In 2023, TikTok announced the year of ‘de-influencing’, the habit of influencing against a bad purchase, rather than in favour of one.
As someone who devoured beauty tutorials like they were religious texts and has been experimenting with products since the first day I picked up a blue eyeshadow and sponge applicator for a dance concert age 8 (cringe, I know), I’ve tried a lot of the good, and a lot of the bad. Let me share all my mistakes, so you don’t have to make them too.
I’m not the only one sharing my mishaps either. The #deinfluencing hashtag has racked up 746 million views and is a promising sign that our consumption culture, particularly when it comes to trying the latest and greatest beauty products, is starting to wane in favour of a more considered, sustainable approach.
It’s an exciting prospect, as in 2018, in the US alone, 7.9 billion units of plastic were created for the sole purpose of housing beauty products, a startling statistic from Euromonitor International. According to the ABC, it’s estimated that 10,000 tonnes of cosmetic waste goes to landfill in Australia each year.
So, in the spirit of de-influencing, I, as a beauty writer who has tried and invested in countless products over the years (and trying to change my ways), am here to share the items that you’re better to save your cold hard cash on. In some cases, it might be that the more expensive versions don’t cut the mustard, or that purchasing a cheaper version will only get you so far. But without further ado, here are the 10 items that I’d seriously recommend you re-consider before purchasing.
Heavy Supermarket Foundation
The amount of friends I have who walk blindly into Chemist Warehouse or their local supermarket on the hunt for an affordable foundation scares me. There are so many amazing ‘high street’ foundations that will offer serious performance for a great price, but going in without your research is likely to lead to a heavy, thick foundation in an odd colour (yes, the colour ranges on cheaper foundations can be seriously whack if you don’t know what you’re looking for).
This is a key moment where, out of desperation, you’d drop $20 on a foundation, only to realise it’s not right for you. The first tip is to avoid the supermarket, where you can’t shade match as there’s no testers. Secondly, I’d recommend opting for a thinner formula such as the L’Oreal Paris True Match Foundation or Rimmel Kind & Free Skin Tint. The Maybelline Instant Perfector 4-in-1 is also a great choice.
If you’re worried about lasting power and coverage, I’d always recommend opting for a better concealer, rather than purchasing a heavier ‘long-lasting foundation’, which is likely to look cakey and false on the skin. Spot conceal, then add your thin base layer, and build up the coverage where you need it as opposed to one thick layer all over the face.
If you go in and there are *hygienic* testers, don’t be afraid to ask the makeup assistants to apply it to half your face and walk about in the shopping centre for half an hour. Notice if the foundation goes darker (oxidises) in the air and check the colour match in different lights before you go back to purchase.
Also, it’s important to note that MECCA and Sephora offer foundations that aren’t too much more expensive than the high street sometimes, such as the Sephora Collection Best Skin Ever Glow, or IT Cosmetics CC Cream.
Cheap Hair Dryers
In a moment of ‘where did my paycheck go’ panic, I purchased a hairdryer that looked suspiciously like the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer for a ridiculously cheap price, as I thought it was simply the shape of the blow dryer that was going to help me get a perfect blow out with a round brush. Wrong.
Expensive blow dryers have heat regulation, which will blow your hair out using measured heat and a strong air jet, but the cheaper ones just use ridiculous heat and a low-flow air cycle. This blow dryer I purchased got so hot that I couldn’t touch my hair for more than three minutes after using it. It also turned my bleached hair brassy within a few uses. Safe to say, that I’ve since invested in proper blow dryers (GHD do a great one), and I’ve never been happier for ‘buying once, buying well’.
This is a moment where saving your money could seriously benefit you. While there are great high end mascaras out there (here’s looking at you Hourglass and Kevin Aucoin), I think you can get some serious bang for your buck in the affordable mascara world.
I’m obsessed with the MCo. Beauty Xtend Lash tubing mascara, which is great for summer in case you take an unexpected swim or end up crying for any reason (you never know). But my forever purchase will be the Milani Highly Rated Anti-Gravity Mascara, which gives volume and length. It isn’t a nightmare to get off at the end of the day, but also doesn’t run easily.
The long and short of it is that you can easily get away with a $20 mascara, rather than a $52 dollar one, so why spend your hard-earned cash on the other?
