Operation Mindful Consumer!

We at Pretty Superb try to advocate mindful consumerism. (Just in case we haven’t mentioned this enough.) Sure, we might get wildly enthusiastic about high-performing products, but we don’t want you to spend yourself into financial insecurity for fripperies. Just because a material object is great doesn’t mean you NEED that material object, y’know? [Ed. : This is basically the Anti-Enabler…]

Easier said than done, though. I have a hard time not buying every red lipstick or pretty palette that comes my way. That’s … not a great habit. There are a lot of useful methods to form healthier makeup habits, but here’s a simple one that I’ve found useful (and which I naturally turned into an overly-complicated, obsessively-detailed, rainbow-colored approach that works for me).

This is not my brainchild, btw. This approach was stolen from user “miranym” on the Makeup Rehab subreddit (a fantastic resource, if you’re worried that makeup consumption is negatively affecting other areas of your life.) I tinkered with it to make it more relevant to my needs, but the concept is all hers.

The core concept:

– Using up products gets you “points.”

– Buying new products costs “points.”

– No points, no new products — no matter how much money you do (or don’t) have in your bank account.

Pretty simple, right? 

Of course, you’ll need a tracking system. The minimum pages I’d recommend:

– Rules

– Items out/points earned

– Items in/points spent

When you fill up these pages, start new ones! Here are my pretty new pages! (Ooo, a slide show. Click-drag or swipe to flip through the images!)

Sex Bomb (matte)

Social Climber (matte)

Husband Shopping (matte)

Red Carpet Red (cream)

Boy Magnet (matte)

Countess (matte)

Hot In The City (velvet)

Place your box lid or base on a cut-to-size piece of paper -- big enough that each end will wrap up around the box's side and partway down the interior edge. You can anchor box to paper with a little piece of double-stick tape in the center. Then, cut diagonal slits almost to each corner.

Wrap the left and right sides of the paper snugly around the box's edges and tape them tight. Don't worry about the little corners sticking out!

On the other two sides, pull the paper tight against the box's surface and crease so that it'll hit right at the corner.

TIGHT CORNERS YEAH. Before you tape them down, you can smooth down the two little sticking-out corners from the other two sides so they're snug.

SHARP.

Do the exact same thing with the other half of the box. OOO, in a contrasting paper maybe?

For layered ribbons, cut them plenty long enough to do whatever kind of bow, and lay them down on a flat surface smallest to largest, centering them as best you can.

Then place the box on top and wrap them around, adjusting their placement before you pull them tight and tie them.

VOILA, FANCY BOX. After your primary bow is tied, you can thread smaller ribbons or trim bits through the knot or underneath it.

Position box upside down on cut-to-size paper, and anchor one long edge with a piece of tape on the bottom.

Shove box toward tape to tighten the paper around it.

Pull paper tight, around the bottom edge where you taped down the other end. While holding it snug, fold paper over that edge to mark it.

Make a sharp crease where you marked the edge.

Lift up your crease, and place a few pieces of double-stick tape right along the box's edge.

Pull your top piece tight again, and press it down onto the double-stick tape. Voila, a sharp as hell seam with no visible tape.

Cut a slit at an angle on each side of one open edge, going almost all the way to the corner of the box.

Fold down the sides, and fold the bottom piece over, taping tightly and securely.

Pull the top piece straight down snug over the box's end, and tuck the angled cut edges of the paper under to create a sharp crease that just meets the box edge.

Make the final sharp crease on the long edge of the end, so it just hits the edge of the box. Adhere with double-stick tape, just like before.

WOO, A VERY NEAT BOX.

On shouty paper, I like multiple types of contrasting ribbon in a harmonious color family. Here, raffia, cheapo antique goldy-green plastic ribbon, and spring green grosgrain.

NEXT LEVEL : tiny pearl stud stickers are cheap as hell but look cool AF.

UD powder shadow, after application

UD powder shadow, after cleaning

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow, after application

ColourPop Super Shock Shadow, after cleaning

3INA Cream Shadow, after application

3INA Cream Shadow, after cleaning

You can (and should!) tailor this to your particular goals and needs.

Are you more concerned about accumulating clutter or about spending money? If the former, apply the “one point per product” rule to new products regardless of cost (i.e., it costs one point whether you buy a $1 Wet’n’Wild lipstick or a $50 Guerlain splurge; no more trips to the drugstore where you come back with eleven lipsticks because they’re cheap!); if the latter, make each point a dollar limit. (For example, I have to use one point for every ten dollars spent.)

