A minimalist beauty experiment


Perhaps one of the best methods to figure out what you truly need is to force yourself to prioritize. Within the realms of curating the perfect wardrobe, this technique has gained quite a bit of popularity, from Project 333 to more general ‘shopping bans’. Many of the techniques I included in my post on how to Refine your style and upgrade your wardrobe: 20 quick-fix ideas were essentially different scenarios that require you to fill a limited number of available spots in your wardrobe in order to derive your true must-have (not like-to-have) essentials.

The idea is also perfectly applicable to other lifestyle areas, including your beauty and make up products. My collection is already pretty streamlined but I still have various products that I only use here and there. My main weakness is lip products: I have a ton of tinted lipbalms and sheer lip sticks lying around my apartment and filling up my bags, all in various subtly different shades between a warm-toned red and a berry pink. To combat this, I have decided to do my own little experiment:

For one month, starting from today, I will use only FIVE products. No more.

Of course one of the benefits of this experiment is that it’s just really refreshing to have a clutter-free bathroom counter and be able to get ready in two minutes. However, the main reason I am doing this now is that most of my every day products are about to run out. That means that instead of just rebuying what I need here and there, I have the opportunity to rethink the entire structure of my make up routine and collection. As you know I strive for a small selection of high-quality products, and would like to invest both money and time to find the perfect products. However, I don’t want to make an investment unless I know that I will use the product close to every day. For example, of course I could buy the perfect red lipstick, one that applies effortlessly, suits my colouring and lasts all day, but since I rarely wear red lipstick, that investment, however wisely chosen, would still be a waste. My routine has been relatively stable for the past year, so I already have a good idea of which products I use every day and could therefore safely invest in. This experiment is essentially a final test that will hopefully confirm my five chosen products as my ‘true essentials’.

Here’s an overview of the fab five:

Product 1: Bobbi Brown’s Hydrating Tinted Moisturizer in extra light

I love my tinted moisturizer so this one was a no-brainer. I wear it every day, but I do tend to supplement its coverage sometimes, either with a random concealer or a tiny bit of my Bobbi Brown Natural Finish foundation. I want to see if I can get by using just my tinted moisturizer or whether it might be worth investing in an additional product with a heavier coverage.Product 2: Eyeko

Product 2: Lip and Cheek Stain in cherry

I have been toying with the idea of not rebuying my usual powder blush and instead getting something like a Nars Multiple for my cheeks. For the experiment I will be using the Eyeko stain both as a blush and lip colour. I’m pretty sure Eyeko does not make this product anymore, but if it works well for everyday use, I will probably look into buying a similar lip and cheek product in a stick format.

Product 3: Clinique Lash Power Mascara in black

It’s not the brand I’m testing with this choice, because I have used this mascara religiously for the past two years. Instead, I want to see whether mascara is really in my top five of essential make up products (I don’t wear it every day) or whether I maybe should have included, e.g. another lip colour instead.

Product 4: Brow pencil by 17 in taupe

Only about 6 months ago I started to regularly fill in my brows. I haven’t yet found the perfect product though, and have always just used any cheap random drugstore brow pencil. After the experiment I will definitely be ready to upgrade.

Product 5: Urban Decay’s 24/7 liner in gunmetal

I had to think about this one the most. In the end, I chose my favourite Urban Decay liner in gunmetal, a shimmery, grey colour, over another lip product because I can use it as an all-over wash and a liner. Let’s hope I made the right decision :)

Of course, the benefit of this experiment is two-fold: First, the exercise of selecting the products has already forced me to examine and distill my make up needs. At the end of the experiment I will hopefully also be left not only with a better understanding of my true essentials but also of my ability to predict them.

I will report back on my experience in a month!

Have you guys ever done something similar? A self-imposed shopping ban or even project 333?


  1. Good to know I already keep a very minimalist beauty kit for daily use. That’s eyeliner, mascara, cheek tint, eyebrow pencil and lip balm. Although recently I picked up a tinted moisturizer because I look like a zombie some days.

  2. I think I unintentionally minimalised my beauty regimen when I moved and my new place only has the tiniest amount of shelf space in the bathroom, so I literally cannot keep anything in there except the essentials. I keep all my other products in a drawer in a dresser in the bedroom. Because of this situation, I’ve ended up finding out that my absolute basics are a BB cream (never intended to buy this product, was just looking at it in a shop because I had never seen the brand before and the sales assistant insisted on giving me a sample – turns out it’s actually almost perfect for my needs), an taupe-ish eye shadow that I use mainly to fill in my brows but also occasionally as an eyeliner, and a powder blush. I was pleasantly surprised that I could get by with so little, although that then kind of makes the treasure trove of dozens of assorted make-up products in my dresser drawer seem kind of unnecessarily extravagant and sadly unappreciated!

    • I live in London, so my bathroom is also super tiny, and that’s definitely one of the reasons I want to do this experiment. It’s interesting to hear that you use a single product for three different purposes, I’ve noticed a lot of people with a minimalist beauty routine are really into multiple purpose products. Thanks for your comment ;)

      • A taupe eyeshadow can be really good for contouring, depending on your skin tone! Other ideas are using mascara as eyeliner (great for tightlining, just use an angled brush), and using lipstick as cream blush.

  3. I don’t shop much – usually less than 1 item per month – so I don’t do shopping bans, but a few years ago I did a 6 items wardrobe challenge on my blog where I wore 6 items of clothing for a month. Again, I didn’t notice much of a restriction because this is how I dress anyway! I think for me the challenge is just getting rid of the superfluous items, particularly with makeup.

  4. Good luck with your five products experiment! Let us know how it goes. I did something similar when I arrived in Paris because my bathroom is so small I didn’t want to clutter the cupboard and shelves right from the start. It was interesting for 2 reasons: it really helped defining and refining my make-up taste and habits, and it made me ditch the cheap second choice products to look for and pick up top quality ones. The less you have, the more you need to be 100% satisfied with it!

    I also did project 333 at the same occasion, when fall/winter arrived after moving in, I left most of my clothes in my previous appartment and tried to live for October/November with 33 pieces of clothing, and it was also eye opening, on what I really need, what I never wear but was refusing to admit as shopping mistakes etc. Definitely a good experiment to go on with (with a bit of flexibility, the weather changes a lot in 3 months). I’m about to start again with spring, now that the weather actually starts to lighten up a bit.

    I globally like to set myself some limitations as experiments to figure out how much I need: for example picking the suitcase first when I pack for travel and make myself fit the stuff in, when I moved out I picked four boxes to fit everything in, and my make-up products are in a basic Ikea basket, and they have to all fit in there. (I also like lengthy comments, sorry about that!)

    • I can relate, I moved around quite a lot in the past couple of years and I think I would be a lot less organised if I hadn’t. Moving forces you to actually pick up every single thing you own and decide whether it’s worth to lug around or not. I’m about to move again, so I might actually use that as an opportunity and do the project 333 during the first couple of months post-move like you :)

  5. i haven’t heard of project 333 but i’ll go check it out. yeah i love multiples because in a way you can cheat since it’s multi use = multiple products in one go. :)

  6. I 100% adore your minimalist approach to these things. When I eventually get around the culling my blog lists, you will most definitely make the cut. I keep returning to your posts as I make decisions to help keep me focused. This is extremely refreshing and I hope you continue to write for as long as possible!

  7. I did something like the project 333 last year and it was really eye opening. It was difficult at first, but after a while I got more creative and discovered new combinations I hadn’t previously thought of. Great post!

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