However hard I try products just seem to magically appear in my drawers and build up to the point where they nearly fall out. It is strange because taking a look through my receipts and bank account things rarely ever seem to get purchased and I rarely receive gifts or PR items and yet somehow they appear. Perhaps they multiply or perhaps every time I tidy up another product gets moved to the correct place in my organisational system. Whilst all that is pretty uncertain there is one thing that I do know… it is getting too much and I need to properly focus on using products up and clearing them out.
The idea of a “project pan” does terrify me a little because it involves focusing on a number of specific items for a lengthy period of time. To make that more manageable there are certain things I am doing just doing as categories as well as targeting specific products. The things that are in categories are generally just the things that I need to get back into the habit of using more or the things that I use but have way too many of; for this the category being included here also serves as a “no buy” policy until all the current ones in the stash have been removed.
To hold myself to account I am going to be doing monthly updates of my progress here because otherwise it just becomes too easy to say that there is a bit of progress here or there but without actually reflecting or looking back there is no clear way to determine that or see if it is in the slightest bit true. This will additionally help me to keep pushing and to remind myself that even if one product is nearing completion the task itself is not near completion because there are still X amount of similar products to use up.
As a side note I am incredibly grateful for everything I have received and will receive in the future. Me wanting to use products up is not because I dislike them but rather because I like them and do not want them to go to waste. A lot of the things I have too much of is my own fault for constantly being drawn into sales when I know that I already have them in drawers or may very well receive such items as gifts down the road. Some of the categories mentioned will include items I received as gifts at Christmas and that is great because my aim is to enjoy that product, its texture, its scent, its benefits etc before next Christmas comes around and I can actually appreciate that gift and its purpose fully within a sensible amount of time. Hopefully that makes sense!
Project Pan: A commonly used term in the beauty community for ‘using things up’. It comes from using makeup where the powder is contained in a little metal dish which is called a pan. This term is now used to include beauty items that do not have that pan and instead is just about finishing items off.
No Buy: This is where you simply avoid purchasing items. Some people do this where they refuse to purchase any beauty related items whilst others refuse to purchase a specific product until they need it. This helps to hold people accountable for their actions and helps people to reconsider whether they a) need something or b) want to actually spend their money on it.
Declutter: A product might be perfectly usable but it might just not get pulled out very often or not be somebody’s cup of tea. If this is the case they may choose to declutter something by selling it, giving it to a women’s shelter or passing it on to family and friends. This is so people know the product is not going to waste by just taking up space in a drawer but instead to a home that will love it.
Body Butter/Body Lotion – I love using this stuff because my skin is forever dehydrated and I love to be as slippery as a seal in a desperate attempt to stop that. Actually, that is not completely true… I do love to use them but that is often a little bit more effort than I am interested in. Because I love the stuff though I purchase it for myself whenever it goes on sale or other people gift them to me because they know I love them and as a result they build up at quite a rate. Hopefully having them as a category will force me into good habits of using them daily and not only will the stash go down but my skin will reward me for it too!
For a bit of perspective, it took me a whole year to use one of the large tubs from The Body Shop because I kept getting in and then back out of the habit of using it. I only managed to use it up by consciously reminding myself to use it every single evening either after a bath/shower or about an hour before I was intending to get into bed to go to sleep. It reminded me how long it can take to use certain products (Body Shop body butter in particular lasts ages because it is so very thick and moisturising) and how having multiple backups of them is therefore a little ridiculous. If you run out of body butter and have to go without for two days until more is purchased it is not the end of the world!
Since finishing that tub off I have finished off a number of mini tubs as well. This is largely a result of them being softer in texture or my skin needs more of it because it is not quite as moisturising and nourishing as some other brands. I figured using several mini tubs would make the stash look smaller and decrease how overwhelming it appears at first glance and it seems to be working so will probably follow this approach with other product categories.
Shower Gel/Body Wash/Body Scrub/Soap – Okay you are judging me I can tell. How can somebody struggle to go through this stuff? Hey if you had as much of the three mentioned product types, which basically all serve the same purpose apart from perhaps a tiny amount of both needing combining, you would understand. I also find that I have a lot more patience with these sort of products than some other people do, my partner being the biggest example, as I will happily spend those few extra seconds making sure the product is well lathered before throwing it onto my body.
Having dry skin I should use body scrub a lot more because I feel like I start transforming into a lizard and get super scaly but so many of them involve you putting your hand into a bag or a tub and scooping it out and that is a little bit icky in my world (as if having dry scaly skin isn’t!). But that is a ridiculous reason not to use a certain type of product when it is already in my life. Sure it is a good reason to not purchase that sort of product in a tub or bag in the future but right now it is what it is. At this point I just want to use them all up to make the most of the actual product itself, get the benefit from that scrubbing joy on offer and to clear up some space in the drawers for other products or packaging that I enjoy.
