It may seem ironic that I am writing about a beauty addiction while representing a slow beauty brand, but hear me out.
My name is Tameryn, and I am a recovering beauty addict (intended pun).
Where it started:
Ever since I can remember, I have had an unstoppable obsession for makeup and skincare products, a particular type of 'magpie' tendency, if you will. While others might love collecting bags, shoes or jewellery, mine was skincare and makeup.
My first exposure to three-step skincare started at around thirteen with my mom, who gave me a set of 'Oatmeal' products. It contained a cleanser, toner, moisturiser and blemish stick. I took to it like a duck to water.
There were four women in our household growing up, including my mom and two sisters. So naturally, we progressed as we aged from Nair hair removal to 'chemist' makeup. So before we knew it, we had a whole bathroom full of bath salts, fragrances, and nail polish, you name it.
Later in high school, I remember going with my mom to the local shopping complex and visiting our community super pharmacy, 'Clicks' (the South African equivalent of Priceline, Chemist Warehouse or Boots). It was the beginning of my addiction.
"The sheer smell of the fragrances, perfumes and moisturisers was intoxicating."
The impulse purchases seemed a softer blow to a pair of jeans or something big because they were affordable. The odd eyeshadow here or lipstick there. And in those days, glitter and bold colours were in. Early pocket money and money earned from promotions or waitressing funded more and more. My friends and I upgraded to expensive palettes from abroad, to volumising mascara and multi-coloured eye-liners.
Then came the 'sample' addiction.
After high school, I applied and got a job with the big powerhouse Clarins. During my first week, I got loads of full-sized products and samples to take home. I was in heaven! Progressively, I collected many products from my beauty brand and others from the ladies I worked with. I had many, yet I stashed them in my room, hiding them from my sisters. By the time I left home, I had built such a massive stash that most of them had expired. I was never going to get through them all. What a waste.
The job was way more glamourous than previous waitressing jobs, where I was pampered and consumed with makeup instead of crawling on the floor picking up chewed rib bones. My addiction was fueled by beauty counter girls sharing tips and selling a different cream for every inch of your body. But, of course, there was a product to address any concerns you never knew you had.
But working for Clarins was also a positive thing. I not only learnt about ingredients and skincare in general but about animal cruelty. I never knew how bad it was. I remember the senior exec that ran the training induction and her WWF tattoo on her ankle. Not only did I find that cool, but it's a moment that really stuck with me.
Where it's at.
Fast forward to 2020 (but do a quick calculation of how many beauty products an addict like me racked up between 2001 and 2020). The start of the pandemic. Suddenly, I had a lot of time on my hands.
One day I decided (since I had a lot of time on my hands) that to ease boredom at home, I would locate every beauty product and sort them. Then, on our small lounge floor, I saw how bad it was.
I had samples for Africa. Hundreds of little mini plastic bottles, big bottles, more than one type of product, in all shapes and sizes. So pretty, so intoxicating, and so eye-opening. The sheer amount of never-opened products, both old and new, was frightening. I didn't know whether to cry or roll in it.
But as mesmerising as it was, I felt a considerable level of guilt. I started calculating how much money was spent right there on my floor. Let me tell you, it was 1000's. It made me sick to my stomach.
This pile didn't even include the years of unopened, expired or half-used products. The other thought that came to my mind that hadn't hit me before was the plastic waste.
Thinking back now, I am grateful for that moment and the shock. Not only because of the waste and money, but it triggered a change of events. It birthed the will to start Eco Turtle Life and detox from my addiction. I vowed then to allow myself one 'splurge' a year (as a baby step, which was a massive step for me).
So far, today, in June 2022, I am just past halfway through the pile of those products. I have fallen off the wagon a couple of times, and I have to stay away from the beauty shops, but I am proud of my transition and absolutely thrilled with this new minimalist way of living. I've noticed a noticeable change in my skin, like fewer breakouts or reactions. Which were caused by using too many with no logical sequence in my skincare routine. Plus, saved me A LOT of money.
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Thank you for your support
My tip: throwing away what you have at home and buying new sustainable products is still a big waste. The product left inside the tubes makes recycling hard. Use what you have, give them away as gift or donate first.