Now that we’re through all the holiday sales that test our resolve, it seems like a great time to talk about educated consumerism and how we can all be a little bit better in the new year. I’ve got some quick beginner “rules,” some background info on the types of brands I like to support and those that I choose not to, and then a more in-depth guide with some resources for choosing the best products for your personal needs. I’m writing this specifically with makeup in mind, but you can definitely apply some of these ideas to shopping in general. Learning to think more critically about the items we purchase and consume is never a bad thing.
First, a few quick tips to get you started on the path of smarter and better purchases:
1. Don’t buy anything limited edition, period. Items produced in a limited run are often not at the same level of quality as the brand’s permanent line, and these products are typically so hyped up that the “must buy ASAP” drive often wins out over logic since you don’t really “have the time” to wait for reviews or even do your own research. As a general statement, I don’t buy limited edition products and I am still alive and well.
2. If you wouldn’t buy it anyway, don’t buy it just because it’s on sale. If a $45 item is on sale, you’re not “saving 20%,” you’re spending $36, so if it wasn’t on your radar to begin with, take a minute to really consider why you want this item.
3. If it’s a “weird” or unconventional color that isn’t really appropriate for your every day life, look for a “dupe” or cheaper alternative. I’ll go a bit more in-depth with this one when we discuss cost per use.
4. Do your research! Obviously not every product will work for every skin type or tone, but even beyond that, our wallets have much louder voices than we often care to think about and where you choose to spend your money speaks volumes. (Don’t believe me? Whole Foods got so big they’re now owned by Amazon. If you keep supporting the things you believe in, they may become more readily available. Your shopping decisions do matter!)
Personally, I choose not to support brands who exploit or appropriate from marginalized groups, use sweat shops, are owned by known and unrepentant racists, or manufacture in China. I also try not to support anything owned by L’Oreal due to their violent and antisemitic past. You don’t necessarily need to have these same values, but figure out what you care about and stick to it.