2020: My Year of Less

In 2018 and 2019 I attempted versions of a no buy year, succeeding in a few ways and failing in many. I failed, most importantly, in that I ended up breaking my rules and buying forbidden beauty and skincare items before the year was up. I succeeded in that I did significantly reduce the amount of money I spent on these products each year, and opted for more sustainable options.

In 2020, I am attempting it again. Of course, with the hopes that this time I will completely meet my goals and completely follow the rules I set out for myself. Even if I fail though, I feel confident that at the bare minimum I will make some progress, make some healthy changes, and learn a bit more.

I recently finished listening to Cait Flander’s audiobook, The Year of Less, and really enjoyed listening to her experience. Seeing that she is able to travel more and reach more of her goals now that she has her spending in check has made me really hopeful.

I’m attempting another no buy year/year of less sort of challenge for a number of reasons. I would like to save more money to visit my friend who lives abroad in Australia, travel more in general, and put more money towards purchasing a home. Reducing the amount of clutter and objects in my home has greatly helped with my anxiety and has made it a bit easier to keep my home clean, but I’m not quite at the ideal place I’d like to be. I still have a number of clothes that don’t fit me since I gained weight, makeup and skincare that I need to use or get rid of, and a pile of 27 books, 3 audiobooks, and 15 ebooks that are sitting about unread. I’ve got more of a push to downsize my belongings this go-around, as one of my brothers is moving in and we will no longer have a spare room to throw all of the odds and ends we don’t use on the daily.

My goals for my year of less:

  1. Opt for more sustainable options in my home, and reduce the amount of unnecessary garbage coming out of my home.
  2. Use up the backlog of makeup, skincare, and books that I own.
  3. Stop buying things I do not need so that I can travel and one day own a home.
  4. Improve my mental health and the way I cope with stress and how that translates to my shopping habits.

How I am going to achieve these goals:

  1. Regular declutter challenges, starting with a big clean and declutter right before the new year.
  2. Create a set of clear and simple rules about what I can and cannot buy.
  3. Dedicate the money I would have unnecessarily spent on beauty and books to savings accounts for travel and home ownership.
  4. Track the skincare and beauty items I am using up, with the goal of completing the Reverse Rouge challenge. The Reverse Rouge challenge is something I first saw on Instagram, where beauty enthusiasts pledge not to buy new makeup and instead attempt to use up $1000 worth of beauty products, as $1000 is the amount needed to be spent at Sephora to reach VIB Rouge status in their rewards program.
  5. Consume content that relates to my goals. For example, reading other no buy year blogs and books instead of watching makeup reviews on Youtube, spending less time on social media where I’m exposed to countless advertisements, etc.
  6. Hold myself accountable by blogging about it.

The rules:

  1. Makeup: No makeup purchases at all in 2020.
  2. Skincare: No purchases until I entirely run out of one category. Exception: The Caroline Hirons Spring Kit, as her Winter Kit has been well used and has actually been a good investment in my skin.
  3. Sephora: No Sephora purchases at all in 2020. I’m quite unimpressed with Sephora’s rewards program, and how even though Sephora does next to nothing to retain their customers, I still spend a stupid amount of money through their mobile app. A few hours ago I cut up my VIB card, and I intend to instead shop directly from brand websites or at local stores if needed to replace skincare once entirely out.
  4. Nail polish: No nail polish purchases in 2020. This has not been a bad category for spending since I stopped working at a spa, but I would like to use up the nail polish that I currently have first.
  5. Hair products: Purchase as needed. I don’t spend a lot on my hair, and I don’t shop for hair products impulsively or ridiculously. I’m not worried about this category and am fine with purchasing a decent shampoo and conditioner every now and then for my curly hair.
  6. I am only tracking the facial skincare and makeup products I use up (no body care, hair care, etc.).
  7. If I purchase a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes, one old item has to be thrown out, donated, or sold.
  8. Books: No books to be purchased in 2020. As I mentioned above, I have 45 books to get through first that have sat unread for weeks, months, and years. For the book club titles I will need to read, I will either borrow them from the library or borrow from within my book club. It’s a good group of ladies that is good for sharing both purchased and library copies to make sure everyone can read the book before the meet-up, so I am not worried.
  9. Any makeup gift cards will be kept until the challenge is over. Gift cards don’t expire, and there is no rush to use them. Any book gift cards can be used up after the challenge as well.

