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How do you narrow down and choose what makes it from your wishlist to your shopping cart?

I ask myself these questions: What else am I looking at, how much is this, how interested are readers in seeing this reviewed, will it go on sale any time soon, do I realistically think I can review it in the next 60 days.

— Christine


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Sarah Avatar

I make sure I read reviews for the products and check dupes to make sure it’s not too similar! I also try and think about how often I will use it (like I don’t contour every day so I never felt like I needed those giant palettes that have been coming out)

Also Christine I was wondering if you were ever willing to review the Sephora collection brand rouge cream lipsticks? They are AMAZING for the price and came out with some newer colors that look interesting (one looks like a sort of blue-purple mix called Private Boudoir) I have one of these lipsticks in the color Oh Oh! and the formula is so nice, but I can never find reviews! You also got me hooked on a few of the sephora brand lip glosses, and I can appreciate how affordable the brand is compared to say urban decay.

Lulle Avatar

I keep a secret Pinterest board with my current wishlist. I try to take advantage of sales so anything that is not limited edition usually only gets picked when I can get some kind of discount (I always buy my skincare products with a minimum of 20% off. If there’s no sale or if it’s under 20%, I wait). I do almost all of my shopping online, so small, inexpensive items I often add to my orders to reach the minimum purchase to get free shipping. Otherwise, I usually prioritize products I’ve been wanting for a while – a good sign that I won’t forget about them a week after they arrive – or products that would work well at the present time of year.

Katherine T. Avatar

To narrow down the wishlist, I usually check my stash to see if I already have dupes. Or I look on Temptalia to see if there is a cheaper or better performing dupe. If the color is unique to my stash, is limited edition and likely to sell out fast, I usually buy it right away because I don’t like having makeup regrets. Other stuff that is pretty but permanent can usually wait until I catch it on sale or find something better. I guess this is why brands are always issuing LE stuff!

Ray Avatar

Checking ingredient lists narrows the list down majorly. For lipsticks and eye shadows, I ask myself if it’s a color I see myself finishing or at least having occasion to wear fairly often. I don’t like to buy things “just to try” if it’s a brand or store that doesn’t accept returns.

Nancy T Avatar

Even though I do at times make a spontaneous purchase, I usually go off what’s on my actual wishlist. But which one(s) get picked first depends on:
1.) How special or unique is it?
2.) LE? Or something permanent that can wait for a sale?
3.) Is this something I really want or need right now? Can it wait?
4.) How does my budget look for this item this month?
5.) Is it on sale or with a special promotion?

Sarah Avatar

Chain of logic!
1) Do I need it? If so, is this a good product to fulfill the need? (For example, I desperately need a new foundation and I’m looking at the Tarte Rainforest water foundation–seriously considering it)
2) Is it something I’ll get use out of? I’d love to drop $50 on the Too Faced Semi Sweet palette but I already have a good selection of colors in the same family and a great neutrals palette so…nah.
3) If it doesn’t meet the above, will it make me really and truly happy when I do my makeup in the morning? I don’t regret at all (AT ALL) buying four ColourPop lipsticks in the same order. I’d never tried them before and had no idea if I’d like the 90s colors. But today I regularly play around with them, layering the colors together just for fun, and it’s always something that reminds me why I love makeup.

(Nothing here about a budget because if I can’t afford it, I’m so not putting it on the wishlist in the first place. I’m not dealing with the heartache of clicking that little x or deleting that line. Nope.)

Anne Avatar

I prioritize LE items, and then items that fill a particular hole in my makeup collection. I also let items jump the queue if there’s a flash sale somewhere like Hautelook. I do also think about if they’ll go on sale soon (particularly if they show up on sites like Hautelook). Sometimes if an item is lower priority but something like Sephora’s $10 Black Friday deals, I’ll get it as well. I think it’s a balance between priority, limited editions, and flash sales/regular sales. Though if I get things like gift cards, I’ll likely buy an item on my wishlist that is more luxury or that I couldn’t really “justify” buying myself.

For items that can “keep” a bit in the skincare category, I may buy a backup during an semi/annual sale even if I still have plenty of the current one left, as was the case a few months back with the Kiehl’s avocado eye cream.

Rachel R. Avatar

I do as much research and read/watch as many reviews as I can before buying. Of course, this can be more difficult with LE collections. I look at what the cost is, whether can I afford it, do I love it, do I need it, will I use it, is it unique, and whether there will something launching soon that I’ll want more. If something is not LE, I’ll often just leave it alone for a few weeks. Often my lemming for an item goes away, or I decide there’s something else I want more. If I change my mind, it’s favorited for future reference. It’s a great way to avoid impulse buying.

Laura Avatar

I try to be thorough in figuring out if I already have similar colors and then how often I’ll truly use it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve started putting more emphasis on quality rather than quantity.

