Curate a Makeup Collection You Love with More Mindfulness (2022 Guide)

If you find yourself prone to purchasing on impulse or often feel like you purchase products that are well-reviewed, popular, or buzzed about but don’t actually find you love them like you feel you should, this list of tips might help you figure out how to better understand your own preferences and needs and purchasing behavior.

Step 1: Create a Makeup Inventory

Before you even think about purchasing another product, STOP! Let’s work through what you’ve purchased in the past, how that’s worked out (or not worked out), and what the takeaways might be from past purchases.  By figuring out where you’ve gone right and where you’ve gone wrong, you’ll know what areas have room for improvement.

It’s a good idea to have a good recollection of what products you have as this will ensure that you’re using the products you have regularly.  If you get to the point where it’s hard to remember it all, you might want to consider a more formal inventory process, like a spreadsheet, bullet journal, or use Temptalia’s Vanity.  The upside to any digital version is that you can easily find or sort by various parameters (like finding out what eyeshadows you have or what MAC products you have).

If you’ve purchased products and returned or otherwise removed them from your stash and you can remember them, consider keeping an additional tab on a spreadsheet or use our Archive functionality in the Vanity (for products you have tried but no longer have).  Knowing what didn’t work can be just as useful in building up self-knowledge as knowing what has worked well!

If you’ve destashed a dozen liquid lipsticks and kept one, maybe liquid lipsticks aren’t really your thing so you can mentally note to temper excitement in the future if you see a color that catches your eye but comes in a liquid lipstick formula.

If you’re setting up your own spreadsheet or journal, here are some characteristics you might want to include:

  • Brand + Shade
  • Type of Formula (e.g. Lipstick)
    • If a type has enough variety in formulas, you may want to include additional information like loose vs. pressed or liquid vs. cream.
  • Color
    • Depending on how many products you have and how you think about color (or how you decide what to use), additional parameters like undertone and finish may be useful.
  • Price
    • You might put the price you paid if you want to keep track of spending or the retail price at the time you purchased.
  • Photos/Swatches
    • If you’re feeling particularly industrious, you could include your own photos/swatches of the products you own!

Step 2: How to Declutter Your Makeup Collection

It’s entirely possible that you’ve already done so or have managed to make fantastic purchases and have nothing you want to part with, and if that’s the case, congratulations, and you can skip ahead!  For those who have felt like they’ve just accumulated a little too much or haven’t been as discerning as they’d like, now that you know what you have, it’s a good time to work through what you have with a more mindful eye.

Let me introduce you to: makeup decluttering or makeup destashing.  What is decluttering? It’s removing products that you no longer use from your makeup collection — clutter.  They’re products taking up space, that might create noise and make other products harder to find/see, and are no longer, rarely, or begrudgingly used.

I’ve touched on some of my recommendations and advice on fine-tuning the products you own previously when I wrote about how to organize your makeup collection, so you may find some of the tips below familiar.

If and when the amount of makeup you own starts to give you negative feelings or reactions, that’s when it’s time to reassess what you have, why, and whether it’s time to let it go.  If you love everything you have, and there’s no outside reason to downsize, there’s nothing wrong with having more products.  It’s not a competition of who has the most or who can get by with the least.

It’s about getting to a size that you find manageable, whatever that means for you; it doesn’t have to be manageable for someone else, just you.

First, these are the five questions I think are important to ask about products I’m trying to decide whether to keep or declutter…

  1. Does this product work well for how I want to use it?
  2. When was the last time I used this?
  3. Did I like it last time I used it?
  4. Do I have other products that are similar to it (whether in color or function) that I use more often and/or prefer to it?
  5. Do I see myself using it again?

What are the obvious things to declutter?

The easiest products to let go are the ones that are expired, whether you follow strict use-by dates (on most labels) or if you go by smell/texture/performance tests.  If there are particular products that are sentimental to you (and that’s why you’ve been keeping them long past the expiration date!), go through your memories and evaluate if keeping the product adds to that memory or if you really hold the memory in yourself already.

Consider separating these types of products out and finding a way to display and honor them, if they are so sentimental, instead of keeping them in a box or drawer that you forget about.

The products that worked terribly for you should be the next easiest to say ta-ta to. These are the ones that you’ve tried, hated, and shoved in the back of the drawer and never reached for again.  These are products that you feel look bad on you (wrong color, one star!), wore poorly, were difficult to work with, etc.

If there are products that did not work for you and you cannot let go, then set them aside and make a point to use them again, then reassess if it’s really adding usability and/or joy to what you have.

What else should you declutter?

Based on what I’ve seen readers and others in the community speak about, and what I’ve personally experienced as I’ve become more and more discerning about what I keep myself, these are the types of products that can make you waffle a little…

Expensive flops.  The money’s spent.  Keeping a product you don’t like and don’t use just takes up space and doesn’t pay you rent. You aren’t getting your money back by keeping it.

