Do you have any advice for someone going on a low- or no-buy?

I recommend creating a list of rules (or guidelines) of what you can/can’t buy and when would help, and I think having a fairly accurate inventory of what products you already have would also be a good way to start. If the low- or no-buy is in place because of a more important financial goal, try to visualize and find ways to keep that goal at the forefront.

— Christine
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

42 Comments

Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

1. Stay away from beauty blogs and Youtube Channels – my dad would religiously mute TV commercials growing up. When I went over to a friend’s house that didn’t do that, I would be taken aback at how influenced they were by the mere suggestion of the products in commercials (“Ooooh, I need that!!! That looks so cool!”). I thought he was the lamest most boring dad ever at the time, but I get it now. It’s the out of sight, out of mind principle. I know, personally, I get most of my ideas for future purchases from beauty blogs and Youtube channels, so it’s a matter of knowing yourself. I find it’s easier to not buy things, if there’s nothing I want. I also find that if something’s not a true need or serves a true purpose, I don’t want things unless I saw the idea somewhere first. That being said, many people are probably strong enough to still frequent the blogs and YT channels, I just know I’m not one of them. I would feel like I was depriving myself of all the new and wonderful products that get reviewed.

2. Ask yourself if it’s a NEED or a WANT.

3. Have a set of criteria a product must pass. I find that looking at ingredients lowers down many purchases that I’m interested in. There are a few specific yet common ingredients that are absolute no-go’s for me. If that ingredient is included, no mater how amazing a product is, I won’t get it. Other ideas: you can only have up to X amount of foundations, Y amount of lipsticks, Z amount of blushes, etc. Once you use some up, purchase again. Or, instead of quantity limits, set a monthly budget. Limit yourself to $30 a month. What you don’t use rolls over.

4. Follow the one in, one out rule. This forces you to think long and hard about whether or not a product is worth bringing into your collection, because it will come at the expense of something else.

5. Have some exceptions for staples, within limit. If you are completely out of foundation, you can get another one, within a budget that was predetermined. Same for mascara and concealer. Some products are more important to our daily routines than others. Think about what yours are. For example, I could live without bronzer, contour, and highlighter. Those are products that I wouldn’t feel I needed to have on hand to feel presentable, if I ran out. A powder foundation and concealer on the other hand, those are daily must-haves for me. I would feel naked showing up to work without them.

6. Do monthly check-ins to hold yourself accountable. Whether you do it via blog posts or on an Excel spreadsheet, keep track of where you’re at.

7. Set milestone rewards for yourself. Did you successfully complete 3 months of your low-buy/no-buy? You get an extra $15 toward your fund. Same for 6mo, 9mo and 1 year.

8. If you are thinking about buying something, at least wait 24 hours. During that time, read reviews, check ingredients, read Makeup Alley, and LOOK FOR DUPES. Is the .000278% increase in quality really worth shelling out $36 for a new powder?

9. Purchase from a company with a good return policy. That way if it doesn’t work out, you’re not stuck with the product and the bill.

10. Shop your stash. I have so many good products that I don’t frequently use because I’m a creature of habit. Put out a set of weekly or monthly products that you already own to play with. This can help to curb the desire for trying new things. If you haven’t used them in a while, it can bring that same feeling of excitement.

All excellent suggestions. You sound like a very organized person who is in charge of her life. My hat is off to you! I am especially vulnerable to the “impulse buy” and have found if I wait 2-3 days, the excitement wears off and I don’t really care about it anymore. I write down what it was and the price and by the end of the month I am astonished at how much money I saved on things I certainly don’t need, but just got caught up in the excitement of the new item. Also, looking through my stash instead of just reaching for the usual products, I have to laugh at how many things I’ve bought, tucked away, and forgot about! Ridiculous!

Great and awesome advice. Thanks so much! I’m at the point where I don’t need anything presently have various eyeshadows palettes, eyeliners, blushes, brindar, foundation and tons of lipsticks but each time I walk through a beauty isle I fall for something new. This list should be of great help to think about it. I been keeping notes to make me realize what I don’t need.
Happy New Year Everyone!

Fantastic list of suggestions. I need to do more of this everyday. If I do, maybe I wouldn’t have to go on a “no buy”. Think I’ll post this on my mirror!