With shower gel and body wash I just have quite a lot of them and generally will gravitate towards certain brands or scents which means others just constantly sit around waiting to be used. There are a few that I enjoy the scent of but the lather is poor or it is a little difficult to wash off properly (you either understand this or have forever being blessed by the washing gods) and these might find themselves being used combined into mildly scented handwash or used to create bubbles in a bath. Most of them of course will be used and reserved for their intended purpose of washing my body!
Hand Cream – You get so many uses out of a single tube of hand cream that this stuff naturally lasts for a very long time. That combined with hand cream being one of those products that I just do not tend to reach out for on a daily or regular basis means that these things last ages. My hands, like the rest of my body, are dry but having something like a hand cream in my bag makes me a little nervous and then in the evening if I am applying body butter my hands are already pretty loaded on the product front.
Getting through the numerous hand creams I own will be incredibly challenging and it means that I need to put a mini makeup bag or something into my handbag to pop one in there, ensure that there is one in my desk drawer at work and that I aim to use one in the morning when my day is getting started. My only concern about having multiple ones on the go is that they all have different scents and none of them are scents that will really work with layering, of course each time I was my hands the scent will fade/disappear but that still sort of restricts the frequency of product use.
This is the sort of product stash where I fully accept it might take a couple of years to reduce because I do not expect a huge amount of progress to happen each month and hopefully having that sort of approach will help me to stay focused on the goal rather than getting disillusioned quickly. Maybe using hand cream will cause me to get into hand cream a little more…
Nail Polish – In a recent post discussing my goals for 2018 I mentioned that I want to get back into doing my nails a lot more. This is partly because I find doing my nails really relaxing and having good nails makes me feel a little bit more done up but also because I am increasingly conscious of the amount of product I have just sitting there waiting to be used. Some of the products are becoming increasingly hard to use or the lasting time is down on the products and I am not surprised because some of them are as old as my nearly eight-year-long relationship(!) whilst others are newer but I do not want them going the same way without me being able to do anything about it.
This is one of the categories where I know that finishing up products is perhaps really unlikely. There are some people that are able to use one shade on repeat for months on end either because they reallllyyyy love the colour or because they like it but want to move it out of their collection but that is just not something that I can even imagine myself doing; it is the sort of thing that could happen but restricting myself to just one product is where the challenge will become too tricky and also incredibly boring. 2018 is a baby step to reducing the amount of nail polish that I own and figuring out which shades I not only like the look of in theory but actually look good on my own hands whilst having a formula that lasts more than an hour before chipping (seriously even brand new polish seems to refuse to properly stick to my nails and stay there).
Instead I am going to try and focus on rotating through the products and shades that I have. At this point I am unsure of if I will go for focusing on a colour a month or working my way through each brand that I have but I do want to visit as many as I can over the course of the year. Doing this will give me the chance to figure out which ones I really like and any that I am really not that keen on; those that I like I will know to return to them when looking for a certain shade in the future whilst the ones that leave me cold I can pass on to others (or throw away if the formula of the product is reason that it just does not work). If I happen to really fall in love with one then I will go through the others of a very similar shade and see if they bring me as much joy and take appropriate action from there.
Face Cleansers/Face Creams – It took me ages to find some sort of skincare that actually even properly remotely works for me. I have loved using skincare in the past but have found it to not tackle the issues on my face enough or tackling them too much but several months ago I finally bit the bullet and joined the Liz Earle loving crew. There have been several really interesting looking products come into my life since though through things like my advent calendar and gifts as well as there being products that existed in my life before Liz Earle.
Generally I have managed to mix and match in terms of the products that I use depending on whether it is morning, night or in the shower/bath and that is something that I need to consider going forward as a way to ensure that my face remains happy and the products get used up. Face creams and moisturisers generally work on my face really well because my face is dehydrated and appreciates all the moisture it can get and with that there are not really any products that have been too much on my face.
This is a category where I am not going to try to get through something if it really simply does not work for me. Just a couple of days ago I used a grapefruit based product that had tiny little granules in it and it really irritated my skin so I based it along to my partner to use as his in shower facial wash instead. Having smooth looking and happy skin as well as trying to protect it from the signs of aging is super important to me so if something does not do those things in a way that makes me feel good there is no way it is going to hang around.
