Checking into Makeup Rehab

“I ’m addicted to buying makeup”.
These aren’t words one is used to hearing. You’ve heard of alcoholics, sexaholics, even foodaholics and shopaholics. But, the next time someone utters the words “I’m obsessed with makeup”, you might want to think of how even something as seemingly benign as cosmetics can rapidly turn into something extremely detrimental for the person by completely taking over their lives (and their bank accounts).

“I wasn’t very much into makeup earlier, but since I had started watching all these beauty channels on YouTube, my interest had quickly grown. It started off pretty slow – I’d glance over at a lipstick when I’d be out shopping or just log on to a makeup website like Nykaa and add a few items to my cart on a whim”, said Alanna*, who claims she’s an avid project panner. “A few months later, I was in pretty deep. I remember, this one week, I came home to multiple packages of makeup daily and my mother demanding to know where I had been spending my money. Lipsticks were and still are, my biggest obsession”, she confessed. “That’s when I sat down and counted out all of the lipsticks I owned and the number came up to 75. That’s when I was like, holy shit, this needs to stop”.

Cultivating mindful makeup habits is at the heart of Project Panning.

That is the community in which Alanna* found like-minded individuals who were desperate on getting a hold on their extravagant spending and makeup habits.

The act of Project Panning usually involves making an inventory of all your makeup items, de-cluttering items that you don’t use from your collection, and committing to curbing makeup spending as much as possible and make use of all your products. It’s sort of like training yourself to realize how long a product takes to be completely used up, and how you really don’t need 10 bronzers on a weekly rotation. Moreover, it makes you more aware of your makeup usage, spending habits, product preferences and which brands you gravitate towards. In the long run, it also helps keep your bank balance in check and make you think long and hard about whether you really need that new eyeshadow palette.

Many people have jumped on to the Project Pan bandwagon, so much so that an online community on Reddit dedicated to Project Panning and curbing excessive expenditure on makeup called r/MakeupRehab has been created, with 53,000+ active members. Stories worse than Alanna’s* exist – one user calculated and realized that he had enough highlighter to last him 8 years, while another wrote about how she was often falling short on rent money because she kept buying makeup instead.

But why the spending? Why don’t they just… stop?

Much like any other addictive substance, buying makeup leads to instant gratification and happiness. Social media has played a major role as well, with the rise of the ‘beauty guru’ telling you what’s hot and what’s not.

The beauty industry has also seen a rise in its value, with the global cosmetics products market expected to reach a market value of a staggering USD 805.61 billion by 2023, according to a report by Orbis Research. Clearly, we aren’t too far behind on reaching that statistic.

The Indian consumer has also heavily contributed to these numbers.

“I’ve noticed that in our current generation, very few people wear makeup every day, and I honestly think that’s because the Indian weather isn’t exactly conducive to it. The most I see is usually eyeliner and lipstick. But, I feel that the older generation and most of Gen Z carries a full face of makeup very often. I think it’s a huge trend gap – the younger people have parents with more disposable income, and are highly influenced by social media stars who wear and promote makeup. And the older generation, well, they were often married off earlier and exposed to makeup at a very young age post-marriage, so they tend to be more inclined towards wearing makeup”, said designer Stuti Gupta.

There has been a saturation (and almost over-saturation) in the number of brands and weekly new releases in the cosmetics market. Add in social media, the need to look “good” 24/7, smart advertising and marketing techniques, lucrative prices and the millennial FOMO (fear of missing out), you create a recipe for makeup addiction.

No wonder then, that makeup addiction has become a real phenomenon. It really is time to separate the wants from the needs as a whole, and step back and take a good look at everything you own. And if that little reality check overwhelms you, maybe it’s time to check yourself into Makeup Rehab.

What’s your opinion on makeup addiction? Let me know in the comments below!


Posted by

Makeup geek, writer, and musician from New Delhi, India. Pretty much in a constant mood of casual existential despair, but hey, I’m trying to make the best of it x

23 thoughts on “Checking into Makeup Rehab

    1. I agree! After diving into this entire community, I’m on a self-imposed no-buy for the rest of the year (or, at least, till I finish an entire category up). Why did I think it was a good idea to own 12 highlighters…


  1. I’m not surprised to be honest, I think addiction can happen with a lot of things. Slipping in to it, buying more than you need and feeling obsessed with it, kind of happens without even realising it. This is a good reminder to step back and check, and do something about it if it has become or is becoming a problem. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! Too much of anything isn’t good, especially with makeup. You can get so caught up with it, and before you know it, the bills come in at the end of the month and you’re sitting, wondering where all your cash went.
      Hint: the answer is in our vanities lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again, you have a *beautifully* written post! I felt like I was reading something from a magazine!
    I for sure feel the pressure to buy buy buy when it comes to cosmetics, especially after watching a YouTube video. I fell into the hole of Urban Decay and over a few years got all the Naked palettes (mostly as gifts) and they are now my least favorite and least used palettes. Now, I make sure that I REALLY want something before I buy it and even then, I will wait until I get a coupon or save up rewards points, etc. I try to keep my collection reasonable these days. I actually just recently purged my nail polish collection (my biggest weakness in the past) and got rid of 50! This post really helped remind me to not get caught up in the world of beauty 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, your comment made my day! I’m actually a journalism graduate and love investigative reporting.
      Even I have recently purged my entire collection, and I realised that I have such a bad habit of holding onto makeup just because I spent a lot on a product or I might need it someday for a certain look. I’ve made it a point to periodically de-clutter, but letting go is still so hard. But I’m doing much better on the whole “not running out and buying everything new” thing!
      Congratulations on your huge nail polish declutter x


    1. I agree! It’s really hard to change habits and become super mindful about our makeup purchases, but I feel like instead of just diving headfirst into it, taking smaller steps and building upon them can be way easier!


  3. I totally relate to this post and am definitely someone who buys makeup and beauty for the sake of it rather than because I need a 100th lipstick. Its terrible because I justify it by telling myself I’ll review it too haha. I’ve been working on project pan this year though and have also started gifting stuff that realistically I’ll never get around to using

    Soph – x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! It’s hard having a beauty blog and trying to curb makeup purchases at the same time- you always make excuses by saying that it’s for the blog. It’s a fine line us bloggers are treading!


  4. This is an interesting take on excessive make-up expenditures. I am bothered that this is becoming prevalent these days. How I wish women in such situations could manage their lives and finances amidst this dilemma.

    As we know, everything beyond moderation is not good. I almost became like this when I started collecting bags five years ago. Just like make up, bags can be very expensive too, particularly because I am more into buying the contemporary designs from the US and France.

    But there’s nothing that you cannot work out if you have the determination to do so. Fast forward to this year, I kept the number of my bags to the minimum by selling those that I don’t need and like anymore. This way, I can somehow get a fraction of the money I spent buying them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great way to get some of your spending back! Bags can be very expensive, especially when they’re designer, so I can understand how hard they’ll hit on your bank account.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to TheOneThatTravels Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.