Is Beauty & Fashion Blogging Just An Excuse For Excess?

June 20, 2012

Do I have too much makeup?

If you’re reading, you’re probably also on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & read a ton of other fashion & beauty blogs- am I right?  If you’re anything like me, cultivating beauty and style is a serious hobby or a passion and you gravitate towards accumulating pretty “stuff” just like I do.

Sometimes though, being enthusiastic for fashion and beauty in the blogosphere can inspire a “keeping up with the Joneses” response and feeling that everyone has better stuff, and more of it.  With loads and loads of pictures, tweets & feeds coming in full of glossy  & gorgeous stuff the realm of “needs” and “wants,” becomes a bit blurred and overspending sometimes feels normal if left unchecked.

According to Business Insider the average American household carries about $6,500 in consumer debt (not medical or student loan…shopping debt!).

 1 in 50 household carry more than $20,000 in consumer credit card debt.

Debt seems all too common and even comfortably accepted by many young women I speak with.  The scale of what we’re “entitled to,” or what we “need to survive” keeps sliding, and credit cards seem the easy catch-all for whatever our heart desires on impulse.

How many lipglosses does the average woman have?

Seeing pictures, posts and tweets detailing shopping hauls and makeup stashes is a lot of fun, but is it necessary?  I find that the more blogs I read, the more and more I spend on clothes, makeup, skin care and other girly stuff.  I love the fact that I get inspired daily by savvy bloggers and friends on Twitter who know a product and can tell me it’s worth buying before I commit- but how much is too much?

Look up “makeup stash” or “fashion haul” on Google and you’ll see the kind of excess I’m talking about if you’ve been previously unaware.  Beyond simply being excessive or wasteful- you have to wonder where it leaves some bloggers financially.  Can they really afford to supply daily outfit posts or high-end $15 lipstick simply to be seen blogging about it first?

Who really needs 50 lip glosses or 80 pairs of shoes?  How much can you use before it goes to waste or goes out of style?

How much is enough if you just keep indulging?

As much as I love to shop- consumerism and debt concern me.  I go on binges where it seems I spend a LOT of money all at once and then have to stop myself.  Luckily though, I have a reserve fund set up for slip ups and make “paying myself first” a priority before I go shopping.  I pay off my credit card each month (thank the Lord!) but I still sometimes worry that I spend too much and accumulate too much stuff.

Not only does it become difficult to both appreciate what you have, and manage the stuff you buy, but it seems that excessive shopping creates an unsatisfiable void.  The more you have, the more you want.  The more you put on a credit card, the less you have to think about.

I would love to think that everyone that blogs about fashion or beauty is just loaded.  Maybe they have a rocking career and beauty or fashion blogging is their main hobby.  Dumping $50+ a week on a hobby isn’t too bad if you have cash to spare and you blog for fun, but I often wonder how many women are going into debt over their blogs?


Going into debt over a fashion blog?


One of my favorite bloggers is Sally from Already Pretty.  She incorporates many pieces more than once, shops on sale and from thrift.  Her style is innovative but sustainable.  Without being exorbitant or flashy, she cultivates a love of style (with links if you feel like copy-shopping, I sometimes do!) by focusing on the art & intuitiveness of fashion- not the consumerism.


Beyond debt, it’s additionally troubling that women aren’t saving….According to several finance sites I’ve read, it’s estimated that…

 The average woman under 25 has less than $2,000 to her name saved.


Not only is debt a huge concern, but a lack of sustainable savings is a blaring red flag for most  women.  What’s awful about fashion, makeup & designer duds is that they’re not actual assets.  Sure, you can sell a designer purse for (maybe) about half of what you paid for it, but a $200 order of high-end makeup has no resale value to help you out in a pinch.


Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’m really tempted to over shop.  But how much is enough?  I’m constantly redefining what “excess” truly is as my tastes get richer by my income doesn’t!    As much as I love fashion, makeup and feeling pretty- my first commitment is to financial freedom.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about buying a pair of Christian LouBoutin shoes–  an extravagant purchase of $600+.  Excessive? Sure… but I also saved for nearly two years for it and the purchase was savored.  Do I worry about making it a habit or going overboard? Sure. I have to constantly assess where I’m at with my money and with my life -we all do.   I make mistakes, I evaluate, I move on.

In addition to saving for major purchases- I put away 15% of my income away into a savings account each week through Impulse Save and I have a ROTH IRA.  I only go shopping AFTER I see the numbers of what’s left over after what I call my “mandatory saves.”  I realize I’m influenced by others- be it marketing gurus or stylish bloggers, so I’ve set up a safety net of saving and monitor my bills to keep it under (somewhat) control.

So, what’s “excessive” for you?  Has it changed over time?

What influences your spending and how do you figure out what is “enough” to have?



15 comments so far.

