My No-Buy Year has come to an end, and as mentioned in my December Empties post, I thought I’d do a separate post to take a deeper dive into the year – what worked, what didn’t, what I learnt from the project, and the all-important data behind it all. If anything, it’ll help my data analysis skills, which can only be a good thing, right?
Before The Project
- Starting Off
Right before I started this little experiment, I took stock of my inventory of products (and believe me when I say it was an inventory – the numbers are below in the data section, but I was quite disgusted at just how much I’d accrued over the years). I was about to move house and was dreading carting all of this stuff around yet again (I moved house in 2015 and worryingly some of the same products were coming on the move with me again in 2019), and it also made me realise just how unnecessary this all was. Why did I have 13 conditioners? Did I really need 40 liquid lipsticks? How long was it truly going to take me to use up 11 blushers? I binned the stuff that was truly past it, and started afresh with a still-horrendously large amount of products.
In all honesty, I’m still quite embarrassed about just how much stuff I had – it was verging on hoarder territory, and I genuinely dread to think how much I spent on this stuff over the years. It was definitely a good move to at least try and do a no-buy year, if only to regain a little more of my sanity, space, and spare cash.
- What was the aim of this project?
The aim of the project was (and still is, in a way) to see how long I could go without buying any new products when I already had at least one in use. Within the small but mighty beauty panning community, this is referred to as a Replacement Only No Buy (RONB) – I could only buy an item when all items in my collection, for that category, have been used up. As an example, if I have 11 blushers, I could only buy a new one when I had used up all 11 (in this example, I’d likely be buying a new blusher when I was 65 – more on the longevity of products below).
- What were your expectations going into it?
Honestly, I didn’t really have any expectations going into it. I was already thoroughly fed up with all of the stuff I’d somehow acquired, so was looking forward to using it rather than squashing it behind some wardrobe doors, but as for the amount I’d use and the speed in which I’d use it? No idea. I didn’t think I’d use up everything, but some categories surprised me more than others. I obviously thought I’d be rolling in all of my spare cash afterwards though…
During The Project
- How did you find it?
Because I was so fed up with my own hoarding tendencies, I actually found it a lot easier than I thought I would. I found a certain amount of satisfaction in minimising my stash and using stuff up – the PanPorn is real, y’all – and whereas my inventory still isn’t where I’d like it to be, it’s a hell of a lot better than it was. It also gives me some goals for 2020 in terms of using even more stuff up.
In terms of going into shops and buying stuff, my willpower was en fleek and I actually found myself fairly disgusted at how much unnecessary stuff is peddled to us on a daily basis (more on this below). I was only really tempted by one product – the Anastasia Beverly Hills ‘Riviera’ Palette, in case you’re wondering – but the No-Buy Year has been and gone and I still haven’t bought it, so what does that tell you?
It also made me realise gradually what I like and dislike out of the products I’ve already got, and made me question why I bought some of them in the first place (spoiler alert – most of these were because they were part of a ‘set’). Take the Urban Decay ‘Naked’ palettes, for example. I bought the original Naked palette yeeeeears ago after it was described as a ‘cult’ item by some magazine, and when Urban Decay released a second Naked palette, then a third, then the Smokey Naked palette, then whatever they released after that, I felt as though I needed to keep buying them to complete the collection. Despite the fact that, other than the original palette and maybe the third Naked palette, I didn’t actually rate the formulas of the eyeshadows and found the Anastasia Beverly Hills palettes a lot more suited to my preferences and skin type. How ridiculous is that? How much money have I spent because some marketing bigwigs at Urban Decay have pushed this stupid eyeshadow series on me? I’ll still use the palettes because I’m cheap and want to see how far I get with them out of curiosity, but that’s a mistake I won’t be making again.
- Did you make any purchases?
I won’t lie, this was a No Buy Year but I did make a few ’emergency’ purchases outside of the RONB. It was usually when I was travelling and forgot things like toothpaste or shampoo, and trust me when I say that it annoyed me every single time. I was also gifted a few lovely items by kind family and friends, which I excluded from the before-and-after data below.