Sunita Avatar

Here is a perfect example. I’ve been obsessing & dreaming about BECCA ombré rouge eyeshadow palette ever since I saw it at Sephora. Obviously I’ve tested it out a few times & seen so many reviews good & not so good about it. I love the colors & the creamy texture but just made up my mind yesterday. It’s not for me. It would look great on a light skin tone. I have medium skin & the colors don’t really show up other than the darkest shade. Also I realize the shadows crumble down in the pan. I would rather use my $$$ towards a different palette. Any suggestions!!!

Sarah D. Avatar

Viseart!!! I have 6 of their eyeshadow palettes. I’m cool-toned and fair-skinned. I’m definitely NOT porcelain light. If I spend a day at the beach with sunscreen on, I will tan. Just to give you an idea of my coloring. From Viseart I have their Neutral Mattes, Bridal Satin, Dark Mattes, Sultry Muse, Paris Nude (which I definitely DON’T think is intense enough for darker skin tones, but you are your own best judge) and the Cool Mattes.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE their shadows. The formulation is excellent and unlike any I’ve used before. They’re buttery smooth, I don’t have issues with fallout and the pigmentation is amazing. The reason I don’t recommend Paris Nude and maybe one of the others I mentioned is simply based on what you said regarding your skin tone. For example, I am currently obsessed with the Urban Decay X Gwen Stefani palette. BUT I know that it’s geared towards more fair-skinned women. But believe me, you cannot go wrong with Viseart. They have such variety AND their shadows are by far the best I’ve ever used. Pricey but worth every penny. I’m loving the Dark Mattes of their’s right now the most. I hope this helps.

Stacy Avatar

After some serious disappointments over the last year, especially having been swept up by the Colourpop Tidal Wave (Love the shadows, but most of the Lippies just plain DON’T work for me), I made some big changes in my buying approach across the board. Now every purchase comes down to these fundamental questions before I pull the trigger: Am I buying this because of the hype, just because it’s “a bargain,” or because I’m confident that I’ll actually *use* it? And if I can’t answer yes to #3, I won’t spend my money on it.

That has kept me from wasting so much money on what ends up being nothing more than pretty clutter, and leaves room in my limited budget (not to mention my storage space!) for products I genuinely want most (Like the L.Q. “Jean Queen” lipstick I’d been coveting for ages, but had balked at the $25 price tag. Now it’s mine, and I wear it almost every day!).

Ginny Avatar

I usually just think, “Am I going to use this NOW?” If it’s February, and the product in question is something suited to the summer, I will hold off. Then I’ll think like, which products do I *really* want/which am I going to use more often at the moment, which have been on my wish list for longer, how much money do I want to spend right now. I try not to buy too much at once, obviously because of budgetary reasons, but also because I won’t be able to discern whether I made a smart purchase if I have five new products to try. One or two new products, I can really focus on whether or not I love the product and want to keep it.

Aj Avatar

I usually ask myself some questions like: Is it something I will use and not forget about? Is it something that I really want to try? Can this product be returned easily or will it be a hassle? Questions like these usually helps in narrowing it down when I want to make a purchase.

Kayle Avatar

I usually ask myself if it’s a color I can actually see myself using, or if it’s just a pretty color that I actually won’t end up wearing at all. Even if I can see myself using it I have to see if I have any colors really similar to it because all too often I’m attracted to products I pretty much already have!

Lacey Avatar

Depending on the type of product, the first question is usually “How many dupes do I have?” Then I move onto how often I might use the product, and if it’s in my budget or if it’s an item I can save for later. Thanks to lovely people like Chrisitne, I also factor in quality, and I sometimes compare to previews of other upcoming collections (especially big holiday releases or LE items).

Let’s just say I make very few impulse purchases with makeup these days!

Nicole Avatar

I look for the review to see if it performed well enough. If so, I consider my budget. If it meets both of those, I think about if it is something I will use. If so, I go for it. If It’s not in my current budget, I put it on my “list” and I save. I put a little aside each week for “extras” .With, LE items, I try to plan in advance whenever possible.

xamyx Avatar

I keep a handwritten list of things I want, that are permanent. After I determine how much I can spend in a given period, I go through that list. I also figure out the best deal (ie, GWP, eBay/Amazon, BOGO, etc…), or if there is an opportunity to buy in-store, some items get bumped up. I try to buy online as little as possible, so I typically wait until I have a significant amount of items I want from one site, and all are online-only. I really wanted NARS Love blush a while back, and there were a couple of eyeshadows that were lower on my list, but since I had to place an order, I figured I may as well get everything at once. Also, if I know I’ll be in a certain area, with access to certain stores, I’ll rearrange my list, and grab what I can.

xamyx Avatar

I also try to leave my NYX purchases for trips to ULTA. Between frequent sales, plus monthly coupons, and the ability to accrue/redeem points, it just makes the most sense, LOL!

Wednesday Avatar

Having patience and not letting excitement dictate the purchase. LE is still problematic as the need to act before opportunity is missed can be challenging. For permanent range: I always further consult dupes and also look at swatches on a variety of skin tones. Sometimes a reviewers skin tone will make a particular colour far more appealing than it would be against my own. I try to study enough photos to remove that bias. I love on-line retailers who provide swatches against a variety of skin tone depths.

