Like many people, I look forward to Sephora's twice-a-year X percent off sales. I will often hold off on repurchasing a staple or picking a new foundation to try just to get that 20% discount. And many of us openly admit that we start planning our shopping carts months in advance; I began filling mine up at the beginning of October.
But as I browsed the Sephora website this past week, I realized that there was very little I want. In fact, it was barely $100 worth of product. I did waffle on picking up the Besame Portrait Pink lipstick I've recently decided I want, but I ended up telling myself, "No, not this year, you still have Urban Decay Native." (Native is shinier and has a slightly less "me" formula than the Besame range, but it's still similar in shade.)
When I placed my order several hours ago, one of the items I wanted (the Surratt Brow Pomade) was out of stock, and I decided I wasn't quite ready for another (the Milk Makeup Holographic Stick). I stuck with a repurchase of my staple concealer, a new face mist I want to try, and a lovely fragrance discovery set. I also added in an on-sale Formula X polish set because I'm trying to get back in to painting my nails, but that was the end of it. I finished my Sephora VIB order well under $100.
What sort of shocked me, though, was browsing my favorite forums afterward. Post after post exclaimed, "My God, I don't want anything from this sale? What did you buy? Give me some ideas of what to buy!" It's clear that even when we don't really want anything, sales make us feel like we should spend our money now now now.
I decided to do some math to see just how much people would really save during this sale. First, I checked through my recent Sephora orders to see how much I tend to spend; on regular orders, it's around $50, and on "Treat Yo Self" days, it's closer to $100. Second, I calculated how much it would cost to replace a number of my staple products and buy a few of the extra goodies I've been eyeballing. Here's what I came up with:
Buxom Show Some Skin Foundation, $34
NARS Radiant Cream Concealer, $29
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid, $41
Besame Portrait Pink Lipstick, $22
Milk Makeup Holographic Stick, $28
Shiseido Facial Cottons, $9.50
...okay, so I'm boring. Let's pretend I could want enough stuff at once to spend $250 dollars. So here's the math:
20% off of $50 = $10
20% off of $100 = $20
20% off of $250 = $50
Saving $10 is nice, but I don't think it's going to be a game-changer for most people. $20 is more impressive for somebody like me; it could pay for most of a 10-trip bus pass, some basic groceries, or a few cups of coffee on campus. But even then, I can't quite imagine filling up a cart of stuff I don't absolutely want just to save $20. In my honest opinion, I don't think the savings really become worth it until you hit higher numbers like $250. Then, the amount you save is enough to buy another foundation, or two bus passes, or a week's groceries for one person.
I'm not trying to rag on people who spend a lot on beauty products, believe me. And I understand the desire to participate in a sale just because it's going on--it's something I still struggle with for time to time. But I do wonder how we've become so prone to the Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO). It's a phenomenon beauty companies love to exploit in their marketing, with tactics ranging from limited edition ranges that quickly sell out (MAC) to non-stop emails asking you why you haven't purchased the products in your cart when they won't be available forever (Sephora).
I wouldn't be surprised if social media plays a big part in this. We are constantly aware of what others are doing, wearing, and buying. When a personal favorite beauty guru posts their latest haul or shows off a new lipstick, we think, "Wow, that's gorgeous! Maybe I should get it before they run out of stock." The marketing barrage doesn't help, either. Magazine and television ads are one thing, but you can't sign up for any beauty brand's newsletter or purchase a foundation without getting non-stop emails announcing sales, coupons, gifts, and supposedly just-for-you treats.
Yet I think there's another factor to consider. The beauty community is just that: a community, with all of the benefits and tribulations you'd expect. For many, it's a tight-knit group that fills a gap from real life, since a lot of us are lacking friends who love makeup. We've developed a lingo, with readily-recognized terms like "dip dip" (Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade), "holy grail" (your absolute favorite product), and a slew of abbreviations (HG = holy grail, ABH = Anastasia Beverly Hills, etc.). At the end of the day, we often force ourselves to participate in popular sales and buy things we don't need because we want to be part of the group. We want to add our two cents to posts asking, "What products should I nix from my cart?", and threads breathlessly describing our huge purchases. And it's hard, sometimes, to feel like you are not joining in on your community's most momentous occasion.
I say this because I'm hoping to up my anti-haul and project pan game next year with a beauty budget for all of 2017: $250 to spend throughout the entire year. This wouldn't count on staples (they're not thrilling to buy because they aren't new) or on non-cash purchases, since I do usually get gift cards for Christmas and my birthday. I'm wondering how I'll feel as I skip over sale after sale while other members of the online beauty community splurge. And of course, I worry that I won't be sucessful.
All rambling aside, I'm curious: did you participate in the Sephora VIB sale this year? If not, why? If so, what did you get? And if Sephora VIB is not available to you, tell me: is there anything beauty-related you're looking forward to in 2017?