Last Updated on 24th August 2023 by Sarah Sarsby

In this blog post, I’ve teamed up with Alicia over at Moon Emissary to discuss impulsive makeup purchases and how to overcome them. Alicia’s blog post will explore the signs that you have a makeup buying problem and my blog post will consider how to overcome this issue. We’ll both be answering questions about our own impulsive makeup purchasing habits, so definitely head over to Alicia’s blog for her answers!

As a makeup lover, conquering impulsive beauty purchases can be hard. Companies are constantly pushing a barrage of new makeup releases, offering endless tempting discounts, and marketing makeup products on just about every platform available. It’s difficult to stay away from this. I feel this deeply and I’m sure many other makeup enthusiasts feel the same way.

But don’t worry, I’ve got your back. This blog post will give you some handy tips for combatting impulsive beauty purchases so that you can have a manageable makeup collection and be kinder to your bank account.

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I will answer the following questions just so you can get an idea of my own impulsive beauty purchasing habits and see some of the struggles I personally face.

1. Describe your history with makeup. How long have you been a beauty lover? Have you ever struggled with impulsive purchases?

My mum worked at Boots for over 25 years and she likes makeup a lot. This helped me discover makeup in my earlier years as she has a lot of knowledge about it. I think I first wore makeup when I was about 11. But, I’ve probably been a makeup lover since about 16. I used to wear makeup all of the time, even though I wasn’t very good at it.

I’ve definitely struggled with impulsive makeup purchases, probably more so around a year or two ago. Makeup brands constantly come out with new, attractive products that promise to change your makeup game and I can find that hard to stay away from. I especially find this challenging if new releases that speak to me get excellent reviews because then I feel like I need those products.

2. What drives impulse purchases – the external angle?

Companies offering tempting discounts, limited edition products, exclusive products, hot new releases that generate a buzz in the makeup community, other people sharing their love of makeup products and excellent marketing are all drivers for making an impulsive purchase.

Discounts held over a short time period often make you feel like you can’t miss out on such a good deal. This is particularly true when the discounts are 50% or over as then you feel like you’ll be saving yourself money in the long run due to the discounted price. I find that the FOMO (fear of missing out) on heavily discounted products is even worse when a brand rarely holds a sale, such as Glossier. This makes me feel like the opportunity is scarce and that buying now is amazing value.

Limited edition products and exclusive products are also excellent at generating FOMO amongst consumers, which can lead to impulsive beauty purchases. If you feel like you’ll never get the opportunity to buy a certain makeup product again and it really appeals to you, you’re probably going to cave and buy it. After all, it won’t be available ever again, right? This is a clever way of creating desirability for makeup products.

Hot new makeup releases also don’t help impulsive purchases. These releases create a buzz on social media and when you see a product often that looks amazing, you might feel like you want it too. I know I do. If your favourite influencer creates a fire makeup look with this new release, it can also fuel you to purchase new products. It’s the same when people share their love of certain makeup products. All of this exposure to makeup – both new releases and products that are highly rated – can persuade you to buy products.

Excellent marketing is also a key driver for impulsive beauty purchases. 3 makeup brands spring to mind when I think of brilliant marketing:

