The world of beauty can be an overwhelming one at times. In an oversaturated market where new releases are constantly being pushed out to keep us on our toes and lure us back in, it's so easy to just throw our money at brands and fall into this never-ending cycle of wanting and buying. It all gets a bit too much at times and while I'm definitely no minimalist who only buys what they "need", I have become a lot more selective with the beauty products I choose to purchase and over time, have also developed quite the decision making process when I'm considering buying something. Not only do I want to ensure that I'm getting my money's worth, but it's also about being mindful and not owning all this shit that I'm not going to love in a few month's time once the hype has died down. Having been around the online beauty community for quite a while now, I'm not as easily taken by new releases anymore and quite frankly, some are just pure garbage (I'm looking at you, Benefit and Too Faced), but on the off chance when something does take my fancy, here are the factors I take into account when it comes to buying beauty.
I suppose it's kind of shallow putting packaging right at the forefront of my list, but straight up, if I don't like the way a product looks, I'm not going to buy it. If I'm going to part with my money, I want something that's of high quality, both in how the product performs and in the way it looks, which is why I tend to favour high end products over those found at the drugstore. That's not to say drugstore products can't be good quality, it's just my own personal preference as aesthetics and branding are things I really value in a product. I only want to own things that bring me joy and make me feel excited to use them, and for me, a lot of that joy and excitement comes from the way in which a product looks. More than how aesthetically pleasing something is though, it's important to note that a lot of skincare products need a stabilised environment so that active ingredients don't break down from air and light exposure. Practicality is also a big thing for me too; for example, I'd never buy a foundation without a pump or that's not in a squeeze tube, nor would I purchase anything big and bulky.
Do I already own something that's similar?
You know how it goes, you'll be browsing around the various beauty counters at a department store, swatch a few lipsticks that take your fancy, only to realise that you already own pretty much the exact same thing in another product. "But this one has different undertones!", you'll tell yourself to try and justify buying yet another lipstick, but how many browny pink nudes does one (aka me) really need? For me, this can be a tricky area. I mean, beauty is a hobby for me and I enjoy trying out new things, but there's also no point in buying something that's vastly different and completely out of my comfort zone if I know I'm not going to wear it. That's just a waste of money. When it comes to makeup, I'll always swatch things beforehand to make sure they're at least slightly somewhat different from what I already own and with skincare, if products have a similar function and contain the same ingredients, I'll use things up before moving onto something new.
Up until a few years ago, I never used to pay all that much attention to ingredients and I just used whatever skincare everybody else was using. I guess I still do to a certain extent - I mean, a lot of products are hyped up for a reason - but now if a product intrigues me, I extensively research the ingredients before I even somewhat consider giving into the hype. I don't have the funds to be as frivolous with my money like I did when I was younger (ah, the joys of adulting!) and as I'm fast approaching my thirties, I'm more conscious of what I'm putting on my skin. For example, as much as everybody raves on about the Sunday Riley Luna Retinol Night Oil, the cons by far out weigh the pros for me, and I don't believe it's the best quality retinol product on the market, especially for the price too. At $154, I'd expect a product to be perfect in every single way, but I'm really put off by the fact that it contains artificial colouring agents to get it that blue colour (it isn't dyed by blue tansy like people believe it to be). I do want to introduce a retinol product into my skincare routine at some point and the Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil seems to be the best one I've come across. It's cheaper (albeit, only slightly) and contains better ingredients. Admittedly, I'm a little less strict when it comes to haircare and I don't even take into consideration the ingredients in makeup at all, but perhaps this will be something I start looking into in the future.
How does it swatch?
As I mentioned, I like to swatch makeup products in-store not only to make sure it's not too similar to what I already own, but also to get a feel for how pigmented they are and what the texture is like. There have been times where I've bought products blindly online (just going by swatches I've looked at on blogs and YouTube) or have gotten friends to pick me up things elsewhere in stores I don't have access to, and it has, unfortunately, lead to a couple of disappointing purchases. For example, I got my good friend, Jess, to pick up the Marc Jacobs Twinkle Pop Stick Eyeshadow in Honey Bunny for me in Sydney before Sephora had opened up in Melbourne, and as beautiful as the colour was, I ended up passing it onto my sister because the formula was a little too patchy and I just couldn't get it to work for me (my sister said the exact same thing about it too, so she just uses it in the inner corner of her eyes). It goes without saying that this is of course in no way a bad reflection of Jess (who is an actual angel!), but this constant need for more, more, more, which I've progressively gotten better at curbing.