Hair Products – This sounds like a super general category and that is because it is. From hairspray to texturising spray to dry shampoo I rarely use any of it. I keep my hair super simple most days of the week because I value my sleep too much to mess about with my hair before going to work or I am staying in the house and doing my hair seems a ridiculous waste. Perhaps trying to make my way through some of the products will help me to change my habits and do more that just brush it and throw it in a bobble but even if it does not then there will be more space in my drawers and at least I can say that I tried to become a hair kind of girl…
There are some products that I can imagine getting through this year such as the sprays to put in my hair as a heat protector before using my hair dryer and the dry shampoo as well and there are some other things that will be really difficult to even make the slightest dent into. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised by the end of 2018 but nobody should get there hopes up at this. I mean I did not even realise how many different hair products I had until a few months ago when I was reorganising everything and it was all in one pile on the bed and it amazed, confused and terrified me all at the same time.
Mascara – Of all the products in my makeup routine mascara is the one that I love the most. Luckily, I am blessed with really good eyelashes so generally I just need to use a good coating or two of mascara to make my lashes pop. But over 2017 I received a lot of mascara in terms of PR samples and also as part of sets, gifts with purchase and so on meaning that there are so many of them in the drawer waiting to be opened and used.
As I was starting to get into using makeup when I was a teenager mascara was an absolute staple and without even using anything else I would apply mascara. For the longest time though I have stopped doing that partly out of being lazy and partly because in my head it will look really obvious that I am wearing mascara and no other makeup but that is ridiculous. To make this more possible I also intend to combine it with another product set, mentioned directly below, to help bring a bit of added something to my face even on days when I am just heading to the office and straight back home again.
Hopefully by working my way through the various tubes of mascara I have a clear favourite will appear that I can go out and purchase when the back up stash has completely disappeared. This should be a pretty easy task to stick to and the only days where I can imagine not doing it is when my shift starts at 7am because if you think I want to spend even a minute putting on mascara at 6am then you are very wrong indeed!
Lip Balm/Lip Gloss – The most simple and basic look of all is a bit of clear or very mildly tinted lip product combined with a bit of mascara but somehow it makes you look that little bit more put together. At least that is what I told myself when accumulating lip balms and glosses on a fairly regular basis. Although on the lip balm front I have been pretty restrained and not actually purchased that many or even any for a long time but have gone in and out of the habit of having one in my bag, on my bedside table or at my desk at work and that means progress of using them has been incredibly slow.
My lips really thank me for frequently using lip balm and that alone, plus most of them have a lovely mild scent too, should be enough to make me want to use the products on a several times a day basis but recently I have just fallen out of the habit of doing it. This is something that I really want to work on and have set in motion by making sure that there are several in easy to reach places and even in direct eyesight more frequently. At work one can sit next to my hand sanitiser bottle and Pez dispenser so whenever my lips get a little dry or I have a drink it can quickly be reapplied. I do fear that my desk is slowly going to look like it belongs in a department store.
A lot of the lip glosses in my collection are really nude or pale in colour and barely show up on my lips at all. In my head they will only work as lipstick toppers or with a proper face of makeup and whilst that might be true for the odd one or two most of them will just give the look of shiny lips. Generally lip gloss is something that I avoid in the winter as it can make my lips that little bit drier or they tend to settle into the lines that already exist from dryness and that sort of puts me off but as we leave winter behind and head into spring then these can certainly be pulled out for daytime minimal makeup looks a bit more.
Eyeshadow – Ah what a beautiful but tricky category to include. Eyeshadow lasts such an incredibly long time, especially when you don’t have time to apply it most days of the week, and yet I have so very much of it. For the longest time I have got into the habit of using multiple shades and going for the full effect but there are plenty of shades I can use, especially with the variety of brushes I have, that means I can do a one colour look without it being too time-consuming or out there. It is still not the sort of product I will reach for everyday because at that point I feel the need to apply at least a tinted moisturiser but it is something that I can reach for a little bit more often and certainly on my days off.
At the minute I am unsure of whether I want to focus on one palette for the course of the year, focus on one palette for each month or if I just want to hit pan on as many different shades from across my collection as possible. Hitting pan on matte white/cream shades and basic transition tones is the easiest thing to do because they will often be the same ones that I reach for time and time again but then I tend to dip in and out of other colours and palettes at random so it is difficult to imagine there being much visible progress if I take a more relaxed approach. I am leaning towards doing the one month one palette thing but we will have to see. If you have any advice on this please do let me know!
Face Masks – I used to love single use sachet face masks and they were the first sort of face mask that I was ever really introduced to. I expanded my interest from peel off masks to wash away masks, all still in the sachet form, and for a long time I found that to be the most enjoyable and a great way to ensure I was putting a sensible amount of product on my face. Recently though the sachets have become a lot of hassle with the product being too runny to properly control it coming out of the sachet or there being way too much for one person’s face but not enough for two and they have been putting me off using them a bit.
