Stripped to its essence, #shopthestash was a way to get rid (read:use) most of my stockpile. By a regular person’s standards, I was a contender for Hoarders:beauty edition. For a skincare/beauty fan, my stash is but a drop in a very tiny bucket.
But more than that #shopthestash was an experiment–I love experiments!–on what I need. I’ve found there are so many things that I love but can do away with. Last year was an education on what I truly use. Skincare was always something that I invested heavily in. I love makeup, but I dabble in it for fun and it’s on the periphery.
My stockpile of sunscreen and moisturiser all seemed to disappear. Quickly. My last sunscreen bottle was gone by August (and I had to resort to hats, coverings and parasols until I bought more sunscreen). Sheet masks went just as quickly, but I was lucky to be gifted with quite a few over the year.
Still, there are so many bottles that I still have unopened, unused or barely put a dent in. I’ve got a couple of facial oils and two or three cleansers (all foam). I’ve got two clay masks. I’ve got two more trial sets to go.
Besides giving me some time to use up all that I’ve got and free up space, this period allowed me a chance to confront how I approach spending and beauty. To get a good routine going takes a lot of trial and error and that requires a lot of product testing. But I realized that I had a lot of stuff that just didn’t work for my skin at this stage of my life. I honestly don’t need two spot treatments as part of my routine. That seems a bit excessive, since I’m not acne-prone and that’s not one of my main concerns. That said, I’m glad that I do have spot treatments for the occasional breakout and hormonal backlash. Foam cleansers are things that I don’t really use a whole lot of anymore. The ones that I have tried can be pretty drying and seem better suited for people who have more oiler skin. (Ironically, when I started oil cleansing my face five years ago my combination/oily skin started to normalize.) I’m sure there are foaming cleansers that I can use that aren’t so stripping, but I’m ready to say goodbye to them–as soon as I’ve finished the tubes I’ve got here. Once I finish those off, I think it would have to take a lot of researching on my end to be willing to try out another foaming cleanser. I think I’m more likely to stick to gel/oil/balm/micellar formulations.
I spent a lot of time this year really optimizing how I use my products. I used my oil cleansers as a way to squeeze in a facial massage and got a thorough cleanse to boot. (Normally I do a couple minutes of cleansing; by the end of the year, those couple of minutes ratcheted up to 10). Ditto my moisturizer–my skin looks so much plumper than it used to be. To satisfy my need for novelty, I spent a lot of time experimenting with ideal day and night lineups. (I’m currently using a pretty good one!)
I reconnected to my original stance of skin care as self care. As I quickly accumulated skincare and makeup, any pamper routine soon had an underlying tone of overwhelm and anxiety tied to it. Now it’s not like that at all: it’s back to a grounded practice and more intentional. There’s less stuff to worry about using before its expiry, less stuff to fret about using and more time just enjoying the prettifying process. I apply about eight products each night (give or take). I realized that it wasn’t so much the steps, but the options for each step that overwhelmed me. Streamlining my stash overall was the best thing for my sanity and for my skin.
To overcome any potential disappointment from past purchases and to curb any sort of internal trash talk (“Ugh! Why did I buy this?! I know better!”), I flipped the script and reframed every bomb purchase as an investment in my overall skincare game. Now I knew what not to buy and what my skin didn’t take to. Though that doesn’t give me license to try and buy what I please so recklessly. This year also taught me to not feel ashamed about asking for samples and to ask for them freely.
I didn’t expect this year to be a mirror for my life and an opportunity for self-discovery. I just thought it would be a cool opportunity to use all the stuff I had and free up some much needed real estate off my desk. I confronted all these parts of my personality and it was sort of bizarre to see it all manifest through my stash. Scarcity issues (Calm down! Those masks aren’t going anywhere after this sale!), insecurity issues (It’s like I have no brows without my brow pencil! 😦) and other behaviours that came up were fascinating and helpful on a deeper, meaningful level.
I’m so happy with my progress even though I didn’t finish off the stash like I had envisioned. While this year is over, I’m totally unofficially continuing on with this process until I’m down to the bare basics (and one or two backups to keep my routine going).
That said, I really celebrated last year’s success with a huge Jolse haul that I am anxiously awaiting!