  1. Fenty Beauty – Rihanna’s makeup line is excellent at marketing as it identifies gaps in the market or makes certain formulas trendy again. For instance, Fenty’s initial foundation launch was ground-breaking as it was truly inclusive for people of all skin tones. Don’t get me wrong, this was very much necessary in the makeup world and I definitely don’t view this as a ‘marketing tactic’ or a ‘trend’. Nonetheless, this still plugged a gap in the makeup market by creating a much-needed solution and it makes beauty lovers want to support a diverse brand. I know I’m always happy to support Fenty Beauty because of its considered approach to making its products available to all skin tones. The makeup brand also made lip gloss mainstream again a few years ago with its gorgeous sticky-free Gloss Bomb formula. This made lip gloss trendy and it makes people want to purchase the products.
  2. Huda Beauty – Huda Beauty markets its products exceptionally well through the power of social media. Huda Kattan, the founder, speaks to her followers directly as if they were her friends, creating a personable vibe. Huda Beauty’s Instagram posts often, sharing memes, makeup tutorials, how-to videos, and content from other influencers using the brand’s products to create gorgeous makeup looks. People often head over to Huda Beauty’s Instagram page for a source of inspiration and educational content. This is a brilliant marketing tactic as it helps to promote and sell the Huda Beauty brand without being in your face.
  3. Charlotte Tilbury – Legendary celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury has created an effortless yet glamorous makeup brand. The brand also has a very influential Instagram page but markets products in a different way to Huda Beauty. Charlotte shares a lot of her red carpet makeup looks there as well as easy-to-follow tutorials. She also shares all of the tips and tricks she’s learned as a makeup artist working with plenty of high-profile celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Kendall Jenner, and Jennifer Aniston. Her brand perfectly captures all of Charlotte Tilbury’s secrets as a makeup artist into an effortless, feminine, and chic brand. It feels easy to recreate some of her iconic and sultry makeup looks, which gives a relatable touch. Plus, the Instagram page is filled with stunning models who look effortlessly glamorous in the makeup products, which makes for an easy sell.

All in all, clever marketing, creating a buzz or FOMO, and tempting discounts all drive impulsive beauty purchases.

3. What are your favourite aspirational beauty fantasies?

Having a poreless and even complexion. I’d love to have naturally long eyelashes too as well as fluffier brows. If my eyes were less hooded, that would also be very welcome.

4. What kinds of beauty products trigger your impulsive purchase makeup gremlin?

For me, it’s always the products that provide creativity, where you can play around with various textures and colours. Eyeshadow palettes, lip products and blushers all fit into that category for me. For example, I’m always going to get the same shade of foundation as my skin tone doesn’t change, so there isn’t as much scope for creativity there.

In contrast, eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks and blushers all come in different shades and finishes, and these all trigger my impulsive purchase makeup gremlin the most as they point towards the aspect of makeup I enjoy the most: the creative part.

I’m particularly a sucker for eyeshadow palettes. Doing my eyeshadow is my favourite part of my makeup routine, so I love playing around with new formulae.

5. How have your makeup purchasing habits changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?

I think my makeup purchasing habits have improved since the pandemic. As I’ve not been going out much, I’m wearing makeup even less and this has helped me shift my perspective on what is too much makeup. I only have one face and I can’t get through an excessively large collection realistically.

For this reason, I’ve embarked on multiple beauty no-buys in recent months. I’m also participating in a project pan for 2021 to encourage me to use the makeup products I already own. This has all given me a chance to reflect on my makeup buying habits during the pandemic and given me fuel to not cave into new releases so often. Of course, I still buy new makeup but I try to make more considered choices when I do and purchase less often.

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5 tips for conquering impulsive beauty purchases

Above, I’ve discussed a lot of my own impulsive beauty buying habits as well as the ways beauty companies use clever marketing to influence you to part with your money.

So, is there anything we can do to help curb these impulses?

Of course we can!

It might take some time so we need to be kind to ourselves but there are definitely things we can do to help conquer impulsive beauty purchases. Below, I’m sharing 5 handy tips for conquering impulsive beauty purchases.

1. Acknowledge you have an issue with impulsively buying makeup products

This first step is the hardest. You need to acknowledge that you’ve got a problem with purchasing makeup products initially. Try to think of the reasons why you might impulsively buy too: is it when you’re anxious? Do you struggle with FOMO? Is too much time on social media causing you to get caught up in the marketing buzzes?

If we can first look inwards to understand ourselves and why we impulsively buy, we can then start to make amends. There’s no shame in admitting you impulsively purchase products. The main part is that you’re willing to accept it and make changes.

2. Limit your time on social media

This is especially important for Instagram. If you’re on social media a lot, you’re likely to be exposed to loads of posts about makeup. From brands holding amazing discounts, limited-edition releases, or people talking about the ‘best new products that you’ve just got to try’, you’re going to be seeing loads of content about makeup.

