I’m a self-admitted beauty junkie. My hairstylist back in California knows it, my friends know it, my family knows it, and the people in a couple local Sephora locations now know it. I know that I don’t buy nearly as much as some, and I did manage to whiddle down my hair products to a much smaller collection before I moved to Chicagoland, but I do love trying new things seeing what other people use, and I’d choose to browse around the Bloomindale’s beauty floor or book a Friday post-work blowout over a pair of new shoes or piece of new tech any day. I also manage to find ways to acquire things for free, whether through Sephora rewards (scored a full-size Bumble&bumble CitySwept this way at an event they held at an OC salon), gifts, giftcards, or knowing the right people. Life finds a way.
However, with a new job starting next week, added healthcare premiums with an impending new plan, the need to save up after not having income for two months, and a general desire to be more mindful with my purchasing, I cannot … and some of you are laughing at me for this because you know how futilely I sometimes try … but I cannot be making unnecessary beauty purchases these days! In fact, I don’t believe I can even justify acquiring more beauty products right now even if they don’t cost me anything!
However, making a vague and awkward rule for yourself of “no new beauty products” can be hard to stick with. It can also be easy to find ways of justifying a new find when you don’t give yourself clear guidelines, or when it’s free. So, in order to inspire and motivate myself, II’m going to try to a fun challenge involving the emptying (or finishing) of the beauty products I currently have. It’s important that I learn to appreciate my own stash and cabinets, and that I learn to actually acknowledge and use what’s already there. We’ll call this my own version of the #empties challenge, as inspired by the popular Instagram hashtag that I originally discovered with Eva Chen, former editor in chief at now-defunct Lucky magazine and current head of fashion partnerships at Instagram. You can see what others are doing with their “empties” through the following hashtags: #empties, #projectempties, #emptiesmakemehappy, or #projectuseitup .
None of these are empty. Yet.
For my own personal challenge, I’m instating a rule of no new beauty products or services (and this includes hair, skin, makeup, nails [now that they’ve grown back], fragrance, blowouts/hair services, and even massages which I only book maybe twice a year) without fully using up two products that I already own first. If I happen to be given a product for free (even if it’s just a free sample), I can keep it but I cannot use it until I have finished two full-size products that I already own first. If I am given a gift card or a gift certificate for a service, I cannot use it either until I’ve satisfied the aforementioned requirements. The only exception to any of this would be the offer of a free trim or blowout by someone I know personally that could take place in a home and not in a salon. However, I currently don’t know any hairstylists out here so it’s likely I won’t be encountering such an offer for at least a while!
So, here are the specifics I’m putting in place. The two empty products can be in any beauty category, but both have to be completely finished. I cannot be sneaky and choose to give away or throw away anything and count it as an empty (which I have done before with the reasoning of “Oh, I don’t like this color anymore” or “I’ll never finish this”, unless it is clearly expired as evidenced by odor or something like that). I have to finish off the whole thing myself for the product to count. Additionally, I’m adding price categories to this game I’m playing. If I use up two drugstore purchases, I can purchase a new drugstore product but I cannot purchase a new department store or specialty store product (which we’ll call a luxury product). That can only happen when at least one out of the two “empties” is also a luxury product. Example- finishing a L’Oreal gloss balm and a Sally Hershberger heat protectant spray from CVS will only merit a similar purchase at Target or a drugstore. Now, if I were to finish the heat protectant spray and a $32 NARS bronzer compact, then I’d be good to purchase one item from Sephora or the beauty department at Nordstrom. Get it? Good. And just so it’s clear, luxury empties will still only merit the purchase of one product- no extra rewards just because they’re more expensive! So, using up a Davines conditioner and Rahua shampoo will still only earn one purchase or service, and if it happens that I choose to buy something for $5 from a drugstore, then that’s it. Two empties, one purchase.
Lastly, if I desire to purchase a product at a drugstore that is priced above $16, it’s automatically bumped up to the luxury category. So for instance, there’s a Neutrogena anti-wrinkle serum that I’ve been eyeing lately as my possible first foray into the anti-aging category thanks to some creases cropping up on my forehead. The serum costs around $21 at Target and drugstores. It’s therefore in the luxury bracket and has to meet the requirements for the more expensive purchases. Same goes for the Burt’s Bees oil cleanser I’ve been eyeing that costs $17 at Target.
I’m actually very excited for this. I haven’t given some of my makeup much of a chance because I just haven’t used it enough to see its value or versatility! Additionally, my tastes and abilities have grown over the years so items that I got tired of a couple years ago are now met with new enthusiasm and skill. This challenge also forces me to deal with the consequences of buying. You wanted to own it? Now you have to use it, all of it, and make it worth your money. Moreover, this challenge will encourage me to be more creative with my personal styling. Want to get rid of that tube of high-shine TIGI hair gel? Better get used to a lot of sleek buns in the near future or experimenting with the “wet look”! That Dior eyeshadow palette just sitting there? Time to figure out a daytime smokey eye! And this is all more motivation to find people here to style and use my stuff on, too!
Anyone willing to take this challenge with me? I’ll be trying to upload pictures every time I get rid of at least two empties. I look forward to being more creative with what I have, and this gives me less of an excuse to not use my makeup, or to not style my hair. And in general, it’s just good for my personal economy, great for the environment as it lessens needless waste, and my hope is that it encourages me to just spend less overall. What do you say, people?! Time to wear eyeshadow every day! xo, MR