Low-Buy 2017 Progress Report: March

I’m back with some makeup and some thoughts!

New Makeup:

L-R: Whirl, Metal Head, Men Love Mystery, Puff, Otherworldly.
Swatches, same order.

Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff: $14.40 (20% off)
MAC Matte Lipstick in Men Love Mystery: $15 (15% off, plus tax)
MAC Metallic Lipstick in Metal Head: purchased with Nordstrom store credit (usually $18)
MAC Matte Lipstick in Whirl (mini): gift from Renee
Topshop Glow Stick in Otherworldly: gift from my boyfriend
Total: $29.40

I acquired five new pieces of makeup last month. Technically, I bought only two of those, but I’m not letting myself off so easy. I could have spent that store credit on something else, and I didn’t have to ask my boyfriend to bring me a highlighter from the UK. A product for which I don’t exchange real money takes up just as much space in my collection as a product for which I actually swipe my card or hand over cash. I’m pretty pleased with all of my new playthings, at least. Reviews to come! Here I am wearing Metal Head, which looks more or less purple on my lips:


CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (12 oz): ~$14
Glossier Boy Brow: $12.80 (20% off)
Revlon Quick Dry Topcoat: $8.49
Total: $35.29

Nothing to see here—I’ve purchased all these products multiple times and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I’ve mentioned wanting to find a more affordable substitute for Boy Brow, but the prospect of saving a few dollars isn’t worth the possibility that I’ll have to try out multiple disappointing products. I might as well keep buying what I know I like.


Beauty Secrets Nail Polish Thinner: $4.29 + shipping + tax = ~$11

I bought a totally ineffective OPI polish thinner from Amazon a few years ago. Since then, I’ve become a lot more paranoid about beauty fakes on Amazon, so I decided to order a different brand of thinner from a more reputable source: Sally Beauty Supply, which unfortunately slapped an absurd $5.95 shipping fee on a $4.29 product. The good news is that the Beauty Secrets thinner is far more effective than the (fake?) OPI was. The bad news is that it’s effective only up to a point. I’ve managed to revive a few completely desiccated bottles of polish, but those shades are still on the gloppy side after 5-7 drops of thinner, and they seem to chip more quickly than they used to. Still a worthwhile purchase, though—I really missed that bottle of Essie Ladylike.

Total for March: $75.69

Reflections: I’ve been faithfully recording my beauty spending for the past fifteen months, and though I’ve achieved a clearer sense of my consumption habits, I’m currently feeling ambivalent about my low-buy. I struggle with self-esteem in many areas of my life, and I wonder if this low-buy plan isn’t just another way to set myself up for failure. I don’t have a shopping addiction—at least, I don’t think I do—but could I have a guilt addiction? Could I be hooked on the little thrill of self-loathing that follows every makeup purchase beyond my two-a-month limit? I still enjoy writing up these posts at the end of each month (or, you know, the middle of the following month), but I’m not sure how to sustain my low-buy without feeling guilty all the goddamned time. Ultimately, my goal is to focus less on the products I want to buy and more on the looks I can create with my existing collection, but my low-buy seems to have encouraged me to do the opposite. I’m just not sure a strict low-buy is the best fit for my personality, especially because I’m not impulsive and I don’t have problems with overspending or hoarding. Thoughts?

Wishlist for April: I’ve already bought three pieces of makeup this month, so I’ll confine my wishlist to something I’ve wanted for a while: a really subtle mascara. A lash tint, basically. Just a little extra color and length—no spider legs, no clumping, no can’t-believe-they’re-not-falsies volume. Such a product must exist, right? Help me help myself.

Edit, 4/12: Okay, I also want some of those peachy ColourPop powder eyeshadows like Wait for It and Outta Luck, and at least one of the new Blotted Lips. And a small handful of other CP stuff, obviously. Time will tell whether I place that order this month or wait virtuously until May.

21 thoughts on “Low-Buy 2017 Progress Report: March

  1. I've decided that win or lose my beauty budget this year (probably lose, but either way I'll be satisfied with this exercise), I'm not doing any sort of low-buy report next year. I spend within my means, and I've been actively reducing my consumption, even though it isn't at quite the level I want. I think if you're overall happy with your consumption and you aren't getting what you need out of it anymore, then it's time to move on.Blinc (I think it was Blinc) had a lash tint mascara thing a long time ago that I read about in a magazine in the early to mid 2000s. And it appears to be long DC'd. And this was not helpful.


