By Samia Abbasi
I never imagined myself to be someone who wears blue eyeliner. I come from a lower income, traditional, Indian-Muslim household, and this influenced how my siblings and I explored our personal styles while growing up.
As a teenager, I had a minimalist makeup collection.
It consisted of a trusty drugstore mascara, a neutral-toned eyeshadow palette, tinted lip balm, and concealer. I would admire my older sister’s smoky eyeshadow looks or a beauty YouTuber’s sharp winged eyeliner tutorial, but I’d often think: I can’t do that! That wouldn’t even look good on me! In college, I stayed in my comfort zone of the no makeup - makeup look, with the exception of special events.
My distant admiration for beauty blossomed into love at the age of 22. I became the editor of Kulfi, a South Asian-owned beauty brand, and as an early post-college grad, I had a newfound access to disposable income. I learned so much about the beauty space, both as an insider in the industry and as a consumer. I realized something simple, yet profound: there are beauty brands out there that cater to my skin concerns and style aspirations. These brands tend to be new, independent, BIPOC-owned, and/or rooted in communal experiences with beauty.
My beauty purchases were now empowered decisions.
I’ve embraced the Gen Z in me: dewy pink blush, sunny yellow eyeshadow, shimmery light blue eyeliner. In addition to Minori and Kulfi, some of my favorite brands are Tower28 Beauty, Musée Beauty, Em Cosmetics, and Eczema Honey Co.
I was also nervous and guilty about whether this was the best use of my money. I’d wonder: Be honest, Samia, will you actually wear this a lot? Are you getting your money’s worth? This spoke to a deeper economic anxiety of how I was socialized to think about spending: only essentials, nothing too frivolous, and always with a coupon in-hand.
A year later, my collection continues to grow with my sense of personal style. Three key tips have helped me be more mindful about my beauty spending and routine:
1. Buy products that add a new dimension to your collection.
A crisp color that excites me, a product that suits my skin type, a brand I’ve been pining after for months. This has allowed me to craft my ideal makeup style in a more focused, financially feasible way. I also try to buy things that make me feel something when I use them: confident, ethereal, joyful. There are so many brands, products, and styles within the beauty space. You don’t know what makes you feel like your best self until you explore and experiment at your own pace.
2. Look at a color wheel when you’re getting ready.
So, I had all this gorgeous makeup but a new challenge arose: I was still reaching for the same three colors every day. I didn’t know what eyeshadow would go with which blush or if I should stay monochromatic with my makeup and outfit. Stemming from my love for interior design, I realized makeup can tell a story with color, too. Some days, I’ll wake up and choose an outfit or eyeshadow color first, and will look at a color wheel for inspiration. A fun recent discovery was pairing a lavender outfit with yellow eyeshadow or terracotta eyeliner.
3. Know your beauty collection and visualize it.
This might be simple, but being able to visualize my makeup has been so helpful. My aunt once encouraged me to put clothes I haven’t worn in a while to the front of my closet, and I do that with makeup. My collection is robust yet small enough that I can visualize everything in my head in little families by product type, brand, or complementary colors. I’ll sometimes think: Oh, I haven’t used that one product in a while! And I’ll try my best to use it the next day.
My makeup routine has become a playful mood-lifter every morning. Ultimately, it’s allowed me to express myself in new ways and has taught me so much about how to approach money with intentionality.