Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Decluttering strategies for makeup - How to simplify & trim down your collection

There are so many different ways to declutter and simplify your makeup collection, but today I want to share what has worked for me. Over the past six months I have reduced the size of my makeup collection by half. I realized that my collection was much, much too large for me - I was feeling anxious looking at my makeup, guilty over the amount of money I had spent, and guilty that I owned products I hadn't touched in months. You can read more about my thought process here in my first post of the series if you want more details.

It can be hard to get started on a large organization or decluttering project. Personally, I have an issue with inertia - it is hard for me to get started, but once the ball is rolling it is much easier for me to continue.

So, here are my steps for decluttering your makeup collection!

Step 1: Set goals

This might sound hokey, but think about what your goals are for decluttering. For me, my goal was to regularly use every product in my arsenal. This breaks down into a few different components. First, if I am going to use every product I own often, I can't own a bajillion of everything and still meet that goal. Second, if I want to enjoy using my products, I have to like or love every product in my collection. Third, if I am successfully rotating through my collection on a regular basis and am happy with those products, I need to reduce my shopping to keep my collection a reasonable size going forward.

You might not have the same goal as I do - maybe you live in a small apartment and want a small, minimalist collection. Maybe you are happy with the size of your collection, but it is organized in a way that feels overwhelming to you. Maybe you bought a crap ton of metallic eyeshadow before realizing that mattes are your jam.

Regardless of your goal, think about what you want and set a goal for yourself. It's important to stay positive - don't punish yourself and don't focus on guilt. This is about enjoying and appreciating what you have!

Step 2: Garbage can

Check through your collection for anything that needs to go into the garbage. Do any products have mold? Have any products expired? Has the smell gone rancid or off? Be ruthless and throw them away! Don't risk an infection or bacterial contamination by using a product that has gone bad.

If you want to take it a step further, I tossed every open mascara that was over 3 months old and every open lip gloss that was over a year old. I also did a harsh cull of my samples - I committed to either try the foil sample packet within the week or toss it. Be honest with yourself and don't keep 'backup' foil packet samples you don't actually intend to use soon.

It might feel sad throwing things in the garbage, but there is no using something up if the formula has gone bad and you can't pass expired products along to a friend.

Step 3: Put it all away

I cleared out the bottom drawer of my dresser and put my makeup collection inside. The idea here is to put it all away - maybe you have an Ikea Alex with opaque drawers, maybe you put it in a tote box in the closet, maybe you put it in your travel makeup bag, but put it all away where you can't see it. You have put it away in the right place when it would take intentional effort to take a product back out of storage.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Free makeup birthday gifts 2016 - Sephora, Ulta, Urban Decay

We all love birthday gift freebies, so as someone with an early in the year birthday I wanted to share what I got! Sephora, Ulta, and Urban Decay all have rewards programs that offer birthday perks.

Sephora birthday gift 2016

Sephora offers two choices for your free 2016 birthday gift - a skincare set from Fresh or a makeup set from Marc Jacobs. Normally I choose the Sephora makeup set over the skincare, but this year's Marc Jacobs duo didn't interest me. I prefer thin eyeliner pencils over the thicker gel pencils to get a precise, thin line or to tightline and I prefer tinted lip balm or lip gloss to full on lipstick, so I went for the other option.

I was really excited to try Fresh minis of the rose face mask and soy face cleanser - I have loved everything I have tried from Fresh in the past, especially their lip treatments. I am pleased to report both of these are quite nice and don't irritate my sensitive skin. My favorite of the two is the rose face mask - it smells like real roses! Neither product is a game changer, but I enjoy using them.

I didn't love either one of last year's NARS pencils (Rikugien was fine but nothing special and Cruella was crazy drying on me), so 2016 is a step up.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dear makeup diary - feeling overwhelmed by my makeup collection

Those of you who follow me on Instagram or chat with me on Reddit may already know this, but the tail end of 2015 to now beauty wise has been all about trimming down my collection and appreciating what I own. I wanted to write a little bit about how I've been feeling about my collection - maybe it will help you refocus on your own collection, declutter, plan purchases more, or something else. Who knows.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a long time, but I decided to go for it after reading or hearing other people say things that really felt like what I was feeling. Notably, Dustin Hunter's YouTube video (his #1 tip for saving money on makeup? Don't buy any.), the subreddit Makeup Rehab, and Kimberly Clark's excellent Anti Haul series.

