Guide to Anti-Haul-idays: Going on a Low- or No-Buy & Avoiding Temptation

Whether you’re on a no-buy, low-buy, or are otherwise trying to limit your purchases this holiday season, this guide is for you. I find that the holiday season, particularly in beauty, can be a tough time to resist with the plethora of offerings and slew of sales.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of an anti-haul, it was (to my knowledge) made popular by Kimberly Clark (and originating with Amber’s Beauty Chair), a YouTuber, who creates videos discussing products she’s not going to buy and why (often newly-released or hyped up products).  I wanted to take the spirit of that and apply it more broadly to the holiday season, which even I find overwhelming after years of reviewing, as well as give some information on what low- and no-buys are about and some general advice on being successful with them.  You’ll also find some general reasons why to skip out on some of those holiday releases at the end 🙂

What are Your Guidelines?

If you haven’t already, outline the “rules” of your no-buy, low-buy, or what exactly you’re reducing or limiting purchases of. You’ll want to determine what you plan to allow yourself to purchase, if anything, and under what circumstances. It’s your plan, so it can be as specific or as broad as you want to be, though I recommend trying to be less broad where it makes sense to make it easier to stick with the plan. Think about the length of time you want to commit to the plan; it might be an initial commitment of six months or a year or even just a month.

If you’ve tried a no-buy or low-buy, and it did not work out, perhaps the guidelines need some work. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Replacement only: if and when a product that is well-loved and well-used is finished, it can be purchased again
  • One-in, one-out: if and when a certain product is finished, something can be purchased to replace it (could be finishing a lipgloss and getting a lipstick)
  • Fill in the Blanks: there are certain gaps in your stash, make note of them, and only if an item meets that need you have can it be purchased
  • [Product Type] only: this could be skincare or haircare, basics, and often is related to replacement-only kind of low- or no-buys
  • Set budget: determine the amount of money you’re allowed to spend per period (week, month, year), whether unused money can be rolled over, and so forth
  • Planned purchases only: either purchases you’ve mapped out well in advance of starting the low- or no-buy (e.g. “that palette releasing in December”) or if you’ve thoroughly researched a product, determined it fits within your guidelines, and so forth
  • Project Pan: purchases can’t be made until certain items, a certain number of items, etc. have been used up (panning, de-tubing, etc.)

Unless there is a dire financial situation, try to set reasonable guidelines; it is better to start off with a more moderate low-buy and succeed than go cold turkey and fail within a week.

Focus on Your Goals

There’s usually some reason why one consciously changes how and what they’re purchasing. When you created your guidelines, you may have set goals, or you may have a goal in mind that has set off the need for reducing your beauty purchases. This could range from shifting your money to something different (e.g. buying a house, paying down debt, taking a vacation) to feeling overwhelmed by what you own to curbing impulse buys to simply wanting to spend less when it comes to beauty products. Whatever your goal may be, when you’re tempted, think about the goal you’re trying to achieve, look at the progress you’ve made, and reaffirm why that goal is a priority for you.

Here are some suggestions on keeping your eye on the prize:

  • Track expenses: go back and track how much you spent prior to your new plan, and then track what you’ve spent (or not spent!) since
  • Track progress: whenever possible, tracking and being able to reflect on the progress made toward a goal is useful and can make a goal seem a lot more tangible and doable
  • Track usage: go through and inventory your collection (you can even use our vanity system!), see what you’re using (or not using), see how often you use certain things, and it can help make the driving force behind the need for a low- or no-buy clearer
  • Find support: let friends and family know about your goals and ask for support; look for online communities like /r/MakeupRehab with like-minded individuals

Change Your Thinking

To be successful at reducing purchases, especially when making significant reductions, is to think more critically about your purchasing habits and what purchases you actually make and why. We don’t want to buy things on a whim any more; we want to buy products that fit our guidelines and are, ultimately, going to be products we love and use often. Are you READY?

  • Research: Thoroughly read/watch reviews, look for swatches, learn more about the brand/formulation
  • Explain: Why do you want this product? What need will it fill? Why is it tempting? Why now?
  • Apply: How does it fit into your plan? How will it affect your progress? How does it fit into your collection? How often will you use it?
  • Dupes: Do you have similar shades or something that is functionally the same?
  • You: Will it make you happy or will it make you feel guilty? Will the happiness be from the acquisition or from actually using the product?