Christine, I need to print out what you wrote above! Because, sadly, I don’t have the best advice to give anyone at this time. Except maybe to limit themselves to using just one credit card? Staying off online shopping sites for beauty? Have a shopping “buddy” when going into Sephora, Ulta, MAC? I just don’t know.?

My advice is to stay away from stores, blogs, e-mail/mail subscriptions, flyers, etc. that alert you to new makeup collections. You aren’t tempted by what you don’t see. Rediscover what is in your stash and connect with what caused you to make those purchases in the first place. Give yourself positive reinforcement when you indulge in what you have and in how much you’re saving.

I think it’s important to define what is and isn’t part of the no- or low-buy: hair care, skin care, fragrance, makeup, nail polish? Are repurchases of staples that you’ve run out of included?

I like the idea of starting with a thorough inventory of what you already have, and possibly coming up with a plan to shop your stash or rotate through products you already have in a planned fashion.

And linking it with a positive goal is very important, I think. Following through on a decision to NOT do something is really hard. It’s like when you go on a diet that restricts certain foods — suddenly all you want are the foods you can’t have! Maybe the goal is saving for travel, a down payment on a house, or something. If it’s paying down debt, that’s great, but finding a way to frame it positively rather than negatively will help avoid a feeling of deprivation (which can easily lead to this kind of self-talk: “I overspent before, now I have to deprive myself of my much-loved makeup because I’m a bad person who has no self-control… “, which leads to feeling depressed).

Even just framing it as a challenge along the lines of “I have $25 per month to spend on new makeup, fragrance, and nail polish — I challenge myself to get the most satisfaction possible for my $25” puts a positive spin on the project.

OR, framing it as “I’m giving myself a much-deserved vacation from the stresses of shopping, the constant comparing products and prices and worrying about whether or not I’m getting the best deal” is another way to put a positive, rather than a restrictive, spin on how you think about it.

Linking it with goals to hit pan on or use up certain products before they expire could add another positive spin. It’s hard to get a sense of accomplishment from resisting doing something, so this could add that sense of accomplishment, while learning more about what we like to buy but have trouble actually using, so that we’ll spend more wisely when there’s money available to spend again.

Knowing yourself well, and whether a low-buy or no-buy would be easier for you to do/make you happier, is important, too, I think. For some of us, having at least a small budget for shiny new things can help. But the challenges of deciding and resisting might be more energy than we want to put into the situation when there’s very little money to spend. So I would think carefully about which strategy would help me more. If I had to find ways to reduce the amount of money it takes me to re-purchase staples, by finding less expensive products that accomplish the same goals, then I couldn’t avoid researching and shopping and would want a small budget for the fun stuff, too. If I felt that the price of my staples was under control and I could re-purchase the next time there was a sale once I opened the back-up, then ignoring the world of makeup shopping altogether might be less stressful for me, although I would surely miss it. I still might want to allow myself to purchase one or two awesome new products that I heard about in spite of not paying much attention per season (spring, summer, fall, winter/holiday).

There are plenty more creative ways to keep your thinking positive, but it can take some effort, both in the beginning and if something really stunning comes out that’s super-hard to resist.

I agree with Christine. Figure out why you need to low-buy, no-buy.

1. If it’s financial, then that’s an easy one in my book. Make it a comprehensive plan about more than makeup, and stick to it with a long-term perspective. You know the old saying, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”? For me, it’s more like “no skirt or eyeshadow looks as good as no debt feels.” 🙂

For me personally, it’s overwhelm. Having too much stuff I don’t use stresses me out. I’m at that point with my makeup holdings at the moment, so after I fill a few holes of things I actually need, I have to pull the plug on adding more.

2. Enjoy and experiment with what you have. Find things you haven’t used in a while, and use them like new. You may find a hidden treasure and it can add some zing to that day’s makeup fun.

3. It’s possible to go deep into makeup and NOT have to buy everything. You can read about things here, go into Sephora and other stores, try them out, get to know what everything is about, and walk away. That way you stay connected, and most of the time realize it’s another product much like you already have. I do that quite a bit. I think it’s fun.

