Saturday, March 30, 2013

How To: Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, Or Do Without

After I shared photographs of my collection in this post, I received two questions that point to countering aspects of my nature/personality as a product junkie. The first involved products I referred to as “collectors’ items,” products that I purchased, swatched and subsequently deemed “too pretty to use.” Many readers asked that I share these products, which I certainly intend to in the near future. The other question I received involved tips on how to reduce the size of one’s collection. As a naturally inquisitive person prone to look for patterns in the world I find this question interesting. Several years ago, the trend seemed to be that the more products one had in a collection the better that collection was. Bloggers, vloggers and readers alike hoarded products and shared images and videos of burgeoning collections. Since I’ve started blogging however, I’ve noticed a marked shift to a more “quality over quantity” view point that characterizes using products up and purchasing one better quality item as opposed to many items of a lesser quality. I should point out that neither view point is wrong or right, and an item’s quality is without question in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, I have noticed this trend not only in the beauty community as a whole but also in myself: though I’m no expert, I can at least speak from experience and offer tips and tricks that have helped me reduce, use products and make careful purchases.

Before I had a beauty blog, I’d only just discovered the beauty community. I’ve always loved all things girly from perfume to cosmetics, nail polish, jewelry and clothes but it wasn’t until I started to read more extensively on the subject that my love turned into a bit of an obsession. Some of this has been truly beneficial—I have gained a hobby that I absolutely adore, after all—but it also led to a yearlong spree that I can only accurately describe as a “feeding frenzy.” I was wrapped up in each and every MAC collection that released, and right after I launched Getting Cheeky I thought that making purchases from new collections made me relevant as a blogger. I remember, for instance, when the Venomous Villains collection released in the fall of 2010. I went absolutely nuts and ordered far too many products … and guess what? With the exception of the lip glass in Revenge Is Sweet I no longer own any of the products I purchased.


At the beginning of 2012 I drew inspiration from a Great Depression era phrase often repeated in my family: use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. What on earth had come over me? Without question my hobby had become a bit absurd … I barely used any of the cosmetics I purchased and had become overwhelmed by the size of my collection. After a year and a half of going through things, blog sales and careful stewardship of new purchases I’m finally comfortable with the size of my collection, no longer make impulse purchases and actually use items up! If you’re looking to change your perspective and master your destiny where cosmetics are concerned, here’s how I did it:

One. Organize your collection and wrap your head around the items you do have.
The first step to reducing the size of your collection is wrapping your head around everything you have. Take everything out, put it in one place and look at it. Surprised at the amount of things you have? I was! Though I’m naturally organized, many of my products were strewn hither, thither and yon which meant I didn’t have a grasp on just how many products went unloved. Organizing my collection also forced me to eliminate products I never used, set aside duplicate products I didn’t need, and cull through everything to reduce the overall amount I had. I gave quite a few unused or gently used products to friends and family members and have hosted numerous blog sales within the past year. Unsure whether you want to get rid of something? Take it out of your collection and set it aside for a month. If you don’t miss it then you can likely part with it.  

Two. Avoid purchasing “dupes” and backups.
This point will be a matter of personal choice, but as far as I’m concerned dupes and backups are unnecessary. In my experience having a less expensive dupe did little to quell my desire for the “real McCoy.” Rather than purchasing multiple less expensive dupes for the real thing, I just purchase the real deal. Even if it's more expensive it often ends up saving me money. I avoid purchasing too many similar colors (I found I had about a million “peach” blushes, for instance) and almost never purchase backups. As a fellow blogger kindly pointed out, purchasing a backup that you will be forced to use means that you’re preventing yourself from trying another wonderful peach gloss, rose lipstick, mauve blush etc. that might come out in the future. 

Three. Use up your products! 
 It seems so silly to point out that cosmetics—products that are meant to be used by nature—need to be used up … but they do! With the exception of a small group of “collectors’ items” that take up very little space in my collection, I try to rotate my products and use things up whenever possible. I tend to use only one mascara, foundation and concealer at a time which means that I go though those products quite quickly, but it is also entirely possible to use up colored cosmetics like blusher and eye shadow. I’ve also made a point of posting “empties” posts which keep me honest. At the end of every quarter I share the items I’ve used up: I’m always amazed at how many things I really have gone through.

Four. Wish lists are your best friends!
My friend J, who writes Lil’ Lady’s Life, once said that a wish list isn’t a receipt. I think her quote sums up the function of wish lists beautifully. Feel free to add things to your heart’s content as you’re not actually spending money. I find that this habit curbs my need to spend impulsively, and it also forces me to think through what I’d like to buy before I do so. I occasionally notice duplicate items (do I need two powders?), and often remove items entirely if I realize that I had only added something in the heat of the moment. I’ve even gone a step further and added prices to my lists which give me a good idea of the amount of money I’d like to spend. My wish lists were dozens of items long at one point, and now there are only four items on my current list! I’ll likely purchase them all, but I know that I’ve carefully thought through pros and cons before buying. 


 I’m sorry for the sheer length of this post, but there is a lot of information to impart when discussing this topic. I want to reiterate that just about everything related to collections is subjective, and ultimately up to the discretion of each individual. I, for instance, have greatly reduced my collection, but do I have quite a bit more than others? Without question. Rather than giving advice about how big your collection should be, this post is merely meant to provide you with pointers on becoming comfortable with the size of your collection. Now that I have a smaller group of products I feel that I use them more frequently and because of this my products seem to better serve their purpose!

What helpful tips and hints have you used to reduce the size of your collection? Is bigger better, or do you also prefer having a smaller collection of items?