I am excited for 2020 and the positive actions I can take this year. If you’re doing a no-buy challenge or year of less challenge too, pop by and say hello 😊

NO BUY 2019: Thoughts on inevitably losing VIB Rouge Status

This is something I’ve been thinking about since I decided to do a “no buy” year back in December 2018, and then thinking about why losing VIB Rouge status is even important to me. Serein Wu recently posted a video touching on this and I share many of the same feelings.

Presently as I write this on April 8, 2019, a little more than 4 months into my 13-month no buy year, I would need to spend $940 at Sephora before taxes by the end of 2019 to reach VIB Rouge Status for 2020. I’ve only spent $60 at Sephora since December 2018, averaging out to about $15 per month. If I continue along similarly with this spending average, there is no way I will reach VIB Rouge Status again by 2020. Even if I were to quit buying replacement products from the clinic I work at or the drugstore, I would still have to spend a little over $100 a month at Sephora to reach status again.

I think I first entered a Sephora about 4 years ago or so, back when I was but an infant mystified by the world of makeup and skincare. My friends were super into Sephora, but we didn’t have one in my university city yet. However, one opened up not too much later, and I gradually began shopping there more and more. At first I had zero disposable income during my first year of university, but gradually I picked up part-time work while in school, which fuelled the shopping.

At one such part-time job at a spa in my hometown, I worked with a number of reception staff who were trained as makeup artists and collected makeup, and this rubbed off on me. At this point in time I thought it was wild and unfathomable that I somehow made VIB status, and couldn’t believe that these ladies regularly made VIB Rouge status. I was a little envious not only of their makeup skills, but their luxury makeup collections as well.

As I found myself working more, school getting more difficult, and my mental health declining, I spent more and more. I became a little obsessed with the cycle of new releases, and was the person who would stay up late just to get a new palette as soon as it launched on Sephora. At this point, I had definitely more than made VIB Rouge status, and maintained this status for 3 years.

Sephora has done this really great job of marketing their rewards program and making it seem far more luxurious and important than it actually is. Even the language they choose to use amplifies the want to reach each tier of the program. Rather than using “VIB level” or “VIB tier”, they use “VIB status”, alluding to high social standing. They stagger their “perks”, saving benefits like free standard shipping and VIB Rouge event access for Rouges only.

All of these perks make a person feel special and privileged at first, but when it comes down to it these perks are not really a worthy award for the amount of money you are spending, and their only use is to aid in the shopping process. The tiny sample sizes are often too small to even be considered a proper travel-size, and only wet your lips to encourage you to buy other high-end products. The savings you receive are minimal, and the events are entirely shopping and sale based. Why did it make sense to spend $1000 on makeup, before taxes, in a year just to receive free shipping and tiny samples? I very rarely place a makeup order under $50, so by default I’m getting free shipping regardless of my Rouge status. While I love samples and travel sizes as much as the next person and find them to be quite handy at times, they often just end up sitting in my bathroom drawer unused until they expire.

After mulling over these points and Serein’s video, I realized that being sad about losing a fake status was something I didn’t need to waste my time with. In fact, losing VIB Rouge status or VIB status would actually be an accomplishment; it would mean that I’m making wiser financial choices and refining and minimizing my beauty collection.

NO BUY 2019: the ins and outs of December/January

Products I have purchased to replace products within my rules:

  1. SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel $74 CAD
  2. Laroche Posay Effaclar Gel Cleanser $23 CAD
  3. Essence Insta Mat Setting Spray $6 CAD
  4. Two Sephora Z Palettes on sale, to aid in the decluttering of my powder face products $17.15 CAD total for both
  5. Cheekbone Beauty Buffy Liquid Lipstick $29 CAD (work)
  6. Cheekbone Beauty Cindy Liquid Lipstick $29 CAD (work)
  7. Cheekbone Beauty Sweetgrass Gloss $24 CAD (work)
  8. Cheekbone Beauty Brow Gel $24 CAD (work)
  9. Cheekbone Beauty Contour Palette $49 CAD (work)
  10. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner $22 CAD
    Dollar amount/value of products coming into my collection: $297.15

Empties I have finished:

