Hack or Hassle?

4 item makeup routine

Evaluating hacks for living an eco-friendly, sustainable life with reduced consumption, especially when it comes to your makeup routine.

by Kezia Rice

You know those listicles promising instant life improvement through effortless eco-conscious hacks? You know, the ones still languishing unused in your bookmarks folder? Yeah, I've got them too. The internet is an overwhelm of information at the best of times, and an aesthetic video of homemade deodorant conjured from unpronounceable ingredients doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of whether this hack will actually improve your life, or just leave you smelling and feeling sad. Enter: our new column, Hack or Hassle? We’ll be putting eco-tips to the test and giving you the lowdown on what’s hot and what’s definitely not.

The hack: 4 item makeup routine

How often have you felt overwhelmed by that eyeshadow palette with countless colours, only to gravitate to the same shade every time? Or felt the need to buy an eyeshadow primer just cause everyone on YouTube used them in their twenty step makeup routine? Using a few multi-use makeup products reduces packaging waste and ensures that you actually finish the makeup you buy. This hack is mentioned in so many eco-beauty listicles (written by the same publications that promote endless beauty products, *cough and major side-eye*) so I wanted to put it to the test when recreating the lip look above. The challenge? I had to use as few products as possible in the name of saving the planet.

'a little something called Covid meant I basically stopped doing my makeup for months on end.'

Maybe it was the shift in emphasis from makeup to skin care that’s been a hot trend in the beauty industry for the past couple of years, but my makeup routine, and indeed, product collection, has drastically diminished from what it was even three years ago. Some items just don’t seem necessary to purchase anymore (primer, contour, eyeshadow in unusable colours?!), and also, a little something called Covid meant I basically stopped doing my makeup for months on end.

Recently, I’ve also been trying to embrace not wearing makeup even when my skin is breaking out (pretty often, thanks hormones!) - see the imprint Instagram on Monday mornings for very frequent videos of my barefaced face. This has partly been inspired by the Instagram account @spottylittlething, an acne-positivity powerhouse whose writing will give you the self-love you need to embrace and normalise your natural skin.

All this aside, I don’t want to break up with makeup for good. The half hour spent applying products to my face to get ready for a night out, often accompanied by the first drink, a friend or two, some noughties party classics and a whole lot of anticipation, is an experience I am desperate to return to. During lockdown, I’ve often been getting dressed up with quite literally nowhere to go, and nights like this are perfect for makeup experiments.

The facts:

'Shoutout to capitalism and centuries of misogyny for convincing women they need to cover every inch of their face!'

A crazy amount of advertising budget is spent promoting endless new products promising ever-higher standards of beauty. Shoutout to capitalism and centuries of misogyny for convincing women they need to cover every inch of their face! Whilst the rise of cruelty-free makeup and non-toxic ingredients is for sure a positive step, remember that every product requires energy and creates waste in its manufacture, packaging and shipping. Unsurprisingly, the environmental impact of the beauty industry is huge. Like, 120 billion tons of plastic per year huge - enough to make the cosmetics industry the number one plastic polluter on our planet. I’ll let the facts sink in whilst you read today’s hack.

The how-to:

I created the following makeup look using foundation, mascara, brown eyeliner and clear lip balm.

  1. Foundation: on my face, first as a foundation, then as a concealer

  2. Mascara: on my eyelashes

  3. Brown eyeliner: to fill in my eyebrows, to line my eyes, to line my lips

  4. Clear lip balm: to set my eyebrows, as highlight on my brow bone, nose tip and cupid’s bow, on my lips

The verdict:

I was feeling the lips in this makeup look so much I touched them up throughout the evening, even though I was quite literally having a dance party in my bedroom. The eyeliner was definitely a shade too dark for my eyebrows, and the lip balm didn’t have the long-staying power of the gloss used in the original look, but otherwise, I had no complaints. I wish I could have put the mascara to more use instead of including it just to use on my eyelashes, but it’s a kind of non-negotiable in most makeup routines - those with darker eyebrows could for sure re-use it as an eyebrow gel.

'Limiting the products I could use forced me to look for the multitudes in each item.'

The experience of limiting the products I could use forced me to look for the multitudes in each item. I’d never tried a brown lip before, but the eyeliner became a hero product here, and the minimalist brown theme worked to tie everything together. While I’ll probably continue to purchase some products designed specifically for a certain purpose (my eyebrows were not happy with the eyeliner swap), I’ll make sure I use every last drop by switching up how I use them if I’m not feeling a product anymore. So gather your Covid-bubble, dig through your collective makeup bags and get experimental with what you already have!

Kezia Rice is happiest watching city sunsets, finding greenery on her runs and swimming everywhere from Lancashire rivers to Berlin lakes or Croatian beaches. She has previously written for imprint about everything from living without a car to the problematics of Love Island to her passion for charity shopping to dressing as an angel, and her lockdown sewing experiments, part one and two! She also writes poetry: read here and here.