Try limiting your time on social media. If you’re not as exposed to all of this makeup content as often, then you’re not going to be tempted to impulsively purchase. Social media is a wonderful tool for connecting and engaging with others but there are definitely negative consequences. FOMO and getting caught up in makeup promotion are two of them.

3. Embark on a project pan or try a beauty no-buy/low-buy

There are initiatives out there to help encourage you to use the makeup products you already own. Project panning is a great method that a lot of people choose to participate in. In a project pan, you select a number of makeup products that you’d like to use up – or ‘hit pan’ on – by the end of the year. This prompts you to use up makeup products that are already in your collection rather than buying new ones.

Me and Alicia have both participated in The Project Panner Tag, where we answer questions about project panning and share some tips for people who are new to project panning. You can read my answers to the tag here and Alicia’s answers at Moon Emissary here.

Top tip: Powder products, particularly cheek products, are hard to finish. So, if you’re new, you might want to start off with cream or liquid products first and see how you get on.

You could also try a beauty no-buy/low-buy. Here, you’d select a time period (1 month, 3 months, 1 year, etc.) where you’d either buy no makeup products or only products in certain categories. For example, if you own loads of lipsticks but only have one mascara, you might include mascara in a 2-month low-buy as a product you’re allowed to buy during this time period.

Personally, I’d find a year-long no-buy very difficult, so I normally set myself a 1-month no-buy as this is a realistic target for me. If I find I did well during a makeup no-buy for a month, I’ll roll it into the next month and so on. Having a target to aim for can help you focus on not buying any makeup products as you then hold yourself accountable for sticking to it.

4. Write out an inventory of all of your makeup products

This might seem excessive but writing down an inventory of all of your makeup products provides a handy visual representation of your collection. You can see what makeup items you own a lot of and it can be very insightful to reminding you how many makeup products you have. I’d advise writing down makeup products in different categories for a more detailed inventory e.g. put numbers against all of the lipsticks you own, lip glosses, eyeshadow palettes, bronzers, etc.

I did this for my own makeup collection last year and found that out of all of the different products I owned, lipsticks overwhelmingly took the lead. Ever since then, I’ve been very cautious not to buy any lipsticks as I’ve got far too many. However, I didn’t have many blushers at that time, so I was more lenient with this item when I felt like I wanted to buy a new makeup product.

Similarly, you could consider organising your makeup collection. This enables you to quickly see how many lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, highlighters and so on that you own. After all, it’s hard to remember how many liquid liners you own if you’ve not tracked it or organised your makeup storage.

5. Be realistic and kind to yourself

Lastly, you need to be realistic and kind to yourself. If you’re used to buying a few new products every week, it’s probably unrealistic to embark on a year-long makeup no-buy. You could start by setting yourself a limit of 1 new makeup product a week and gradually work your way up to restricting yourself to purchasing 1 new makeup item a month.

Combatting impulsive makeup purchases is hard and will take time. But be kind yourself. If you’ve committed to making changes, then you’ve already done half of the battle. The key is to reduce your purchases gradually or consider which products you buy. I mean, who needs 10 red lipsticks realistically? Particularly when they’re the same shade of red, too!

I found that being frank with myself when I see a new eyeshadow palette released and saying to myself “you’ve already got these shades” or “you don’t need another palette” helped me reconsider when looking to purchase new items. On the contrary, I don’t own many bronzers, so I recently purchased the Fenty Beauty Cream Bronzer after embarking on a few months of makeup no-buys. This felt fair.

If you happen to break one of your no-buys, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It only becomes a serious issue when you consistently can’t stick to combatting impulsive makeup purchases. But the 5 tips here should give you a great start to conquering impulsive purchases. I believe in you!


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Beating impulsive makeup buys is difficult but can certainly be done. Just be honest with yourself and set yourself manageable targets, and you’ll get there. I think a lot of makeup lovers have fallen victim to FOMO, great discounts and brilliant marketing in the past, so it’s pretty common. But with a bit of perseverance, we can identify and overcome our triggers.

Don’t forget to save some of the Pinterest graphics in this post to circle back to the tips for another time!

What’s your number 1 tip for conquering impulsive beauty purchases? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments