Makeup for Minimalists: Decluttering Beauty Products


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“Cosmetics makers have always sold ‘hope in a jar’ – creams and potions that promise youth, beauty, sex appeal, and even love for the women who use them.”

– Virginia Postrel

This probably isn’t the most scientific of surveys, but beauty e-tailer SkinStore recently found that women in the United States spend an average of 10 minutes and $8 a day on skincare and beauty products for their faces.

Remembering that most of us trade time to earn money (i.e., work), that’s an awful lot of time we spend on cosmetics.

If you consider making yourself up a hobby or necessary for your job, these numbers probably don’t concern you. And that’s fine.

Minimalism isn’t about getting to some magic number of possessions. It’s about balance – owning what’s necessary and what you love, and no more.

“I feel most beautiful at night, when I take my makeup off and it’s just me.”

– Ashley Greene

I suspect, though, even if you’re a makeup lover, you have a bunch of it you never use. If that’s true, take some time this week to sort through what you have. Ditch the stuff that’s old or you just don’t like.

On the other hand, I’ll bet many of you, who may wear makeup out of habit or a sense of obligation, are doing some quick calculations in your heads, thinking “Seriously? I’ve got better things to spend my time and money on!”

The most minimalist makeup is, of course, none.

If you don’t want to stop wearing cosmetics, consider gradually reducing the amount you wear. Skip the type of makeup you feel the least attached to, perhaps eyeliner. Keep going until you’ve reduced your cosmetics use to a point you’re happy about.

Wear enough that you’re comfortable, but don’t spend more time and money on cosmetics than you feel you’re getting in return.

“Whether I’m wearing lots of makeup or no makeup, I’m always the same person inside.”

– Lady Gaga

Whether you love makeup or wear it only occasionally, remember:

  • Get rid of all of your old products. Not only are they not going look their best on you, but wearing old makeup (especially near your eyes) can be dangerous.
  • Toss anything you decided you didn’t like after all. If it’s unopened and fairly new, you may be able to donate it or give it to a friend. Otherwise, for safety’s sake, throw it away.
  • When buying beauty products in the future, consider whether you really need that many shades of eye shadow or nail polish, or if you’d be just as happy with a smaller selection.
  • Try multitasking with beauty products to reduce the number of items you need to create the look you want.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.