15 responses to “Is Beauty & Fashion Blogging Just An Excuse For Excess?”

  1. Amanda says:

    I’m so glad you wrote a post about this! I actually just paid off my credit cards and found myself saying “Well shit, I just sent a ton of money on stuff I didn’t need!” I realized I went a little overboard because I started making nice commissions at work and landed a well paying writing client – big mistake people make!

    I have to check myself daily too as a blogger. Sometimes we run into amazing stuff that we just have to buy and tell our readers about – definitely an issue I had last year. I’ve been trying to cut back on that.

    Ironic considering we both blog about personal finance haha.

  2. Sarah says:

    i love this post. I had the same realisation a couple of weeks back when i realised that my savings had dipped well below €4000 and i panicked. Sure i had moved house and used savings to set myself up but i was still shopping for clothes and makeup that i really did not need.
    I still struggle with the ‘want’ to impulse spend and sure, i have spent a little more than planned on a couple of occassions but this is NO comparison to life before.
    I hate that some blogs make their lives seem as if they have no end point to their finances and that they can afford every product and piece of clothing.

    I had a thought last night. What if we never paid for anything until the end of the year, we had everything on credit; our wages were collected into a lump sum too so that we could pay our ‘end of year bills’ ~~ We would be disgusted in how much we would spend wouldnt we.

    Its easy to forget when its a little here and a little there.

  3. Carrie Smith says:

    I struggle with this issue from time to time as well. Although my problem isn’t with makeup as much as it is other beauty products – like lotions, massage oils, creams, bubble bath etc… It’s the same difference though, because anything in excess can be dangerous. I try to compensate with over-shopping by selling, donating or giving away products I don’t use anymore. I do this with my clothes/shoes as well. If a few items come into my home, that same amount of items needs to go out (whether it’s from donating, selling or trashing). I don’t know if that helps curb the excess, but I like to think it does. If nothing else it keeps my home from being too cluttered with non-essentials.

  4. Terri says:

    I am a thrifter and even that can be excessive. Enjoyed this post.

  5. Julie says:

    I actually love artful living and artful dressing. But what I love most is people living a full expression of their real personhood – not just styling stuff over and over again. Honestly many fashion blogs with daily outfit posts repulse me a bit. They breeze through what it would take me months to save up for and it just emphasizes the massive class differences between us, and perhaps their true ingratitude for what they do have. I still have tank tops from college (used just as dirty/sleeping shirts) and I carefully save my “good” clothing for only the best occasions so I can wear it for years. When I purchased a $120 pair of pants for businesswear it was a big deal.
    The over-obsession with new outfits to me says they must have little else to be thinking about in their lives. Which is one reason I truly appreciate blogs like this that cover fun “stuff” but also speak intelligently. Looking good is only one small part of who I am (and who we all are) and a preoccupation with that is at the expense of not only our finances but our spirits as well.
    You are worth more than your clothing! That is a message that I think young women need to internalize more than anything…

  6. Revanche says:

    It’s definitely easy to get caught up in the glitter and the gloss when following beauty and fashion bloggers, *especially* if they post deals and bargains alongside the more glamorous stuff. You can lose track of the spending because of all the stuff you fall in love with.

    It’s easier once you learn to window shop online, though!

    And if you have a firm grip on numbers of things you are willing to have in each category. That helps.

  7. Patti says:

    Just came to say Hi! and leave a blog post comment!

  8. Ella P. says:

    I’m not a big spender. I gotta say I’m very good when it comes to handling money. My hubby can attest to that 😀

    Whenever I go shopping, I make sure I have a list of what to buy and stick with it. I guess it all about self-control and discipline.

  9. Kathryn C. says:

    Enjoyed reading the post and thanks for the information. That is alarming statistics on the debt for shopping. Amazing.

  10. Shannyn says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone- I always love this kind of honest and insightful feedback on my posts about spending and consumerism. I love “stuff” just as much as anybody- but sometimes I worry that I could be doing something more fulfilling and wonder if my priorities are out of whack…it’s a journey!

  11. I don’t wear too much or jewelry for that matter, but I have an obsession with tech toys. The problem with that is cameras, laptops etc are huge investments.

  12. I am super in love with this post!

  13. Katie says:

    I’m really glad somebody finally mentioned this! It’s been on my mind for a while now how these bloggers have the money to do these hauls and buy all these pretty things. It never accured to me that they would actually go into debt to keep up their image. I can see how it would happen though, because if I actually had the money to spend (and credit cards!) I would be in a world of trouble. My weak spot is sales, so after I signed up for Hautelook I realized that getting daily emails from them was poison. I’ve had to exercise my self control…A LOT!

  14. sarah says:

    I came across this old post and have wondered the same thing when I see bloggers buying Chanel purses or showing off their collections of like a zillion high end nail polish colors. I wonder if they work for Ulta or Sephora or something.


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