After a Year of Hauling, I’m Going on a Skincare Low Buy — Here’s How
How you can go on a low buy (or even a no buy!) without taking the joy out of your routine or sacrificing your skin.
Year one of my K-beauty journey is in the books! It’s time to head to a lookout point, evaluate how it’s gone so far, and make some plans for the trail ahead. And that means taking a really hard look at the habits I picked up in my first year.
Like buying all the things. Yes, it’s a phase lots of us go through. It’s normalized on social media (I see you, haul and unboxing posts). If I’m honest, being impulsive and acquisitive has been fun. But I spent an absolutely embarrassing amount of money on skincare products in 2019, and (tale as old as time) most of them are still sitting in a drawer. I’ve spent too much time with Marie Kondo to feel peaceful about continuing those patterns into the future.
As you may know, I don’t believe in resolutions. I’m not going to promise anything, and I’m not operating from shame. What I do have is a desire to feel more balanced and less wasteful. I also have the sense that after a year, I have enough information about my skin to change my relationship with skincare purchases.
So let the low buy begin. If you want to join me, please do! Directions are below. I’ll be chronicling my progress on reddit at r/AsianBeautyRehab. (Because this is a common enough problem there’s a whole subreddit for it.) You are welcome to join me there, too.
Stash Reset: The Steps
Step 1: Take inventory of what you’ve got
That is a tiny fraction of the jumble of products I piled up on my living room rug. If I’d measured the pile, I would have had to use square feet for units. And some of these things are still in boxes. (I share this to make you feel less bad in case you’re inclined to feel bad. Don’t feel bad. We’re all addicts here.)
If you keep a spreadsheet or a document where you track all your products, update it. If you don’t, make a general note of what type of products you have lots of. For example I had lots of watery toners, which is great — I use them quickly! I also had three eye creams, which is … why? I barely use them at all.
Step 2: Choose products you use daily or weekly
They call this “shopping your own stash,” and it is amazing. What do you want to focus on in the next few months? Hydration? Rebuilding your moisture barrier? Treating hyperpigmentation? Is there something in your wardrobe you’ve been wanting to try for a while and just haven’t gotten around to it?
Clean your skincare area (wipe down any grimy shelves), and then put your products there in a pleasing array.
Step 3: Look at the rest
Take a little minute to gaze upon the remaining products, the ones you know you aren’t going to use up any time soon. Despair. There are too many. Why are there so many? Whose bright idea was it to purchase seven sunscreens at once? What gave you the idea you needed that serum? When did you get another jar of that sleeping mask? Why did you get another jar of that sleeping mask? It smells funny. How in heaven’s name did you afford all this? Just think of all the nice socks you could have bought instead.
No, stop thinking about that. Those were your choices, you had a good time, we don’t believe in guilt around here, and now we’re moving on.
Step 4: Have a really good clear think about each product in your pile
If there are any you just don’t want anymore, put them aside. Yes, even if you spent a lot of money on them. You got the pleasure when you bought them; keeping them around now is only making you feel bad. Likewise, put aside any you doubt you’ll get to before they expire. You’ll be donating these to a shelter, giving them to a friend, using them for body care, or pitching/recycling them.
Now make a plan for each product. If you love it, keep it in rotation. If you don’t love it, set a goal to use it up or destash it. Will you finish it and repurchase? Give it away? Use it on your legs? Don’t stop until every single skincare thing you own has a destiny.
Step 5: Repeat the process, this time with samples
Step 6: Put your bathroom (or vanity area, whatever you’ve got) back together
Here’s how I stored the products I decided to keep:
Back of the drawer: unopened products a long way from expiring.
Middle of the drawer: opened products and products that may expire soon.
Front of the drawer: opened products I’ll be ready to rotate into my shelf as soon as I run out of something.
Separate shelf: samples. I kept fewer samples than I expected to. After a year of paying attention to skincare, I’ve noticed I really don’t use samples very much. Mostly I only open a sample if I have a whole bunch of them and it’s a product I genuinely want to test and maybe buy. All my “curiosity samples” I gave to a younger friend who’s new to the biz.
You did it!
After the reset comes the organization. This part is fun too … if you’re a bit of a nerd. And I am.
Further nerdery (organization)
Set goals for the upcoming year (or however long you decide to try this new way of operating). Think through what you’ll have to do to achieve them.
I have two goals: (1) reduce impulsive purchasing, and (2) continue to have a high-quality and joyous experience with skincare. For me to achieve those, I’ll need to do a few things:
Use the products I already have rather than buying new ones
* This doesn’t apply to potential new products that might greatly enhance my skincare experience, but it does apply to potential new products that I’m only excited about because they’re novel and different.
* This means I’m probably not going to be discovering new toners this year — I have several random ones to just get through as well as a few I like enough to repurchase.
Buy new products only when they’re totally different from anything in my wardrobe, and they fulfill a genuine need or close a genuine gap in my routine.
* It’s still okay to occasionally go wild and try something luxurious, but I want to do that only when I’ve used up other products that could go into that slot in my routine.
* This means I might discover some fancy serum or ampoule this year — I have nothing of this type, and I do have skincare goals they might work for.
I’m actually going to go even deeper down this rabbit hole and set monthly goals for each of my Just Use It Up products as I go through them. But that’s pretty individual, and I won’t inflict it on you.
In 2020, I will be focusing on three things: using up what I’ve already got, repurchasing favorites, and (if I get to a place where I really want to try something new) purchasing only high quality products whose claims fit with my actual skincare goals and the gaps in my routine.
I expect to spend less money on skincare this year, and I do not intend to sacrifice the quality of my skincare. I’m looking to reduce those add-to-cart moments that give me a quick fix but don’t contribute much to the overall goodness of my life.
Have you ever done a low buy or no buy? How did it go? Share your tips! And what are your skincare goals for this year?