I used to shop without discipline, and my most chaotic buying happened in the beauty and skin care departments. Chelsea from The Financial Diet frequently talks (and I keep talking about her! I know, I knowww) about evaluating how much we will use a thing if we’re being completely honest with ourselves. Advertisements do not sell products; advertisements sell versions of people consumers want to see (attractive, pleasant, successful) and be, then present a product that purportedly will transform us into that gleaming picture of perfection or superiority.


Past me have bought things for the person I wished (as taught by ads) I was, while suppressing the knowledge that buying X and becoming Person Who Uses X, required that I (at least to some degree) change who I already am. When I started my (s)low buy, one of my goals was to use what I already have more. I’ve since realized that only owning what I use really helps me use what I have. Building routines out of what you own, or, more likely, cutting out extras until you arrive at your core routine, is key to both 1) only using what you have, and 2) only buying what you use.


not pictured: my BHA exfoliant because I just finished a bottle and am holding out to see if I truly *need* it in my routine


I’m a busy and lazy woman. My face routine is 1) cleanser, 2) toner and 3) moisturizer (with SPF for daytime). Sometimes I’ll use a mask. I have just two: an aloe one that calms and hydrates, and a clay mask that removes buildup. When I don’t have time for the clay mask, I apply a BHA exfoliant instead.

I only have three products for my hair because I’ve given up styling it (topbun4lyfe!)

On days when I wet my hair, I’ll wash with just water, conditioner, or, rarely, shampoo and leave-in conditioner. I don’t have a schedule for when to use what; it depends on how my hair and scalp feel. I used to think routine meant designated days for specific products– but it didn’t make sense, because I’m not always exposed to the same amount of grease or grime, and my oil production and sweating are always in flux too. Now I think of routine as in I have routine products, and use them as directed by my body. This shift lets me not waste product and my time.


I try to change my manicure weekly and pedicure monthly. I’m not great about this, and often leave my nails bare. I have too many bottles of nail polish for how infrequently I use them. Past me amassed a huge hoard by always thinking 1) “I only have this one family of colors, I need to branch out!” and 2) “these outlandish colors don’t look good on me, I need to stick to my preferred basics!” Even though I cull annually, I still have more than I’ll ever need. Last year I started tracking what I use. My goal is to decrease my total number of bottles, adding none except when a (statistically proven) go-to needs replacement.


Make-up ain’t me so I have no make-up routine. I have, however, bought a lot of beauty products I never use. So much so that I should add a category called “WMS No Buys” for everything I won’t buy again (sorta like my own anti-haul, eh? Eh?). That’s been my new direction anyway. Besides, even at the very different beginning, well,  I’ve made similar mistakes.


Stay tuned, kids, next time I’ll bring y’all the WMS Beauty Routine Hall of Shame i.e. some farcical failed forays into products galore!

(S)LOW BUY: The Beauty (of) Routine!
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