- Did you truly use up all of that stuff?
I tried to use up as much as possible, but I also did Marie Kondo-style declutters from time to time. Products that I hand-on-heart knew I would never use, and that were absolutely fine and unused, I donated to Caroline Hirons’ amazing charity Give and Makeup (no longer operating nationally – DropPoint is a great alternative), or gave to family and friends. Other than that, I recorded all of the genuinely empty products I used up on the blog, for your reading pleasure.
After The Project
- Longevity of products
One of the biggest things that struck me after completing the no-buy was the longevity of some products – namely powder cosmetics such as blusher, bronzer, highlighter and eyeshadow. I touched on this lightly in the mid-year check in, but I’ve honestly been shocked at just how long it’s taken for the powder cosmetics I use on a daily basis to be used up. I’ve been using the same highlighter all year, pretty much, and it’s only just hit pan (and there’s a hell of a lot more left in it, annoyingly). This begs the question – why are so many makeup products consistently pushed on us when it can take us literally years to use up one (even with daily use)? It’s ridiculous and so wasteful, especially when you consider the environmental impact of producing even one makeup item – let alone using it up and then recycling the packaging. Truly insane.
- Unnecessary purchases and makeup marketing
In a similar theme, this project made me realise just how utterly unnecessary some products are, and how easily we’re swayed by marketing, advertising and social media influencers. Take fake eyelashes, for example. Half the influencers and social media stars out there use lash extensions, or at the very least fake glue-on lashes – and sales of fake lashes have soared over the past few months. Now, I’m not one to judge, I dabble in all kinds of weird and wonderful beauty trends for the bantz, but when these trends become a ‘need to have’ rather than a ‘fun to have’, it becomes a problem, and feeds into larger social issues around body image and self esteem. Do we really need as many products as Superdrug says we do?
- Next plans?
As I said earlier, I really enjoyed this project, and I do want to continue on a no-buy (or RONB). I’ve certainly got enough products to do so, and I really enjoy the feeling of minimalism and space – it’s true what they say about decluttering and mental health. When I do start buying products on a RONB, I want to be more mindful about plastic packaging – one thing that has struck me has been the amount of plastic and waste generated from this year. Fortunately most of them have been recyclable so it hasn’t been as bad as it might initially look, but with so many excellent zero waste options out there, it’d be daft not to give them a whirl if it means helping the planet a little bit too.
- Mid-year predictions – how did I do? I will reach over £2000-worth of empties by the end of this year – Not quite, but a damn good attempt! £1768.54 worth of empties, an average of £147 worth of empties used up a month. This is borderline obscene, and a great reflection of just how much money I’ve spent on products I probably didn’t need over the years. I will use up over 200 products this year – SMASHED THIS, 256 products in 12 months, an average of 21 products used up a month! A crazy amount! I will use up at least another five tubes of the Rimmel Fix & Protect Primer – Only three more tubes were used up! Although lol, that’s still a ridiculous amount of primer for six months.
- What did the before-and-after data look like?
As you can see from the above data, the numbers… well, they don’t lie. In 99% of the categories, I used up at least one item – very often more than one per category (fake tans and body lotions, I see you). Some categories did indeed go down to one item (primer, powder, eyeliners, etc), and some categories were not only used up but weren’t even replenished (who needs hairspray anyway? I’m not on Strictly).
Categories I’d like to get down to RONB in 2020 include foundations, facial scrubs, facial cleansers and body sprays/mists. I think this’ll be fairly easy and will very much help in further decluttering of the stash… although, for reasons mentioned above, maybe eyeshadow palettes, blushers and bronzers might take a little longer.
Overall, I hope that was an interesting recap for you all – it’s certainly transformed my spending habits when it comes to things like cosmetics and body products, and my flat is looking a lot tidier as a result (although the minimalist in me thinks there’s a still a hell of a lot more to sort out). Let me know your thoughts – would you ever do something like this? What would you do with a spare £1768? How much do you use up a month?
See you next time where I’ll be returning to #dattravellyfe and sharing my travel plans for 2020!