Thursday, October 18, 2018

How Much Skincare and Makeup Do We Really Need?

The other day I was thinking about all of the fall collections that have been launching, and the way in which so many of them aren't unique, or particularly interesting, in my estimation. There are so few that have moved me and made me want to go see them, let alone purchase them. There are a few, of course, that I am curious about, but what I am finding is that I already own so much skincare and makeup that it has to be really special, and particularly well-suited to my needs and desires to warrant a purchase.

This made me, once again, reflect upon my consumerism– which lead me to reread what I wrote on the subject back in 2012, and then reposted a few years later.

Here is what I wrote:

I am reposting this publication that I wrote in 2012 after having received a very interesting email from a longtime reader who claimed that she has made a concerted effort to avoid the trap of purchasing from limited edition collections, or anything else that ultimately doesn't suit her, and now feels empowered by the restraint that she demonstrates by making well-reasoned, rather than impetuous, purchases. This inspired me to #repost this article since it contemplates this very issue, and it certainly makes me contemplate my own spending habits as a consumer.
Barbara Kruger Untitled (I shop therefore I am) (1987)

Barbara Kruger's appropriation of RenĂ© Descartes' maxim "I think, therefore I am"(Cogito, ergo sum) is searingly funny and poignant when "I shop therefore I am" becomes a commentary about the commodification of culture. Ironically, her artwork which is the byproduct of her philosophical critique is worth a tremendous amount of money itself.

I love Kruger's work because it makes you take a long hard look at the underpinnings of what drives culture, and what motivates us to do what we do, and think what we think.

This particular work Untitled (I shop therefore I am) always makes me think about my own buying patterns as a consumer, and it makes me think about the consumer goods that I fetishize, and how so much of that is culturally conditioned. Take for instance makeup, skincare products, Tom Ford reading glasses, or Marc Jacobs wallets and purses (my personal favorites). There is no question that I could live without those things, and thankfully I don't have to. However, we are often unconsciously driven to crave things that we don't yet have, and nearly as quickly as we acquire them we lose interest in them and obsess about the "next thing." Seasonal collections support this fickle consumerism, and we buy into the construct. Madison Avenue banks on our willingness to stay on this expensive joy ride- which we willingly do!

While I long ago realized that I don't define my worth by the acquisition of the latest Collection, I likewise realize that I all too easily succumb to wanting things that I don't yet have. There is a reason, after all, that I have so many lipsticks and blushes that are variations on the same shade of pink. Subtle distinctions are made: this one has a satin finish, this one has a touch of lavender, this one has pink pearl etc. Then there are infinite ways to justify the necessity of extravagant purchases:  this is from the Chanel Summer Collection (including the much dreaded letters- LE), these were from Sephora's Friends & Family Sale, these couldn't be resisted because of double or triple points on my Barneys or Nordstrom card....  There is also the lure of the GWP- even if it isn't a particularly good gift- it can make an otherwise rational person buy unneeded things indiscriminately in order to make the minimum purchase price. I'm not talking about Barneys gift bags that are worth their weight in gold- I'm talking about the run-of-the-mill gifts that get stuffed in a drawer along with the things that you didn't need or want so that you could get the gift in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, I am hardly declaring a personal war, or even a moratorium on makeup consumption- I am just trying to be a little bit more discriminating and mindful of what I am purchasing. I have a sizable stash of makeup, and trust me there are plenty of things that I still haven't gotten around to using yet (and that's not including backups). However this motivation to "collect" is simultaneously at odds with my pragmatic nature and the overarching desire to only have what I need and use. I don't expect this contradiction to resolve itself because truth be told I am a makeup magpie and I like bringing those pretty shiny baubles back to my nest to look at and play with. However, there is a tipping point: there is a balance that must be struck- a delicate equilibrium that must strictly be adhered to- otherwise chaos will ensue.  There is a point where you simply have too much- a point where just one more Glossimer or serum takes you from Collector to Hoarder. I am still in the category of the former, rather than the latter- but the line is much finer than it actually appears the closer you get to it. At a certain point it is a distinction without difference. So beauty blogger or not, I am making a concerted effort to buy consciously rather than impulsively. Weighing, for instance, whether this eyeshadow is different enough from what I already have to be a worthwhile purchase. I do not equate this with deprivation, but instead I see this as a way to make each purchase a more meaningful one. One in which I select things that I really love, rather than things that I feel I should just buy because they are limited edition and will likely sell out quickly. That simply is not a good enough reason to buy a lipstick shade that is unflattering on you-- even if it is the it color of the season.

I still want to be in makeup nirvana I just don't want the frenzy of acquisition to infect my enjoyment of makeup or to cause me to buy things that I ultimately won't use because they weren't well-reasoned purchases in the first place. I want to be as rational about my makeup purchases as I am in all of the other aspects of my life as a consumer. After all, makeup costs money and lots of makeup costs lots of money. So while I am not imposing a ban on makeup consumption- I am going to make a real effort to not only buy what I will covet, but what I will actually use.

