All shine and no substance: why I don't buy into holiday beauty collections

At the end of the day, you only have one face and there's only so much product you can use

I dread the holiday season. No, I am not a Grinch, but the last few months of the year test my willpower to the hilt. Between Black Friday, and Boxing Day, the numerous sales and beautifully packaged gift sets present so many shiny new beauty offerings, I feel almost pressured to buy.

Being an old hand in the beauty-buying business, I do my due diligence before I add to cart. I check the swatches online to see if the colours will work for me, read or watch numerous reviews and then feel proud at having made an "informed purchase". A few days (or sometimes weeks) later, I receive my package, open it like an excited child and use it judiciously for a few days, only to go back to old favourites I love and know work well. Cut to a couple of years later, the new product expires and ends up in my declutter pile – wasting not only my money, but also adding to the planet's plastic pollution problem.

The worst thing is, I am sure I'm not the only one; there are probably countless others like me given that, according to a report by retail analytics company Edited, the beauty industry was valued at about $532 billion (Dh1.953 trillion) globally as of July.

In the past decade, in particular, the beauty business has grown at a rapid rate. Even as someone who follows it closely, it's been hard to keep up with the brands and products constantly coming to the market. Then there are the influencers who, whether you admit it or not, do play a role in swaying your purchases. Several brands also constantly churn out releases (ColourPop Cosmetics is probably the worst offender; there's something new from the brand several times a month) so there is the constant temptation (or pressure) to buy, buy, buy – even when there is nothing radically different, just the same or similar stuff in shiny new packaging.

The same rule applies to "holiday collections". The whole marketing shtick of value sets and bundle offers is easy to fall for but, from personal experience, I have found that the quality is not the same in many cases, and chances are, you don't need all the colours or products in a bundle. It lies at the back of your drawer for a special occasion, and ends up never being used.

It makes more sense to buy only one of what you want. Love a particular eyeshadow formula and know what colours you would use? Buy them as singles, instead of a whole palette. Resist the temptation to possess the latest "It" product, to try something new and earn bragging rights to say you have it in your collection. A combination of this has encouraged the rise of the ultimate excess: the beauty room. And it is not only YouTubers who love to show theirs off in videos, but a number of regular users who are dedicating entire rooms to their beauty collections and buying products to fill the space.

At the end of the day, you only have one face and there's only so much product you can use. Will anyone really notice if one blush has more gold flecks than the other? Or piles of red lipsticks that vary slightly in undertone? Not really. However, because of the overcrowding, increased spending power and willing consumers, brands are luring us in with more sales than ever.

Of course, there are some conscious beauty consumers. YouTubers such as Kimberly Clark, Whitney Hedrick and Raw Beauty Kristi are slowly steering the conversation towards being more mindful about buying products, tips on how to best use what you already own, and doing anti-hauls – explaining why you probably don't need that latest release, as opposed to thousands of dollars' worth of haul videos that were all the rage a few years ago. They are putting the focus on tried-and-tested products, value for money and how to constantly remind yourself about what you already own.

It's not too difficult, either – shop your stash before you decide to buy more; ask yourself how often you will use a new purchase; check if you have similar colours already; and analyse if it's something that will be used regularly. Do you need a pink lipgloss when you already have a pink lipstick and a clear gloss? No. When buying eyeshadows, don't be sucked in by a few pops of colour in a mostly neutral palette – just buy a single bright colour. Even if you want to try something new, instead of ordering the full size and tossing it if it doesn't work, request a sample. If you discover a product you can use often or if you're running out of the foundation you use every day, sure, go ahead and spend your dirhams. That's what sales are for – making necessary purchases at discounted prices.

Finally, remember, the story of a product you buy does not end with you. The beauty industry is one of the biggest offenders of waste. Your palettes, skincare wipes, lipstick tubes and even make-up brushes can take hundreds of years to decompose. Recycle your empty containers responsibly and return empty products to brands that accept them, such as Mac and Lush.

Being a conscious consumer benefits not only your finances and the space products occupy in your home, but also prevents excess – after all, you don't want to leave behind an ugly planet in the quest for beauty.

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