Decluttering My Makeup Collection Helped Me Feel More Beautiful

I've always been a minimalist at heart, so I figured, why not try the same with my beauty products?
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I've always been a minimalist at heart, so I figured, why not try the same with my beauty products?

Over the past month, I’ve been quietly engaging in some pretty strange behavior for a beauty blogger. For much of the time that I’ve been writing to encourage you all to add my favorite products to your collections, I’ve been turning off my laptop and ditching nearly all of my own makeup.

Let me explain. From the time I bought my first lip gloss in middle school, I’ve been painstakingly researching product after product, snapping up new items I believe for a moment will be the ones to finally make me feel confident and beautiful. Then, as I got older, I doubled my makeup-collecting efforts when I discovered the fun and artistry in turning the blank canvas of my face into something new. 

It seems this experience is nearly universal to women these days. I mean, y’all know--there’s something so thrilling about arranging all the colorful tubes and pots and jars, even if you barely use them, right?

It only got worse when I started to write for xoVain and could justify any Sephora run with “it’s for an article.” Soon my makeup bag turned to two, then three, and then it spilled over from my medicine cabinet to the bathroom windowsill, to my dresser, to the shelves of closet. My makeup collection was on a rampage, eating everything in sight and crushing everything in its path to become the biggest first world problem that has ever walked the land.

So finally, when I was frustratedly searching among bags and boxes for the first (and favorite) lipstick I ever bought, I just decided to get rid of it. 

All I have left

All I have left. Photography shot with the Canon SL1.

I’ve always been a minimalist at heart; I favor sterile, all-white interiors, always have a Goodwill donation bag running, maintain a wardrobe of 33 items of clothing, and have been known to throw fits when my household surfaces are not clear. So finally, it dawned on me: Why not try the same with my beauty products? 

Despite what I’ve nearly always believed, it does not take a minimum of a dozen products to make myself (or any woman) look passably attractive. In fact, all the options were making me feel disjointed, stressed, and less beautiful than ever. Anyone else get that lecture from your mom when you first started wearing makeup that went something like, “Don’t wear too much, or you won’t be able to see yourself without it?” Turns out moms were right. 

So with that come-to-Jesus moment, I started going through my collection and weeding things out. Anything that didn’t wear well, or didn’t work with my coloring went out. Then all of the items that were too similar to other products in my collection went, too. The last, and most difficult to get rid of, were the products I purchased for my fantasy self. You know, the one who wears a dramatic, glittery, smoky eye to fabulous parties on Friday nights, rather than Actual Taylor who does #FridayBathNight before jumping in bed and scrolling down Tumblr for hours. 

It became oddly introspective, getting rid of makeup, as I had to confront all sorts of questions about my identity and what beauty meant to me. (Sorry if you clicked on this for some sweet lipstick recs and got my navel gazing instead.)

In the end, I unloaded boxes of makeup onto friends, family and women’s shelters (some items, I was embarrassed to find, I had used only once or never at all) until I only had nine makeup items left (10 if I ever find that lipstick I lost). 

Strangely, It didn’t feel much different than my overflowing collection, because these were the same products I was reaching for day after day anyway. My mini makeup collection now fits comfortably in one pouch, and it appeals to the deeply lazy part of me that doesn’t want to deal with making choices or getting up earlier to apply a full face.

My everyday look

My everyday look.

The best part of getting rid of all that makeup, including any kind of foundation or concealer is that it’s changed the way I see myself. I still wear makeup, of course, but with narrowed-down options, I actually love every product I put on my face. No more going out and spending the whole night wondering if I can actually pull off that lip color. I feel more pulled together and polished with a simpler look, and even without makeup at all.

It’s not that I think I’m above it all: I still lust after the latest eyeshadow palettes, and I still feel like an alien when I haven’t filled in my brows. But this experiment in stripping down to a more bare-bones beauty collection has been refreshing. My apartment feels less cluttered, as does my morning routine. Ultimately, I feel a little more contentment and peace.