This is not an indictment of my own spending habits, but instead it is intended as a wake-up call. This is a simple plea to have my rational self take the wheel before I toss down my credit card- because the makeup magpie in me is impetuous and impractical, and generally likes to take charge in the face of so many shiny pretty things. It is she who is solely responsible for the size of my stash!

What are your thoughts? Do you find yourself similarly inclined to buy things that you don't really need or want? Do you have lots of things that you don't use in your stash? What solutions have you come up with? Do tell!

Copyright © 2018 www.lolassecretbeautyblog.com All Rights Reserved.

10 comments:

  1. Well said! I always loved Barbara Kruger. So smart. Until I became a beauty blogger 5 years ago, I had two lipsticks, one or two cream shadows, one mascara, a concealer, and one blush - that was it, and I used them till I used them up, probably keeping them way too long. I pretty much never buy the latest collections. And I now have way too much makeup though I try to give some of it away. I do enjoy being Platinum at Ulta and VIB at Sephora, but I often find myself buying things I don't need at the end of the year to keep up that membership status. I was thinking about that just the other day, and which one I will let lapse.

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    1. Thank you, Allison. I love Barbara Kruger too! Ah yes, how I remember those pre-blogging days when I had a sensible amount of makeup and skincare, and in some ways I really miss that time.

      Latest collections and the glut of LE launches are just too much, and it also takes the magic out of the purchase and us of those products, I find.

      ULTA and Sephora membership thresholds definitely inspire and promote overconsumption, and it is all-too-easy to succumb to simply to maintain the membership. It is so easy to tip the balance into the realm of excess!

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  2. Excellent post! I have significantly downsized my makeups in the last 2 years. Even my skincare is bare minimum. I have sold a lot of my items and donated. Every season, I also revisit my stash.

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    1. Thank you, Kath! You are so wise to have made that move. Certainly going completely cruelty-free certainly helped you eliminate lots of things! I did a big downsize a while ago, and definitely need to again. Plus, I am really trying to be very mindful about each of the purchases that I do make. I am also really trying not to get caught up in any type of product hype– which too often will result in unnecessary purchases!

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  3. Interesting article especially since I just got the 20% off coupons from Sephora and 20% off from Ulta. I have so much and am working hard on not acquiring more but I think I'm losing the battle. My next Sephora buy will be replacing some old favorites that are on the verge of being empty like Too Faced Eyeshadow Primer and a BB eyeliner. But it's easy to be swept up in the frenzy of new that's not exactly new.

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    1. It really is during those sales that force you to really evaluate your needs. Replacing old favorites that are on the verge of being empty is sensible, and never frivolous. It's those other purchases that I find more problematic– when I obsess about wanting something that I buy and never, or rarely use. It is too easy to get swept up in the frenzy of the new, and the is what I am definitely keeping an eye on in my own product buying habits.

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  4. When I first started blogging almost 9 years ago, I thought I had to buy every LE collection. As I've gotten older I don't jump at every LE collection and have made more informed purchases that are suited to me and my skin & preferences. I think consumers are getting tired of the hype of LE---I hope!

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    1. I know just what you mean, and I have had a similar experience. I definitely don't find the same pull toward all of those LE launches and collections, and am generally finding the I am less and less interested in them all of the time. I think that consumers should be tired of that marketing model, it really isn't sustainable for consumers, and it makes each purchase so much less special.

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  5. What a great post to start the conversation about over consumption in the "beauty community"! I often lament being limited by my budget and dream of all the things I would buy if I had more money to spend - then turn back to look at my already very large beauty stash and realize most people would consider that this thought borders insanity. When you always want more, where is the limit? There's also a trap that's specific to beauty bloggers and that I fall into regularly: the "I'm buying this to review on the blog" excuse. Sure, my readers would be interested to hear about this new and shiny product, but is that a good enough reason to purchase something I don't even really like?

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    1. Thanks, Lulle! I just think it's something that we don't talk about enough. I think that it is especially easy for us, as beauty bloggers, to really lose perspective. Our version of conspicuous consumption between all of the press samples and purchases easily exceeds the bounds of what seems sane– especially by normal non-blogging standards.

      I used to buy so much "for the blog" and finally realized how crazy that endeavor could become– especially when buying things that didn't necessarily suit me personally. I also used to rush out to swatch collections, or at least parts of collections, and now I have to REALLY be interested in those items to make it worth the time. I am trying to think a little more like a consumer, rather than a blogger, when I pull out my credit card. I already had so much stuff that I don't use as it is, and therefore want to be far more mindful of using what I have, and much more well-reasoned in the purchase that I do make!

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