Ten Ways To Keep Your Cosmetic Collection Under Control

As much as I love watching videos and reading posts about other bloggers' enormous cosmetic collections, I want to avoid acquiring similarly massive stashes of make-up, hair and body products myself. My reasons:

1. Space - I live with my parents and most of my stuff has to fit into one room. Even when I move out, I'm unlikely to have the space for chests of drawers entirely devoted to cosmetics. I have a large collection of books and plenty of clothes, and a desktop computer and keyboard (as in musical) to make room for.

2. Money - I don't want to acquire loads of stuff that I will never use, simply because I'd rather spend the money elsewhere. Five lipsticks could be the difference between a weekend spent indoors and one one spent going out.

I've been in love with the colourful world of make-up since my teens, and am easily tempted by sparkly things, so I've tried and tested various techniques to stop myself from going overboard. If you too want to restrict your cosmetic collection, read on for my advice!

Take stock

Get out all your cosmetics and look at them. Make a list of what you've got, if you want to. I have a list of all my bath and body products, because I keep them in different places - some under my bed, some in my cupboard, some under the desk and others in the bathroom. Without the list, I would forget what I have, and buy more. Having a list also gives me the satisfaction of crossing products off when I use them up.

I don't have a full list for my make-up because it's all in one place and I like to get it out every now and then to visually remind myself of how much I have. I have counted everything though, so that I can easily remind myself that I don't need any more lilac nail varnishes, as I already have 10. It's also good to know that I have three unopened mascaras, and two unopened black kohl pencils, as new versions of these products come out all the time and as I use them a lot, I can think that I can justify getting new ones. Knowing exactly how many I have - enough to last me the next two years - gives me no excuse for new purchases.

Use what you have/Shop your stash

If you read a lot of beauty blogs, you've probably heard about shopping your stash before. I have no idea who gave this concept its name, as so many people have written about the idea. There are lots of different methods to use, but I like to get everything out and look for items that I haven't used recently or have never used. I pick out one of each type - one eye pencil, one lipstick, one eyeshadow, et cetera - and put them into a box. Next time I'm getting ready to go out, my challenge is to look in this box, and if I can find a way to use one or more of those items. I'm not allowed to change the selection until I've used all of the items. Often I discover new favourites this way, so it can definitely be worth doing.

Notice what you use

The best way to do this is to keep a cosmetic diary, and/or take photos of your make-up every day. I know that I wear lilac eyeshadow a lot. It's easy to wear and appropriate for almost every occasion. I can buy more lilac eyeshadows if I want - though at the moment I won't because I have taken stock and know that I already have about eight or nine. However, as much as I love admiring sparkly dark green eyeshadows, I just don't get that much use out of them, and I'm not allowing myself to buy any more unless I hit pan on one of the three I already have. If you've never or barely used a product, and you've had it for a year or more, it's probably time to:

Give it away

If you don't use it, and don't like it, stop hoarding it and pass it on to a relative or friend who will. Alternatively, donate it to an organisation like Give and Makeup.

Sell or swap it on

If you could use some extra cash, or want something in return, host a blog sale, or find someone who has their own pile of unwanted make-up and set up an exchange.

Avoid temptation

Just don't go to the shops. This is a technique I employ successfully to stop myself buying piles of clothes, books, and basically everything else. I don't shop recreationally, or even to fill in time between activities. If I'm meeting somebody in town and they're late, I go to the library or a museum instead.  But what about the internet? How do I cope with all those recommendations I get from friends, blogs, Twitter and YouTube? Well, I...

Have a wishlist instead of a shopping list

Whenever I see a review for a product that sounds great, I bookmark it in a folder I've made for my make-up wishlist. I have subfolders for different types of product.  Then, when I have the space and the money for that product, I can find it again. For example, mascara. When I've used up all the mascaras that I have at the moment, and want to buy a new one, I can open all the reviews in my mascara folder and decide which one sounds best. I usually pick the one with the most positive reviews. It's much better than getting carried away by one particularly glowing review and rushing out to get something now, just because it's new.


I have regular no-buy periods, during which I am not allowed to buy anything at all. It takes a lot of willpower to stop myself from taking advantage of sales, but the strict no-buy helps. It's all too easy to decide to buy one product and then find myself adding extra products to my basket to take advantage of free postage or other special offers.

