How I Talked Myself Out of Buying Makeup for an Entire Year and What I Learned

Back in 2015, I became obsessed with makeup. I went from fitting everything into a tiny Clinique bag to having multiple drawers full within a very short period of time.

Realizing how quickly things were escalating, I decided to stop buying makeup altogether and committed to a makeup no-buy at the beginning of 2017. The no-buy changed how I purchase makeup even now, almost two years later.

Below are six ways I talked myself out of buying makeup, and six things I took away from the experience.

Ways I talked myself out of buying makeup for a year:

1. I ‘shopped my stash’ by changing out which makeup I used every couple weeks.

It changed things up enough for me to keep it fun but also showed me how much I have already.

2. I focused on skincare and application tools.

Investing in better skincare and brushes (within reason) improved both the health of my skin and how I applied makeup, meaning the makeup I already owned looked a lot better on my face.

3. I occasionally tried out new makeup via free samples.

A year is a looong time. Sephora and most department stores are great at giving samples of most things you’d want to try and Ulta is getting better at offering them, too.

Sometimes using up the sample is enough to decide that I don’t like it as much as I thought and more often than not, I don’t feel like purchasing the full-size. And using a new sample every once in a while gave a similar rush to buying something new.

4. I asked myself if I would still want to buy it in a year.

This helps to quiet the hype in my head and puts things into perspective. Most new things lose their fizzle by the time the year was over and I realized I didn’t need it as much as I thought.

5. I tried to use up other products in the meantime.

This kind of turned things into a game. If there was something I wanted to buy, I checked to see if I owned something like it and tried to use it up. It taught me just how long it takes to finish a makeup product and made me hesitate to buy more of something I already owned.

6. I asked myself if the the regret was really going to be that bad.

Sometimes I just needed to bring myself back to earth. It’s just makeup. Owning more things doesn’t automatically make me happier.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Owning more things doesn’t automatically make me happier.” quote=”Owning more things doesn’t automatically make me happier.”]


What I learned on my makeup no-buy:

1. My emotions play a big part in how often and how much I spend.

A lot of stressful things happened in 2016 and focusing on new makeup releases was a way to temporarily escape that. I also learned that I’m much more likely to impulse-buy when I’m bored.

Knowing what emotions typically trigger a shopping spree helps prevent me from spending too much, because now I know that if I wait a day or two, the impulse will most likely go away.

2. It takes forever to actually finish a makeup product.

Being the analytical (and over the top) person that I am, I started counting how many times I used a makeup product until it was gone. My results were surprising. For example, in my head, I thought I could use up a new foundation in two months. The results are more like 5 months.

Some quick math tells me that if foundations expire within a year or two, I don’t need 15 open foundations in my collection at the same time. Powder products have more leeway, but in general I’m much better about not buying makeup just to store it in a drawer until it expires.

3. How to cultivate a ‘wish list’ of only products that truly excite me.

After so many months, I’d look back on something on my list and realize the ‘spark’ was gone. I thought to myself, “I don’t need this right now, I can wait to buy it later.” To the point where I never end up getting it. The ones that did stick around where the ones I was most excited about, and were the most fun to purchase and use.

4. About the brands I was supporting with my purchases.

During my no-buy, I discovered the concept of a cruelty-free brand (they don’t test their products on animals or allow government entities to do so.)

I started doing research and realized there are plenty of brands I’d rather support. The year off also gave me time to use up non-cruelty-free items and curate a list of brands I could start supporting when I buy makeup again.

5. Self-discipline and how not to give into hype.

Waiting an entire year really put my purchasing habits into perspective. The longer I went without, the easier it was to do, and that’s something I can apply to other aspects of my life.

6. How to think of purchases in ‘hours’ instead of ‘dollars.’

How many hours do I need to work to own this and is it worth it? Is giving up a day’s salary worth all this lip gloss? How many hours of work is this $150 Sephora purchase? I work hard for my money, but I have a finite amount, and I refuse to continue giving such a significant percentage of my workday to beauty purchases anymore.

I had a great no-buy experience and it’s something I will absolutely consider doing again. Quite a few people in the YouTube beauty community are doing low-buys and no-buys next year, so if you’re considering doing something like this, there are so many helpful resources out there available to you! 

[click_to_tweet tweet=”How I Talked Myself Out of Buying Makeup for an Entire Year and What I Learned” quote=”How I Talked Myself Out of Buying Makeup for an Entire Year and What I Learned”]

Do you have any tips on how you curb spending?