So-so products.  If it’s so-so but you don’t use it, it’s likely because you don’t like it much on yourself, you rarely have reason to use it (e.g. maybe it’s the type of color you only like for special occasions, which leads me to my next point…), or have a better-performing product that is comparable in purpose (color, finish, function).

Unicorns.  These are going to be products that you just have the one of, maybe for you it’s a super, glittery highlighter.  The question is whether you use it, enjoy it, and does serve a purpose in your collection. There might be a reason why you only have one, and it might be because you don’t really enjoy that type of product but felt compelled to give a chance for a myriad of potential of reasons.

But limited edition.  Use it or lose it. What good is that gorgeous limited edition that you love every time you wear it but only allow yourself to wear very occasionally for fear of running out of it? How many products you do you actually finish? What is the real likelihood that you’ll finish? Just how amazing and unique and utterly special is this one limited edition item that even if you used it regularly and finished it that you’d be destroyed because it was no more? There’s always something new and shiny right around the corner in beauty, and our tastes and preferences change over time – you might be sick of that shade after using it ’til the bitter end!

What if I have trouble decluttering?

There are some common excuses I’ve come across for why a product that seems like it doesn’t have a good purpose for someone is otherwise kept (and rarely or never used), which I’ve summarized and countered below.  I do, however, want to make it clear that curating your makeup collection is about making you happier, not more miserable.  If you find yourself struggling, that’s okay; everyone’s journey is different and certain parts may be harder for some than others.  Maybe for you success is destashing one product–just make sure you’re putting in a conscious effort to make your collection work better for you.

For those where the mental block goes beyond just feeling like you wasted money but goes deeper and is more rooted in a fear of no longer being in the position of being able to afford products, consider decluttering as a way to remove the noise from what you have today but store the decluttered products in a safe place until you are able to move past that fear (to whatever degree you may be able to).

Decluttering is not about minimalism or capsule collections or aspiring to a specific aesthetic or size of a collection.  Anyone who takes what they have and adopts a minimalist lifestyle by the acquisition of more things is doing so from a place of privilege.  Adopting more mindful purchasing habits, being more aware of how and what we use in our collections, and having the willingness to accept that sometimes products don’t work for us or we shouldn’t have purchased something (so we can let go of it) are the goals.

“I already spent money on this, so I should have to use it because I wasted money on it!” If you have additional products that you could be using, there’s no reason to punish yourself for past mistakes. This is supposed to be a fun, creative outlet.  You want to learn from mistakes you’ve made in the past to make better decisions in the future; that’s what you should be taking away from bad purchases.

“What if I need this product-I’ve-used-once-and-doesn’t-fit-my-preferences-at -all someday?”  That excuse can work a few times, but it can’t be the excuse used for every single item you have and never use.  Is this someday a real, feasible event? Maybe you don’t love neutrals but are about to graduate school and will be entering a career that often requires neutrals you can grab at this excuse, but if you think teal eyeshadow looks awful on you, want to remove it every time you wear it, then what is this someday you’re looking for?  You want to realistic about potential changes, especially when it comes to personal preferences.

“I’ll regret it if I get rid of it!” Take everything you’re willing to part with but are afraid you’ll regret parting with and put it into a box.  Take that box and put it somewhere you rarely see, like the back of a closet or under a bed.  Leave it for at least a few weeks, and then think about whether you actually missed any of the products you put in it.

“The packaging is so pretty!”  If you find the design/packaging/presentation attractive, then it’s not makeup, it’s art. You bought 3D art, and art is meant to be enjoyed, e.g. be on display, not tucked in a drawer or bin or wherever so you better find a place to display it!

Step 3: Questions to Ask Before You Purchase

When adjusting purchasing habits, one of the keys is to be more diligent about the process before the purchase.  This is the time spent deliberating over the purchase, which may be subject to a number of questions, checklists, steps, and processes based on your individual needs and what works for you.  Here are some actions I like to take when making purchasing decisions, both big and small, that can be applied to beauty purchases but also purchasing in general:

Is it within my budget for beauty (or “fun” money) for the time period?

Creating a budget is an excellent tool to see where your money goes each month, as this helps see if you’re over-spending in a particular area while providing a better idea of cash inflows and outflows.  If you have the ability to do so, you can set a spending amount for a time period for a category, like $X per month allowed on makeup.   If you find it harder to reduce spending, you may find stricter rules and specific limits to be more useful than more arbitrary ones.

How would this purchase impact my financial goals?

I always find having a financial goal in mind helps to curb excess and unnecessary spending because I have a bigger picture in mind.  This might be something like taking a great vacation, paying off student loans, contributing to retirement, buying property, or any number of worthy goals.

I like having both short-term and long-term financial goals setup so that I have more immediate satisfaction of contributing to a short-term goal while also working towards a long-term goal.  For example, I try to contribute as much as I can to pre-tax retirement each year for my long-term goal of being able to retire early (which is really the goal of working because I want to, not because I have to).

How will I use this product? Where does it fit into my collection?