4. IMO, nothing supplies an ephemeral, non-lasting hit of satisfaction like makeup. It’s designed to do that at it’s fundamental premise — you, literally, wash it off every day. There is always something new today, and there will be more tomorrow, and more next week. One is satisfied for a bit, then…look over there! Something shiny! It is never ending.

5. You’re human. You’ll probably cave a time or three. Just try to keep it to a dull roar, be good to yourself, enjoy what you have, and get back on your low-buy promise.

I emphatically second the suggestion about taking an inventory, if for no other reason than to see how little product you’ve used of makeup you already own. This was the most important part to me, when I did my four-month no-buy this year. (And I’m about to start another one tomorrow.) I had palette upon palette upon palette and few shades even had a dent made in them. Same goes for blush – I have so many different blushes and they look barely used, even though I’ve had some for years.

1. Shop my stash on a regular basis.
2. Only replace what is missing…for example, I will not be buying any foundation if I have foundation in my collection.
3. Only replace staples…For instance, if I do not have any black or brown pencils left then I can buy one, because those are a staple.
4. Only one shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion to cut down on bathroom clutter.
5. Participate in a Project Pan, Project Pan that Palette, and Project Use it Up.
6. No buying online, especially shiny new thing.
7. Do a declutter every three months.

I like the idea that if you buy something, you have to part with something. Continually going through you cosmetics and removing things you don’t use or that have gone bad etc keeps your collection in check.

I am on a no buy for shampoo / conditioner, concealer, mascara, and foundation. Not allowed to buy anything in those catergories until I use things up. I mean all up. There are things I want to try but I cannot until the old stuff goes!

1. Although it’s not true for everyone and everything, sometimes wanting something is actually better than having it. You know what I mean when it comes to beauty products — looking at photos and reviews and swatches online, imagining the (amazingly always perfect) looks you could create with it. Then when you actually have it, it’s not that great, and you had more fun dreaming.

2. Do a thorough inventory of what you already have. I mean get out EVERYTHING and go through it ALL. That means what’s in your bathroom, your purse(s), your airline carry-on, that suitcase in the back of your closet, your car, the stuff in your desk drawer at work. Everything. When your products are scattered it’s impossible to tell how much you truly have. You may be shocked to discover that, hey, you already have ten red satin lipsticks.

3. Drop the “Last Supper” mentality (this goes for food and clothes and lots of other things). That means thinking if you don’t buy X, you will never ever see it again or find anything as good so you have to buy it NOW. That’s almost never true — either you will have other chances to get it or you’ll find something just as good or better.

4. Although faith is a good thing in life, be real. If you hated every single product you tried from company XYZ in the last five years, chances are their next one is not going to work for you either, despite what gushy vloggers and others may say.

(Hope I haven’t sounded too preachy! No-buys and low-buys are something I struggle with myself.)

susan you bring up such a great point with #1, many times the ‘thrill of the chase’ can be more exciting than the product itself. Something that has been big for me is telling myself that you can like something and love to look at something without purchasing it. This has been big with glitter nail polishes for me. They look so beautiful in the bottles and I love to look up swatches but I rarely wear the ones I own because I hate the removal process. In general I think you just need to be honest with yourself about your spending habits, what you actually wear, and what you want to get out of your stash

I don’t want to sound cavalier or detract in any way from of all the amazing advice that will be articulated in this particular thread, but after successfully completing low-buys for the past several years, the first thing I thought of after reading this question was a line out of The Devil Wears Prada: Gird your loins!

Because the struggle is real!!!!! And continues! Lol. Happy New Year to all of you!

Lol! Preach girl!

I’m also the type of person who gets stressed out by too much choice (ironic since my collection has reached massive porportions) so committing to shopping my own stash is imperative at this point. I expect to be relying heavily on the dupes suggestions in reviews BC more than likely I own something from there already. Also, my commitment to buying from cruelty free companies only is going to be a huge help in 2017. It just automatically eliminates so much and I’m even pondering buying from lines that don’t have a parent company who requires testing on other lines. It gives me guidelines, limits AND it’s something I can feel good about! Win win!!

