Temptalia's 5-Step Guide to Making Better Purchases

Much of the features Temptalia’s built over the years have been guided by trying to help readers make better, more informed purchases that they’ll love.  I approach this from the standpoint that I’m not necessarily trying to convince someone to buy or not buy any specific product but to provide the information, resources, and tools for someone to make that decision knowing their own needs, preferences, budget constraints, and so on.

1. Why do you want it?

Ask yourself questions that will help you figure out why this particular product is pulling at you.  Here are some examples of questions:

  • Is it because you’ve been looking for this type of eyeshadow palette for awhile?
  • Is it because you haven’t bought anything in awhile and want something “new and shiny”?
  • Is everyone else raving about it, and I just want to see what the fuss is all about?
  • Did a friend say it was life-changing and I want that experience?
  • Is it the type of product I’m normally drawn to and enjoy?
  • Is it the type of product I love seeing but rarely use?
  • Do I just enjoy trying new products?
  • Am I bored with what I own? Am I in a rut with my own stash?

These are the type of questions you want to think about (as applicable!), and your answer may or may not stop the want — it’s not necessarily about saying no (or trying to justify a purchase either) but being mindful about any new purchase. You might have the budget and desire to buy something just to see what the hype is for yourself, while someone else may feel like, “I didn’t want it before the hype, so I’m going to move on.”  You might really trust your BFF’s recommendations and go for it, or you might remember that they often don’t work for your skin type/preferences, so then you can look at whether this recommendation might not work for you after all.

For further reading: Curate a Makeup Collection  You Love with More Mindfulness / Guide to a Low- or No-Buy and Avoiding Temptation

2. Can I afford it / will the purchase have an impact my financial goal(s)?

Whether your budget is $10 or $1,000, if you’ve decided that you still want to purchase the product, then the next step is to determine whether you can afford to purchase, whether making that expenditure is in keeping with whatever financial goals you’ve set for yourself, and so forth.  I’d also consider whether it’s something that might be available on sale later on, say you there’s an upcoming % off promotion from the retailer.

If it will set back a financial goal, but it is something you can afford (like you’ll have to skip the movies the next weekend, not that you’ll skip rent to buy the product!), that’s your choice to make! Acknowledging the pros and cons helps to ensure that you really want the product and will feel good about the purchase afterward (and less likely to regret spending the money!).

Further reading: Guide to a Low- or No-Buy and Avoiding Temptation

3. How does this product fit in my collection?

Next, assess how the product in question will fit in with what you already own.  You’ll want to think about how likely you are to use it, when you’ll use it, whether it’s something you know you’ll use sometimes but still really enjoy or whether you think it’s going to be a real workhorse for you.  The answer and whether it gives you the go-ahead is personal.  The point of the process is to think through a purchase methodically as sometimes the “want” will go away with time or we can’t find good justification to allow the purchase, so that tempers the want.  I also like to spend more of the initial time thinking about the product and myself rather than doing a lot of research for reviews or swatches (which can sometimes feed into the want, I think) initially.

For further reading: Curate a Makeup Collection  You Love with More Mindfulness / How to Declutter a Makeup Collection / Keep Track of Your Collection on Temptalia

4. Do I have any dupes? Can I mix what I own instead?

Right now, the most popular tool on Temptalia is our Dupe List, so duh, that’s a good place to start, but there are some more advanced ways to use the Dupe List along with some other handy tools that are great for comparison.  Sometimes we don’t need dupes so much as something similar enough, as similar enough shades can still be a good starting point to figure out whether we actually use that type of product.

The Dupe List
Limit your search results to show only dupes you own!

  • Check for dupes. Use Temptalia’s Dupe List to lookup color products to see if you have something similar (enough) in your collection.  Sometimes this gives you a way to recreate the look and feel without buying something new, but it can also be a baseline for you to better understand if and how you use that type of product/color normally.  If you’re a registered user, you can add products to your vanity and refine our Dupe List results to products you own!
  • Compare Any Two. Use our comparison tool to pull up swatches of any two shades (that I have swatched) on the fly.
  • Compare Any Two Palettes. Use our comparison tool to see what overlap exists between any two palettes I’ve swatched in the past.  It will highlight similar shades as well as mark actual dupes (that are on the Dupe List).

If you don’t have anything that’s similar enough, consider layering (or mixing) two or three shades to get there.  You can mix a gold and green to get a warmer, more olive-toned green shade.  You can layer a sparkly top coat on top of a more matte/satin eyeshadow to change the finish.  You can pat a bit of eyeshadow on top of a lipstick to create a shimmery effect (add a touch of balm or gloss to give it some luminosity).

Further reading: How to Create New Shades with Makeup You Already Own / How to Use Your Makeup Collection More Often

You can also look across categories; for example, if you’re after a duochrome highlighter for cheeks, perhaps you have something similar enough in eyeshadow form that you could experiment with.