  1. Phloretin CF $175 CAD
  2. Wet and Wild Photo Focus Matte Setting Spray $6 CAD
  3. March Jacobs Honey and Daisy perfume deluxe samples
  4. Giorgio Armani Beauty Power Fabric Foundation in 5 $72 CAD
  5. Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask Mini
  6. SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Defense $100 CAD
  7. ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Cleanser Mini
  8. Biossance Oil Cleanser $36 CAD
  9. Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Powder Foundation $72 CAD
  10. Lush Eau De Roma Water $10.95 CAD
  11. SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel $74 CAD
    Dollar amount/value of products leaving my collection: $545.95

MOTD: January 19, 2019

#motd💄
Face: @covergirl Matte Primer, @beccacosmetics Matte Foundation (tried this as a deluxe sample, not liking it too much!), @cheekbonebeauty Earth Contour Palette, @beccacosmetics Holiday Blush Trio from eons ago, Stila Holiday Highlighter Trio from eons ago, @essencemakeup Matte Setting Spray (which I am presently in love with–such a beautiful mist!) Eyes: @anastasiabeverlyhills x @makeupbymario palette, @physiciansformula Killer Mascara

Brows: @cheekbonebeauty Brow Gel in Brunette (LOVE the applicator on this!) Lips: @cheekbonebeauty Liquid Lipstick in CINDY (a Cheekbone Beauty #discountcode for ya: ANDRM100)

Brand Feature: Cheekbone Beauty

Full Disclosure: I am a Brand Ambassador for Cheekbone Beauty, and receive a small commission from the 10% off discount code, ANDRM100. Using the code ANDRM100 on cheekbonebeauty.ca will get you 10% off your purchase. This is my first affiliate code, and this is because I only promote and collaborate with brands that I can stand behind. This means that I respect what the company is doing, believe in their ethics and mission statement, and believe that they are doing good work. If a company or organization’s mission or ethics change and become something that I do not support and do not believe in, I cut ties. Read on for why this brand is kickass, and its origin story that is rooted in social justice and activism. As a white woman with a fair amount of socioeconomic privilege, I think it is really important to support and lift up not only other female and non-binary entrepreneurs, artists, and professionals, but especially women and non-binary folks of colour.

cheekbone

Origin Story

Cheekbone Beauty is a Canadian, Indigenous-owned beauty company created by Jenn Harper, an Ojibwe woman from the Thunder Bay and Niagara regions. Jenn grew up in a primarily white community and felt that she stood out. Growing up she had a complicated relationship with her heritage (she talks about this in the Breaking Beauty Podcast, episode 41–Jenn’s story is really quite incredible and interesting, and I recommend giving this episode a listen if podcasts are your thing!), having grown up without an Indigenous community and not becoming immersed in cultural traditions until later in her 30’s. Overcoming cultural barriers and her own addiction to alcohol, she launched Cheekbone Beauty and began to reconcile with her culture, her community, and Indigenous history. Cheekbone Beauty utilizes beautiful lipstick to birth conversations about issues that Indigenous folks endure, particularly the educational funding gap between white students and Indigenous students here in Canada. The name of the company came about because Indigenous folks are known for their lovely cheekbones, and research has shown that people with higher cheekbones are deemed as more trustworthy.

shannen

Social Justice and Activism

First Nations children receive anywhere from 30-50% less education funding than the rest of Canadian children, and this is a problem that Cheekbone Beauty aims to help fix by donating 10% of their profits from the sales of their cosmetics to the Shannen’s Dream campaign through the First Nations Caring Society. As well, the brand calls attention to stellar Indigenous women who have broken glass ceilings and created incredible careers by naming each of their lip shades after different inspiring Indigenous women.

Quick Stats

  • Cruelty-free products
  • A number of the products are vegan. In fact, the brand actually discontinued their tube lipstick line because they could not guarantee that animals were unharmed during the extraction process of their lanolin oil ingredient.
  • Paraben-free products
  • Free shipping over $99
  • Diverse models used in marketing and social media
  • Canadian, female-owned, Indigenous-owned company based out of Ontario
  • Products presently available include brow gel, lip gloss, liquid lipstick, a contour palette, and a highlighter palette

cheebonebeauty

An assortment of my personal thoughts on the brand

  • I like that the brand has a small collection of products. I feel that when companies, especially smaller beauty companies, jump in and start cranking out enormous amounts of different products, that there hasn’t been much time or effort put into the formulation. I think that if you’re going to do something, do a few things really well and start from there, rather than jumping in too quickly and doing a lot of things mediocrely.
  • I love that it is a Canadian brand whose ethics and mission I can get behind.
  • I appreciate that the brand has a very diverse social media presence. It gets tiring seeing the same blonde white ladies promoting everything out there. It’s nice to see all sorts of real women being shown on their Instagram page.