Debbie Avatar

First and foremost are the reviews on the product. Second is the question of will it play nicely with the other products that I own, third is whether or not the value of the product match the price. In some cases the fact that a product is a limited edition will weigh in…especially with palettes.

Genevieve Avatar

Well, I am usually looking at a specific product, an eye shadow palette, when ordering online. I tend to buy my skincare products, foundations, blush, mascaras and lipsticks from the Australian versions of the drugstore (Chemist Warehouse, Priceline and chemists). I think these products you need to see for yourself if the colours suit you. Occasionally I will test a product from a department store and then see if I can get it cheaper online from a beauty retailer.

Trish Avatar

No rhyme or reason to my makeup madness. I go on gut instinct- if I feel like it’s right for me then nothing will stop me from getting it. I had to have Pat McGrath’s Phantom series but doubtful I’ll ever wear them, but that’s ok. And I enjoy trying new independent brands. I’ll admit your blog has added to my overall expenditures because I read about items then I MUST HAVE THEM….

Lynda Avatar

I’m the same exact way !! My problem is my husband. He hates it when I buy anything so I have to get yelled at before and after i buy something. It took me two days of fighting to be able to get the new Tarte rainforest collection. I think my problem is worse than yours !! If I see things on Instagram or here I stalk websites until the stuff goes on sale. Last week I was ready to get the Colour pop satin lips collection but the date got changed. So I placed a 160 order for eyeshadows, blush, and the lip liners that go with the collection coming out tomorrow. Now I just spent 200 on Tarte collection so there’s no way now I can get the lippies !!

Glenda Avatar

Money is a high motivator for me so I use the following criteria:
1. Is it on sale or can it wait (it just about always can wait because I have so many products).
2. Do I already have something like it in my working stash (the answer will be yes).
3. I also make most of my purchases online, so I wait for a deal. Can I get points or rewards for it? Is it available through Ebates. Those are highly motivating for me to wait for the right purchase price.
4. There are make-up trends that I’m not remotely interested in: contouring, high-lighting and strobing, um, no. So I will not be spending any money on those products because I don’t need them (or want them) in my world.
5. If it’s on sale, or at least 20% off… there has to be something there for me other than the product itself to make it worth my while to make this purchase.

Jenifer Avatar

I love makeup, especially makeup palettes. So a cute packaging, a well put together range of colors (eyeshadows, face products or both), or anything else that I look for I always look for swatches online and reviews of someone who I can trust (some who gives a honest review),someone that have the same line of thoughts that I do also helps too.

Judy H. Avatar

I ask myself how much do I really love it? If I put it down now, will I come back in 15 minutes and still love it as much? In a month? In 3 months? How much use will I truly get out of this product? Does the price warrant the quality or value of the product? I’ve come to be very practical about my makeup choices. I can go to a makeup counter and see 5 things that I HAVE to have and come back 30 minutes later and find that only one of them strikes me as strongly as it did on my first walk through.

Stephanie Avatar

These are the factors I consider:

1. Is it too similar to something I already own?
2. Will I use it enough to justify the purchase?
3. Can I afford it now?
4. Is it on sale or is Ulta offering 2/3/5x points for Platinum members?
5. Is it something I need/ran out of?
6. Is it LE?
7. Is the quality good, or a good value for the price?
8. Have the reviews generally been good?
9. (For foundation, concealer, and other face products) Will it emphasize pores, lines, or anything else I’d prefer not to draw attention to?

Pearl Avatar

LE: I’ll get it if it’s an HG product from an HG brand and it’s a color(s) I’d normally buy – i.e. MAC (HG brand for me) LE Tinashe palette X 9 (MAC palettes are an HG product for me usually) I already have my eye on and will most likely pounce the day of relase. Don’t even get me started on Mr. Ford’s products.

Permanent: I’ll add it to my cart and leave it and revisit and research and do this all about 3 or 4 times before I buy it – i.e. Vieseart palettes, Tom Ford quads, NARS lipsticks all in my cart then favorites then cart then favorites then cart for a few months before I buy.

Maggie Avatar

Go through my checklist:

1. Ingredients: will my sensitive combo acne-prone skin tolerate this?
2. If it is already on my wish list, I obviously am already drawn to some aspect of it and someone has raved about it. I would double-che k other reviews.
3. Does my own stash have something similar that I forgot about?
4. How is the return policy if I decide it doesn’t work?
5. Do I need it now? Or can I wait for a sale?
6. How often will I realistically use this? If not often, is it for an important special occasion? Or something that I will love every time I wear?
7. Is it worth the money?

IRockFaces Avatar

Q1: Does it fit my needs?
Q2: Can I see myself using it on a constant basis?
Q3: Is there enough value for my money?

If it doesn’t pass these three it’s a no go.

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