I've now learnt that looking up swatches online is not enough and it's not worth the risk buying a product unless I can test it out for myself. There have been some blind purchases (where I don't have access to a physical store) that have absolutely impressed me, namely my ones from Charlotte Tilbury and Glossier, but for the most part, being able to swatch products is super important to me.
Fragrance in products is seen as unnecessary and is an especially huge no-no for those with sensitive skin types. I, fortunately, don't have sensitive skin, though I have noticed that within the last year or so, I've become a lot fussier with the fragrances I enjoy. A few years ago, I used to absolutely adore the scents found in Origins skincare, but just last year, I decided to completely cut the brand out from my routine because they just became way too overpowering and so heavily fragranced, I started questioning whether it was even good for my skin or not. I'm now currently working my way through using up my Soap & Glory body products because they've become a little too sickly sweet for my liking now too (bar The Breakfast Scrub, which is the exception!). I don't mind mildly fragranced products (herbal, rose and coconut are scents I enjoy), but if it's over the top and too artificial, I'm not interested anymore.
What are the reviews like?
Prior to buying a product, not only do I like to research the product itself, but I also like to hear what other people saying about it. If there's something that's taking my fancy, the reviews can be make or break for me. I don't just rely on blogs and YouTube for my reviews either, I like to read from a wide variety of sources, some including Sephora, Mecca Cosmetica, Makeup Alley, Beautypedia and Reddit. I suppose it's kind of cynical to say this, but I think as social media has become such a huge advertising platform for brands, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell what's genuine when people are being sent products for free or are getting paid to talk about them. I see people making claims about skincare products like, "This is amazing, it makes my skin feel so soft and glowy!" without even mentioning how the ingredients function, and if they aren't going to take the time to properly review something, then I'm going to look elsewhere for my information. I mean, remember a few years ago when all the big bloggers did those sponsored posts on the Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush? Not a word has been spoken about it since! I'm not saying that I don't trust my peers, just that I think it's important to look at external sources outside of blogging for more varied opinions and for a more unbiased approach. There's nothing wrong with a positive review, it's just disappointing when bloggers and YouTubers are afraid to think critically. If I am looking at blogger reviews, I usually turn to those with smaller audiences as I find they go a little more in-depth and everything isn't just pretty pictures. In general, I find them more personable and relatable too.
You know me, I'm very much partial to a high end splurge and don't mind saving up for something a little more on the pricey side, but even I have my limits! Much to my dismay, you definitely won't see the likes of La Mer or Chantecaille being mentioned around here and no matter how beautiful a product may seem, sometimes I just have to take a step back and put the credit card down. At the end of the day, a product is just a product and I'm not going to be a better person if I have it in my life. As much as I love the look of some ridiculously priced products, I just have to remind myself that I'm grateful and super privileged for all that I already own, and how that money is going to feel by far a lot better still in my bank account.
How long has it been on my wishlist?
I'm not much of an impulse shopper these days. As I mentioned, I can't be as frivolous as I used to be, plus as this post will tell you, I'm more selective with my purchases now. Once I've decided I like a product enough to add it to my wishlist, it can stay on there anywhere between two months to two years; I'm not really one to go out and immediately purchase something that's been on there for a short period of time just because I like to mull over things and make sure it's something I really, really want. This works well for me too because as I've gone back through my decision making process, there have been quite a number of times where I've decided I don't want the product after all and have actually ended up deleting things off my wishlist. Of course, I'm not perfect, I do enjoy shopping and there's no harm in a bit of YOLO-ing every now and then, just so long as I'm being responsible most of the time.
Do I like it or do I love it?
I mentioned this as a tip in my decluttering post, but I find asking myself this question also comes in really handy when I'm considering buying something too. If I'm hesitating over a product, I'm most likely not really in love with it and I'd probably find myself later regretting the purchase too. In this case, I find it best just to step away and forget about it, but if I'm still thinking about the product over the next few days, I'll make a note of it on my phone and revisit it at a later date. Obviously, with things like skincare, it can take time to see whether you love a product or not (having my intensive decision making process ensures this doesn't happen often though!), but with makeup, I find it pretty easy to tell right off the bat. After thoroughly going through my decision making process and comparing it to similar products out there on the market, if I can tell myself that I wholeheartedly love it and if I truly believe that it's the best one out there for me, then I am finally ready to tap my credit card on that EFTPOS machine.
What factors do you take into account before purchasing a product?