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!