In the spirit of the new year and living smarter, I started to think about how the beauty industry started as the answer to some of our basic needs and transformed into this massive force of consumption (that also greatly contributes to our global waste, but that's for another article). We live in an age where consumption is everywhere, whether we see it or not. We buy when we don't need and when we do need something, we often buy additional things we weren't planning to buy. Of course, I'm not exempt... I've been there, done that.
When it's time to buy a car, a new home or even book our next vacation, we always make sure to do an informative research before completing the transaction, but when it comes to beauty, we'll buy anything that is sold to us. The ads make us think that this particular product will magically somehow fix our problems or make us look as perfect as the model used to advertise the product. So, how does one become a smarter consumer in this tricky-ass world?
First things first... Know what you want and the results you are looking for! If you know you can't maintain a 12-step beauty regimen, keep it simple! Ask for multitasking products and keep your beauty cabinet minimal.
SEE AND KNOW THE TRUTH.
More than ever, people are craving authenticity, yet a lot of us still live in illusions. You need to realize that the "anti-aging" cream you bought because this 20 year old celebrity endorsed it is not going to turn back time. Also, there's no such thing as "anti-aging"! If you get your makeup done and you ask the makeup artist to make you look like Jennifer Lopez... chances are, you're still going to look like yourself 40 minutes later. That's the point of makeup! You should always leave looking like yourself. If you have an unreasonable vision in your head, you'll always feel disappointed when looking in the mirror, even if you have the most beautiful makeup on. Truth is, even that photo of J.Lo is not real! Save yourself the pain of asking for something impossible, and just love yourself! Always keep in mind that all ads are retouched, as well as 99% of the visuals on Instagram.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
If you use skincare and makeup everyday, there's no reason for you to not have a basic understanding about beauty. Knowledge is power, and with power comes confidence! Don't buy an eyeliner because somebody wears eyeliner or because that person told you to wear eyeliner. Beauty is very personal. It's deeply connected to our self-esteem, so when purchasing or being recommended a new product/beauty routine, be very aware of your own needs. When you are uncertain, that's where beauty gets tricky and suddenly you have a full drawer of complicated products you didn't need to begin with. You simply must do your homework before you spend any significant amount of money on a product or service.
LEARN TO SAY NO & HOW TO DISCERN THE ESSENTIALS FROM THE BULLSH*T.
Pay attention next time you go shopping. Most advisors will show you 2-3 additional products that are linked to what you want to buy. Why? Because it increases the chances of you buying more. You don't necessarily need a new lip balm, a lip pencil, and a lip gloss to go with your lipstick... but next thing you know you're buying 4 items instead of one. Also, let's be real... you probably have many lip pencils and lip balms you haven't even finished yet. When you know what you need, that's when it becomes easier for you to say no to all the other products the industry is trying to sell you. How many times have you gone in looking for a foundation, and left with a whole new beauty routine so complicated, you've forgotten all the instructions by the time you left the store.
Unfortunately, you need to know that beauty is business. People will try to sell you as many products as they can because that's what the stores/brands ask of them. I've worked in a store where they didn't really want to help the customers with what they were truly looking for, they just cared to have another good sale, to achieve or exceed their objectives for the day, month or year. That's why bloggers became so trusted, but then sponsored content started popping up everywhere. That being said, it's not because it's sponsored that it's a bad/fake review BUT do ask yourself why you should trust that person before spending your hard-earned money on what she\he selling. I'm not saying that you shouldn't buy what is suggested, because some advisors really know what they're talking about... just know how to balance the truth from the fluff and only buy the necessary.
VALUE VS PRICE.
The goal is to find the best value for your money, not necessarily the lowest price. A good example of that is Marc Jacobs' O!Mega Bronzing Powder. It is one of the most expensive bronzers at Sephora but it's also one that has the most product. A smart consumer looks for a good, reliable product that's reasonably-priced. When shopping, compare the number of grams or ml to the price of the products.
DON'T ASSUME ANYTHING.
A simple misunderstanding can often lead to major problems. Some products can work for some people but that doesn't mean they'll work for you. So many factors can affect our skin and how the products react (hormones, allergies, genetics, stress, free radicals, etc). Don't blame a beauty blogger because you bought a product that she said worked for her. Always make your own opinion based on the facts. You can always look at reviews, but make sure they come from good sources and ideally from people who have the same taste and skin type as you. Natural is not going to mean the same thing to somebody who rarely wears makeup compared to the person who prefers to wear full glam daily.
NO EXPERT KNOWS EVERYTHING.
The beauty industry moves fast, and there's no way to keep track of every new launch. It's also impossible for anybody to try every single product out there... so keep this in mind when you ask for "the best mask" or "the best cream". Every expert you ask will most likely have a different answer. Don't take anybody's word for it, and try it yourself. Beauty, much like life, is trial and error.
THE REAL SECRET TO BEAUTY IS THAT THERE'S NONE.
Beauty isn't magical. If there truly were a cream that erased all signs of aging, we would all know about it and it would probably be sold out. Beauty products are there to help, but unfortunately they're not bottled miracles. We've been fooled into thinking that this new 30$ (or 40, 50, 60$) bottle will fix everything that the last couldn't, so we keep buying. We need to understand that there's nothing to fix, and aging in natural. Why are you trying to erase your laugh lines or crow's feet ... they are signs that you enjoyed life filled with moments of joy! You LAUGHED, so what... you've earned those lines, wear them proudly!