Where I went wrong 

I wish I could tell you that I arrived at my desire for a smaller, more edited collection in an inspiring, zen way. Or I wish I could tell you that I dialed back on buying makeup and beauty products because I found my holy grail in every category or new releases stopped catching my attention. I wish, but no. I started realizing as I was getting ready in the morning that I had much, much more makeup than I was using. I realized that I had products I forgot about for months. I started feeling overwhelmed looking at my makeup table and then I started feeling guilty about the money I had spent on beauty products. I never spent money that should have gone to bills or something more important, but I realized that they money I spent on beauty products a little at a time could have added up to larger more durable joys - a really nice camera, fancy dates with my husband, the comfort of a larger savings account, and a bunch of other things.

The hype machine

Probably like many people, the items I bought when I first started getting into makeup years ago were the products I saw on blogs, YouTube, and on Instagram, not the products that were thoughtfully purchased with my own preferences in mind. In the beginning, buying items based on internet reviews from strangers felt so rational. By comparison to my impulsive Walgreens eyeliner purchases in junior high, YouTube reviews made me feel like I was being smarter with my money. The problem, of course, is that my makeup collection snowballed. When I was first introduced to the YouTube and Instagram beauty community, I was naive enough to not think about where these people were getting their products, photo blurring and overexposed video lighting, how long they had used the item before giving it a thumbs up, and reading between the lines to infer a negative review from a relentlessly positive 'guru'. 

Not only was I literally buying into the hype machine, I didn't know my own preferences well enough to discern the difference between "this color is perfect for everyone!!!" and a shade I, personally, would use often in my routine. I wish I could have learned what my preferences were another way, but I learned what I didn't care for by buying products, trying them, and then realizing that I didn't like a specific shade or finish on my skin. Combining decades of untapped makeup curiosity, the disposable income from a professional job, and the proliferation of makeup focused beauty communities/channels online in the last five years has brought me to the place of having a large collection.

So, I felt super, duper guilty. I realized that I was spending my precious resources - my hard earned money, my time, my mental energy - on something that wasn't giving me the joy it had before. I still enjoyed my getting ready time in the morning, but I felt like my relationship with the online beauty community and shopping had to change.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Concealer comparison swatches - NARS Radiant Creamy / Urban Decay Naked Skin / Maybelline Instant Age Rewind

Today's post is a quick swatch comparison of the three under eye concealers I have in rotation right now. I have fair, dry skin with blue-purple dark circles, so I am always looking for a concealer that will be pigmented enough to cover discoloration, brightening enough to make me look awake, and not exaggerate dry skin or fine lines.

Urban Decay Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla is my favorite of the three for all purpose use. Especially now that I'm nearing the end of my tube, the drier texture can look cakey on dry skin under my eyes. I find it has the best coverage of the three, especially for post acne pigmentation or blue - purple dark circles. The shade Vanilla is a hair too deep for my face and doesn't provide any brightening under the eyes - I wish they made a shade between Vanilla and Chantilly!

Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Fair Neutral is the newest concealer to my collection. I kept seeing it in 2015 favorites videos on YouTube, so I wanted to give it a try and see if it lives up to the hype. Fair Neutral is quite a bit lighter than I thought it would be, but the next shade deeper is quite a bit deeper and more yellow. Even on my fair skin, Fair Neutral can give me a reverse panda effect if I am heavy handed. I absolutely love the thin texture - it blends into my skin beautifully and brightens well. It is pigmented compared to a standard concealer like Maybelline Fit Me, but it has less coverage than NARS RCC or Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in Fair is in between textures of the NARS and Urban Decay. It feels a little more creamy than the Urban Decay, but is much more thin than the NARS. This is a great concealer if you are worried about dry skin texture and want a little bit of coverage and brightening. It isn't as high coverage as the NARS and it isn't as brightening as the Urban Decay, but it is a good compromising formula. I'm sure a different shade would be more brightening, but this is the lightest in the range as far as I know. This is my hands down favorite drugstore concealer - I haven't found anything with as nice of a texture around the same price.

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