If you’re adding a product to what you already own, then ideally, it should be adding something of value. It should serve a purpose and be a product you expect to use and enjoy.  A lot of what I ask myself here are the same questions I ask about whether I should keep or destash a product: will I use it, how often will I use it, do I have anything similar to it (do I really think this is going to be better? why?), etc.

Have I done my research on it?

If you can find reviews, swatches, or even try it in person, you should be attempting to do so!  You might have to set aside some time to be more proactive finding reviewers that you trust and align with, or to filter and skim through dozens of consumer reviews on various retailer websites.  If it’s a brand new product, you’ll want to consider your history with the brand and their products, whether you’re comfortable purchasing blindly or if you’d really rather wait for some reviews.

Step 4: Track New Purchases Critically

If you thought the process stopped there, you’d be so wrong — that’s how products we don’t love and use accumulate!  Once you’ve decided to purchase something, the next step is to try it and see how it works for you.  This will allow you to see exactly how it will or will not work for your needs and within your collection of products.

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a region that allows returns or exchanges, returning a product that does not work for you, that was hopefully purchased mindfully (not everything works out!), in a timely manner is a good way to avoid accumulating products that do not work for you.  The ability to try and return is a nice-to-have, but it isn’t an excuse to buy products willy-nilly because you can return (as in beauty, most returned products are destroyed/thrown away/disposed of, not resold), which results in unnecessary waste.

If you keep the product, make sure you have a place to put it, as an organized stash leads the way to a more well-loved and well-used collection of products. If you’re keeping track of what you own, add it to your inventory. And enjoy!


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Daphne Avatar

Thank you Christine for the helpful tips – all great questions to ask oneself.. Time to destash : ) It’s going to feel really good I know it…

Seraphine Avatar

Thanks, I’ll try. I know FOMO is a big thing, but I have a problem with “FORO” (Fear Of Running Out). I have beloved makeup that I save for very special occasions, which means most of the time the just sit there gathering dust.

An example is Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lipstick in the shade Boudoir. I absolutely adore how this shade looks on me, but I save it to wear once a year to a special black tie event. Kinda stupid, right? (Especially since I bought dupes of this shade for everyday use. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that…)

Christine Avatar

Try to think back to these products you’ve purchased and then not used… and how many products you’ve finished in general… and how many times you can wear a lipstick before it even gets close to finishing… and is it really irreplaceable? Like why not enjoy it EVERY FREAKING DAY! until it’s gone rather than what, five times? in five years? You have SOOOO many more uses in that tube than once a year!

Seraphine Avatar

LOL…yes, I’m an idiot! I need a little lipstick-shaming once in awhile. Thanks, Christine!

I need to come up with a plan of action on how to actually USE all the shades I love. The only lipstick I own that is truly a once-in-a-blue-moon shade is Colourpop Getty, because teal is just not an office-friendly lip color!

Christine Avatar

🙂 I just hate to see something not get used for fear of running out! It makes sense that there are certain products that you enjoy that aren’t products you’d wear all the time, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that – obviously you wouldn’t want to have say, 25 shades of teal lipstick if you only find the right occasions to wear teal a few times a year!

Nikola Avatar

You might try to use that lipstick in different ways so that it gets more use- for example I love dabbing on brighter lipsticks with my finger overtop of lip balm for a sheer flush of color. You could try mixing it with a nude shade to create a new shade of pink, or top it with a shimmery gloss to give it a different finish. I’ve fallen in love with rarely-used products this way before and it’s also fun to experiment 🙂

Marilyn Avatar

This is perfect! I’m getting ready to destash and these are helpful questions. My plan is to destash then re-organize so I don’t have excess space for stuff I should get rid of!

What are your thoughts on the general time lengths for products? I’ll keep a lipstick for 4-5 years as long as it still looks and smells good but I’m not sure if I should get rid of these for sanitary reasons?

Christine Avatar

If it’s a product I’ve used many times, like you can tell the lipstick is wearing down, then I’d probably pitch it after a few years. If it was just once? then I might be inclined to let it roll a bit longer but personally, I’m not that comfortable wearing anything that’s too far beyond four years. Like if I can’t really remember when it came out, then I’m only keeping it for color but wouldn’t put it on my lips. For cream/liquid eye products, I usually stop using old ones after two years, but again, anything I’ve used several times I’d want to finish or get rid of sooner.

Nancy T Avatar

Because I *literally* need this entire article hanging on the wall directly over my out-of-control stash, I am going to have my therapist print this out for me to have it both here…and a copy with her. I do realize, as painful as it is, that I am a bit of a hoarder. Not like what one sees on those intervention shows where ones entire living space is taken up with crap. But the much more quiet variety. Just makeup, clothing. Yeah, but still. Time to get some level of control over this. Too many things can begin to feel burdensome and lead to a loss of enjoyment towards them, I’m recently finding. I fell down the rabbit hole, and now it’s time to climb up and out by getting to the bottom of what drove it.

thirteenthirteen Avatar

Thank you for writing this up – the timing is really fortuitous for me. I am on a strict makeup budget that is all used up for 2018, and will roll over on January 1. Knowing that the budget resets in a few weeks has me excited for new purchases that have been impossible for months. I know I can’t get everything on my wishlist and I have to be thoughtful with my purchasing but I find myself longing for January so I can acquire more STUFF again. I feel like you’ve just talked me down, ha!

