As much as I hate to admit it, I love trends. I can’t wait to look back at pictures 20 years from now and laugh at the clothes or the makeup I’m wearing and describe it as “soooo 2018.” There’s something rebellious yet humbling about knowing that I’m going to eventually roast myself for a look, but wearing it anyway. For me, participating in whatever fashion is in favor at the moment is almost like yearning for a feeling of nostalgia for a time that hasn’t even occurred yet. So if you can’t already tell, I have quite the love affair with nostalgia (as do most other millennials), and it directly translates to my shopping habits.
You can always catch me browsing the “What’s New” section of Sephora, and in an effort to stay on top of the latest trends, I read a lot of beauty news. What’s new, what’s old but coming back in style, what trend is causing a divide between Beauty Experts and Teens Who Just Want to Express Themselves — my finger is placed firmly on the pulse of all of it. And as someone who reads beauty content more often than she consumes meals (as Carrie Bradshaw once said about Vogue, I feel like it feeds me more), I’m constantly hit in the face with makeup tricks, tips, hacks, and, of course, product recommendations.
But all this (some would say useless) knowledge comes at a cost — for me, about $780. That’s around how much I estimate I’ve spent on “trendy” makeup products over the past five years. I’ve quite literally bought into almost every trend that has come across my Twitter timeline in the past five years, including highlighting and contour palettes, glitter liner, primers, face gloss, and way too many liquid lipsticks.
Before we get too deep into my shameful spending, I think it’s important to define the parameters of what’s “trendy.” Trendy can’t be defined as simply “what’s new,” because let’s face it, nothing’s new. Trendy is a completely arbitrary term and can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, but for the purpose of this experiment, I decided it meant any product that had a lot of hype surrounding its release, or anything that changed the way I did my makeup in a substantial way. For example, an eyebrow pencil wouldn’t be considered trendy, but Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow would.
In the interest of full disclosure, here’s a breakdown of a few of the trendy makeup products I’ve purchased somewhat recently, and whether I regret, returned for store credit, or still reach for them.
Liquid Lipsticks – $320
I own 26 liquid lipsticks, and I can’t honestly can’t remember the last time I wore one. You might say 26 liquid lipsticks is a lot of liquid lipsticks for someone who doesn’t wear liquid lipsticks, and my bank account would agree with you. Although, can you really blame me? The liquid lipstick trend left nearly no stone unturned and no woman without chapped, stained lips. We did this to ourselves, really. I regret all 26 purchases and my lips do, too.
Highlighting and Contour Palettes – $170
Remember when everyone just used the same orange-y bronzer on their cheeks and that’s it? The amount I spent on these face palettes makes me yearn for those days. No one needs for different shades to contour with, unless you’re a working makeup artist. I heard this fact as a whisper during the height of highlight and contour palette craze, and I wish I’d listened. I will proudly admit that I hit pan on one color in my first contour palette, but since the rest of the palette was essentially useless to me, I ended up giving it away to a friend who could use one of the five shades I couldn’t. Thankfully, I didn’t collect these palettes the same way I did liquid lipsticks, and I still reach for them from time to time, so the guilt and shame isn’t quite as deep.
Foundation Primers – $100
The beauty community reluctantly opened their arms to foundation primers over the last few years. Everyone has their own ideas about what’s good and what’s trash, and they’re all conflicting. The general consensus is that you have to kiss a lot of them to find your one true Prince of Primers. I tried at least a dozen in my search for The One, and while I don’t believe that all primers are bullshit, I do believe that a good moisturizer paired with the right foundation could create the same effect. I don’t regret primers, but I do regret having to try so many to find the ones that I really love. The ones that didn’t make the cut were returned for in-store credit at Sephora, so I would count that as a win. I’ve repurchased the Glossier Priming Moisturizer and Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer at least twice each, so you could say it’s getting pretty serious.
Eyeshadow Pigments – $60
A few years ago, we were blessed with the magnificence of eyeshadow pigments, and my life has never been the same. Eyeshadow pigments are simply just better eyeshadows, and I shall take it upon myself to be a missionary for this cause and spread the good word until the rest of this world sees it, too. I purchased five pigments from Makeup Geek a few years ago (Afterglow, Sugar Rush, Wild Fire, Utopia, and Kaleidoscope), and every time I wear them, I get compliments and questions about what palette I’m wearing — and people are always shocked when I tell them it’s a pigment. All it takes is a little bit of setting spray on a brush to turn your eyeshadow up 100 levels. I still wear these all the time and I actually think I might pick up a few more to add to my collection.
Expensive Sheet Masks – $50
Say it with me: sheet masks are not skincare. They’re fun, and they’re effective at delivering a quick shot of hydration to your face, but they’re not a replacement for a skincare routine and they can’t deliver real results the same way some skincare products can and do. I stupidly wasted money on expensive sheet masks from Sephora whenever I felt like giving myself a little pick me up, when I would’ve been just as happy with a set of 12 for $12 on Amazon. (To make it clear, I regret the price point of what I chose to purchase — not the trend itself.)
Duochrome/Holographic Eyeshadows – $40
I purchased the Kat Von D Alchemist Holographic palette in an effort to make my eyeshadow looks more “unique” and “fun.” I rationalized this purchase by falling victim the trap of “these eyeshadows double as highlighters so it’s almost like getting two palettes in one!” I barely used these as eyeshadows and I never used them as highlighters, so who’s the fool now? Why would I ever think I would want my cheeks to be highlighted bright blue and green? Ah, yes, that’s right, to seem “unique” and “fun!” In the future I’ll gladly stick to my gold highlighter and eyeshadow pigments, even if that makes me basic and boring. I halfway regret this purchase because I’ve worn it out of the house maybe once, but the packaging and colors are just so pretty that sometimes I just open it and stare. Definitely not worth $40, though.
Face Gloss – $20
You know what’s another word for face gloss? Lip gloss. I couldn’t even kid myself with this purchase. I returned it almost immediately and then went to my doctor to get my head checked out for brain injuries.
Glitter Eyeliner – $18
In 2015 and 2016, it seemed like everyone was using Urban Decay’s Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner, so naturally, I caved and purchased it. It looks beautiful in the bottle, but the actual product is thin and finicky. When I bought it, I didn’t think about how often I would actually use it, which turned out to be almost never. As if to punish me even further for my poor decision-making, it turns out that something in the liner actually gave me a reaction and caused my lashline to puff up and itch like crazy. I deserve it, but I still regret it.
It goes without saying that $780 is a painfully large amount of money to spend on beauty products that largely serve no purpose to me anymore, and even though I’ve spent this over a period of years, it’s still embarrassing to admit that even someone as obsessed with reading and researching about products as me can fall for a trend and impulsively purchase something I don’t need or even really want. I can say I’m older and wiser now and I can see past all the hype, but the truth is I’ll probably fall for the next trend, and the next one, and the next. I love the thrill of a new idea and experimenting with a new product or a new style, even if I end up hating it. However, the next time I try the next big thing on everyone’s lips, I’m holding onto the receipt — just in case.
Cristina is a freelance beauty writer in Austin, Texas. She spends her spare time masking and wondering if jade rollers really work. DM her your favorite moisturizer on Twitter or visit her on her website.
Image via Unsplash