9 Things to Do to Help Resist Temptation

  1. Unsubscribe from as many mailing lists as you can; these brands exist to sell to you, and some brands are particularly aggressive with daily emails, talk of FOMO, etc.
  2. Make an inventory of all the products you own. It is helpful to know what you have, but it may also give you greater insight into what you have too many of (for you), products you seem to gravitate toward (and ones you can’t remember ever using).
  3. Shop your stash for dupes or layering combinations to recreate whatever shade it was that made you feel tempted. You would be surprised just how far the art of layering can go to getting you close enough to just about any shade.
    • If you’ve made your inventory using Temptalia, you can view dupes in your vanity but also dupes between what you own and what’s on your wishlist, too!
  4. Get through the clutter in your stash. I’m a big believer in destashing products you don’t like or don’t work for you; unless it’s truly necessary, sometimes recycling, trashing, or passing on to someone who would enjoy it more is far better than using it up. You paid for it already; you are not saving money by using it if you have something else you’d rather use. Do you know how long it takes to finish most color cosmetics? There’s little need to own 10 coral blushes and keep four you never use because you have six still to use! By removing the “noise” in your collection, it’ll let you appreciate and enjoy what you have more thoroughly–no wading through mediocre products, no more trying to use them just to say you did.
  5. Save it for later, whether that’s to a real or mentalwish list and revisit in a week, two weeks, etc. and see if the pull of temptation is really there or was it just a knee-jerk reaction.
  6. Try to avoid emotional shopping because you aren’t in the right headspace to do so thoughtfully. If you’re having a bad day, week, or month, try to find different ways to bring a smile to your face (watch a sappy movie, spend time with friends/family/pets, do your makeup instead, look at your progress, exercise, etc.) rather than simply buying something new and shiny. New and shiny lasts about as long as it takes to open the box.
  7. Read reviews, look for swatches, and watch tutorials of products you’re interested in. Reviews can indicate whether it’ll even be worth acquiring, while watching tutorials can show you how something can come together (or not) and often show that, “Yeah, I can create that look with what I have” rather than, “Wow, that’s different than any other look I’ve ever, ever seen!!”
  8. Accept any weaknesses and make adjustments. If it’s hard for you to physically go into a Sephora without making a purchase, avoid going to Ulta until you’ve made more progress toward your goal. Change doesn’t have to happen overnight!
  9. If a sample is available of a product, see if that helps curb the need for it; you can try it without buying it, which will give you more hands-on experience using it. This could be an actual, deluxe-sized sample or just going to a counter and swatching (but maybe leave your form of payment at home to avoid impulse buying!).

5 Reasons to Skip the Holiday Hauls

  1. You aren’t going to use everything in that set/palette.  10 lipsticks at a steal of a price, but if you’re only going to use two of them, that’s not really worth it, is it?
  2. Why are you trying something you had no interest in before?  Just because it’s a good value or it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it.  If you weren’t interested in it at full price, is it really something to be considering?
  3. Limited edition is here today, gone tomorrow but repeated forever.  After awhile, a lot of the holiday sets and palettes start looking the same, especially by certain brands.  If you can’t partake this year to meet your goals, there’s always next year, and frankly, at the rate the industry is going, spring and summer and fall are going to turn into release bonanzas anyway.
  4. The quality isn’t always the same in holiday sets as in full-sized products.  Again, even if it’s “cheaper,” is it really worth buying when the quality is lower? Why would you want a medicore or so-so product in your collection? There are so many excellent products that there’s no reason to settle for so-so!
  5. You can dupe it.  No, seriously, do you know how many dupes I pull for most products?  It’s getting to be obscene.  A 15-pan palette might result in adding 500+ dupes to the database.  And if you can’t dupe it, maybe there’s a reason why you don’t already own something like it (e.g. doesn’t work for you, not practical, etc.).  Always check our Dupe List!  You can also compare two palettes to see similar shades (or even dupes).

Forgive Yourself for Mistakes

If you purchase something that wasn’t part of your plan, don’t give up on your low- or no-buy. Be kind to yourself by thinking about what happened, what you can learn from it, whether there should be adjustments made to your guidelines/plan/goals, and how to do better in the future. You want to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again, so the focus should be on how to improve and move forward.

Have you tried a low- or no-buy? How did it go? Do you have any advice to share?