Ginny Avatar

I have decluttered a lot in my day and I will say that I’ve never *seriously* regretted anything. The other day a lipstick crossed my mind but oops, I decluttered that over the summer. Oh well, I obviously did so for a reason. I will discover new lipsticks.

Before I buy something I always envision two, four, six months from now. Will I still be excited by this product then? Or will I already be thinking about decluttering it and eyeing something else?

I live in the US where I can return most things. So once I buy something I use it as many times as needed to determine whether it was “worth it” and if I’ll use it “forever.” Don’t use it once and say “pretty!” And then stash it away. I use it every day for a week or more and sometimes the mystique of it has worn off by then and I realize it was a foolish purchase. I don’t buy products with the intent to return but I will get my money back if it’s not love.

Great post Christine and good follow up to the previous think piece!

Christine Avatar

Same, Ginny! I feel like I’ll have a fleeting thought about “what if,” but I find reality hasn’t shown that to be a truly valid concern! Like you, I’ve also come to accept that if I run out of something or get rid of something I want again (but is limited/discontinued), there are tons of new products out if that time ever comes.

Kira Avatar

Christine, wow, I absolutely love this! Reading this made me want to be more aggressive about some of the expensive items that were trendy when I bought them but now I “begrudgingly use” or glare at in my kit (highlighters and contour colors).

I have been trying to downsize too, and it’s really helped me by picturing why. I plan on moving in with my minimalist boyfriend and I really want to try to not take more than 50% of shared space. With my recent clean beauty purchases (ILIA – Prima, fantastic), a skincare routine that works, I certainly don’t feel like I really *need* anything new. After tossing some depotted eyeshadows that always left me with fallout, and organizing the rest of my shadows and blushes by color in my Z-palettes, I realized I have so many fun options for eyes and lips. My goal for 2019 is to hit pan on more eyeshadows and blushes!

I also can’t believe I missed your earlier November 29, 2018 article on the pace of the beauty industry. I will read that one in depth — some commenters have really interesting stories about how beauty has affected their lives.

LeToya Avatar

This is a great post! I have already started this process and do a small declutter each month! I am down to my favorite makeup items that I actually use. My lipsticks were the hardest!! but it felt good to get rid of makeup that I didn’t use and to actually get to use the things that I loved. It makes doing my makeup a JOY and helps me to use things up as well as be smarter with my purchases. I did splurge on new lipsticks during the Coloured Raine black friday sale BUT they are all colors that I will wear. No crazy blues or purples or pinks (they don’t flatter me) and I KEPT buying them. I went from an overflowing dresser and closet full of makeup to TWO drawers in a 3 draw organizer. I am so proud of myself!

Elizabeth Avatar

Thanks for this Christine – my excuse that always keeps me from throwing away makeup is “I don’t know how to safely dispose of the makeup/recycle the packaging.” I feel like tossing a not-fully used makeup product is bad for the environment. Yet… I’m cluttered with products I don’t want. Do you know how to best dispose of makeup, or is your advice just to toss it in the trash?

Christine Avatar

If you’ve only used it a few times, you may be able to find a local organization that accepts gently used, but you can also look into Project Beauty Share, which takes gently used for certain types of products and accepts mail-in donations.

Otherwise, you can scrape out the product and recycle packaging (at least for some items!). There’s also Terracycle, they’ve partnered with Garnier that seems like it might be a free recycling program, actually? I haven’t used it, but I know Terracycle is often recommended for hard-to-recycle items.

Alternatively, you can also pay for a Zero Waste box for beauty products specifically:

Better for a good, one-time larger declutter than all the time, though.

Lindsay Avatar

Literally just saved the following in my notes on my phone:

“go through your memories and evaluate if keeping the product adds to that memory or if you really hold the memory in yourself already.”

I’m so sentimental and this is something I need to be mindful of with all material things, not just makeup!

Thank you, Christine!!!

janine Avatar

Actually putting items in my vanity helped me have a clearer idea of what I should declutter. I have to be able to see my items to use them.

Guess I’ll pitch that grey lipstick, and purple highlight. Along with all those ordinary foundations. It was ok but I have a lot better and never use it.

Melissa Avatar

This post is gold!

I wish a lot of this was on my mind about how to avoid building up what I currently own years back. I’ve been into makeup for the past 15 yrs, dove straight into the “own all the MAC pigments” to “own all the lipsticks/lip tars” to “own every color eyeshadow in existence”.

In every phase I forgot to monitor the trends, let the hype die down, and be really picky about the products i want. I’m pretty thankful that i have friends that aren’t fanatics about makeup that I’ve been able to declutter much of what i have. Honestly going through products more recently, seeing multiple dupes of single products within my collection has been a major eye opener.

