This Is the Easiest New Year's Resolution You'll Make
Well folks, it's already December, and for many of us, 'tis the season to scramble for the perfect gifts in time for the holiday season. If you're anything like me (read: control freak extraordinaire when it comes to gifting), chances are your gifts have already been purchased, wrapped and are ready to go.
I like to get my holiday shopping done early; sue me
While we may dance around our last minute shopping habits and struggle to find the perfect gift for our friends, family and loved ones, there's a certain aspect of the holiday season few of us have difficulty dwelling over: New Year's resolutions. In fact, coming up with a resolution or two for the new year appears to be the easiest decision we'll make the entire holiday season.
The moment Christmas hits and my family and I are gathered around the table about to stuff ourselves with a delicious home-cooked meal, the conversation about resolutions begins. Some of us want to get in shape, others want to get back in shape, some want to spend less and save more...you name it, there's a resolution for it. Personally, my go-to resolution is the same for any occasion which "necessitates" that I give something up in return for a non-existent reward. It's chocolate, people. I always attest to giving up chocolate.
Of course, I never do, because who the hell gives up chocolate? That would be like giving up wine. And no one actually gives up wine.
Out of all the resolutions we claim to make, there's one I feel we actually can commit to, and keep, for longer than just first few weeks of the New Year. Because, let's be honest: most of us ditch our resolutions and fall back on old habits pretty damn quickly. Or is that just me?
The easiest resolution in my book is also the most painless, and likely the most effortless. This New Year, I challenge you to overhaul your beauty collection. Yup, you heard me; overhaul the whole thing.
I'm not saying you have to give up makeup, stop washing your hair or go deodorant-free. "Overhaul" can mean different things for different people, and there is no "requirement" here to give something up in an effort to make yourself prettier, or more natural...you get the picture. The purpose of this resolution is to help you declutter your beauty collection so that you achieve three things that, in the end, will actually be rewarding:
- you'll learn how to spend less, and save more, when it comes to beauty
- you'll stop using outdated beauty products that are bad for your health
- you'll get a little more organized about your beauty
Those three things may sound simple, but if you're a product hoarder (ahem, that's me), a ritual makeup-user, or your paycheck is often dropped at the Sephora counter on your way home, you'll benefit from at least one of the aforementioned three things. I'm going to walk you through each one, so don't panic; this will actually be pretty painless!
Spend Less, Save More - Seriously!
I recently contributed to Thoughtfully Magazine's seventh print issue, which focused on a minimalist approach to living, with an emphasis on beauty. In the magazine, I talk about pairing down our beauty routines in an effort to use a few highly effective products in place of a drawer full of ineffective ones. The premise here is that you can scale back on the number of products you use for skincare and hair care by looking to natural (green) beauty, as opposed to purchasing product on top of product on top of product that, chances are, you don't even get around to using.
The idea is to buy only what you need, not what you want. It's always nice to treat ourselves to a new eyeshadow palette, serum or other beauty product, but the moment we give ourselves free reign to buy, buy, buy is the moment we begin throwing good money away on products we often never get around to using. These items typically end up in a bathroom drawer or cabinet, where they are easily pushed to the back of our minds (and shelves) only to be forgotten. That $120 serum you bought three months ago may never see the light of day.
So here's where the resolution to overhaul our beauty collection comes in. The first step is to look at your entire collection of skincare and makeup products and address the products or items you haven't used, regardless of whether you've never opened a product or haven't used it in 6 months. Carefully go through each item in your collection and separate them into two groups: keep and toss. To help you streamline this process, here's a few tips for your keep and toss decisions:
- you should keep only those products you use on a regular basis or which you rely upon for specific needs, such as your daily moisturizer, night serum, spot treatment, etc.
- you should toss products that have passed their stale-by-dates (aka expired items) as well as those you do not use - if the product rarely makes an appearance in your daily routine, you can do without it
- you may wish to form a third pile for gifting, where you can separate items which are still within their expiration dates but are ones you don't use - these make perfect stocking stuffers, gift add-ons or surprise treats for friends and family
Once you've separated your collection of products into your designated piles, you can further overhaul your collection by making a checklist in your phone, on a tablet or in a fancy notebook of the items you use daily; this checklist will help you keep track of items you need to stock up on when you run out, and will help you refrain from purchasing unnecessary ones. I keep a similar checklist to remember which products are effective for my skin and hair, so that I know which items to buy in the future. Coming from someone who used to spend upwards of $200 per month on beauty, I can attest to the effectiveness of such a list.
