Over the last year and a half I’ve overindulged in beauty products. It started out when I stumbled upon a Youtube video, “Noche to Putear Makeup Tutorial.” The title was too outside my comfort zone for me to not be the least bit curious. From there I began subscribing to tons of beauty influencers on YouTube and Instagram, buying (literally) into the need to have the latest releases on all things beauty.
I had told myself that makeup was a creative outlet, a hobby, especially since I had little to nothing else to fill up my time. Instead of spending endless hours in bed scrolling through Instagram I was now binge watching makeup tutorials and practicing all sorts of techniques. If I didn’t have the right product or tool I could now fill up my time with hours at Sephora, Ulta, Macy’s, almost any store really. Makeup gave me something to do outside of work.
Having always been financially responsible I also told myself that I did not have a problem. I could stop buying makeup anytime I wanted and it’s not like I was spending that much. Then I ran the numbers. In one month I had spent over $500 on makeup alone, and when I tracked month over month spending it didn’t go below by much (in 2018 I had spent over $3k in beauty items). Upon realizing how bad it was I said, “Ok, quit.” If I really didn’t have a problem then I could just stop, right?
Well, surprise surprise – I couldn’t stop. Buying makeup had turned into my new form of retail therapy. Hard day at work? Buy concealer. Sad news? Go buy that eyeshadow palette that just got released. Feeling down? Subscribe to another beauty box. Depression creeping in? Easy fix, do a Sephora haul.
When I decided to challenge myself to a month with 0 beauty purchases I had convinced myself that I was doing it because I wanted to and not because I had a problem. In fact, that’s how I remained so determined and on track. Previously when I had tried to stop it had felt like I was restricting myself from something I deserved. This time around it was a challenge I wanted to go through and that felt different.
The first couple of weeks were hard, especially since a ton of beauty brands I followed were releasing their summer collections. Over and over I told myself, “Come July the products will still be in stock.” I took a lot of deep breaths and optimistically kept counting down the days until July. I was so excited for July to come around so I could do the haul of my dreams, but as the date approached I realized I didn’t need any of the items I had been eyeing on social media.
Rather than begin my wish list of items I would splurge on I picked up a book and joined a book club. I organized a happy hour with work friends. I searched social media for makeup looks to play with and had fun digging through my many palettes looking for the right colors and textures. I blasted music that filled me with joy and sang along. I also cried, got angry and sad.
Throughout my life I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. I’ve gone to therapy, dropped out, gone back and repeated a vicious cycle of being unkind to myself. And if there’s one thing I keep coming back to it’s that I can’t put my feelings on hold because they’re inconvenient or difficult to deal with. I thought my “makeup diet” was going to help me be more financially aware and responsible, but it shed light to larger issues.
As a whole the month wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. I learned a lot about myself and if anything it has made me a wiser consumer. I’m proud that I went 35 days (and counting!) without buying beauty products and more importantly that I didn’t replace it with anything else (i.e. clothes, purses, etc). Mental health is a journey and this is just part of mine.