I guess what I want to say is for folks that stumble upon your blog, I’m really glad you’ve delved deep into this issue. Hopefully those that find themselves really interested in makeup can find a way to more responsibly curate their collection as opposed to those of us that went all ham without a second thought.

Julia Avatar

Christine, it’s such a beautiful post! I’ve been on and off with my makeup addiction (well, mostly on to be completely honest) and I really see myself in some of your points. I’ve been trying to properly declutter my collection since spring while buying more stuff I find myself decluttering now and that taught me to really think my purchases through. I think I’m moving towards my ideal collection where every item is truly loved and needed. A lot of that is thanks to your reviews and dupe list!

Virginia Avatar

There have been purchases that I made based on “hype” from YouTube influencers and more often than not I have been disappointed. Your in depth and thourough reviews have helped me to make better makeup purchases. Before I buy something I check your reviews and ask myself whether it will add value to my current collection. I also recently subscribed to Temptalia’s vanity, and I love it!!!!

Auzin Avatar

All of these recent longer posts about the industry, destashing, mindfulness, etc have been so incredible. You are such a good writer Christine, I’ve always thought that. I love hearing your intelligent and well thought-out responses on these subjects; I probably would read you write about anything, not just beauty! As a side note, I work at a Sephora and last week a guy brought in a picture (on his phone) of one of your lip swatches. No blog name, no shade name, just a picture of your lips and I immediately was like “I know whose lips those are,” haha! I ended up sending him home with a dark purple lipstick that looked similar to the picture, although of course it was impossible to know exactly what lipstick it actually was.

Shelley Avatar

Reading Marie Kondo’s books was life changing for me. I decluttered my wardrobe of clothes that I bought on sale but never really liked, clothes in sizes that would never fit again and so many wardrobe items I was saving “just because.” It helped that we were about to make a big move and hauling things across the country wasn’t appealing. I e been really militant since then about only buying things I love.

On the cosmetic front I declutter to Project Beauty Share which happens to be based in my town. The founder is amazing. The only thing that really pains me to throw away is Tom Ford lipstick. I bought several before I realized they go bad if you look at them sideways. I always argue with myself about how bad the smell *really* is. RIP Indian Rose yesterday.

Susan Nevling Avatar

Love the box in the closet idea. I really think that will work for me. I try to re-home products that are safe. Those stay within family unless it’s completely unused or unopened sample. If that’s the case, I donate to a nearby women’s shelter.
Thanks for the great and practical list.

Annie Avatar

Well, this made me take a hard look at myself ? but for real, I needed this. I’ve started to declutter and I use the vanity obsessively to really separate dupable vs non-dupable. I’m realllly trying to slowly go low buy (the irony being I just did two Sephora orders this week RIP) and all of this reinforced my decision. Also, keep doing you, Christine! Without this resource and without your swatches and reviews, I’d probably buy stuff from every launch out there.

Mariella Avatar

I loved reading this because it really “speaks to me” (hate that phrase but it fits) as I’m sure it does to many. I went into Marshall’s yesterday to look for specific gifts for a family game with a theme and while there, I was bowled over to see MANY Too Faced Chocolate Bar and Chocolate Bon Bons palettes (both of which I have and really love) as well as ABH Subculture palette (which I chose NOT to buy). It was all I could do NOT to buy them because the price was so good. I really had to apply the breaks! (though I may go back and pick up one of the TF ones as a gift for my daughter or sis in law for their birthdays). I saw several bottles of the Estee Edit primer that I like (one priced much lower than the others but all of them priced very well) and, again, had to stop myself consciously as I have three of them already (2 unopened). The biggest challenge for me is wanting almost everything I see here at Temptalia or in some youtube videos. I am getting better at curbing buying it all and I do find I have to make a really conscious effort. Having said all that and in light of the fact that I don’t like to return products (I feel it drives up the prices for all of us and the issue of waste in general concerns me), there is not much I have in my way too big collection that I actually “regret”.

Mariella Avatar

If I were 25, it would make sense (I like the Bon Bons palette) but at my age….just silly (and I’d have to remember where I’d stashed it if I EVER got to the point of needing it!)

Celesta Avatar

Ahhh, I love this so much. For a long time I was buy make up that was most talked about by influencers, and so, accumulated way more make up than I would like. Over the past year, I’ve decluttered half of my collection. It was hard, especially knowing I had spent my money on it, but I am so much more content with it now, and could even declutter further. I spend a lot more time researching a product than I ever did and try to wait until the hype has died down before even considering purchasing, now. I don’t have the time or space to dedicate to having all of the make up, and find that in most cases, unless something is completely new and innovative, my collection is well rounded enough that I can find dupes for new releases. It’s a great place to be!

