In an effort to live a more uncluttered life, and possibly put off writing this column, I have just gone through my makeup drawer. I’m not sure if it’s that I’m feeling particularly decisive or particularly ruthless today, but I am about to throw out about three makeup bags’ worth of creams, sticks, pencils, glosses, shadows and mystery balms promising to accomplish incredible things.

I don’t consider myself a makeup addict in any way (most days, it’s just me and my sunblock), but I have to admit that this stuff has added up over the years in a shocking way.

For example, there was a period of my life when I wore blush. I had one specific color I liked and used it until it ran out. But when I went to the makeup counter, I was informed it had been discontinued.

As a result, I have about four other blushes that are nearly the color I liked, but, alas, not the color I liked and so have been worn about twice. They sit there together, old and yet brand new, and I don’t even now know what to do with them.

It forces me to ponder the psychology of discontinuing a color. I’m assuming companies do it because it isn’t selling well enough, but what if the primary goal is actually to make you spend the rest of your life trying to get that color back, resulting in dozens of purchases that are only blush-shaped packages simultaneously filled with hope and disappointment?

Equally perplexing are samples. I always feel positively delighted when the makeup counter lady tells me she’s going to give me some — it’s almost as if she’s given me Willy Wonka’s golden ticket — but then when I get home, I realize I just have about six tiny tubes that basically all contain the same thing: eye serum.

First, a big “strong work” for whoever decided to use the word “serum” for goo that is supposed to fix eye wrinkles and dark circles. It sounds so official, doesn’t it? Like “potion” wouldn’t work because that just sounds unbelievable. “Ointment” just sounds like something you use if you have an infection. But “serum” sounds both scientifically tested and endlessly promising. You’re kind of willing to believe it came from a magic pond in the Amazon, but also willing to believe hundreds of people in lab coats have tested the hell out of it to make sure it works.

Of course, we all know that the two applications of serum that actually fit inside the sample tube can’t possibly be enough to erase wrinkles or eliminate dark circles. But we only seem to know that once we get home, not when we’re in the store. And then, even when we get home, the sample tube bottle is so darn cute. And it’s so bad to add more plastic to the landfill. And maybe it really does contain magic.

So we put the tubes in our makeup drawer where they multiply to the point that we eventually designate a mini makeup bag to house them all. We feel reasonably good about this solution until the bag is full (happens quick) and the mini tubes and squeeze packets start to spill out and we don’t even realize that this creates stress until we finally come to the day, a possibly decisive, possibly ruthless day, where we say, “Screw the landfill, this stuff has got to go.”

Now that I’ve started writing about this, I realize that I could dedicate a whole month of columns to makeup. And, actually, may do just that. Granted, this has the potential to alienate some male readers, but it’s actually quite likely I don’t have any, so this may not be a problem at all. And nevertheless, there are juicy topics inside these drawers.

I mean, think how much we could explore the differences between mascara wands? Or, here’s a good one: what about the makeup you buy at the airport or on a road trip because you forgot to bring your other stuff?

All of this merits discussion and analysis.

Which makes me have to ask the question: do I keep all of the makeup I was just about to throw away so I can use it as subject/evidence/fodder when I write in the coming weeks? And, thus, avoid pressure on the landfill (notice how we only ever use “landfill” as singular, as if there is just one?) and allow me to hold onto the hope that some of these tubes actually do contain the answers to youth and permanent beauty? And will that retainment make me come to the conclusion that it’s not that I have to throw this makeup away, I just need a bigger spot to store it, like another drawer or another room?

I guess we’ll find out next week.

2 thoughts on “Exploring the makeup purge

    1. I definitely agree. And the smaller the subject, sometimes the more there is to say! Thanks so much for reading!

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