It is often said that you can never have too much makeup. Wearers round the world spend hundreds, even thousands of pounds in the quest to find their ‘perfect shade’, of face, lip and eye products (my personal preference of the latter is a gaudy green shade). With people of all genders beginning to experiment with beauty at an ever-decreasing age, sales have soared in the 21st century, with the global cosmetics industry being valued at $532.43 billion in 2017.
But there is such thing as too much makeup. With the climate crisis an ever-growing issue, it’s not just our meat and fuel consumption we need to worry about, it’s how we look at our beauty products. Beauty culture nowadays is obsessed with the ‘routine’- the multiple steps people follow with their skincare, from what used to just be the standard cleanse and moisturise now incorporating toners, acids, masks, serums and sprays. That’s not to mention the packaging (often in plastic rather than glass bottles), and the air-miles with the rise of cult international classics such as Anastasia Beverly Hills or popular Korean lines. Shipped across the world, these brands are fuelling people’s desires for a particular name on the packaging.
Let’s look at my own collection for an example. I’m known amongst my friends and family for being ‘beauty obsessed’. I love to see what’s new, what the latest trends are, and to have the lusted after products that everyone on Instagram is talking about. But even I was surprised to see that in my collection at the start of 2020 I had 111 makeup products and 54 skincare products. I don’t have a beauty YouTube channel, or an Instagram, or any desire to make makeup more than a hobby. Yet I’ve amassed a collection that frankly resembles a shelf in a shop.
But how can we combat this? I own the products, and I’ve used most of them so there’s no going back. However, anything unused can be donated- either to friends and family, or to Leeds Women’s Aid, a local charity that helps women in need. Whilst not a realistic long-term goal, I decluttered 20 products at the start of the year, through a combination of giving them away and binning them. The rest I aim to use up in order to make it at least partially worth both the cost and the environmental impact.
However, I represent thousands of ‘normal’ makeup consumers across the world. What about those that receive free makeup constantly, and have built a career out of beauty? YouTubers Tati Westbrook and Samantha Ravndahl have both publicly taken steps to publicise the massive impact of the free products PR teams send them in the hopes that they’ll promote their brands. Westbrook’s consistent habit of calling out brands who send out oversized packaging for a small product has led to some cutting down the amount of materials they send their products in. Ravndahl has gone even further, removing herself from PR lists entirely due to the vast number of products that she says have no value to her. Choosing to buy items that she knows will work for her skin type and tone, Ravndahl has continued to cut down whilst still managing to consistently create content for her almost-1 million subscribers, proving PR does not make or break a channel.
The idea of using what you have instead of buying more has recently grown more popular amongst the beauty community. With Instagram accounts dedicated to duping popular new releases with items that people may already have in their collection, fans are encouraged to ‘shop their stash’ instead of purchasing similar products. Reddit communities r/panporn and r/makeuprehab promote using up products that you already own and offer tips for starting and staying on a ‘no buy’ period. Changing the mindset towards makeup and skincare use, by celebrating finishing a product or even ‘hitting pan’ helps shift the focus away from over-consumption. Consider looking at what you already own when the new eyeshadow palette or lipstick launch catches your attention.
If you would like to donate items for refuge, please contact Leeds Women’s Aid on 0113 244 2578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org