6 months worth of empties (yikes)

Back around February/March 2017 after watching a marathon of Project Pan videos on Youtube, I decided to keep my empties from skincare, makeup, nail care, and perfume and essential oils for one year. The goal in this was to see what type of products I was actually fully using, to try and use up products completely before purchasing new ones, and to fully see how much waste I was creating because of my beauty stash. I grabbed an old cardboard Sephora shipment box and started chucking my empties in as I used them up. However, because I did accumulate a large amount pretty quickly and the box soon overflowed, I decided to stop after only six months and evaluate.


As you can see, there is a lot of junk in there. In the past, I used to throw all of my empties out, but this past year  I’ve started trying to recycle and reuse what I can. Anything that is a spray bottle I usually try to keep because I can reuse them as portable glasses cleaner bottles, or use them to hold various cleaning mixes. The Tatcha container I’ll probably try and find a use for (to hold bobby pins or ponytails, maybe) because it is too freaking adorable to throw out. Everything else will likely either be recycled if possible, or thrown out if not. I am a little rattled by how much stuff is actually in there to be quite honest. If this is the amount of plastic and garbage one person can accumulate in just six months, imagine how much I’m using over a year, a decade, a life time? Though I am trying to pause purchases until I actually need any more skin care or makeup supplies, I think that in the future I will be trying to purchase from companies that produce minimal packaging, recyclable packaging, or otherwise eco-friendly packaging.


The majority of the box was skincare empties. The empties ranged from grocery store Neutrogena products to Sephora and Ipsy products to high end Claris and Tatcha products. A few thoughts when I see this:

  • My biggest frustration is that so many full sized products are SO small. For example, I adore the Moisturizing Factors + HA moisturizer by The Ordinary/Deciem, but I go through the small container far too quickly. A tube lasts me about 1.5-3 months at most. Thankfully The Ordinary has launched a bigger size in this product so that I won’t be throwing out roughly 6 of these each year, and I really wish other companies/lines/products would follow suit. If I like and frequently use a product, I want the option of buying it in bulk when possible.
  • I love Gehwol/Gersalan and their hand cream is the best lotion I’ve ever tried, but their packaging is super impractical. I’m sure their metal-ish squeeze tube serves a purpose in keeping their product fresh or something, but as far as I know it is impossible to recycle and reuse, and I actually cut my hand a few times trying to roll and squeeze product out of the tube.
  • The Neutrogena products worked pretty well but now that I’m trying to switch over to cruelty-free, I will no longer be repurchasing.
  • Josie Maran just did not do it for me. Some folks swear by it, but for me it was not worth the hype. It left me feeling greasy and disappointed in comparison to other gels, lotions, and oils.
  • The Tatcha Water Cream is expensive as hell but is so delightful if you have oily skin. It’s genuinely one of the best products I’ve found so far for oily skin, you get a lot of product in the container, and it smells so simple and chic.


Next up we have makeup, nail care, and a few Fountain supplements. This was most surprising to me, as I thought that for sure I use so much more makeup than this. There is at least one mascara tube missing from this, but for the most part this is the only makeup I managed to completely use up in at least six months. When I compare what I’ve actually used up to the amount of makeup I purchase and order each month, I honestly feel embarrassed. Do I need a dozen highlighters? Multiple setting sprays? Probably not. My new goal is not to purchase new makeup until I use up some old makeup, no matter how tempting all the upcoming holiday palettes, limited edition products, and new collaborations are (with the exception of the Desi x Katy Dose of Colours collab, as I have wanted that one for awhile and have been patiently waiting for it to restock!). E.g. No new eyeshadow palettes until I’ve completely hit pan on an old one, no new foundation until I’ve used up what I currently have, etc. I’m going to try to follow the mentality of shopping your own stash, and looking at the products I already have in new ways that I haven’t used them before.


And last but not least, we have essential oils and perfumes. Though I initially got into essential oils through the Young Living brand, I will not be purchasing products from them in the future if I am able to get the same thing elsewhere. The only exception to this would likely be the Northern Lights Black Spruce blend, as I haven’t found anything similar elsewhere (if you do know of a dupe, please let me know!). Initially, I thought multi-level marketing companies like Young Living and Doterra were harmless enough. I never wanted to sell the products or go on social media crusades like their sellers do, but I did buy their products from time to time. However, after being dragged into Facebook group after Facebook group by sellers, seeing people being taken advantage of by these companies, and seeing them spread dangerous information about essential oil cleanses online (here’s looking at you, Doterra), I would rather not support them. I’m working on compiling a list of Canadian essential oil companies that are a better option than the usual MLM options, so if that interests you, stay tuned! That rant aside, this picture has shown me that there is definitely no need ever for myself to sign up for monthly shipments of essential oils. I simply do not use them that quickly! I’ll also likely never purchase full-sized perfume again. In six months I only managed to use up two Sephora samples, and I still have at least twenty Sephora perfume samples sitting on my dresser, so I’ll keep on using those while they’re still good.

In summary, I learned a few important things from this experience:

  • I need to greatly reduce the amount of makeup I purchase, and become a more minimalistic consumer for the sake of my messy, overcrowded makeup desk, the environment, and my bank account.
  • I need to find makeup and skincare companies that sell products in recyclable and environment friendly packaging. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!
  • I need to be more dedicated to recycling what I can instead of lazily tossing used containers out without checking to see if it is recyclable.

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