Terry Avatar

Great article with lots of useful tips! I actually did this about a year ago. My daughter and some friends were the benificeries of lots of “new” makeup, LOL! The only things I bought this year were replacements of items I use up like foundation. I knew my real test was this holiday season which is usually my weakness for a splurge but thankfullyI was unimpressed with the releases this time. Treated myself to a couple of lipsticks and a new highlighter. As hard as it was to declutter I find I love and use what I have and I make sure I have some variety in my stash not to get bored with my looks.

Eve Avatar

This is a little bit related to the topic… I was interested in registering in Temptalia because of trying to keep track of my stash but the registering is not working. When confirming my email it asks for a key which I don’t have(?). Do you know what’s up with that? I wrote a ticket a while ago but haven’t received a reply (yet).

Eve Avatar

Thanks a lot Christine! It is now working well. 🙂

Your site has been helping a ton with what to buy and what not to. I never buy anything anymore without checking Temptalia first. Especially with lipsticks it’s easy to think that I need them all but have talked myself out of many impulse buys because of the dupe list.

Lauren Avatar

I have finally started to whittle down my lipsticks. At the end of the day I wipe off my lips and will put on a lipstick I don’t normally use. Sometimes it is right after work and I see if it makes it through dinner. Sometimes it is just for color so literally put it on right before I brush my teeth. If I hate it I throw it out or put it in the donate pile. I’ve also started giving away some nice but not used enough by me palettes to my best friend. She isn’t into makeup as much so needed some more shadows. The perk? If I really miss the palette and want to use it again I just go get ready at her house. It is a win-win 😉

I still struggle with the “but it was expensive” part. This is written out so thoughtfully though and is making me really think about my collection and paring it down even more.

Taylor Avatar

The item I like to buy the most of are eyeshadow palettes. I just love them. I get bored very easily though, so it becomes an expensive addiction. I am going to try to not purchase any eyeshadow palettes in 2019 which will be a huge challenge for me. I recently got married though and my husband and I want to save up to buy a house, so spending the amount of money each month that I do currently on makeup will hugely affect that.
The other item that I used to buy a lot of are lipsticks. Meanwhile I work in a conservative environment now and so I don’t get much use out of my colourful lipsticks. I have decided to slowly declutter them to just keep my favourite ones that I will actually wear and not hang on to the neon purples for the “just in case” moments!

Alexis Avatar

Wow what a fantastic post! Today we are all inundated with product launches and new releases and it’s nice to see the balance on your site and reminders of not falling into the black hole of buying shiny new things just because they’re shiny and new. I’m so guilty of that sometimes. ‘Oooh, pretty!’ And then it sits there because I already had 6 other similar ‘pretty things’ (highlight, bronzer, etc). This year I have tried not to buy anything when it launches, and wait a number of months to see if I still really wanted it. The only 2 palettes I ended up this year with were UD Born to Run and Pat McG Sublime Bronze Ambition and because I waited I bought it when the timing of a sale happened. Love them both so much and happy with my purchases.
I resisted UD Naked Cherry (my old reasoning would have been – because I collected all the Naked palettes so I need this one to complete my collection).

Marie Avatar

I already found out I just can’t deal with matte liquid lips – I have a few Colourpop ones and while I think the Satin formula is still comfortable, their mattes are just too drying, and so is every other brand that I’ve tried, and my lips are the Sahara to begin with because I am chronically dehydrated. Oh well! It makes it easier to resist certain colors and collections, at least. Metallic and ultra shining lips also don’t work well for me, because I may like a glittery eyeshadow as much as the next human-shaped magpie, but otherwise I keep a light hand on the highlighter and it just doesn’t look right.

I still want to find a good, true blue lipstick, and a nice dark gray/gunmetal/lead one. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to wear unusual colors – I most days don’t wear makeup at all because I already have to wake up at six to get to class and who has the willpower for waking up even earlier – but I already have almost every other color of the rainbow and my Pokemon brain gotta catch them all, I guess.

Christine Avatar

I love the Ultra Satins! Such a nice compromise for a liquid lipstick that’s long-wearing and fairly transfer-resistant but wayyy more comfortable.

But yes, this example is pulled from my own preferences – outside of reviewing, I can’t see myself reaching for liquid lipstick. I feel like the only time would be if I was doing public speaking, at an all-day conference, etc.

Marie-Estelle Avatar

This article is brilliant Christine! Thank you so much for writing such a sensible piece.
I finally decided to declutter a few liquid lipsticks yesterday and want to go through all the products that aren’t working for me (duds) and just trash them. I am also planning to send a friend some cool stuff I just don’t need to keep for sake of keeping. She would love it all, brushes, lose glitter and pigments she would actually use during parties and festivals.

