So, you’ve just fallen in love with makeup, and now wish you could buy any new shiny (or matte) thing that catches your eye but don’t want to waste money on something that may not work for you? The amount of products available out there, in every colour you could possibly think of, and in so many different finishes and textures, can be overwhelming. How do you figure out what you need or what’s best left on the shelves?
I did it the hard way, wasting a lot of money in the process. But you don’t have to. Here’s what I learned along the way:
1. Do your research
When I first started getting into makeup, blogs didn’t exist. I had to rely on magazines for info on all the latest releases, and of course they raved about everything. I wasted so much cash on cheap Deborah makeup products that looked amazing on those glossy pages but ended up being sheer, chalky, and hard to blend, or on mascaras that did nothing for my lashes (Maybelline Great Lash, anyone?).
Luckily, nowadays things have changed. There are millions of beauty blogs out there (and more are popping up every day) that let you see and know how a product performs on a real person rather than on a model who’s been heavily airbrushed. Beauty bloggers dissect every aspect of a product, from its texture to its pigmentation to its staying power, and a lot of them are pretty good with a camera, taking clear and accurate photos of the shades and the looks they have created with them.
Don’t like to read reviews? Watch video reviews on youtube then. But do your research. I’ve never been disappointed with a product I thoroughly researched beforehand. Most of the stuff that I impulse bought, instead, made me regret having spent my hard-earned cash on them. *sighs*
2. Don’t hoard similar shades
This is one instance when I should really take my own advice. I’ve been known to hoard pink lipglosses and peachy pink blushes. I justify this by pointing out the subtle differences in colour and finish, but the truth is, I don’t need so many and most of them end up lying in my stash for ages before I donate them to friends.
That doesn’t mean that you should only buy one pink lipgloss or one taupe eyeshadow, of course. It’s ok to own more shades in the same colour family, especially when they have different textures and finishes, but you want to make sure they don’t look too similar, and that you’re gonna use them regularly. It doesn’t matter how cheap or pretty something is, if it’s gonna lie at the bottom of a drawer unused, it’s a waste of good money that could have been used for something you really needed or enjoyed more.
3. Return what doesn’t work for you
There will be times when you end up with a dud, especially when you impulse buy. Or maybe you like the product, but you bought it while doing some shopping therapy after a bad day and now realise that you already have something similar or just don’t need it. If the store you bought it from allows it, then return it. Don’t feel guilty about it. You worked hard for that money and you shouldn’t waste it on something that doesn’t work for you or doesn’t make you feel good.
4. Sample first
If you have the chance, always test the product yourself before buying it. When you visit a counter, play around with the shades to see how they suit your colouring (especially face products such as foundations and concealers that must exactly match, or be slightly lighter than, your skintone). Then, if you like something but are still unsure if you can afford it, look for deals online. Many online stores have frequent deals and coupon codes that allow you to save quite a bit of money.
Before splurging on skincare products, always ask for a sample at your counter. But don’t accept satchels. To know if a cream will work for you or will make you break out horribly instead, you need to use it for at least three weeks. What if the brand sells only online? Most of them sell samples that will last for several uses at a cheap price. Some brands are quite generous with their samples too, so even if you like them, you won’t have to purchase the full sizes that soon.
5. Quality over quantity
Truth be told, if brands didn’t send me products for consideration, my stash would be a lot smaller. No, I still love beauty products, but, let’s face it, I have only one face and there is a limit to the amount of products I can ever finish. I didn’t always feel that way, though. When I was younger, I hoarded eyeshadows, blushes, mascaras, and anything else I felt I needed to try, only to give most of them to friends or throw them in the bin because they had gone bad. And they had barely been used!
These days, I prefer to invest money in products that I truly love and that I know I’ll use regularly. I don’t need more than one foundation or one mascara at a time, I stick to staples for skincare, and when I feel like trying something new, I do my research so that I won’t waste my money on something I won’t use often. Remember, quality is always better than quantity.
6. When experimenting, go cheap
So you want to experiment with a red lip, or try the latest textured nail polish, but are not sure you’ll like them? Go drugstore. Gone are the days when everything you found in the drugstore aisle was chalky and sheer. These days, most drugstore brands have upped their games and are now making great quality products that will make you look great without hurting your wallet. A red ELF lipstick, for instance, will set you back only $1.00! Even if turns out you can’t rock a blue-based red, you’ll have at least discovered so without wasting too much money.
7. Opt for palettes and sets
I love the holiday makeup season. During that time of the year, pretty much every brand comes up with several sets that allow you to try their best-selling products at a fraction of the price. But a lot of brands sell similar sets all year round too. The products inside may not always be full size, but so what? When was the last time you finished a full size lipstick or blush, after all? Palettes are another great way to stock up on eyeshadow/blush/lip shades without splurging too much money. Just make sure you love all (or almost) all the shades in it!
How are you building your stash?