Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stockpiling: have I finally learned my lesson?

Stockpiling was something I learned at a very early age. My dad didn't buy months-long supplies of things, he bought decades-long supplies of things. I am not much better. But in one small area, I think I have finally learned my lesson. It only took a little external incentive from my doctor.

I've been over the "I have severe eczema, therefore I will try any cream that exists and will buy truckloads of anything that works for fear it will be discontinued" problem I have. Same went for foundation. I would buy multiple bottles of any foundation that worked. Problem was, I would end up throwing most of this stuff out in the end, either because it expired or because I would inevitably find out I was allergic to it, even if I thought I wasn't.

My dermatologist has finally put an end to my hand cream and foundation stockpiling habit. A little while ago I had patch testing done to evaluate my skin allergies. More or less, they glue blobs of 140 things to your back and leave them there for four days.

Before. From http://www.occderm.asn.au/services.html
In the end, you end up looking something like this: 
Positive reactions to a patch test. http://www.occderm.asn.au/services.html
Which mostly amounts to four days of being seriously itchy and smelly because you can't shower for four days! What did all of this unpleasantness amount to? I'm not allergic to much, but I'm allergic to some stuff that frequently finds its way into cosmetics and food. My doctor gave me a 10-page list of the only shampoos, toothpastes, hairsprays, cosmetics, creams, and lotions I could use without giving myself a reaction similar to the one above.

My list of hand creams, face creams, and foundations I can use now is very short. For hand and face creams I'm limited to Aquaphor, petroleum jelly, or mineral oil. For foundation I'm limited to Bare Minerals Matte. Not even the original, only the matte. This is not a bad thing.

Would you believe I'm
missing one bottle in this picture?
You see, I still have been using the stockpile of Eucerin products I bought on sale over a year ago, maybe even two years ago. This is only half of what I bought originally (12 in total), and now I finally realize that it's been contributing to my awful hand rashes. I can see that when I use it I get a rash within four days, and when I use petroleum jelly there's no rash even after a few days. Keeping the stuff around for so long also encouraged it to grow bacteria, which couldn't have helped. I should know better, I've dealt with the bacteria issue before!

Seven tubes of cream/lotion at $7 each is $49. I wasted $49 because I got excited about a sale. Sales are a myth to get me to spend more money!! The unopened bottles I'll drop off in the ladies rooms at work for others to use. The two opened ones will get trashed.

I'm happy I have the external incentive to downsize the quantity of cosmetics and creams I use. I now have one large jar of aquaphor in the cabinet, which I dilute with mineral oil. I fill a small mason jar from this tub and keep that at work. I expect that this will last me 6 months. Since one tub costs $20, each year I will only spend now $40 on hand and face cream. Yay for saving money and minimizing my cream/lotion collection!

As for the foundation, one thing of Bare Minerals foundation will supposedly last about 2 months. That's $25 every two months, which is still an unpleasant $150/year. However, given that the last time I stockpiled foundation I threw out three bottles of $14 foundation. I now know that I can't stockpile makeup because it grows bacteria, so there will be no danger of me doing that!

So, I've gotten some extra space in my medicine cabinet and makeup box and saved myself some money over the coming year, and reduced the amount of unused makeup and cream ending up in landfills. Oh, and no more itchy hands and face! Not that I'd recommend having allergies as a way of permanently streamlining your personal care routine though. But hey, there's good in everything, right?

How do you keep your cosmetics and lotions from taking over your cabinet?  How do you keep from overbuying?

The Reckoning
What: Seven bottles of creams and lotions
Cost: $49
Fate: Opened ones went in the trash, unopened ones get dropped off in the ladies rooms at work.
Total money wasted on crap I never should've bought: $2019.00. I just hit $2000 wasted. Dammit. 

Medicine cabinet before the hand cream purge

Medicine cabinet after the hand cream purge. Nail polish is next!


  1. My dad always bought a replacement for something (packet of cereal, for example) as soon as you opened the packet...he is very organised!