Avoid bricks and mortar stores, especially if you have good relationships with SA’s there, it’s the kiss of death if you go in and start talking to someone you haven’t seen in a while, you (or I feel obliged to buy since I’m on their clock, and I don’t want them to get in trouble with management)
Take a glance a blogs rather than pouring over over them. You don’t need to know if your favourite brand has put out a stellar collection if it isn’t viable for you to buy it. Or carefully look, and decide how much you can spend, what’s the best product for you, and buy it from a no quibble returns policy retailer like Nordstrom.
This is what I did when I reduced my spending by 50% last year, and it worked well.

Easy, don’t watch you tube videos or read beauty blogs. That always gets me. I spent way to much money on beauty products this years and need to really use up my stuff. Just easier said than done.

I went on a no buy for a full year. I didn’t buy a single makeup item! I was saving for a downpayment on a house and every time I saw a makeup item I wanted I would always ask myself “would I rather have this (makeup item) or a house?” The house won every time. That single question made it very easy to pass up on the thing I was tempted to buy.

For me, I’ve finally gotten to a place where I can watch beauty youtubers/bloggers and just live vicariously through them and their newest makeup. A lot of that is figuring out that the hype for the newest NEED NEED NEED makeup is just that – hype – and the next month everyone will move on to another NEED NEED NEED product. Most of the time, the hyped product is never mentioned again. So this way I can satisfy my urge to stay on top of what’s happening in the makeup world but not feel like I have to buy everything.

The biggest help to me is unsubscribing from brand/store email lists. If I know there’s a sale, I can always find an excuse to buy something. But out of sight, out of mind.

I’m also thinking of doing a no-buy for limited edition makeup. Along with sales, this is also the biggest motivator for me to buy things. If I feel like I need to make a quick decision or I’ll never be able to get it again, then a lot of times I’ll buy it. So if I take LE products out of the equation, that should help. And the dupe lists on Temptalia should help if I start to feel regrets. 🙂

I recently decided to photograph my stash – all of my eye palettes, face palettes, blushes, etc. The original idea was to have a record for when I’m shopping as to if I already had something similar, because admittedly I had so much makeup I couldn’t remember plus I am repeatedly drawn to certain colors of lipsticks or eyeshadows and I end up with a ton of the same color. Anyway, the photography project drove home that I just have way too much, and I pretty can live the rest of my life buying only foundation and mascara and never run out of other products. I work with a lot of younger women just starting families and on limited budgets, so I asked if they would be interested in any of my palettes that I had only used once or twice. Their reaction shocked me – they were thrilled! I brought about two dozen seldom used palettes and blushes to work, and five ladies “shopped my stash”. I ended up bringing only two things back home, and everyday since the girls have come in actually wearing the items that were sitting around collecting dust for me. It’s been cool. Since doing this, I find that I have been able to reign myself in from impulse buying “wants”, and I’m using the items I “love” more. I’m not hitting Rouge level at Sephora this year, but honestly, I’m okay with that.

That is what worked for me. Your mileage may vary.

I have absolutely no advice as I am one of those that needs advice. I placed my last Sephora.com order today and my plan is to go through my stash and rediscover what I already have or what I have forgotten I have. My plan is to stay off of the blogs and retail websites for the next 30 days (small goals first). Delete emails that might encourage me before I can even read them. Lastly, I am doing this because I want to begin to spend my money on more experiences than things so I will be doing everything to stay focused on my goal.

1. Have an inventory and shop your stash
2. Deactivate email alerts from beauty retailers
3. Use one staple at a time (eg foundation, mascara, blush, highlighter etc)
4. Budget for low cost replacement of staples – find dupes for high budget items.
5. Take advantage of sales to stock up on skincare and staples.
6. Have a picture on the fridge, behind the toilet door of your goal.

1. Unsubscribe and unfollow all the makeup emails and accounts.

2. Organize what you already own really well and then you’ll never feel like you’re missing something. You will know exactly what you have and when you want a darker shade of X, you already have it.

3. Really examine if your habits have become hoarding… I’m doing that myself and I literally keep a journal. It’s like a food journal when I’m on a diet. I write down when I am depressed or frustrated instead of engaging in retail therapy.

4. Focus on a few ways that you will still allow yourself to indulge like once a month. For example, if you really want a Tom Ford palette, you should budget for it. If you really want to try high end skincare or beauty services, budget for it. But don’t waste buying things if you won’t use them.