Cheap Heat Protectant
This is a moment where you’ll be wasting your money if you ‘cheap out’ by even a few dollars. Most heat protectants do what they claim to do (protect your hair from extreme heat), but at what cost? I’ve tried so many that have put me off using it because they leave the hair crunchy, don’t hold the style and just generally make my ends feel like straw.
Even some of the expensive ones are terrible to be honest, I’ll never forget my dismay spending $42 on a heat mist that literally made my hair a bird’s nest by day two of the blow out. Rude. I’ll be completely transparent here, I’m still on the hunt for a heat protectant that is perfect, but at the moment the crème de la crème in my collection are the Kérastase Chroma Absolu Heat Protectant For Coloured Hair, and the Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-in Cream With Aloe Vera, which both sit around the $50 mark.
So, it’s 2023, let’s stop purchasing cotton rounds and makeup wipes. In an effort to help the environment, I’ve been collecting fabric, muslin and microfibre cloths to remove my makeup and I’m obsessed. I love to use a oil and gel cleanser to break down the makeup and wash with water, but the cloth is the best thing ever for really clearing out the pores.
I love the Trinny London T-Towels for a muslin option, and the Manicare Erase-It Makeup Remover. The latter doesn’t actually require you to use product with it but I still like to. I just pop the cloths in the washing basket after use and you’re golden.
If you’re going to buy hairspray, save your money on all the expensive ones and always buy L’Oreal Elnett, but these days in my blow out journey, I haven’t been using any hairspray at all.
I find that sometimes, on really lightweight styles like a flicky blow out, it can actually weigh down the hair. Instead, opt for a wet-to-dry styling technique, like with a Dyson Airwrap or round brush and blow dryer, and some great prep products. I’m obsessed with the Larry King My Nanna’s Mousse, and the Wella EIMI Extra-Volume Mousse, run through towel dry hair before styling. Both sit between the $25-$35 mark, and are a wise investment for root lift and style hold.
Don’t get me wrong, I am obsessed with pimple patches. Yet with my hormonal acne ramping up and a cost-of-living crisis chomping at the heels, my obsession is becoming unsustainable. If you’re getting a lot of break outs you might consider trying a liquid pimple patch, which could go the distance a little further.
This formula is not as ‘healing’ as a good pimple patch, but it does a great job of sucking out the dirt and sebum. After the worst is over, focus on looking after your skin barrier after use with niacinamide and skin-identical oils like Jojoba. The Dermalogica Deep Breakout Liquid Patch is a great option, and even though it costs $55, it will last you a very long time based on how much you use on any one spot.
Many people may be obsessed with liquid liner, and that’s completely fine, but after learning to use eyeshadow to properly line my eyes I’ll never go back.
As someone with hooded eyes, it is an absolute nightmare to get anything as solid as a liner to look good, which is why a softer but still present eyeshadow wing is the way to go for me. I actually have been loving using my eyebrow powder (it’s so great) to do this look, as it is a gorgeous brown shade, and the brush is so precise (which is key). Why not try the Benefit Goof Proof Easy Brow-Filling Powder and the matching Dual Ended Angled Eyebrow Brush, rather than buying endless liquid liners that dry out within a few weeks anyway?
If you’ve ever bought a cheaper, chalky setting powder, and then another, and then another, you’ll probably have realised that no matter how much money you spend, they don’t get any better.
This is because there is actually a lot of precision formulation that goes into setting powder, and expensive materials that are hard to include in more affordable versions. A great skin powder should be extremely finely milled, completely transparent, and include microspheres that help to give the skin a skin-like finish even though it’s been powdered over. Rather than purchasing a fourth powder for $20 to see if it’s any good, I’d recommend buying once and buying well, with either the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder or the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder.
Razors Without Shaving Gel
This is my newest revelation: no matter how expensive the razor, if you don’t have shaving gel and your technique isn’t up to scratch, you’re going to get ingrown hairs. This was actually a tip from my dermatologist, don’t shave against the grain of your hair.
While it might give you a smoother finish, when the pores unswell after being wet, the hair is going to be so short that it retracts back into the skin and may cause an ingrown hair. Instead, use plenty of gel to protect the skin and be sure to shave downwards, in the same direction as the growth. It won’t be as short of a shave, but you’ll also avoid unsightly ingrowns, which is a major win.