Decluttering My Makeup Collection Helped Me Feel More Beautiful

I've always been a minimalist at heart, so I figured, why not try the same with my beauty products?
Publish date:
December 13, 2013
shopping, self esteem

Over the past month, I’ve been quietly engaging
in some pretty strange behavior for a beauty blogger. For much of the time that
I’ve been writing to encourage you all to add my favorite products to your
collections, I’ve been turning off my laptop and ditching nearly all of my own

Let me explain. From the time I bought my first lip gloss in
middle school, I’ve been painstakingly researching product after product,
snapping up new items I believe for a moment will be the ones to finally make
me feel confident and beautiful. Then, as I got older, I doubled my makeup-collecting efforts when I discovered the fun and artistry in turning the blank
canvas of my face into something new.

It seems this experience is nearly
universal to women these days. I mean, y’all know--there’s something so
thrilling about arranging all the colorful tubes and pots and jars, even if you
barely use them, right?

It only got worse when I started to write for xoVain and could
justify any Sephora run with “it’s for an article.” Soon my makeup bag turned to
two, then three, and then it spilled over from my medicine cabinet to the
bathroom windowsill, to my dresser, to the shelves of closet. My makeup
collection was on a rampage, eating everything in sight and crushing everything
in its path to become the biggest first world problem that has ever walked the

So finally, when I was frustratedly searching among bags and
boxes for the first (and favorite) lipstick I ever bought, I just decided to
get rid of it.

I’ve always been a minimalist at heart; I favor sterile, all-white
interiors, always have a Goodwill donation bag running, maintain a wardrobe of
33 items of clothing, and have been known to throw fits when my household surfaces
are not clear. So finally, it dawned on me: Why not try the same with my beauty

Despite what I’ve nearly always believed, it does not take a minimum
of a dozen products to make myself (or any woman) look passably attractive. In
fact, all the options were making me feel disjointed, stressed, and less beautiful
than ever. Anyone else get that lecture
from your mom when you first started wearing makeup that went something like, “Don’t wear too much, or you won’t be able to see yourself without it?” Turns out moms were right.

So with that come-to-Jesus
moment, I started going through my collection and weeding things out. Anything
that didn’t wear well, or didn’t work with my coloring went out. Then all of
the items that were too similar to other products in my collection went, too.
The last, and most difficult to get rid of, were the products I purchased for
my fantasy self. You know, the one who wears a dramatic, glittery, smoky eye to
fabulous parties on Friday nights, rather than Actual Taylor who does
#FridayBathNight before jumping in bed and scrolling down Tumblr for hours.

It became oddly introspective, getting rid of makeup, as I had to confront all
sorts of questions about my identity and what beauty meant to me. (Sorry if
you clicked on this for some sweet lipstick recs and got my navel gazing

In the end, I unloaded boxes of makeup onto friends, family and women’s shelters (some items, I was embarrassed to find, I had used only
once or never at all) until I only had nine makeup items left (10 if I ever find
that lipstick I lost).

Strangely, It didn’t feel much different than my
overflowing collection, because these were the same products I was reaching for
day after day anyway. My mini makeup collection now fits comfortably in one
pouch, and it appeals to the deeply lazy part of me that doesn’t want to deal
with making choices or getting up earlier to apply a full face.

The best part of getting rid of all that makeup, including
any kind of foundation or concealer is that it’s changed the way I see myself. I still wear makeup, of course, but with narrowed-down options, I
actually love every product I put on my face. No more going out and spending
the whole night wondering if I can actually pull off that lip color. I feel
more pulled together and polished with a simpler look, and even without makeup
at all.

It’s not that I think I’m above it all: I still lust after
the latest eyeshadow palettes, and I still feel like an alien when I haven’t
filled in my brows. But this experiment in stripping down to a more bare-bones
beauty collection has been refreshing. My apartment feels less cluttered, as
does my morning routine. Ultimately, I feel a little more contentment and