Eight years ago, I found myself in a period of multifaceted transition. I'd just exited a long-term relationship, left a toxic job, and had three of my closest girlfriends move to different cities across the country to put down roots and start families — all at the same time.
I spent days allowing myself to feel blah: eating crappy food, binge-watching TV, compulsively shopping. If I'm being honest, I was looking for a fix. I felt lonely, left behind, confused, and empty.
I'd been feeling sorry for myself over all the things I'd seemingly "lost" recently, but it became clear that I had more than enough. Everything I needed, in fact: a safe home; great family and friends; and now, the luxury of time I could use to save money, improve things I wanted to get better at, and reflect on who I was and wanted to be.
I started bringing my lunch to work every day (and lost 10 pounds and saved $700 in the process). I read every night instead of watching TV. I stopped shopping for three months, which led me to love capsule wardrobes and develop a true personal style.
And then there was the one that was seemingly impossible for my product junkie self: the “buy no beauty products until everything you have is gone” challenge. Wanna know what happened?
My skin cleared up thanks to a simplified and consistent routine, people could pinpoint my “signature perfume” because I stuck with it, I spent less time getting ready, and I enjoyed what I had. And though I’m a blogger/writer/person who loves to try new stuff, I still employ this system that I developed eight years ago to keep my grooming routine blissfully simple and enjoyable.
Consider me your makeup bag sheriff. I may be ruthless, but I promise this approach will preserve your sanity without sacrificing your good looks. Take note: This challenge is not for everyone. It’s for folks who seek relief from chaos in a more minimalist approach.
Here's how to do it yourself:
1. Limit yourself to 30 products for a whole month. Period.
Take stock of your desert-island products, what really works for you, and what you turn to repeatedly. Keep those around. Put the remaining products you don’t use on the daily in a bag, and stash it away. If in a month, you find yourself feverishly digging through the stowed away bag deeply missing its contents, I’ll eat my hat.
If you need guidance on where to start, here are my 30 products, all vegan and cruelty-free:
Hair & body essentials
- Shampoo and body wash bar
- Body scrub
- Volumizing spray
- Jojoba oil (for facial cleansing and moisturizer)
- Konjac sponge
- Hand/body lotion
- Lavender essential oil
- Dry shampoo
- Brush set
- Safety razor
- Hair dryer
- Curling iron
- Round brush
- Nail file/buffer
- Lash Curler
- Black/brown eye pencil
- Neutral eyeshadow palette
- Red lipstick
- Pink lipstick (doubles as a blush)
- Lip balm
2. Clean up your space.
Few things feel as good as a clean, organized space. So give your makeup bag, tools, bathroom cabinet, and vanity a good cleaning. Wipe down bottles and products you’re keeping around, and marvel at how light you feel when your morning doesn’t consist of wrestling with a cabinet that won’t shut or sifting through a bottomless makeup bag.
3. Don't buy anything until your existing products are legitimately empty.
Someone recently asked me, “When was the last time you finished a lipstick?” The honest answer was never. I’ve almost never finished a lipstick in my 20-ish years of wearing the stuff. And while my route home from work passed right by three major makeup boutiques, I bypassed them and went straight to yoga, to meet friends, or to other activities. I saved money, time, and sanity by not being lured by the latest and sparkliest trends.
4. When it’s time to buy, buy with values.
This process is excellent for folks looking to make the transition to a more natural or cruelty-free regimen. Often, people learn the atrocities of animal testing and they throw everything out. You know what that does to help animals and the environment? Nothing. Use what you have and when it’s time, replace with a product of superior character. The art of anticipation will make selecting a replacement product a true occasion.
5. Or opt to make your own.
When I "detoxed" from my beauty regimen clutter, I found that while I loved the drama of smoky eyes and a bold red lip, I also preferred the results and ease that came from more natural products I could make myself. I had fun making my own body butter, cleansing oil, bath soaks, dry shampoo, body scrubs, and perfumes from essential oils.
I could control what went into them, saved crazy amounts of money, and the whole process was better for me and easier on the environment. If you’re a DIY-er, find recipes for things you normally use. You may be surprised by how much you love them.
Have you taken this challenge? I’d love to hear from you and cheer you on. Tag @ashleepiper and @mindbodygreen in your posts so we can give you mad props for embracing #BeautifulSimplicity.
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