The 3 Biggest Beauty Shopping Lies YouTube Has Told Me

I've picked up some pretty bad spending habits from watching YouTube beauty videos, but it's not too late to unlearn that behavior.
Publish date:
June 4, 2015
shopping, discontinued, YouTube

There’s no question that YouTube has changed the beauty industry, and it changed my beauty world massively. After discovering video beauty tutorials in 2010, I went from an occasional foundation- and mascara-wearer to a complete beauty obsessive. I learned a lot about makeup and how to apply it, but I learned some bad habits, too.

One thing that’s awesome about YouTube and the many, many beauty videos therein is how much of an equalizer it is. Not everyone has the time or money to learn makeup skills from a professional, but anyone can sit down and stream a tutorial on a smoky eye. It’s the combined effect of consuming these videos every day, though, that has made me reevaluate some of the things I’ve picked up.

I could probably write a thesis on how much I do like YouTube, because accessibility and community are really important things (that underpin sites like xoVain, too), but there are some not-so-great habits that I’ve picked up from watching it all the time—stuff that YouTube has normalized for me just because it’s constantly in my face, my subscription box constantly reminding me about new videos to watch. (I get push notifications on my phone now. How does that even happen?)

Every trip to the store must result in a haul.

"Haul" wasn’t even in my vocabulary before YouTube made it a thing. These types of video are my guilty pleasure. I love seeing what people are actually buying, and why.

It’s just that I start to forget that normal shopping behaviour doesn’t result in a 15-minute video showing $700 worth of new product. Suddenly, my trip to replace my cheap eyebrow pencil feels inadequate. I should be buying more new makeup, and more often. I feel jealous, and then even more pathetic for letting conspicuous consumption make me jealous.

I need a backup of every product I’ve ever loved.

As if feeling the pressure to buy new things wasn’t enough, the YouTube beauty community has normalized having backups of all your favourite products.

On its own, this isn’t unreasonable behaviour; one of my favourite red lipsticks was discontinued a few years ago and when I had the chance to buy a spare, I jumped at it. Here’s the thing, though: it’s now two or three years later, and I still haven’t reached the bottom of the first tube of that red. I don’t even wear red lipstick that much.

I need this hair tool, and this one, and this one...

I’m not so savvy with hairstyles. If my hair’s not in a ponytail, it’s in a ponytail masquerading as a fancy updo. I hate hairspray—the smell gives me a headache, and I am really not down with crunchy hair. Sometimes I put a bit of oil in the ends of my hair. I used to think this was a completely acceptable approach, but with sponsorship deals and product placement to last a lifetime, hair tutorials on YouTube are telling me otherwise.

I need extensions; I need three styling products and two finishing products; I need a clip-less wand with a certain diameter, and so on...

These realisations came to me as I reached my beauty video saturation point. I’ve got a makeup collection too big to make sense for my purposes, and I think it’s because I’ve watched so many videos of massive makeup collections that I’m trying to keep up. I’ve made beauty videos of my own, for both xoVain and my own blog, so this isn’t some tirade against the whole concept—just perhaps a reminder to thinking critically about the effects of the media we consume.

Lately I’ve been reducing the number of videos I watch, and favouring technique-focused videos from professional makeup artists. My favourite is Lisa Eldridge, because she’s so talented and patient. and her calm, collected voice sometimes veers into ASMR territory.

Do you watch beauty videos on YouTube? Do you share any of these habits?