Personally, I tend to “stock up” on less expensive makeup bc I see other people raving and it’s on sale. But these things often end up unused and unopened. For example, I bought a lot of ColourPop lipsticks bc they were only $6 each. But some of them, I tried and only thought the color was okay looking on me. Others are still unopened in a box. But they were final sales.

And related to that– purge when you know you don’t want it. Give away to friends and family, sell on Poshmark, throw away expired stuff.

5. Just find new hobbies aside from makeup. CRAZY!!! But sometimes I go through phases where I’m exercising a lot, and makeup takes a back seat. ☺

Make a budget (monthly, weekly, whatever works for you), shop your stash, prioritize, make wishlists as a way of “getting” items without getting them. Avoid beauty blogs/vlogs/etc if that is something that hooks you, likewise cancel subscriptions to magazines if they have beauty stuff. Unsubscribe from brand/store mailing lists (digital and otherwise). Avoid going in to stores “just to look” if you know that doesn’t work for you. Put a cap on how many of each type of item you can own. Invest in good organizational tools like lipstick risers so you can actually see what you have instead of buying a lipstick/eyeshadow you already have or that is a total dupe. Also don’t give up the first time you slip up. Learn from it, forgive yourself, and keep going.

Paying for everything, or at least beauty related items, in cash will make you very aware, very quickly how fast the costs add up. I’ve been doing this for most everything lately and it’s a fast way to start looking at everything more critically.

Planning very low buy policy in the first six months of this year to begin the “decluttering my life” process. Part of this is to afford lots of travel in 2018, much of it overseas. Hence looking to save, or at the very least, not to waste money. I have piles of beauty products and samples in my vanity at home.

As and after I purge the drawers of my vanity, I will note what works and what did not. If the No pile has unopened/unused stuff, I’ll see if either daughter wants them. If not, out it goes. I will keep extras of what works and is not too old.

I will make lists when I run out of something and buy only those things I absolutely need, like mascara or cleanser. Happy New Year everyone!

Shop your stash! Give yourself a challenge to use up your products, visualize a clean drawer to add new products. Use up samples, keep your eye on the goal! If you watch youtube, make a list and just keep the list in a drawer, not your purse!

1) My biggest advice is not to go on an absolute no buy for long periods of time (months or even the whole year) unless you have absolutely no choice due to finances. Even if you just get a drug-store lippie or eyeliner once every couple months, you won’t feel so deprived.

And on that note, get acquainted with drug store makeup if you aren’t already. Research and ask friends for recommendations for when you do want to buy. There are some really good products out there, and quality is getting closer and closer to that of mid-range brands.

2) I absolutely agree with the advice to take oneself off of makeup brands’ mailing lists, and avoid makeup blogs and YouTube channels. The temptation/FOMO factors are too high. Do try to find good blogs, Facebook groups, YouTube channels that deal with low/no buys, Project Pan, minimalism, or panning a certain number of products by ____ (fill in date or holiday).

3) Lock up your credit cards. Do not carry them with you. Do not keep them near your computer.

4) Just replace staples you don’t have dupes for. Replace your favorite foundation, powder, mascara, etc. Stick to one shower gel, shampoo, etc. at a time.

4) Know your stash and shop it. Rediscover old favorites, and how to use them to get a modern twist.

5) Set up a goal or system. I have a friend who makes herself get rid a product before she allows herself to bring in a new one. If she buys a new blush, she purges an old one. If she buys two new lipglosses, she must give away or throw out two old ones. This keeps her from buying too much, and helps her pay attention to expiration dates.

6) Just like with dieting, if you screw up and binge, don’t beat yourself up about it. Take back anything impulsive that you are having second thoughts about but may not love. Keep what you can’t return or really love, and enjoy it. Do better next time.

Thanks to everyone for the great advices!
I would only have one thing to add. Find yourself permanent item that you strongly want and keep it on top of your wishlist.

Does this LE item performs better? If not, let it go and continue to enjoy your stash. So far I did that for blush, bronzer, foundation and want to expend it the rest of my collection. Once I finish one of them I will allow myself to buy one of those fancy permanent item… On sale or with a giftcard!

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!