Nora Avatar

As I started reading this article, I thought “oh I have very good restraint, and I’m very picky with what I buy this doesn’t apply to me”. As I kept reading all the way to the bottom of everyones comments, I realised with horror that YES IT DOES! Coupled with the article about the break neck pace of the cosmetics industry. I’ve decided that I need to reevaluate. I remember back in the day when every makeup I owned fit into a gift with purchase makeup bag! I also realise, I have a different lifestyle (English countryside…yes really!). Even when I go to London, the uber chic do not wear glitter and false lashes. Since I hit 35 (even though I don’t have wrinkles) makeup sits differently on the skin, especially the eyes! I have decided I will no longer buy highlighter (I will never run out). I will no longer buy eye shadow palettes. I look better with less eyeshadow and most colors are unflattering on me. Where I have weakness is base products. I’m obsessed with beautiful skin. Even then I need a declutter!
p.s. I also discovered today that Tom Ford lipsticks go bad quickly?! those are going front and centre 🙁

Mimi Avatar

Thanks so much Christine for your thoughtful and thought provoking posts! I had read the one on the current pace of the beauty industry unfortunately on a busy day and hadn’t been able to respond then, but I want to tell you I really appreciate you sharing your insight and thoughts and research and agree with a lot of it. While a few days have passed already I do want to go back and read through again and gather my thoughts.

I’m really glad you followed up with this helpful post — related to your observations of the beauty industry, things like limited edition releases, fear of things going out of stock, discount offers etc., there is definitely a kind of mental pressure to buy more than we need and sometimes sight unseen. The FOMO is real! (Your reviews and other trusted blogs/reviewers definitely help for research though!) But in the end when looking at my collection and what I enjoy using, I find the star products are almost always the ones that I had gone to a counter/boutique and tried on and evaluated, or had been recommended specifically for me by a trusted makeup artist or friend. Those are the ones that really sing against my skin tone and complexion, or just have that slight twist or sophistication that I love more than the other dozen of similar products that I might also have in my stash. I feel inspired by your post to go through my collection and sort out my “core products” and the “for fun and variety” stash and figure out the state of things. (On a related note: I’ve recently come to really appreciate it when brands bring out minis / deluxe travel sizes – for fun items or bold colors I might not wear as often, having a few different shades in minis is a better deal than paying for a full size based on my frequency of use. 😛 )

Also, I love that you addressed packaging here — I do consciously buy products for the packaging and I actively collect certain brands for the design. I definitely think of them as art objects. Thanks for the reminder to display them, I think I’ll have to make a small altar somewhere on my shelves! ♥

Seems like I have a lot of (fun) work ahead of me! LOL! 😉

Christine Avatar

Good idea to display some of those products you’ve enjoyed a lot for their packaging! You can also rotate through – perhaps a seasonal selection – to “use” them all but still keep it to a smaller space. I do this with press packaging – some of the ones I like, I’ll display in my makeup room for awhile and then recycle as others catch my eye.

Alison Avatar

The hardest thing for me is wishing I could pass it along to someone. It’s like wasting food in my mind. Yet most people don’t want one’s lightly used makeup. Would appreciate any suggestions. I have a little pile of some things that are not really flattering on me and it’s PMG. I mean how can I just toss PMG?

Christine Avatar

Hi Alison,

Friends, family, coworkers, people you might interact with regularly (like your hairstylist), etc. Project Beauty Share accepts lightly used donations of some beauty products (not all are accepted but lots are!) via mail. You can also call locally to see if any organizations are willing to take lightly used.

Bonnie Avatar

Absolutely loving these types of posts Christine they’re so helpful. I was just putting away some palettes from boxycharm boxes last night, trying to reorganize stuff to make room for them, and thinking…am I EVER going to use these when I have Natasha Denona and Viseart at my fingertips???? I should definitely donate some and give them to friends as well. They’ll just sit forever taking up space!

Christine Avatar

I hear you, Bonnie! That’s one thing I’ve learned – unless I love all five versions and reach for them interchangeably, then having multiples may not make sense. If you find that you don’t reach for X palette because you prefer Y palette, that’s a good sign that X isn’t the right fit for you!

Jane Avatar

Thanks so much for this article! I’m going to reread it during the year as I need the reminders. The question that most applied to me is “HOW WOULD THIS PURCHASE IMPACT MY FINANCIAL GOALS?” As next year, I want to return home to see my mother and family in the States, so makeup has to go on the back burner.

You make soooo many valid points on using it or losing it, and even displaying if you want to keep it for art’s sake. As I don’t have the space, my collection is all in boxes and makeup cases (organized), but not used as much due to lack of space, so I hope to move soon to a home where I’ll have a room or space to myself for what I’d like to become my work, MUA for seniors in homes.

On a Temptalia site note, I did not know we could archive?! Thanks! And, I didn’t know we could see each others activity and vanity, duh???!!!! Thanks for making that evident, as with the new GDPR laws, it’s important to know that we’re REALLY in a community and how our information (profiles) are shared and used. I hope no one minds, because I’ll be taking a peek for ideas now. 😉

Jane Avatar

Well, thank God for Christmas! It’s my last big treat and though I stayed relatively strong, I did finally break and purchase my long awaited Pat McGrath Mothership palette. I held out a year. 😉 Also, I’ve figure that in order to reduce makeup purchases in 2019, I’ll have to “see” my collection more. Since I buy for comfort, but also methodically, when I see that I have what I like and most things I have, then I resist more. And I also, have decided to try buying only replacement items to feed the comfort side, mascara and skin creams for example. Again, thanks for your efforts and the article!!!!