5. Have I done my research on it?

Research includes reading reviews, browsing swatches, or even seeing and trying it in person, should that be an option.  If it’s a relatively new product or it’s slim pickings for reviews on it, you can also look at past performance by that brand and for that type of product–some brands are fairly consistent and others can be all over the place.  If you live in an area that allows returns, make sure you’re familiar with the return/exchange process as well.

You can use a tool like Fakespot for certain retailers, like Amazon and Sephora, to help eliminate the impact of “unreliable” reviews (fake or otherwise). My other tips for wading through reviews on retailer websites is to look for longer reviews, sort by “most helpful” or “lowest rating,” and if possible, sometimes looking at the user’s review history can show you some insight into what they’ve liked (or disliked) in the past.

It’s a good idea to invest some time (at any point!) to find reviewers that suit your needs, whether that’s in-depth demonstrations, written reviews, or having similar coloring.  This will help you build go-to resources for future purchasing decisions as well.



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Comments on this post are closed.
Nancy T Avatar

Thank you! I always appreciate these particular types of editorial guides you post. Very helpful, useful ways to not only watch what one is purchasing, but *why*. I definitely agree that mindfulness when it comes to our purchases can quell those screeching lemmings if and when they descend upon us! Also, I know that I can do better during the second half of my botched low-buy year.

Boo Avatar

Wow, Christine, I feel attacked… Just kidding, this is very useful and much needed! I feel like you need an additional step here though just for the searching stage: Should I even browse for more makeup?

My answer should really be “no,” but the makeup section of Marshall’s/TJ Maxx is so tempting! It did lead me to the gorgeous Kevyn Aucoin Ibiza highlighter palette, which surprisingly works for me. And for $14!!

This guide will definitely help me be more judicious about future browsing/purchases though. Thank you!

Christine Avatar

I think it is relative… like “no” in the sense that most of have enough for a “lifetime” or that we have more than the average person? but if it’s within your budget, doesn’t hinder your future goals, and you enjoy it, there is something there, too. I know for myself that I’m not a minimalist in most instances; I’ll always have more products than average because I enjoy variety in textures/finishes/tones but also types of formulas! Sometimes it’s fun to mix and layer but definitely in other aspects, I like having exactly what I wanted in the first place!

$14 for that palette is a steal!

Mariella Avatar

Christine, this is such a sane “check list” and like others, I might just print it out and keep it near my makeup drawers to remind me, from time to time, though lately, I’ve been feeling so almost weighed down with all I have that this feeling alone has tamed my buying frenzy for the most part.

Lily Kelley Avatar

I just love these kind of guides you post. They are really useful in making purchases and asking myself do i really need them. Thanks Chrsitine.

Genevieve Avatar

This information is so helpful Christine. These days I do follow the advice that you have set out above and carefully consider my makeup purchases. I am a frequent peruser of your dupe list to ensure that I am not doubling or tripling up on eyeshadow shades, which tend to be the most expensive items.
Living here in Aus is much trickier as the markup on mid level palettes is so ridiculously high that you have to ensure that the product is worth it. Your rating and review system is such a helpful guide too.
Thank you so much for all the hard work you do, it is so appreciated.

Silvia Avatar

So very useful these guidelines Christine! I need to print it out and tape to my forehead. Lol! I’m mostly a drugstore junkie but I do live what I have. I pretty much buy in impulse and live to try new things, mix them up like blushes is so much fun although I’m pretty light so ‘ll end up blending everything to death where my mom and sus in law asks but ‘where’s your makeup’? Is all there but expertly blended I’ll reply. Lol! I kept a copy of your other guidelines how to pack your makeup for traveling so appreciated. Thank you! Haven’t been posting here in a while trying to stay away fir kite purchases but love to read it all, also listening to podcasts such as Breaking Beauty, Fat Mascara, Full Coverage and one I find fun to listen to and have learned lots from Beauty Brains.

Netterz Avatar

Such great advice. I’m finding myself attracted to the same type of pinkish/rose gold/neutral eye palettes and lippies time after time, it’s forced me to take a hard look at my collection before considering any new purchases. 99% of the time I already own something very similar, and using your dupe list & reviews helps so much.

Lubna Avatar

Thank you for this! I really enjoy reading posts like these! I’ve been on a very low-buy since the start of the year and it’s good to read something motivating and tempers the hype around new products.

Jenny B Avatar

Thank you, Christine, for putting this into words! Even though I try to think this way most of the time it helps to see it from someone else, someone with great experience, and you listed some things I had not thought of as clearly before. Coming from you, this is advice I trust! Thank you for your hard but enjoyable work!

Julia E Avatar

Thanks so much for the dupes list comment! I usually just check your product updates but got recently too often disappointed by Tom Ford lipstick quality: the colors always pop out of the lipstick and it’s becoming messy. So very happy to not only got a how to shop better but as well a jagger alternative advice in one read!

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!