What has helped you be successful on a low- or no-buy?

Once I’ve really articulated the reasoning behind the low- or no-buy, it helps me see the big picture and get on board (with myself) to really embrace it. This might be a particular goal (spend less here to save for something else) or just feeling saturated in a category (like shoes) and knowing that I really, really need to be much more particular about future purchases!

— Christine


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Ana Maria Avatar

I don’t project pan specifically, but I only own one item at a time, not opening multiples. When I see it takes 4-5 months to finish a setting powder, that I barely hit pan on the 4 blushes I own after 1-2 years, that I need to purchase 2 foundations and concealers a year… even with wearing make-up every day almost… buying more seems so wasteful…

Cjay Avatar

Reasing this blog! Somehow, commenting “I’m gonna get this” seems to be enough for me. Then I wait and almost never do actually buy it. I usually forget what it was I wanted so bad. Also, actually using my makeup helps me realize that I really have all the colors I need for all the looks I want to do.

Ana Maria Avatar

I also find that following beauty content (like temptalia.com or my favorite youtubers) satisfies my make-up / beauty curiosities and keeps it being fun. Most times simply reading reviews and just talking about make-up keeps it fun.
But for some people it has the opposite effect: the more content they read/watch, the more they want to spend.

As well, sometimes the itch of wanting a product (especially color ones, like eyeshadow palette, lipsticks) is just satisfied by going to Sephora, MAC or Ulta, swatching things and playing with make-up… than going home without purchasing anything. 😆

Lauren Avatar

Moving from a big house to a small house with less room has definitely been helpful. While I was packing I really evaluated my makeup and ended giving a lot away or some of the really old (we’re talking around a decade stuffed in the back of a drawer) I finally tossed. I got some containers to use at the new house where my makeup vanity only fits in my room and I like things to be clean and uncluttered. If I have too much makeup that means I’ll have spillage and knowing that makes me more cognizant of not buying more to just have more. I’ve still gotten some palettes from time to time, but nothing like in the past. I will add something to my wishlist and let it sit there for a week or two and then go back to it. More often than not I’m less excited about the product and don’t end up feeling like I need to buy.

Carol G Avatar

A few things: I just bought a house and would rather spend my money on things I need for my new house versus makeup. Also, it seems that every day there are a slew of new products. I cannot recall in the past that this many new products have popped up on a daily basis. It’s completely out of control if you ask me. The competition between all those companies has to come to a head at some point. I am just content with what I have and am starting to pull back from purchasing makeup. I need to use up what I have. That and the fact that if I really want something (which is rare anymore) I just wait a few weeks or so because it seems to go on sale. We never saw sales on makeup like we do now. The makeup bubble is starting to burst. I am also very aware now of what the markup is on makeup and that is sort of a sore spot for me. I know that makeup doesn’t cost much to manufacture and some of the prices these companies are charging is very off putting. I also refuse to purchase anything created by a celebrity. Again, how much money does a person need in this lifetime? I have done a complete 180 with my love for makeup. A few years ago I would have never envisioned pulling away from makeup but honestly the market is over saturated and I guess my priorities have shifted as well.

TropicalCowgirl Avatar

I agree so much with your comments on the industry. I think it has a lot to do with social media influencers. I’m an analyst in tech and were just talking about how technology has changed the way people do things, buy things and just live. And the rabid releases really make everything seem just less special. I mean how many lipsticks can you own! Those babies dry up and don’t last like shadows.

I love seeing the new stuff but seeing and buying are two different things.

I honestly cannot think of anything I want or need that I don’t already have materially. I have to go through my closet and get rid of things though. I’ve decided to take a picture of clothes that I just will not wear ever again but that have special memories and get rid of them. I just got released from physical surgery from rotator cuff repair and instead of going back to heavy weight strengthening, I am very much excited to eventually get into pilates.

Also, and this is more for my husband who is lacks control, is saving up to do the few renovations we want for the house. I want to replace a tub, redo the downstairs bathroom and open up my kitchen. I dump my paycheck into our shared account and put $1000 of it into my account. I was saving up for a surprise vacation but my dog got sick. That money paid for her surgeries when she had a chance. Otherwise, if I spent that, we would be in credit card debt. I really liked having that there at my fingertips and my new goal is to do that again. Unexpected things happen and it was a good feeling to have that there.

Carmen Avatar

Two things help me: hocus pocus I am brokus lol and when I take a step back and look at the items I’m interested in and think about whether or not I really need it/will use it or if it’s makeup related, if I have the shades in my collection already.

Valerie Avatar

I have had no success setting limits.
I am frustrated by my inability to use everything I have bought – there are shadow palettes I got 6-9 months ago that I haven’t even used yet ?

Kira Avatar

I have three MUJI containers with makeup in them, and I’ve promised myself not to exceed this space. I have just a teensy bit more space, so for most things I add now, I tell myself I must give something away or recycle something that’s expired/used up. I’m pretty covered all the staples and have a big spectrum of fun colors – enough eyeshadow to last a lifetime. If I had too much more, I think I wouldn’t be wearing the things I love as much, and feeling guilty/overwhelmed with the amount of stuff. I’ve felt that way before about clothing, and after Kondo-ing last year have felt super at peace and in a long-term healthy relationship with my wardrobe, lol.

