In 2018, be picky about the freebies

If you’re looking for a super achievable 2018 New Years Resolution that helps you declutter and be more mindful of the environment, I’ve got the perfect one for you: be picky about freebies and say no to the foil packet samples!

Seriously, what are the chances you’ll use those little devilish packages with razor sharp edges? I’ve got 99 problems but over-accumulating “one day I’ll use it” items isn’t one of them.

As you check out at a cosmetic store, the enthusiastic salesperson may flash you a couple of samples before packing it in your bag- “try these, you’ll love it!” You nod and hand over your card . When you get home, the samples get added to the pile that will be unearthed later down the road, dusty and expired. If you want to try a particular product, ask for a sample in store or see if any of your friends have them. I was stocking up some moisturizers online the other day and clicked “no thanks” to all the sample options because I know I wouldn’t use any of them. My heart cried a little bit from turning down a freebie, but my brain cheered.

Even though I spent years advocating for the environment, I still find good deals hard to resist… especially when it’s “3 free samples with every order”. Not taking it is like leaving part of your purchase in the virtual bagging area. But not all samples are created equal and should be treated differently. There’s the unnecessary foil packages, the “deluxe” sized samples, and the samples that sales associates prepared for you.

Prepared in store samples (The one you actually want)
At Kiehl’s, I got a tiny container of the Overnight Hydrating Masque that the sales associate transferred out of the full sized jar. I have sensitive skin and was worried the mask wouldn’t be compatible, so before committing to the purchase, she gave me a sample to try it out at home. This kind of samples are the most ideal. You actually want it, and it’s easy to use. At Sephora, you can ask them to prepare liquid or creamy samples from the testers in store. It doesn’t work for lipsticks or pressed powders like eye shadows, however, you’re allowed 3 samples from each of skin care, makeup, and fragrances. I like to pepper the SA with questions while they prepare the samples for me, and sometimes they would make recommendations for other products as well. I wanted to try the Laura Mercier setting powder and mentioned the problem I’m having is lipstick transfer, and left with 3 more in-store samples- a lipstick mattifying gel and 2 hydrating moisturizers. When it’s empty, I wash the containers and re-purpose it as little earring carriers or travel pill boxes.

Deluxe samples
Usually I’m a shop-at-costco kind of girl, which is where I get my 2L coconut oil for $26 and giant bag of munchies for $6. Surprisingly, most of my make up are deluxe sized. The “deluxe” or travel size samples are scaled down versions of the actual product made by the brand. This could be tiny moisturizers, cleansers, lipsticks or mascara. These are the usual sizes you get from goodie bags “when you spend $X”.

Let me explain: I’m new to makeup. The last time I made a cosmetic purchase was in 2009, when the options were lipstick or lip gloss. Now there’s also gloss bar, liquid lipstick, matte balm, balm stain, lip stain, lip crayon that doubles as a liner and balm….and the combination goes on. The deluxe sample size are ideal for trying out new formulations or colors, especially if it’s something that needs to be replaced regularly like mascara. Besides, when’s the last time you used up a lipstick?

Various brands have starter sets with deluxe samples of their popular products, which are sometimes cheaper when you calculate the volume to price ratio compared to the full size. I got Kat Von D’s Hello Canada! set worth $45 when it was on sale for $21. Less waste, less spending. They’re small enough to bring with you on trips and save space on the vanity.

There’s even more reasons to use deluxe mascara. To lower chances of eye infection, mascara should be replaced every 3 months. Buying the full sized product is just a waste of money when the trial size would last you 3 months and have the same formulation and brush. I was really happy with my $33 Sephora lashstash to go set (worth $110) with 5 deluxe mascaras and a voucher to redeem your full size favourite. Appalachian Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina accepts mascara wand donations to help clean the fur of rescue animals. If you know of organizations in Canada that are also accepting mascara wand donations, let me know in the comments!

Foil Packets
I really hate these tiny packets. From the packaging perspective, it sucks. It’s hard to squeeze out, and the edges are tiny daggers. Many people collect them with the intention to bring it along to the gym or travel, but would you prefer trying a new moisturizer at a foreign place, or bring your tried and true favourites? I fill my “6 in 1” shampoo/conditioner in a squeezy travel tube, and moisturizers in refillable airless pump bottles. I’m not going to waste any drop of products or my peace of mind when I’m on-the-go. The amount of product itself is also an issue. What if I have long, thick hair and the amount of shampoo inside one packet isn’t enough? Do I try to slip out of the shower to get a second one or just try to comfort myself that my hair is probably clean enough? If there still products left after one application, do you throw it out or try to keep it for a second use without spilling it?

For the amount of product you get, it’s not worth the environmental consequences or space in your drawers to get the foil samples. So much more materials and labour went into making this little packet then we’ll ever see- from the bigger packaging those foils came in, to the extra impact from shipping it to you. Like single use coffee cups, it’s just not worth it. Although we’re talking about samples in particular here, this philosophy carries over to other aspects of your life as well. Only make space for something you need in your life. Free junk is still junk.

In 2018, be more conscious about picking out useful freebies to reduce the burden of clutter in your house and your mind. Let me know what other green New Years Resolution you have, and hope you have an amazing start to a wonderful year!

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Here’s a thread on the “Makeup Rehab” subreddit I found is an interesting insight on makeup production: