Deep thoughts – Consumerism, makeup, project panning, and all that jazz

2017 was the year where I told myself I had to use up everything I had. I was getting bored of the few makeup and skincare items I owned, so I went on a buying spree in end 2016 during the Black Friday/festive season periods and in early 2017 when some websites had some really good deals. It wasn’t a lot compared to what I see other people talk about; I didn’t buy thousands of dollars’ worth of products, but it was a lot for me. Initially I was excited and eager to use the new things I had, but slowly I felt overwhelmed.
Combined with the ticking clock aka me having to move out by March 2018, I decided the time to use as much as possible was now. I brought in more products over the year – mostly Korean skincare because western products hadn’t done much and I desperately wanted to have the glowing, clear skin of my dreams – but I used up a lot, too. Looking back at what I bought, there were few things I regretted purchasing this year because I did intensive research on the products I was interested in and I did much less impulse buying. I think the only things I bought impulsively in 2017 were masks from Europe (a heating mask sounded cool don’t judge me), a setting powder from Amsterdam (supposedly “anti-acne”), and sheet masks.
This year I decided, again, to save all the items I had used up and take a good look at them at the end of the year. It helped me a lot when I did this in 2016. I saw a lot of things I didn’t really enjoy and when looking at all the products of a specific group (e.g. Moisturizers) I had used up in a year I learnt what worked for me and what didn’t. But in 2017 I took it to the next level and created a simple inventory. That was a sobering document, seeing all the things I bought and how much I had spent. I think looking at that total and how many items I had also deterred me from making impulse purchases for many product groups. If I already had 7 moisturizers, did I really need to buy an 8th one just because people are recommending it? Certainly not until I had used up some, if not all of what I owned.
Thanks to the inventory,  I learnt that I’ve used up 96 products amounting to $769.12. That cost is the nett price I paid for products. It doesn’t include the cost of any gifts or free samples, and any deluxe/travel sized products I bought were divided according to the price I paid e.g. If 5 products were in a pack for $20, I considered each product to be $4. I didn’t do the complicated process of calculating based on the price of the full sized product. I think if I did that the total would be higher.
So at the end of last year I took out everything I used and laid it all out:

(The ziplock packets were full of masks and samples, I couldn’t bring myself to take those out because it would become very messy very quickly. Also, 4 cotton pads packages not pictured)

My first reaction was “Holy shit this is a lot of stuff”, because for some reason even though I saw the numbers in the inventory it didn’t seem like a lot physically since it all fit in the top shelf of my vanity. After the initial WTF moment I felt proud that I finished all of this because I’m the idiot who saves good things instead of using them and then the good things go bad. This year I mostly overcame that mentality except for a few instances (pretty eyeshadow palettes, I’m looking at you). I wanted to use up as much as I could and I achieved that.
Then came the thought: This is a lot of packaging.
Last year when I did this, I didn’t finish up as many products so separating those that could be recycled  wasn’t anywhere near as tedious as what I had to deal with now. Doing that this year was a full blown exercise. Washing all the empty packaging was really no joke – especially pesky moisturizers in tubes that were a real pain in the ass to scrape out. And after washing all of that, I prayed that everyone else in my estate washed their items too before tossing them into the recycling bin because it just takes one item to screw up the whole batch and it all goes to the landfill.
Looking at what I used:
1) Sheet masks are nice to use after a tired day at work and you can get some for as cheap as $1.50 but it’s no longer “cheap” when I buy 15 of them, they aren’t recyclable and almost all that I tried didn’t do anything for me. Some even broke me out. Moving forward, I’m only going to purchase a sheet mask if it’s a sample for a mask in a tube or tub.
2) I need to find a hair dye that I can keep for more than one use because I only need to do my roots most of the time and the Liese one, even though amazing, is a single-use product. I found myself throwing the excess dye down the drain at least once.
3) Minis are a great way to try things but I need to be certain that I want these minis and not buy them for the sake of buying or because “it’s a deal” (I’m slowly curbing this! #proud)
4) There are things that I forced myself to finish because I was caught up in the hype or I saw it on the shelf and it looked great. Never again. The pain to use up products you hate is real. Somewhere along the way last year I decided I was just going to toss something I hate using because life is too short, but for a good period of time I was angrily slapping shitty moisturizer on my body.
My recycling spree got me reading up on a zero-waste lifestyle because I do want to reduce the waste that I’m generating, but after reading a few blogs I realized that the zero-waste life is not for me. I’m all about recycling, buying things in bulk and cutting down unnecessary items, but I cannot live a life where I bring a metal straw to a restaurant. Maybe I might be that in the future, who knows, but not right now. I am interested in some things that I’ve seen zero-waste bloggers do but I’m going to take baby steps towards the right direction.
(I think the zero-waste/sustainable living situation deserves another post…otherwise this is going to be a novella length post)
In 2017 I also decided to try my hand in doing Project Pans. While the Project Pans did help me to use up a lot of products, I got sick of wearing the same lipstick for four months straight. This wasn’t because I only put in one lipstick into the project – I think I had three, but the other two were lipsticks I didn’t like. One looked like a sickly purple on me and another smudged all over my face every time I ate.
In retrospect, I should have put in things that I liked or could tolerate using instead of things that I used maybe three times a year when I wore purple. I thought I could actively use up things that I wasn’t too keen on so that I could move on to the things I loved, but I now know that I’m not that person. More importantly, I had things that I liked sitting around doing nothing because I was using up things I didn’t like. This makes no sense. So I also got rid of things that I just didn’t want to see in my drawer anymore. I gave some away to friends and family, others I tossed. And I’m glad that I did that because now I feel less overwhelmed and annoyed at what I own.
As such, I’ve decided to end the two Project Pans that I was doing. One was supposed to end in December but I had no time to do a closing post and I felt so uninspired. So this year, while I would still like to continue to do something related to Project Panning, I need to figure out what works for me.
A quick run down of the status of the products in my 2 projects, if you’re interested:
Finish 17 in 2017

27 before 27


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