    I went through a phase of buying unnecessary stuff from the Avon catalogue (a friend became a rep) and haiving a bit of a stockpile. I've stopped this now, as I read about Avon's animal testing policies, and then about the potentially harmful ingredients in a lot of cosmetics, so I have been finding more 'natural' alternatives to moisturiser, shampoo etc. At the moment, my bathroom is covered in glass bottles and jars, as I have been trying to make my own concoctions...these will be reduced once I have found things that work/I am happy with!

    Look at all that lovely space in your cabinet!

    1. Avon was probably where my troubles started. I had friends in high school who sold it, and I bought a lot. In fact, there are still bottles of stuff I bought in 7th grade in my sister's bathroom at my parents' place. I too got disillusioned with their products and philosophies after a while.

      Looking forward to hearing about the natural concoctions you choose when you're done making everything!

    2. I'm currently struggling with shampoo...my hair gets so yucky with homemade stuff, or the 'no poo' method...so I caved and bought some very expensive, organic shampoo, which seems mostly free of nasty stuff. So, new plan is to use posh shampoo once or twice a week, rather than every day, and use homemade stuff in between.,

      I think I've cracked toothpaste, moisturiser and face cleanser though :)

    3. let me know if you figure out the shampoo. What the doc gave me is just awful!

    4. I think the shampoo thing would be less traumatic if I didn't have really greasy hair...I feel that bicarbonate of soda as shampoo, followed by vinegar rinse, would work if I was prepared to go through a yucky transition period of greasy hair. Also not sure that I have worked out how to massage it in to the roots properly yet...sigh..

  2. Haha, I also use the "I have allergies" method :P Sounds like I have a similar allergy. But I don't have a cabinet in the bathroom so that probably helps too (though I've put some extra bottles in the kitchen cupboard).

    1. Your blog looks lovely! A great example of small-space living. I do miss living in a truly tiny space like you. It reduced the temptation to keep as much.

    2. Thank you (^-^) It's 34 square meters (including bathroom and kitchen; photos, though I've rearranged the furniture already so there's more empty space now - I guess I can take new photos :P). I think it's quite big! It's just big enough for 2 people :) My previous home was a so-called "space box", which was 21 square meters including bathroom and tiny kitchen (photos here, the first image is when moving in, the second image is when I had moved in (with English descriptions)). As you can see I didn't have a washing machine for my clothes in that room, so I had to take my laundry to my parents every week! Luckily I can do my own laundry now myself (^-^). But I still have books, toys, my harps and some random stuff at my parents' house in my old room there, though I'm cleaning up there too every time I visit them. My room there is about 8 square meters, though my parents' house is about 140 square meters in total and also filled with stuff (because there are still 5 people living there), though not so much that you can't walk anymore ;) 140 square meters is an average-large sized house in the Netherlands.
      I already thought I had a lot of stuff when I moved from the 21 m2 room to this one... Next time I want to move LESS stuff (which... might not be possible... but I'll try :P). The thing I have the most of is books, but I only want to keep books I'll certainly re-read so I'm busy re-reading the books and then taking them to the 2nd-hand bookstore to sell them if I don't want to keep them.

    3. Wow! Great pictures. I'm quite jealous! Don't forget with the books, there's always the library! That's probably why I'm a librarian who owns fewer books than anyone would ever expect. Just keeping myself in business :o) Good luck with the continued downsizing!

    4. Thank you (^-^)
      The problem with the library here is that they mainly have Dutch books, but I like reading books in their original language (they do have some English books, but no Japanese books...). Though lately I've been coming across a lot of Dutch books (or translated and I don't care if I read the translation or not), so I've been compiling a list of books for the next time I visit the library :D
      I visited the library a lot (borrowing the maximum number of books each time :P) during elementary school and high school, but somewhere during high school I started buying more books because I wanted to read them in their original language.
      I think I'll make more use of e-books in the future as well. I borrowed an e-reader for a week a while ago, and while the current e-readers don't have all the features I'd want yet, I do think they'll get that in the (near) future and at some point I might get a (second-hand) e-reader - reading books on the computer screen isn't very nice to do.


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