Are palettes a weak spot? Adjust your rules so that it costs one point per pan, not one point per item. Do you know that you have too many moisturizers already? Give them a double-point penalty. As you work through this system, you’ll probably (almost certainly) identify weak spots you didn’t notice before — fine-tune your approach to address issues as they arise.

I decided to give myself a point for any empty skincare product or panned color cosmetic (using up a full blush is just not gonna happen for me), including deluxe samples. (Foils only get 1/10th of a point.) I have so many fabulous deluxe samples to try, but I never get around to it because they’re all jumbled in a bin. (Which means, uh, I’ll probably review a bunch of deluxe samples in the next few months — but only if there’s enough product for me to form a fair opinion. No worries.)

I also decided to give myself a little breathing room when it comes to legitimate necessities (basic hygiene items, mostly). I earn one point for each empty item, but I don’t have to use any points for a direct replacement. If I want to fancy it up — get a scented shower gel instead of my usual Dove soap, for example — I have to spend the corresponding number of points. This helps me ensure that my necessities are necessities, rather than excuses to try something fancy.

You might also use point perks to reward certain beauty-related behaviors — i.e., 1/10th of a point for every time you wear something out of your comfort zone, or practice a new skill, or remember to wear sunscreen. (This depends on exactly what you’re trying to get out of this program, of course. I want to improve my makeup skills, expand my range of looks, and work on exploring the products I already own, so this helps me achieve my program goals.)

In no particular order, the benefits I’ve found using this system:

* I’m no longer buying unnecessary backups. I’m not going to waste valuable points on a tube of mascara if I already have four!

* I’m no longer hoarding the items I love just because “I love this too much to risk running out of it.” That’s not the point of having a fantastic lip balm/serum/eyeliner — USING, not OWNING, a fabulous product is the point of having it!

* Fewer products are expiring before I get to use them. Turns out that most products, even if used regularly, last a LOT longer than projected! I’ve been using my Drunk Elephant Lippe practically nonstop (except when I’m testing something else for Battle of the Balms), and I still have a centimeter of product left. Since I’m not hoarding it, I’ll finish it before it expires; and since I’m learning that products last a long time, I’m no longer buying anticipatory backups that end up languishing until they expire.

* I’m better at prioritizing “needs” vs “wants.” Running low on an HG serum? I’m not going to buy the latest neutral eyeshadow palette, lest I run out of points and have to spend the next few months sans serum. (Quelle horreur!)

* I’m paying more attention to the products I do — and don’t — use up, and plan my purchases accordingly. I used to justify superfluous blush/moisturizer/foundation purchases by arguing that I use all three products every day. It is true that I use all three of those daily — but I have never even hit pan on a blush, much less finished one! I use up mascara and body butter like there’s no tomorrow, though, so it helps me appropriately triage my points.

* I have a greater awareness of exactly what’s in my stash. If I want both a new peach blush AND a green eyeliner, but only have points for one, I’ll physically search my stash to see what dupes I might have. Turns out I already have a peach blush. (Or two. Or three. Or five.) Sometimes I’ve literally forgotten that I own [product]. Whoops.

* I’m developing a greater enthusiasm for what I already own. Turns out I already have some fabulous products, but they often got shoved to the back of a drawer to make room for the Newest and Sparkliest. When Newest and Sparkliest stops being a regular option, I get to enjoy how great my existing products are.

* It prevents impulse purchases. No points? No purchase — no matter how fabulous the sale is or how cool the swatches look.

* I’m finally using up product categories that I always buy, but rarely use. I had a whole stockpile of hand cream (because my hands are always dry) but I never remembered to USE it. Now that I know using up a hand cream means I get a point? You’d better believe my hands are smooth and hydrated and supple! All day, erry day.

* I’m using products more creatively. I liked The Ordinary Rose Hip Seed Oil, but not as much as my other face oils. Still, I want to use it up before it goes rancid — turns out it makes a fantastic nighttime moisturizer for my neck and chest (areas on which I don’t want to waste my Fancy Expensive Face Oil).

* I’m trying more things before I buy them. If buying a new mask will wipe out my available points, I’m incentivized to test a sample first. (Wish I’d done that for the Farmacy Honey Mask — it’s fine, but in retrospect I would rather have used that money for something else.)

Do you have a system for managing your beauty purchases? Share it!