Shop smart

Google everything. This isn't a flawless plan, as sometimes good reviews can convince me to buy something I hadn't planned on purchasing before. But if you're on the fence about an eyeshadow, for example, seeing swatches can help you decide that it's not quite the colour you're after, or that it's too similar to something you've already got. And it's better to find out that it creases horribly on oily eyelids before you've wasted a fiver on it.

If you also know what you have already, you can avoid duplicating products. For example, I love Sleek's iDivine eyeshadow palettes. I think they're fantastic value for money. I have eight. But the last one I bought was the Glory palette last summer. Every other colourful palette that they've brought out recently has contained eyeshadows that I'm pretty sure I've already got in other palettes. Looking at the swatches posted by other bloggers confirmed this impression.

Project 10 Pan

This is another way of making a game out of using what you already have. You pick ten items and decide that you aren't allowed to buy any more make-up (within reason, most people have exceptions for foundation or mascara or other everyday products) until you have hit pan (got to the bottom of the packaging) on all of them or used them up completely. I'll admit that I've tried this a few times but have always given up - time to try again? Possibly with some of my 18 lilac eyeshadows?

Have you set limits on how big you're going to allow your cosmetic collection to grow? How do you stick to them?


Monday Amusements 15

My nails last week! Going to add some glitter now.

I'm currently rejoicing because M&S have some new coloured tights in stock! Or they might do. The colour squares on their website are utterly unreliable, so I'll wait until I can look in store.

Lately I've been loving the hair tutorials at xoVain. Not all of the looks they've featured are original, but I'd never seen a tutorial for this braided ribbon crown or this Edwardian style roll before! I need to buy a hair band for the roll, and my hair's too long for the braided ribbon crown, but as soon as I get a haircut I'm trying it!

Usually these lists contain nothing all that surprising, but before reading Company's 11 Weirdest Beauty Tips EVER I hadn't heard that Lady Gaga recommended using sticky tape to remove glitter or that you can curl your eyelashes with a spoon.

I loved Lipglossiping's post Overhauling my dental routine before it’s too late! I'm becoming increasingly aware that my youthful resilence won't last forever and that I should probably start regularly doing things like exercising and flossing in order to help maintain my health as much as I can.

Today's cute link is just a tweet, but it contains a picture of a golden retriever festival. Enjoy!


Review: Batiste Smoothing Conditioning Mist, and Why I Don't Use Conditioner

Conditioner makes my hair completely straight. I'm sure there are people out there who wonder what the problem is and think this sounds great, because sometimes I thought it was great! Sometimes straight hair was actually supposed to be part of a look I was going for. Plenty of late 1990's/2000's magazine models had straight hair, falling in a sleek curtain over their shoulders, or hovering just above.

Once, I had a bob. I dried it with a round brush so that the ends curled in. Several times, I had my hair 'feathered' around my face. Again, I tried to copy teen magazine models and blow-dry it so that the ends flicked in. When my hair was long I looked at the pictures and reasoned that if I carefully blow-dried my hair and kept brushing it all day, this time it might stay perfect. At least once a week I left conditioner on my hair ten minutes before rinsing it off, desperate to have perfectly soft, straight hair.

My hair was soft and straight but the 'look' never worked. The ends would not stay flicked in. Half an hour later they were pointing resolutely downwards and you couldn't tell that I had my hair feathered at all. If I carefully blow-dried my hair and kept brushing it all day, it was hideously greasy by lunchtime. At university I took advantage of my en-suite shower and washed my hair every day so that it always looked clean. I noticed that if I used 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner instead of separate products, my hair had more volume and was slightly less oily the next day. When I decided to try Reincarnate shampoo from Lush, in a bid to add some red to my hair, I noticed that it was supposed to be conditioning and I decided to skip separate conditioner.

After a few washes, my hair developed all those things adverts talk about - body, volume, 'full-of-life'ness. It looked a lot better. No wonder I never managed the sex-kitten look - flat hair didn't suit my long face, and all my attempts to blow-dry volume into it had failed as it was too heavy. It was a revelation. At first I was shy and used conditioner twice a month, but in the end I gave it up completely.

Admittedly, my hair has gone a bit frizzy in the last year or so. It's only really noticeable in stark bathroom lighting, but my mind has turned to the possibilities offered by smoothing products. When BzzAgent sent me some products from Batiste to try, I was not immediately excited about the Smoothing Conditioning Mist, a dry conditioner. But my sister tried it, and she quite liked the results, so I decided to give it ago, the night before a hair wash, and see if it helped the frizz. Before:


You can't really see a difference, can you? Looking in the mirror it seemed that it had generally smoothed my hair, but it didn't affect the frizz, which actually made it look a bit more obvious. I don't think this will be a product that I use regularly, although there are some things I do like about it.

