It’s the Product, not the Discount

I’ve been a record number of Winners in the past few weeks on various shopping excursions, and every time, I’m stunned at how many products from high-end brands I’m finding in their make-up section. Used to be that Winners shelves were stocked with primarily drugstore brands, but now, I’m finding shelves of Marc Jakobs lipsticks, MAC Look-in-a-Box, and even Urban Decay primers and make-up removers. I found a Natasha Denona lipstick at my closest Winners and could hardly believe my eyes.

The beauty industry has been reaching a state of critical mass for the past couple of years. I think the proliferation of unhauls and minimizing my make-up collection videos are a long overdue indicator of the major problems with mass cosmetic consumption. Make-up routines have become extensive. New products are launching at such a rapid pace it’s impossible to keep track of release dates. Beauty innovation happens along such a narrow margin that magnetic eyelashes simply must be tried even if they’re sure to be a disaster. And to top it all off, high-end cosmetics rarely go on sale, meaning consumers are almost always paying full price for products.

It’s really easy, then, to get carried away with discounted cosmetics, especially from places like Winners, since their prices are so much lower than those at other retailers. However, it’s important to remember that it’s the product you need to be paying for, not the discount. If the product doesn’t fit you and your needs, it doesn’t matter what the price is, it’s too high. You’re never going to save as much as simply not buying the product.

I wish I could say that there are hard and fast rules for this, but it really comes down to individual consumers making good decisions for themselves about the products they purchase. Make-up is marketed as a collectible, and for some people, it definitely is. However, I think it’s more productive to consider make-up as a tool, something that is designed to be used, since it helps me make better decisions about what I’m buying.

This is especially true for discounted make-up, since you’re more likely to succumb to impulse with it.

Before I even start with questions, I check to make sure the product is in good condition first. Sephora’s sales are all online, meaning I know the products are coming untouched and unused. However, with Winners, the products may have been swatched, damaged, or simply disappeared. Best to be sure before you start going through other questions whether the product is in good enough condition to buy.

After that, some of the questions I consider are:

  • Am I going to use this? What am I going to use it for?
  • Do I already own something like this?
  • What are the reviews on this product? Is it even worth buying?

That last question is especially important, since it’s entirely possible the product is discounted because it failed to appeal to consumers.

I’ve stopped, as much as possible, buying products immediately after picking them off the shelf. I’ll purposefully give myself time to think about buying them: with Winners, I’ll wander around. Occasionally, I’ll leave and come back when I’ve gained some distance. A lot of the time the urge to buy goes away once the product’s out of sight, probably one of the surest signs that I didn’t really want the darn thing in the first place. However, if I can’t get things out of my head, I’ll definitely go back for them.

Make-up happens to blur the lines between wants and needs; it comes with an allure of exclusivity that makes it difficult to pass on sales and discounts, even on products you don’t really want. Developing good spending habits is important regardless of how you view the things you spend it on. It’ll save you from overflowing make-up containers and potentially unhauling unused products. Most importantly, it’ll save you from wasting your hard-earned money. That’s worth more than any discount.

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