? I feel like so many YouTubers fall into this trap of rushing to get new products to review to grow their channel. Even Hannah Louise Poston, who built her channel last year on not buying things, has shifted in reviewing products that are both new and new-to-her. It's almost like you can't be fully accepted into the community unless you have opinions on what everyone else is talking about.

I've never tried Colourpop, or Modern Renaissance, or Morphe, or Shape Tape, or so many others that have appeared to be must-have products according to beauty YouTube. And, you know what? I don't have any interest in trying them. I think sometimes people in the community get so caught up in what others are buying or what others want to see reviewed that they lose part of the fun of makeup in the process.

I would so much rather watch someone talk about the two things they bought during the Sephora sale than the twelve that are the most popular on YouTube at the moment. I want to hear someone talk about the stuff they use everyday because they love it that much, not just the stuff that they were sent to review.  To me, a monthly favorites video should be three items, not ten. So many products are being released now that's it hard to keep up. So why do so many people keep trying?

Monday, August 12, 2019

One Little Spark of Inspiration

I haven't worn much makeup in the last few weeks. It seems odd to say that, considering I've managed to still post consistently. But looking back on my last few blog posts, there has definitely been a theme of discouragement.

It's been hard to find the time to put on makeup lately. I used to do it in the morning, sitting on the floor with my toddler. I love how excited she gets when I bring out my makeup bin, but she's reached the stage now where she knows how to open and destroy things quickly. It used to be our special bonding time, but after having a few items ruined, I've been more cautious with doing my makeup in front of her.

That said, I received my Sydney Grace shadows in the mail late last week and have thoroughly been enjoying them. It's almost like they've reignited my interest in makeup. I'm not sure how much of it is getting something new in general and how much is getting something I've been wanting for quite a while. I'd like to think it's more of the latter, but it's also been a few months since I've bought a makeup item.

I bought four shadows: Haystack, Geese A Laying, French Hens, and Embrace. These colors are basically the ones I fell in love with thanks to ABH Subculture. I have been waiting to find the perfect yellow for me, and both Haystack and Geese a Laying have answered that challenge. French Hens is reminiscent of Subculture's Roxy, a shade I never thought I would like but quickly became one of my favorites when I was exploring Subculture as a palette two years ago. Embrace doesn't have a Subculture equivalent, but it works splendidly well with the rest of my single shadows.

So far, I've only paired the shadows with Petite Heat, but it's so interesting how both the yellows (Haystack and Geese a Laying) and the pinks (French Hens and Embrace) are complemented so well by that palette. I'm looking forward to exploring them more and pairing them with my Mac and Urban Decay singles.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Struggling to Use a Coupon

About a week ago I was emailed a $5 off $10 coupon that was valid for anything Ulta sold. It had been ages since I had received an offer from Ulta, as I never get the 20% off prestige coupon that is supposedly so frequent. (Seriously, the last time I think I got one was spring 2017.) When I got the email my mind immediately went to the Nudestix eye pencils that have been lingering back there for a few months now. I was so excited to finally get one.

I was finally able to drive out to Ulta on the last day the coupon was valid, and I happily made my way over to the Nudestix display. But when I got there it was like my mood suddenly shifted. I swatched a couple of eye pencils that I had been interested in, hoping one would jump out at me as the one to buy. Instead, all I could think about was how I didn't really want one. At least, not for just $5 off. $21 was still a lot of money to spend on something that felt lackluster in the moment.

It feels strange to reflect on it now, but if I had used that coupon on a Nudestix eye pencil like I had originally planned it would've been almost like using a 20% off coupon on it (just a 20¢ difference). For some reason though knowing it was a solid amount of money off instead of a percentage made me more cautious in how I spent it. I think if it had been a trio of eye pencils like the one that had initially drawn me to the brand those few months ago I would have purchased it that day.

I wandered around Ulta for a bit, trying to find something a bit more practical. I had been wanting the OPI Matte Top Coat, but I always seem to miss when it's on sale. "Perfect," I thought. "This has got to be more than $10." And yes, I was right, but the $10.50 top coat was also sold out. Figures.

I walked around some more, enjoying my me-time but also wanting it to end. I saw some banana-scented Body Shop products, including the shampoo and conditioner I had so badly wanted to try three or four years ago. It amused me to finally see it in person after all this time. Back then, I never bought it because I didn't want to make an online order from Body Shop's website. Now that it was here in front of me though I still couldn't purchase it. Before I would've jumped at the opportunity, even without a coupon. I would say that's when I realized how far I've come in my makeup journey thanks to the shift in the online makeup communities I frequent.

Rarely now do I feel the urge to shop just because I have a coupon. I'm not sure what sparked that urge with this Ulta coupon. Maybe it's because $5 off $10 seems like such a good deal, until you start realizing that what you actually want is likely much more than $10. I probably would have been quite content with the matte top coat, but I'm also satisfied with what I ended up buying.

Truthfully, I was so close to walking out empty-handed. I didn't want to buy something just to buy something. Then I saw it. It was like a spotlight was directing me straight to its awkward spot near the bottom of the gondola. At $6 ($11 sans coupon) it felt like the perfect price, and it was something I really did actually need. So that's the story of how I went into Ulta to buy a frivolous makeup item and ended up with a new pair of fingernail and toenail clippers. Practical, right?

Monday, July 29, 2019

National Lipstick Day: A Reflection

Today was National Lipstick Day. When I first started seeing articles and social media posts about it this weekend I did not care one bit. There are no lipsticks I seriously want right now, and I feel comfortable with the variety of lipsticks I do own. But after the tenth time of being reminded of this bogus holiday I felt a sudden urge to search out a new lipstick or two.

When I learned (thanks to a Facebook ad) that Target was having 25% off lipsticks, my memory cycled back to a YouTube video where Hannah from Smokey Glow mentioned liking a certain Milani lipstick. I remember looking up that lipstick after watching the video and really liking one of the colors. I don't remember though if the one I liked was the same one she did or a different one. Either way, it didn't stick in my mind well enough to be that memorable, and I wasn't about to go back through the last month or two of her videos to rediscover which one it was.

I don't even remember how I find out that Ulta had certain lipsticks buy one get one free, but somehow I found myself scrolling through the options, searching for two lipsticks that I maybe possibly wanted. Honestly, if I didn't have a toddler I probably would have just driven to Ulta today and swatched around until I found two I liked. In the five minutes I had spent scrolling on Ulta's site I had already convinced myself that I needed to repurchase a Lorac Pro Matte Lip Color in Mauve, even though I had replaced its role in my collection with Stila Papillon.

Once I saw these two stores had decent sales I wanted to explore what other options were out there for purchasing lipstick today. But here's the thing: until today I had little to no desire to purchase a lipstick any time soon. Why was I seeking out these deals when I didn't care about the products? It's the complete opposite of the Sydney Grace sale, where I found what I wanted, waited patiently for a sale, and then whittled down my wishlist even further before purchasing something. (Side note: I'm so glad that I waited until the mystery final day to get 25% off; it's exactly the kind of sale I was hoping for.)

And you know what frustrates me the most about this day? I didn't even wear lipstick today and have probably only worn it six or so times in the last month or two. Lipstick has not been my mind at all lately - until the internet told me it should be.