The Smoothing Conditioning Mist does make my hair feel noticeably heavier, but it's lighter than it would feel had I used wash-in conditioner. It feels damp for the first few seconds after application, but dries quickly. It's only £3.99. My hair was easier to brush after using it. I quite like the scent, which is unexpected, as I hate the smell of Batiste's dry shampoos. I would have loved to have this pre-smoking ban, so that I could go out the morning after pubbing or clubbing without having to wash my hair first.

If you have the hair type that could benefit from a lightweight, easy-to-use, dry-feeling leave-in conditioner (so many dashes) by all means give the Batiste Smoothing Conditioning Mist a try. I'll be passing on my sample can to my sister, and moving on to the XXL Plumping Powder, which should be much more my kind of product!


Monday Amusements 14

I've been engaging in the other version of window shopping (oh, the pun) a lot this week! I loved seeing Phyrra's swatches from the new Sugarpill collections. As she says, I think I might 'need' Elemental Chaos, the purple. Candycrush and Frostine look amazing too. Frostine reminds me of this pretty but aggravating Boots' Natural Collection cream eyeshadow that I have had for at least 10 years. It's always creased horribly but I can't bear to throw it away as it looks so pretty when swatched. Maybe Frostine will end my dilemma!

I also enjoyed The London Beauty Review's post about the Too Faced Return of Sexy palette. I was a little tempted to buy it, as it would be such a bargain but I have loads of similar eyeshadows.

I'm more likely to consider this MUA highlighter, as reviewed by Bleeding Beauty, though I have been trying out some of my less-pigmented pastel eyeshadows as highlighters, in order to use them up.

I haven't worn dark sparkly or shimmery blue and teal eyeshadows for a long time, despite loving the way they look on me. After seeing these looks from The Beauty Milk and Glitter is my Crack I feel really inspired to get them out and experiment again.

I've read a couple of negative reviews of the Real Techniques Duo Fibre Brush Collection, but I still found this review on Midnight Violets really intriguing. I am on the look out for a reasonably priced blush brush, and I'd like one that makes pigmented blushers easier to apply, as I have a really bright blush from Sleek that I hardly ever dare to wear as it's so difficult to blend properly.

If you have any other recommendations let me know!


Festival Make-up and Other Cosmetics

I like to keep my festival kit as minimal as possible. I worry that all my stuff will get stolen, or that I'll drop something expensive in a cow pat. I prefer to wear cheaper clothes, take a second-hand book to read, text from the Nokia that only cost £10 (and that, several years ago), and severely limit the contents of my make-up bag.

Packing for Latitude Festival was a bit of a challenge. Even when I was in my early teens I took far more make-up than I ever used on holiday - I tend to pick one look at the start and then repeat it, maybe with a few tweaks or refinements, for the rest of the trip. When there are places to visit and sights to see, even I am reluctant spend time being creative with my cosmetics. So I gave myself a stern talking to and only took items that I thought I would definitely use. I might have been a bit too strict, actually. It was annoying to only have one lip colour.

I have labelled all the items so that you can see what I am talking about!

1. No brand purple eyeshadow quad, probably from one of those catalogue make-up sets. This was passed on to me by my sister just before I went to Latitude. I think I used a bit of the brightest shade, in the top right. The pigmentation is pretty bad and I wished that I had a brush so that I could apply it wet.

2. Kolor (old Superdrug own-brand) purple and silver eyeshadow duo. I always take this away with me because I really like both both colours and they apply easily with a finger tip. However, my standards for make-up quality have gone up a lot since the last time I went away anywhere and I quickly realised that the pigmentation and staying power of these eyeshadows isn't very good, even over Urban Decay Primer Potion. I could have tried them with Pixie Epoxy but I didn't bring it or a brush! Instead, I applied one layer of the silver, covered my lids in the MUA glitter eyeliner (5), and then applied another layer of the silver. It looked okay in the end, but not fantastic.

3. Rimmel black eyeliner in Black Magic. I don't think I used this.

4. Urban Decay Primer Potion. Apologies for the state of this particular sample bottle (from the NYC Book of Shadows), which is shedding its plastic coating. Sometimes it comes off on my fingers and won't budge, no matter how many soft furnishings I wipe my hand on. This is amazing, and I'm glad I took it.