What other small, POC-owned makeup brands do you enjoy? Any recommendations?

NO BUY 2019: Why I’m doing a no buy year

Happy New Year, friends! I am now a month into my 13-month-baker’s-dozen-no-buy, and I figured it’s about time I come clean with why I decided to do a no-buy. Everyone’s reasons for doing a no buy are different: some just want to save money, some are running out of room in their homes and on their vanities, and others have an unhealthy relationship with shopping. I definitely fall into each of these categories.

I first got into makeup at the end of high school/beginning of university. My first year of university I had two friends/roommates from high school who had been watching Youtube tutorials since Youtube’s inception. They were our resident makeup gurus, and we could usually coax them into doing our makeup before parties or concerts. My first year of university was the first year that I had been single in my adult life, and my not-so-supportive prior partner had always said how they didn’t like me in heavy makeup, and so this was the first time that I felt I could really experiment with makeup and feel beautiful and not be chastised about it. Makeup was also a fun bonding experience with my troupe of gal pals. It was fun to pre-drink, take pictures, and chat while doing our hair and makeup together before going out for a fun night. Even though I was mostly just using cheap ELF makeup and my roommate’s UD Naked palette, it was probably the most fun and exciting period of makeup in my life. I wasn’t buying much makeup other than the odd lip product because I couldn’t afford to, but I loved doing my makeup each day before class.

My second year of university was a little more dicey, and I think this is where the bad spending first started to pop up. This year I bought my very first higher end makeup product, the Urban Decay Naked 3 (pink) palette. My high school and first year friends and I had ended up going separate ways, and I was hanging out more with people from my English classes and some students who worked at the same job I had started working at that previous summer. It was a harder time, as I found myself struggling more with my mental health, like many university students do, and my physical health, and trying to keep up with university, writing, and work, all while not really being well. I had one friend in particular who also experienced moderate to severe anxiety about school and life in general, and I found myself skipping class at least once a week with them to go to Chapters or the mall. At Chapters and Sephora we would usually end up getting expensive coffees and then making at least one stress-purchase. I don’t blame this friend at all, because we were both dealing with a lot and we definitely both enabled each other’s unhelpful spending. We always justified it, as English majors, as “You can never have too many books, right? It helps us with our degree, it helps us to be better writers, etc.”

From here my spending habits just kind of continued to slide. I continued to use shopping as a way to cheer myself up and cope with the depression and anxiety. I justified it because makeup had become a hobby for me. I had a few new friends who liked makeup too, we took makeup lessons together, and I spent most of my non-academic and non-work time watching makeup tutorials and recreating looks in my apartment. It was a hobby I could do from home in the cold winter months when school, my health, and the weather got me down.

However, because I had become such an avid watcher of the Youtube influencer community, I quickly became sucked into the “You need this!” race of getting the newest items, of feeling panicked when I couldn’t get my hands on limited edition items, and of feeling the need to get everything from each tutorial I watched. Again, I don’t blame anyone else for this. I applied critical thinking to essays and readings during my degree, but I didn’t apply this same criticism to my consumption of beauty products. I willingly chose to blindly dive into this unhealthy consumerism culture without questioning the reviews I was watching or the motives of those making the reviews, and without doing the math or creating a sustainable beauty budget for myself.

As I started first working at a spa and then later at a laser clinic, I discovered even more ways to enable and justify my addictive spending. I was seeing improvements with treating my acne and I didn’t want to revert back to my old breakouts. I claimed that it was for work, because I could make better product recommendations, more sales, and more commission if I used the products myself and could vouch for them. I was working in two different cities, and had a hoard of skincare at both my place and at my parents’ place.