Ra Avatar

I’ve been fairly successful bringing products to work to give to people, as well as buying and selling on FB marketplace and Let Go (selling aps). It’s a great way to make a little of the $$ back.

Mariella Avatar

Looking at all the replies, it’s clear we all really welcome these suggestions – and this is coming from some really “dyed-in-the-wool” makeup lovers! I love someone description of the “Pokemon mentality” – it is soooo true. I know that “mindfulness” is the new buzzword but, as someone who practises yoga, I did find it a bit amusing to see “mindfulness” attached to makeup just because makeup seems a sort of frivolous thing but clearly a LOT of us really do need help in tackling our over the top purchasing for a lot of reasons. It’s difficult, in a materialistic society like ours, where happiness and success seem to be equated to “more” and “costly” and “expensive”, to put the brakes on but what you’ve written above, Christine, really does help. Stopping to think about purchases in the ways you’ve described, is a really helpful counterbalance to all the pressures to buy, buy, buy.

BeccA Avatar

This is so great to see – after 15 years of “collecting” I just tossed a garbage bag full of stuff I never use, made a box for my niece, and got my old MAC unwanteds ready for B2M. I still have too much but at least it’s all stuff I like and want to use. Hesitating before I bring anything new in.

Rhonda Avatar

I just found this. I have a problem more in trying to find the perfect shade of ___. Usually it’s lipstick, or the bane of my existence, blusher. I’m always looking for that perfect Old Rose shade, and I end up with 5 similar lipsticks that aren’t the Holy Grail. If the shade I like is full-on matte, it’s worse, because it may look good for the first 2 hours and then get crumbly and scary looking for the rest of the day (Colour Pop Daydream, I’m looking at you). And those are hard to purge.

The same can be said for the perfect, high shimmer, light beige with peach undertone and matte version of the same color as a base. If Urban Decay made Booty Call in a large basic pan, I would so be there…

Kira Avatar

Revisiting this article in 2020 — going through a declutter this summer was so helpful. I really did notice that some products had turned, and it was time to part with them! Now my collection is much more focused on things that I adore year round, rather than things that are “for travel” or “special occasion” or “on vacation.”

Also, at the beginning of 2020, I read “Goodbye, Things” by Fumio Sasaki. It is a totally extreme view on minimalism – a different outlook from Marie Kondo. Seeing how some people can live in practically a monk-like lifestyle, I really reassessed what quantity of things I wanted to own, clean, sacrifice square footage to, tend, and repair.

A couple really helpful tips I took from reading Goodbye, Things:
1) Get rid of things that don’t meet your criteria, even if they spark joy;
2) Having storage containers sometimes makes you accumulate clutter –leaving space empty and not filling it up is sometimes the most pleasing thing to do;
3) The impulse to buy something new can often be viewed as the other side of the coin as the impulse to discard. Both can stem from a desire to actively change something in one’s environment or the conditions in one’s life. If that’s the case, perhaps find something to just discard*, and it will scratch that same itch.
*(or donate/upcycle/recycle/compost)

Mary Avatar

Kira , I love your recommendations and will check out “goodbye Things”
I realize over the e last few months that I like space more than things:)

Mary Avatar

This is so timely Christine and so organized .! Thank you..

I love your statement “ if the amount of makeup you have gives you negative feelings …it’s time to reassess “
I just went through everything today and sorted and tossed about 1/3 of my stash because I couldn’t find what I wanted as well as just disorganization was making me stressed..
Now I will use this list to reorganized and reassess my purchases.

Jen Avatar

I de-stashed and donated a sizable haul of my viable makeup to Project Beauty Share (and tossed anything expired) pretty recently, and I still feel like I have too much. Admittedly before COVID came full circle, I had a gift card and bought the ND Safari palette and the Darya Diamond & Blush palette and am having serious buyer’s remorse — I will never be able to finish the Darya before the creams expire, despite that the palette was a great deal with a GC and promo. Lately I’m really only wearing makeup on weekends, and foundation is so unnecessary for me right now with masks being mandatory in my state, but I’m trying to use what’s left on my vanity and it still seems like a lot, especially with massive palettes like my Safari and Darya staring me down. Even the “mini” Sunrise palette I bought the previous year with another GC is proving to be daunting and I’m finding myself more and more attracted to micro palettes like the EM Cosmetics Divine Skies shadow palette (my travel go-to), or the Kaja bentos because of their cohesiveness, great reviews (thanks, Christine!) and easy, space saving packaging. However, I won’t let myself buy the shadow bentos until I make a huge dent in what I’ve let myself keep. I’m also trying to be mindful for thr sake of the environment. Another community member has mentioned this on previous posts, but packaging for makeup is notorious for being made of plastics and often those plastics cannot be recycled and go straight to a landfill.

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