5. Benefit Bad Gal Mascara, sample size. This was free with Glamour Magazine at some point and I have been using it on and off since last May. As there isn't much left and I love it, I decided to take it to Latitude. Wise decision.

6. MUA glitter eyeliner. This product only cost £1, but is not a good purchase. Even when I first opened it the glitter clumped together. Te brush is a white plastic spike and absolutely useless for applying the product with any sense of control. The best you can do is press a thin layer against your lash line, and forget attempting a flick. I've tried two other MUA glitter eyeliners, the turquoise and the purple, and they don't clump in the same way but they have the same brush, so I wouldn't recommend those either. To make this wearable I until I mixed in the remains of an old Rimmel silver glittery eyeliner/mascara which I always found too thin. The consistency is much improved but the brush is still rubbish. I took it to the festival in a bid to use it up. I tried using it as eyeliner but it was barely noticeable so I spread it all over my lids and then applied some more silver eyeshadow on top, basically using it as glue. I am tempted to bin it now I'm home.

7. Colgate folding travel toothbrush. This is great, though as far as I can tell it only comes with soft bristles, and I prefer medium.

8. Colgate Maxfresh travel-size toothpaste. It has chunks of glitter in it, which is odd. Otherwise, I quite like it.

9. The Body Shop blotting paper. I've had this little reel of blotting paper for years and it's still going strong. Fantastic for mopping your forehead during a day of sun and sweat.

10. Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon in Fuchsia Libre. This is a new product that I bought especially for Latitude, because it's SPF 15 and is more of a stain than a straightforward lipstick. It wears off more subtly than a traditional lipstick, isn't drying on me, and feels really lightweight on the lips. I love the product but I'm not sure about the colour, I think the shade is a little too light to suit me. I wore it the other day with some Benetint lip stain underneath and it looked lovely, yet on its own it doesn't look quite right. If they bring out some deeper, darker shades I will definitely buy them, but for now I'll make do with investigating the similar chunky lipstick crayons produced by Revlon, Seventeen and half a dozen other make-up companies.

11. Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Fair. I usually use mineral foundation and concealer from Lily Lolo but I didn't want to have to take all my pots and brushes so I bought this popular and fairly cheap concealer instead. It's easy to apply on top of sunscreen, and really does last all day. I'm very impressed, especially considering the low price, and although I'll stick to my Lily Lolo products for every day, whenever I wear sunscreen I'll be reaching for this to conceal my dark undereye circles and any other blemishes.

12. Body Shop nail file. I didn't use this at all.

13. This looks like a Lily Lolo foundation but actually it's just the pot. I made my own setting power with the dregs of old pressed powders (mostly Rimmel and L'Oreal), a bit of Lily Lolo foundation, a bit of Lily Lolo's green concealer, and a tiny sprinkle of their highlighter, Star Dust. On top I popped an old circular sponge. I used this to make my face less shiny after applying sunscreen, carefully patting it onto my face so that I wouldn't wipe off any of my precious factor 50!

14. Barry M 'Touch of Magic' lipstick. This is that lipstick that looks green and applies pink. I don't like the shade of lipstick that I get from this, but it makes a great cream blusher. I drew a line on each of my cheeks and then quickly rubbed it in.

15. Marks and Spencer Hand Sanitiser. I bought this for 50p in a M&S outlet. I only used it once, when there was none of the provided hand sanitiser left at the toilets, but I would definitely bring it again!

16. Lush Lemony Flutter sample tin. I love this product but didn't use it.

17. Lush Vanishing Cream, in sample pot. Again, I love this product and was supposed to use it at night after taking off my make-up, but I was naughty and once I'd taken my make-up off I invariably felt so tired that I couldn't be bothered doing anything else but brushing my teeth and going to sleep.

18. Virgin Vie Guardian Angel. This is basically a tiny lip balm that I got for free on holiday years ago, and I mean years, maybe ten or more! I didn't use it because it didn't fit in the bag I took to the arena with me and I was reapplying the Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon every couple of hours anyway.

All the make-up items fit snugly inside the little make-up bag I usually carry around in my shoulder bag, and everything else was stashed loose inside my rucksack. I think I did a pretty good job at guesstimating what I would use. Next time I will definitely take a red lip stain and an eyeshadow brush, and leave the extra lip balm, black eyeliner pencil, and nail file at home!

What make-up and other cosmetics do you like to take to festivals, or on mini-break holidays? How similar are our choices? If you would like to read my review of Latitude Festival, it's here at my other blog.
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