#EmptiesChallenge Update 3

Yes, I am still trying to keep this up!

However, you could probably drop the “empties” term from the whole thing and just call it an “empties update” from now on. Because there really was no particular end goal in mind for this, my so-called Empties Challenge has developed into more of a general tracking and analyzing of spending habits.  So, this may be a little boring for you as a reader, but I’m basically going to lay out what my beauty spending has looked like for roughly the past three months and discuss what can be improved and what expenses lie ahead.  I’ll also match it against what I’ve used up and finished at home.

My last update was on January 29th, so I’m just going to focus on purchases and empties for February through April.

I’ve only had five complete empties for this entire time period, and they don’t amount to much: a mini Kerastase Masquintense, Davines Momo conditioner, Burt’s Bees Sensitive facial towelettes, another CoverGirl Clump Crusher mascara, and finally the Sally Hershberger keratin spray.  I am still almost out of a lot of things, like my Acure night cream, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, UNITE 7 Seconds conditioner spray, my first Glossier Boy Brow, and my Shiseido Ultimune serum that I use at night.  My NARS concealer is still holding on for dear life, too.

It’s frustrating how slowly I manage to go through things (except the Shiseido- I manage to go through serums like water).  Part of what’s happened though is I’ve been trying to use other, lesser-used items in my possession, so that’s put some of the almost-finished ones on hold (especially in the hair department).  I’ve also been going through lots of samples like Kerastase’s Elixir Ultime conditioning mask, but I couldn’t abide the scent of it so I discarded it after one use.  Nevertheless, going through samples has slowed things down too.

This right is here is what a full, daytime skincare routine consists of for me if I’m firing on all cylinders.  Three of these items were gifted to me, two were purchases of the past few months, and one has been with me for a while and is nearly finished.  It’s just a mix of stuff I have going on, so getting through some of the bigger products without being wasteful is a challenge.


Now, let’s look at what I’ve purchased.  And I’ve kind of blown it.  Or at least, it feels that way.

February was the worst.  I bought a BeautyBlender, cleanser for the BeautyBlender, a Becca Mineral blush, and a new Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation Stick.  That may not sound like much, but it adds up.  I also bought my husband a fancy new beard oil to replace the nice IPA one that my mom got him for Christmas (Go Mom, and yes, IPA beard oils exist!).

March was a little better.  I got a bang trim and a blowout (booked an assistant stylist for a much cheaper price!), but I walked out of the salon with a new Denman brush.  Now, that brush has been exactly what I’ve needed for my bangs, but it was still something like eighteen bucks.  I also purchased the Phase 2 Glossier kit on the day it debuted.  Curse you, Glossier!!!

This month in April I’ve purchased an Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster, and that’s it.  Whew.  My mom and I went out for birthday mani-pedis while she and my dad came out to visit, but I don’t really count that toward this challenge.  Beyond this, I’m declaring a full moratorium on all unnecessary expenses for three weeks (beginning with this past Monday).  The moratorium will end on Monday, May 9th, just in time for  … my dental appointment.

I’m kidding; a dental appointment isn’t exactly a frivolity.  What I’m really saving for is my birthday in the middle of May; specifically, the hair appointment I’ve been thinking of gifting myself with once I’ve saved a little.  And because it’s now about that time, I’ll be needing to book for color, and that has got me a wee bit terrified.  Justin Kamm is the only stylist that has ever colored my hair and since he’s back in CA, I’ve been researching all kinds of options in Chicagoland for weeks.  We’ll see what actually happens within the next couple months, but it’s worth it to nail down a salon out here that I can trust either way.

There aren’t a ton of Davines salons out in this area, so I’ve been looking into a couple Aveda ones since I really love and trust the brand.  Then there’s the question of Do I go big and book a high-end salon in the city?  Or is it more a thing of Trust the junior stylist that did a great job with your bangs/blowout and just say a few prayers?  The junior stylist’s prices will obviously be much more reasonable, but there’s also the fact that if it doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, the loss wouldn’t feel so detrimental.  It’s one thing to have a junior stylist in the next town over make some boo-boos with your hair that you can easily have corrected, and that you paid a discount price for; it’s another thing to book an expensive salon an hour away, have crazy high expectations, pay a ton of money, and then, if the worst happens, have to awkwardly try and tell these highly-reputed folks that you don’t like what they’ve done.  And then if I had to make a second trip back into the city for corrections?  Quelle horreur!  But like I said before, we’ll see what happens.

All that to say, I’m still attempting to plug away at my current stash of goods and put off appointments when I can afford to.  Even though it’s hard and purchases have cropped up here and there, it’s going to feel good to get through these next three weeks without buying anything.  Along with the hair appointment, I’m hoping to save for Alterna’s Caviar CC Cream, Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder, and perhaps a lighter fragrance for summer.  You feel the sunshine coming out from hiding in such a powerful way out here; you can’t help but want to celebrate with all five of your senses!  xo, MR


#EmptiesChallenge Update

I began my Empties Challenge on September 25th.  It is now November 24th.  Let’s discuss the progress I’ve made(?) within the past two months.