  2. I think you're right: I wanted to become more conscious of my consumption, and I did, and now I'd rather spend my blogging energies on other topics. Such as the k-pop music video that came out yesterday!Glossier has apparently trademarked something called Boy Lash (groan), which I'm guessing will be the no-mascara mascara I'm looking for. Let's just hope it gets a less not-like-the-other-girls name.


  3. I have, and like, the Hard Candy Lash Ink. It's advertised as a 4-day mascara, but it's basically a lash tint. Not volumizing, not lengthening, just makes your lashes black.


  4. I don't think low-buys are necessary for everyone. If you're already spending within your means and don't have a tendency towards hoarding, you don't necessarily need strict rules. Keeping track of my purchases does help me understand where my money is going and where I can cut back (and just how much I truly am buying), but I'm glad that I'm ONLY tracking as opposed to setting myself hard and fast rules. I've accepted that I'll always be a makeup consumer, which means that in order to maintain a reasonably-sized collection that I can enjoy I'll also always be a makeup declutterer. And that's okay. I hardly ever throw things out; I give away most of the products I don't want unless they're really gross, so I don't think it's very wasteful, and I almost never regret spending money on products. I think that reducing consumption can become an obsession or a way of self-flagellation (which probably isn't healthy). I think you've discussed this re: r/makeuprehab before. I find a lot of the content on that subreddit interesting and helpful, but there's a large subsection of it that's just about punishment and a different sort of obsession, which doesn't appeal to me at all. Anyway, I really like seeing what you've bought each month so I'd enjoy reading these posts regardless, but if they bring you guilt then I'll just keep up to date with your purchases on Instagram!On a less thoughtful note, I didn't know that MAC Men Love Mystery existed until you posted about it, and now I really want it. That's like… a perfect colour. I hate the name though, ugh, I don't care what men love.


  5. Yes, the distinction between tracking expenses and setting rules is a useful one. Like you, I'm going to be a makeup consumer for the foreseeable future. I enjoy trying new colors and formulas, and that's probably not going to change anytime soon. So long as I'm spending responsibly and keeping my collection a manageable size, is there really a problem? And as someone given to self-flagellation, I find that it's harder to forgive myself than it is to adhere to self-imposed rules. Writing these posts doesn't bring me guilt, but constantly feeling like I'm falling short does. MLM really is a perfect color. Less gaudy than Heroine, but still a true purple. Too bad about the name…


  6. Man, I have a lot of thoughts about money spending guilt. When I was a broke grad student, I was in an endless cycle of buying things and then guilt and then not having any money, repeat and repeat. It sucked. I have thought about that time and that cycle of spending and guilt a lot and I think it stemmed from the frustration of NOT having money and the frustration of having to deprive myself. Even though my grad school had some of the highest TA/GA stipends in the country, it still was baaaarely enough to scrape by given the cost of living in the area. Also, I was in debt, so it was kinda like, what's another $50 added to the pile? Since then I've graduated and gotten a full time position and find that I a) spend less on random purchases because I don't feel much need to anymore (not none mind you but not as much) and b) don't sweat small \”treat\” purchases anymore. Much of this comes from having a full time income, and being out of debt and actually able to afford a few things (not that my income is unlimited but I'm not on a grad student stipend anymore). BUT I no longer feel the need-to-buy urge as much and no longer feel the deprivation frustration, even when I *am* actually budgeting. None of that helps you in the position you're in at this moment in your life, but maybe it will help to know that you likely won't feel this way forever, especially because I gather that you are at the end stage of your dissertation and may be on the verge of finding FT work.


  7. Thank you, that's really great to hear. It's definitely crossed my mind that my desire to treat myself stems from the peculiar financial problems of grad school. It seems like you were in the position I'm in now: my area has an insanely high cost of living and I can't afford much beyond rent, groceries, and the occasional lipstick, so is it any wonder that I buy that lipstick? I'll probably defend in September, but the job market for humanities PhDs being what it is, I have no idea how I'll support myself after that. I'm 99% sure that I'll buy less makeup once my financial uncertainties clear up and I have money for bigger things. Funny how the human brain works, isn't it?


  8. Yes, I've been in exactly your position – or nearly exact since I am in a different field. The end stage of the dissertation with all the uncertainty of where you might or might not end up is ESPECIALLY rough. I could talk forever about the mess that is academic hiring, job availability, tenure, etc.


  9. Milk Makeup Ubame mascara is just as you described! It's smeary, though. Re: feeling guilty about spending money on makeup and other fun stuff, I would suggest thinking about favorite bloggers who have giant collections and are unapologetic about it. Not just makeup collectors, but other hobbyists–we all know THAT PERSON (usually, a dude ��) with a huge vinyl record or comic book collection. If you don't judge them, why judge yourself? We often judge ourselves so much more harshly that we do others.