It’s only in the past year or two that I’ve become more conscious of my purchases and have made an effort to get back on track. I attempted a no buy last year, but didn’t have a plan in place, or any sort of guidelines, and lacked specific goals, so I failed miserably. There have been set backs, such as being laid off and having limited income for awhile, and caving horribly during Sephora sales. I used each setback as an excuse to completely sabotage the rest of the progress I had made.

This time around though I know I have the tools to succeed with this no buy, to get back on track with my spending, and to pay off my debt and save up for my dreams. I want to be able to take a warm vacation in the future, to travel more overall, and to buy a house, and I’ve realized that with how I was previously spending, I would never achieve these goals in my lifetime.

Hannah Louise Poston (Youtube) said something along the lines of “I was spending like a rich lady, when I was in fact not a rich lady” in regards to how Youtube makes us feel like spending exorbitant amounts of money on skincare and makeup is “self care”, when it’s actually self-sabotaging. This hit home. I had been buying skincare beyond my means because I thought it was necessary to take care of my acne, and I was buying makeup out of my budget because I worked hard and was stressed and thought I deserved it. This sort of mentality, and many of the influencers I followed on Youtube at the time, have become a huge trigger for my harmful spending.

To sum up this lengthy ramble, I am doing this no buy year because I need it. I think it will be a positive step towards paying off my debt and meeting my financial goals. I think it will be a positive and planned out step towards breaking harmful habits and cutting out spending triggers. Most importantly, it is an opportunity for me to rediscover ways to cope with stress, poor mental health, and the usual mess life throws at us humans in a healthier, less expensive way. I’ve got my rules, I’ve got my community, and I’ve got the motive.

If you’re doing a no buy year, please get in touch with me! I’d love to have some blogging friends I can chat with about this experience. If you’re not doing a no buy, how do you manage your spending, whether it be for makeup, skincare, clothing, hobbies, pets, kids, etc.? What are your budgeting strategies and how have they worked for you?

NO BUY 2019: 26 days in

Well friends, it is 26 days into my 13 month skincare and makeup no buy. I’ve survived the Boxing Day sales unscathed, although I was tempted!

When drafting up the rules for my no buy, I said that when I receive gift cards for makeup or skincare I would use them up, but not spend more than what is on the card. I’d like to expand upon that, as I received a lovely Sephora gift card for Christmas. I think it’s best that if going forward I use gift cards only if they are going towards necessary replacement items. I can definitely see myself skirting the rules if I allow myself to buy anything as long as it’s on a gift card! I’m going to keep it on hand for the next time I run out of toner or mascara.

I’ve found it easier to dodge Boxing Day sale temptations since I switched phones, as weird as that sounds. I get most promotional emails sent to my iCloud email account, which now that I’ve switched back to Android, I only access these emails on my laptop. It makes a huge difference being able to ignore those sale notifications until the sale has passed. The only sale that really tempted me was the Sephora clearance section, as they had so many Viseart eyeshadow palettes that I’ve wanted for quite some time but haven’t purchased because of the price. The Tryst palette in particular was difficult to scroll past, but I didn’t cave.

I just watched Hannah Louise Poston’s most recent video upload on YouTube, in which she adds up what she spent on replacements during her no buy year, how much money she saved, and how much money she made from Adsense. It was really encouraging, as I feel like my collection and my spending habits are quite similar to what hers used to be, and just the thought of saving hundreds, if not a few thousand dollars by doing a no buy year successfully is so alluring. I want to be able to do something similar in copy cat fashion at the end of 2019 and be able to lay out my previous spending habits and my spending changes and see how it all adds up. I’ve started a document in my phone so that I can properly track what I’ve used up, what I’ve purchased, and what I previously would have bought but didn’t buy.

I’m feeling optimistic about not only my no buy, but also about others doing no buys and what it means for the beauty industry. I see so many comments on Hannah’s videos and on other no buy channels from other people who have also been inspired to do a no buy in 2019, or challenge their over-the-top consumerism in other ways. It makes me wonder, will makeup and skincare companies see a shift in their revenue? Will it force them to make items that are reusable and that stick around for awhile? Will we see fewer limited edition items, and more magnetic palettes and replaceable pans?

If you’re doing a no buy or low buy for 2019, I would love to hear how you are doing, what you are planning, and your thoughts on how and if the no buy trend will alter the industry.