Out with the Old
The next step in the overhaul process is to carefully go through each of the products in your keep pile (as well as your gifting pile, if you have one) and look at their expiration dates. This is where things can get a bit tricky, though. See, different types of beauty products have varying shelf lives, which means your makeup could last longer than your moisturizer, which could last longer than your eye cream...you catch my drift. The point, however, is to ensure you're using beauty products that haven't become ineffective. For example, a moisturizer constantly exposed to air (such as moisturizers housed in glass jars or pots, where air gets in each time the lid is removed) may become ineffective more quickly than moisturizers in pump or squeeze bottles.
I'm not an expert, however, with my own collection of beauty items, my rule of thumb is to toss any open facial creams, gels, cream masks, peels or scrubs I've had for longer than four months. I keep facial serums and oils for up to one year, and get rid of spot treatments after five months. For powdered products, like clay masks - which remain in powder form until a liquid is mixed with them - I keep these for up to 6 months, then toss them. However, we all use different products, and the shelf life of our items may vary based on their make-up and ingredients. There are two guides you may want to refer to from other platforms regarding the expiration of common makeup and skincare items (see buttons below).
Once you know the expiration date of each item, toss those products dangerously close to or past their expiration, and keep products nearing their expiration date (i.e. a few weeks or months away) at the front of your beauty drawer or cabinet to ensure you use them first before others. In essence, you'll want to use up those products before cracking open new ones with better shelf life. Many people assume that a moisturizer, for example, that's been kicking around for 6-12 months is still effective, but in truth, most skincare products will begin to lose their efficacy when opened and typically unused for months on end. At the most, I try not to keep any skincare item for longer than 6 months. Makeup can also expire, regardless of whether it is made with artificial or natural preservatives; expired makeup could change consistency, texture, and color, in addition to causing breakouts, clogging pores and damaging the skin.
I go by the mantra, "when it doubt, throw it out."
Okay, so, this one is a bit obvious, but if I were to show you my beauty drawers right now, you might be impressed by how organized they are. It's so simple to toss items back into a drawer or cabinet and put off organizing the clutter for another day. It's also terribly easy to get outdated, expired and ineffective items mixed up with the good stuff when we blatantly leave our collection of products to fester in chaos. When I finally decided to properly organize my drawers of products, I did three things:
- I purchased small baskets from a local craft store, along with tags and bright markers to categorize each basket based on the type of product they would house
- I divided my "keep" products into each basket based on their product type - for example, one basket housed facial oils and serums, whilst others housed body lotions, or hair care products, cleansers/scrubs and masks, you get the idea
- I used the tags and markers to label each basket, making it easier to choose specific products from each basket every day - no more guessing which product is which solely from looking down at a bunch of lids and dropper tops!
This method may not work for everyone, but once you organize your products into a system that works for you, it will be easier to pick out your products each day, keep track of which items you need to stock up on (and which ones you need to toss down the road), and the amount of each type of product you have. Sometimes I'll look in each basket to see if I have any unopened products that are still within their expiration dates by miles, and if I have a feeling I may not get around to using the product, I'll gift it to a friend or family member. When it comes to that list I mentioned earlier, having an organized product collection makes it far more simple to track the items you need to buy more of, and those you don't.
Let's recap (because even I'm exhausted by all that info!)
- Go through your collection of beauty products and form keep, toss and gifting piles (last one optional) to discover which items you use on a daily basis, which ones you need to throw out and which products can be used for gifting - proceed to make a list of the items you use daily to track the products you love and will continue to buy, whilst leaving out the items you don't need. This will help you spend less on unnecessary beauty items and save that disposable budget for other things, like travel!
- Carefully look at the items in your keep pile for expiration dates, and refer to the guides above (click on the buttons) to narrow down which products have passed their expiration dates. This will also help you keep in mind for future purchases how long each item lasts and how quickly you need to use each one before it expires
- Organize your drawer or cabinet using a system that works for you, to keep track of your products and make daily use more streamlined
Why is this so easy?
With all of this information, it may sound difficult or time-consuming to go through all of your products and try to pair down your beauty routine, but in fact, these steps are quite simple and could take you under an hour to complete. They have helped me save money by spending less on unnecessary products, whilst ensuring I use only those products in my drawers that haven't expired and lost their efficacy. I've found having organized drawers for my products helps me keep track of the products I need to stock up on whilst phasing out those I don't, and keeping a list means I know exactly which items to buy, every time. One hour-long exercise in streamlining our beauty collections and routine is likely the easiest New Year's Resolution you'll make...and keep.