  10. I've heard good things about Ubame! It's tempting, but considering the short shelf life of mascara, I'm trying to find something at a lower price point.The problem with having a large collection of makeup, as opposed to records or comic books, is that makeup goes bad! I was pretty sad a few months ago to discover that one of my favorite spring lipsticks, MAC Pink Nouveau, had gone off. But you're right, there's a gendered aspect of makeup guilt that isn't healthy or productive. I don't want a Temptalia-level stash (this is a hobby, not my job, and paid for entirely out of pocket), but I could certainly do with less self-recrimination.


  11. Sometimes reading \”no buy\” or \”low buy\” posts makes me a little sad, becaude of the poster's intense guilt. I bet Ivanka or whatever millionaire lady doesn't bat an eye when purchasing $10,000 dresses. Why do honest low- and middle-income workers, who bust their asses day in day out, feel the need to beat themselves over a lousy lipstick? I am all for being responsible with your money, but I will never judge anyone for having a \”fun budget.\” (Of any size… I don't care if your dress is $10,000, as long as you made that $10,000 in an honest way.) Re: makeup going bad, that made me recall a phrase I read once: \”Remember that in all major libraries, there are large swathes that go unread.\” Yes, records and comic books might not get rancid, but some of them will not be consumed fully or at all. I was a big time reader and buyer of art books a long time ago, and I have some in my library that I haven't read yet. And I do feel guilty about it. I realize that in our global society we NEED to keep the conversation going about overproduction, consumption, and wastage. But I doubt that the problem will be solved with individualized, privatized guilt over collecting something. It's always the little joe schmoe that is made to suffer, to feel guilt and shame over everything. Never the billionaires, racist politicians, or corporate overlords.


  12. \”But I doubt that the problem will be solved with individualized, privatized guilt over collecting something. It's always the little joe schmoe that is made to suffer, to feel guilt and shame over everything. Never the billionaires, racist politicians, or corporate overlords.\” This right here is everything. 100%


  13. I've been searching for the same elusive mascara/lash tint for what seems like years! Half the time I don't even bother with mascara, I hate putting it on and it irritates me.Look forward to the reviews – I love the look of Metalhead!


  14. I feel like it's especially hard to find a subtle mascara these days, when false lashes are so popular in the beauty-guru world and lots of people want the look of falsies. I used to swear by CoverGirl LashBlast Length, but it was discontinued last year and I've been adrift ever since. 😦


  15. These thoughts have crossed my mind, as well. The Trump administration is doing everything it can to dismantle the few environmental-protection laws this country has, and meanwhile people on MakeupRehab are beating themselves up for buying one too many lipsticks. Of course we should do what we can as individuals to reduce consumption, but compared to huge corporations who choose to do nothing, our power is decidedly limited.


  16. I've been wearing it more this week, and it's really pretty nice. My advice is to avoid using the brush it comes with (it's long, thin, and for some reason just makes a splatter-y mess), and use a wand that you like and that works with your lashes and eye shape.


  17. I hear you on the guilt. This post and your last post have hit home for me. My 59 year old mother died a few years ago and man, she was a consumer. She was a single mom for quite awhile and sometimes I don't think that sense of scarcity leaves you. I am now a single mom as well and that was not my choice. I need to get the make up spending under control. I think my appearance was the one thing I actually could control while my life was falling apart. I have been a drugstore and Clinique free gift with purchase buyer since high school. Last year, I started watching beauty youtubers and reading blogs and buying things and trying a lot of new products. I did lurk in makeup rehab but I'm not sure if I'm comfortable there. Thanks for your posts and letting us know that we aren't alone out here.


  18. My mom has hoarding tendencies just like your mom did, and I'm positive it stems from the fact that she and my dad were living paycheck to paycheck for decades (he was a street musician and she was a waitress/bartender/zoo vet technician/teaching assistant). She's now a teacher with a comfortable middle-class income, but she can't bring herself to live like someone who earns that income. She's still obsessed with saving every penny she can, even if that means buying a bunch of cheap stuff that falls apart instead of investing in higher-quality items that will last longer. I find myself falling into the same thought patterns, especially now that I'm a poor grad student and I really CAN'T afford to invest in higher-quality things! (I bought an Ikea bedframe this month and that was a huge splurge for me.) Poverty trains you into a certain mindset and it's hard to break those habits of thought, but being conscious of them is the first step. Best of luck to you. ❤


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