As you may recall, my challenge involved a cease and desist of all beauty purchases unless I emptied out and finished two products that I already had first.  Many details and stipulations were involved in this challenge, and you can read the full run-down here.

During October, I managed to finish off one Origins A Perfect World face wash,and one Caudalie Vinosource eye cream.  My choice for my first beauty purchase?  A much needed hair trim.  I was very happy with myself for making the decision to choose a necessary service of maintenance and self-care as opposed to, say, a new shade of blush from Sephora that in all likelihood I do not need.

Since then, I have managed to go through all of my Yes To Cucumbers cleansing face wipes, my Lancome Bi Facil eye makeup remover, and a travel-size Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet.  I’m also closing in on finishing my beloved Rahua shampoo, a couple of my favorite CoverGirl mascaras, and my Simple Micellar Water.

But here’s the problem that I’ve run into.  All of these things that I’m running out of are, well, things I already run out frequently because I use them frequently.  Makeup remover wipes?  Cleansing solution?  My favorite shampoo?  All things I use on a regular basis, at least three times a week.  I tend to use the micellar water to cleanse my face even when I haven’t worn makeup during the day.  So, when I run out of these things, I kind of need to repurchase these same items right away.  For example, I probably need to redeem two of those aforementioned almost-empties for a pack of face wipes this week because I use them so often.  And I know I won’t be able to last too long without a mascara that I trust.


But this just keeps me locked into a pattern of buying the same items, and using the same items.  Which then keeps me from trying to use up my less-used products, like all my color makeup or nail polishes.  Which was one of the main objectives of this challenge in the first place- to use up my less-used products.  Which means I’ve kind of defeated the purpose of this challenge.

See my dilemma?  I mean, at least I’m not adding anything new to my collection of stuff and at least I’m not spending unnecessary cash, but I’m not exactly getting anywhere with all those unused lipsticks or that bottle of nice foundation.

So what’s the solution?  It’s actually pretty simple.  On top of using the things I normally use each day, I need to also make normal use of all my less-used stuff.  What does that look like?  It looks like not only washing my face each day, not only using my favorite moisturizer each day, but also wearing makeup each day!  The fact of the matter is that this challenge will only be an exercise in redundancy unless I begin to consistently use the products that I typically neglect.  I know I may just be restating my original objectives here, but that’s what you do with research data and experiments- you measure your progress against your original goals, determine what pitfalls you’re encountering, and regroup from there.

So the implications of all this are actually quite fun and something to look forward to- I need to wear more makeup on a daily basis.  I need to stop just using my Burt’s Bees and actually top it off with one of my glosses.  I need to add a little eyeshadow along with my common look of just mascara and liner.  Not the worst thing in the world, I suppose.

But this hasn’t been my only problem.  Here’s another speed bump I encountered- I completely forgot about my challenge one afternoon a couple weeks ago and got a blowout.  Yup.  It was after work, and I knew I was going to return to work just for a little bit that evening and I wanted something relaxing to do for an hour or two, and so I passed the time by getting a $25 blowout.  Can you believe it?  The stylist was literally massaging my scalp when I remembered, and I about cracked my skull against the ceramic tub.  Ugh.

See, those are the kinds of purchases that are just so unnecessary, and it wasn’t even fun or relaxing!  The stylist was stressed and annoyed because the salon had been having a champagne and Botox party (mind you, I had not been to this place before) and she’d hated interacting with the guests all day, so by the time she got to me she was at her wits end.  The poor girl couldn’t crack a single smile for the first twenty minutes of our time together, even when we were introduced.  Her irritated state was tangible, and I apologized to her a couple times because I knew I’d booked on short notice.

I ended up trying to talk and listen to her about life in general, what frustrates us as fellow introverts, and what kind of work environment and coworkers we enjoy most.  I even tipped her a full 20% because I felt bad and I encouraged her to ask her boss if she could be done for the day after finishing with me (a request that was granted).  In other words, I came in for a relaxing blowout and instead ended up trying to meet the emotional needs of the person who was supposed to be providing me with a paid service.  If you know me, you know that these are classic McKenna problems (read: extreme people pleaser, ISFJ, “I can’t be happy unless you’re happy”, assuming responsibility for others’ well-being, etc).  Not relaxing in the least.  Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t have tipped her at all.

So, yeah.  Due consequences for me being mindless and spending money on frivolities, I suppose.  And now I’m down another two empties!  Oh well.  I can start over and look forward to the fact that the only way for this challenge to yield some exciting results will be by getting creative with my makeup on a regular basis.  And that’s certainly nothing to complain about.  xo, MR

I’m Taking The #Empties Challenge!

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