Minimalist Makeup

pear on tree in fall
© 2013 Christy King

“The only way I’d be caught without makeup is if my radio fell in the bathtub while I was taking a bath and electrocuted me and I was in between makeup at home.”

– Dolly Parton.

Did you know one study found the average woman spends 172 hours a year putting on makeup? That works out to about a year and 3 months over the course of your lifetime.

.Another study revealed that the average woman spends $15,000 during her lifetime on cosmetics ($3,770 just for mascara).

These figures don’t even include time and money spent on Botox or chemical peels, much less on purely cosmetic plastic surgery.

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

“Ultimately you are the one who determines what money is worth to you. It is your life energy. You ‘pay’ for money with your time. You choose how to spend it.”

– Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life

If you consider making yourself up a hobby, these numbers probably don’t concern you. And that’s fine. After all, I have ten eleven kinds of flour and a cupboard full of yarn, and I spend a lot of my free time baking and knitting.

I don’t think minimalism is about getting to some magic number of possessions. Rather, it’s about balance – owning what’s necessary and what you love, and no more.

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!”

“When I was your age…I wish I’d known that I already had everything I needed within myself to be happy, instead of looking for happiness at beauty counters.”

– Ilene Beckerman

The most minimalist makeup is, of course, none. Usually I wear no makeup at all, though I do sometimes use a concealer stick or paint my toenails. I’ve also worn really basic makeup for dressy events like weddings – just foundation, lip gloss and mascara.

I live in Oregon, where it’s pretty common not to wear makeup, so I don’t feel any societal pressure to wear it. Before I moved to Oregon, though, I lived in Louisiana, where, at that time at least, most women wore heavy makeup.

By the time I entered college, I had lost interest in makeup. I had a busy schedule – being a full-time student with a part-time job. It didn’t seem worth it to spend a lot of time on my face when I could spend it sleeping more instead.

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.”

– Yves Saint-Laurent

I wasn’t ready to give up makeup cold turkey though. I would’ve been mortified to show up to class or work out of the blue without makeup. Heck, my mom wouldn’t even open the door for a package without all her makeup on.

If you’re like me and can’t (won’t) just stop wearing makeup, consider gradually reducing the amount of makeup you wear. Depending on your current situation, your first step may not even be wearing less makeup, but just switching to more natural-looking makeup.

Once you’re comfortable with that, skip the type of makeup you feel the least attached to, perhaps eyeliner. Keep going until you’ve reduced your makeup 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.

Luckily, the minimalist makeup look is in now. If you’re interested in transitioning to fewer cosmetics, this may make it a bit easier if you’re the self-conscious type.

Minimalist Makeup Tailored for You

Whether you love makeup or wear just a little, remember:

  • Get rid of all old makeup. Not only is it not going to look its best, but wearing old makeup, especially eye makeup, 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 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.
  • Some items can do double duty, say, lipstick as blush.

Since I really don’t wear makeup anymore, I’d really appreciate those of you do sharing your minimalist makeup tips in the comment section below.