None of the ones I have provide me with fantastic results and instead I would much rather use a sheet mask that refreshes or get one from a tube or tub that does the job; I used to love the Body Shop blue corn mask and feel that is the sort of thing I am looking for in a face mask. I want to use up everything that is currently in my collection and evaluate what it is that I want and need from a face mask before going out and buying one on a whim or basing my preferences off of YouTube videos that sneakily have the word AD on the end of such a long video title that you can only see it on an actual laptop or computer (does anybody even watch YouTube that way any more).
Besides, according to the back of each of the single use sachets they say to use two to three times a week so if I manage to find that much time for several evenings a week then these should disappear sooner rather than later!
Candles – From popping one by the bath to make for a dimly light and relaxing hour to having one burning in a particular room to give it a bit of scented boost or to set the mood; one that smells of cake if we are going to be having baked goods and want it to feel fresher etc or a lavender one to soothe and settle down to sleep to candles are joyfully versatile. Not all of my candles are scented and some of them are more traditional candles whilst others are soy wax that take a very long time to burn.
I have a lot of candles from tealights through to ones in glass containers that have 30+ hours of burning time on them and in reality there are only so many candles that you can have burning at one time (remember to never leave your candles unattended and ensure the space around them is clear of things such as receipts that could blow up with the breeze of you walking past and into the flame) without the glow either being too much or the scents starting to clash a bit.
This is much more about just burning candles a bit more frequently as at the minute it is probably a once a week thing despite me just wanting to sit down, relax and breath a scent in that helps to take away the days worries, thoughts or even the whiff of a dinner that seems to linger through the flat. Candles are not something that I want to remove from my life but I have so many of them that storing them is becoming a real nuisance and it would be much better to just have a couple around than loads sitting there looking all sad and unloved (do you know how much dust candles that are just sitting around gather?!).
Perfume – I love perfume. I have my everyday perfumes and then the more special occasion based ones but there is one catch… I still feel a bit bad about wearing the everyday ones on such a regular basis. For some reason there is this little voice in my head that says perfume is too fancy to be worn everyday and that I should not go round smelling wonderful and feeling great about myself because of some scented liquid. That voice in my head is wrong. That is why cheaper and more everyday perfumes exist and are in my collection.
Hopefully making an effort to apply perfume daily and in the case of some of the older ones or more subtle ones several times a day will allow me to work through a couple more perfumes during the course of this year. About a month ago I finished off one of the perfumes, probably the oldest in my collection, by using it two or three times a week but I know from previous experience of being good at actually using perfumes and going through several in 2015/2016 that I can use them more frequently and work through them at a still sensible speed.
Some people end up using perfumes as room sprays or reapplying more than they need to just so they can say they finished it off in a certain time period. That sort of attitude to perfume annoys me because if you hate the scent just pass it along to somebody else or give the product the respect that it deserves rather than just using it as a glorified air freshener. Sure your everyday perfume might have been sitting around for a couple of years and not cost huge amounts in the first place but it is still a carefully crafted item that is meant for the body not just to sink to rest on the bathroom tile floors or something.
I started to write this post just over a week ago so I have made an effort to start implementing all of the above and have also taken the time to rearrange my entire beauty stash to group everything together and figure out what needs to go where.
Whilst everything is now nice and organised it does not feel any less overwhelming as being able to actually see everything in sections shows just how much stuff there is. It is actually on the verge of shameful and that just produces a whole different kind of overwhelming stress to it being all over the place…
There have been a few products I have finished off. As mentioned in the body butter/lotion section a number of products were finished up in quick succession but I have decided not to include those as progress for this project as I want to go into 2018 with everything on zero; it feels like including several completed products from 2017 would be cheating a little bit. A few categories have proved to be a little challenging to get into but I am hoping in the New Year when I settle back into a consistent work routine it will be easier to find a way to incorporate them.
To keep track of progress better for the monthly updates I am going to take a photo of all the products that I have used up. I was going to take a photo now of every single product that I have and then cross them off, with the month they were completed, but there are some categories such as nail varnish where there are just too many to clearly get into a photograph.
Once the photo has been taken for the end of each month to show the products that are completed those products will be heading to the bin/recycling box immediately. I do not want to keep products hanging around for an end of year empties as there is simply nowhere to store them and it just creates another pile to have to navigate around. Having a photo of all the products that have been used up in the course of the month will allow me to reflect at the end of the year but I am hoping that come the end of 2018 I will be able to take a photo of each category and it not be an overwhelming mess but I fear that is somewhat optimistic.
Anyway… let the mission commence. If you are doing a Project Pan for 2018 either on your blog, Instagram or YouTube let me know in the comments below and I will be sure to check it out!