Also, in other arenas, it helps me to set a budget on paper, and write down each purchase and the cost. I use this method with my other vices – art supplies, books, and art. I like the reminder of what I’ve purchased over the past year(s), so I make sure to feel excitement about the things I own and get to use. It’s like a reverse wishlist of stuff I own!

Maggie Avatar

This reverse wish list sounds genius! Can I ask more about your methodology? Like, how do you make sure to remember to write in it?

Do you have a separate notebook dedicated to this? Or is it a piece of paper posted up somewhere? Or a note in your phone?

Kira Avatar

I try to write it down when I remember, or I will research my credit card statement when I receive it. I only make a few purchases a year so it’s not too hard to track (I try to wait for big bi-annual sales to make all my big purchases – unless it’s something limited edition that I think will sell out).

Not to put you on the same rabbit hole I went down, but I keep a “bullet journal” in my bag – there are websites and youtube videos about different methods! It helps me not look at my phone — when I look at my phone, I habitually check a bunch of things, and it gets me distracted. I have running lists for things like ideas for writing, groceries I need, long term purchase goals, a bucket list 🙂

kjh Avatar

The dupe list, of course, and I’ve tightened up my criterion. Not being ‘incentivized’ by overall promo campaigns. (E.G. Not enhancing the Sephora list to continue Rouge forever. And succeeding.) Waiting at least 4-6 months for something that is permanent to reassess. For me, age is a significant limiting factor. Ruling out brands that have faired poorly with me, like Nudestix. No ‘Let’s see if X improved with the new formula.’ Saying no to anything with any ingredient that has bothered me personally. And not trying them again, to see if limonene, linalool, geraniol etc. still bother me. I am too old for spreadsheets and science experiments as an approach to beauty. Rear view mirror. Looking at the/your presentations from a objective/critical eye…I see that a lot with Genevieve’s comments…and becoming more interested in the how, why, and business news about the industry, than I am with an eye to buy. You can still participate in beauty and cosmetics without having a mountainous FFHF acquisition list.

Nancy T Avatar

With clothing, it’s been fairly easy. Just knowing I’ve hit the saturation point is enough to deter me. For household? Well, that’s a laugh, as I’ve done zero in that department!
And then there’s makeup….I’ll be reading others tips on how to succeed. Or just surrender.
So there ya go, my wardrobe is pretty hefty, my home is a neglected wasteland, and my makeup expenditures would have refurnished this place at least a few times over!

Emily Avatar

I keep a Pinterest board with all the shades from the palettes I own pinned individually and arranged by color. That way when a new palette tempts me, I go through and see how much of it I can dupe. It’s usually everything, and just the arrangement of the new palette was attractive, or maybe just one shade caught my eye and I can grab a single instead.

Ana Maria Avatar

The key to my success in transitioning to a more minimalist lifestyle (and make-up collection) and being on a low-buy on all aspects of my life was definitely my move from Europe to US.
I moved with two checked luggage (one ~25kg medium sized one, one ~12kg stuffed smaller one), a backpack full of paperwork and my electronics, and my cat. I streamlined everything in my life and it felt good. So since then I only buy what I really need, make-up, clothing and home wise. I invest in pieces and I make use of them. I don’t feel overwhelmed by stuff and I enjoy what I own.
In the meantime I transitioned also to a low-waste lifestyle, and my low-buy is also helped by that.

For me it comes mostly from my mindset.

Deborah S. Avatar

Similar to kjh, I have an age factor to my purchasing as their is only so much makeup that I can realistically use in my lifetime. Granted, none of us know how long we have but at 65, I know I am not going to live long enough to use up even half of what I have now. So, that is a factor in my decision making. I have been able to limit my spending when I have a specific goal in mind such as our trip to Europe. Reading the blog has helped me to fine tune my purchases and to more readily recognize FOMO. In other areas, such as clothing, shoes, household items, it took me quite a while to stop buying shoes and clothing that I was never going to wear in Montana. When I lived in CA, I lived a different lifestyle and having dressier clothing and more fashion forward shoes was important. Now, I rarely wear anything besides one pair of sandals in summer, tennis shoes and my snow boots. I have a closet of dresses, slack and blouses that I purchased and have literally never worn. I continued do purchase these items after moving, for quite a while. I hate to get rid of them because I spent good money on them but realistically, I am never going to wear them. I will delay a bit longer as I am toying with the idea of selling and moving into a bigger town just for purely self-centered reasons. I feel like I might want to be closer to medical care as my diabetes progresses. I won’t make a decision until next spring/summer as selling in winter is difficult and moving would be even worse.

thirteenthirteen Avatar

I used r/makeuprehab a lot when I first decided I needed to reduce my spending. I found it really helpful for awhile, but unsubscribed about a year ago because I found the threads asking to be talked out of products I hadn’t heard of were actually hurting. I had successfully tuned out of most new releases (this blog aside) and sometimes those TMO threads introduced products to me that I otherwise wouldn’t have been aware of. I was better off ignorant! But I would recommend it to people who need help getting started with a mindset change.

I also don’t love capitalism or waste. I try to be thoughtful about my environmental impact in the world in general and my makeup consumption wasn’t really matching my ideals. I feel better about myself in this area since I have reduced my purchasing drastically over the past three years.

Wednesday Avatar

Maybe a not so obvious one: the shift to everything 70’s .. muted yellow orange and green. These colours are very challenging for me and I don’t even care to try and make them work (Metropolis palette is a very good example.. beautiful on someone else)

Also, the neon and bright pigment trend. Ditto.

Not liking the products being released is a huge help on a low buy.

Evi Avatar

I’ve definitly picked up some tips from this thread. I Feel Like I really need to go on a no-buy. I spent nothing on makeup for 3 years because I was working on a PhD and didn’t have time to even think about putting on makeup. Which was great, but meant when i finally finished and dusted off my makeup stash.. a lot of it needed to be chucked or didn’t fit my taste anymore. unfortunately some of the makeup I did like but had gone off couldn’t be replaced so I’ve been searching for new stuff. I think I have probably spent more than I would normally, trying out brands and stuff to figure out what i like now and also who the new me is. I feel a bit sheepish about how much I’ve collected but looking forward I feel very informed about what I need and don’t need.

Some lessons I’ve learned which hopefully will stop me from buying new products is;
1. what looks amazing aesthetically in the packaging is different from what I will actually feel comfortable wearing day-to-day. eg. Bright beautiful lipsticks or bright Blue/purple eyeshadows scream my general aesthetic and I love how they look when I see pictures of them on other people and in their packaging.
but I don’t like how they look on my face. and if i do wear them, it is rare, so spending a lot on them is silly.
2. reading these reviews helps me from being tempted to try things, I can see how they perform and read comments on how others are finding them.
2. Usually the novelty of a new product will wear off after a two weeks. If i still want it after two weeks I probably will enjoy it long term and it will be worth it, but most of the time, by then I’ve forgotten about it.
3. I found this great tip on makeuprehab which was about controlling general overspending, which is to keep a record, plus the cost of the items you ALMOST bought but chose not to. It kind of feels like shopping, but its a record of how much you’ve saved, and watching that total amount you saved through not buying them grow over time is a great encouragement to keep saying no to new buys.

Genevieve Avatar

What has helped me be successful on a low or no buy is:
1. Your dupe list Christine – it makes me aware of what I have that is fairly close to what I am admiring on your blog.
2. Knowing what you have already in your stash -some of us have such a big stash that we are unaware of what we have, so you don’t really need another – say – neutral palette or red lipstick.
3. Waiting for sales, sometimes in the process of waiting you get time to rethink your possible purchase.

Nyxx Avatar

Honestly make up saturation has kept me on a low buy. Nothing excites me anymore. I have found the formulas I like and have acquired them . Also, I am not one of those people that are bothered by using more than one palette at a time to create a look. Now when new palettes come out I just look at it to see if I have similar colors. Most of the time I do so it is an easy pass. Also I have settled into being a bronze, gold neutral girl and realistically how many warm browns, bronzes and golds do i need?

Kuávsui Avatar

There’s plenty of good ways to temper one’s desire for more makeup in the comments, and having a budget that shows how much I can actually spend on ”fun” things any given month and not having the space have definitely worked for me as well, as well as reading reviews and doing my research!

The other thing that I have started doing is considering carefully whether an item would actually (heh) spark joy and add to my makeup wardrobe, and trying to work out why I am interested in it in the first place. I’ve sat on purchasing a lot of items (usually ones that are more expensive or otherwise less accessible) that I have actually enjoyed once I finally got them while spending way too much money on things that just seemed nice and were more accessible to me, but that I didnt really want or care for once I got them, and I have regretted in almost every single time.

These last few months I’ve just bought what I actually want or need and I’ve had way less buyer’s remorse. I’m getting closer to a wardrobe that I love 100% and it feels really good! I have also set some tangible goals and priorities for myself, eg. buying better eye brushes, so that I don’t end up just spending my money willy-nilly and miss out on things that will add to and elevate my makeup use.

Z Avatar

Honestly, it’s just been that 95% of what is released simply isn’t my taste. Ask again when swampy greens and deep jewel tones start coming back without a single pink, mauve, or orangey brown in sight.

Jane Avatar

I’m visually stimulated, so avoiding seeing beautiful palettes, whether blogs or in-store, though in-store is harder to resist. What really helped is using the dupe function on your site ! I had resisted getting ND’s Safari palette since it came out and only just purchased it because if a Sephora event. And brings us to avoiding sales. If I miss those then I’m good.

All said, I’m losing interest in makeup as I advance my projects in other areas, so that helps, having a more important project. I also have to avoid being around new makeup when stressed ?

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