What I Didn’t Buy in 2020

What I didn't buy in 2020

Last year posed changes for nearly everyone, and for me, that meant there was a lot I didn’t buy in 2020. If you escaped unscathed, good on you. Since this blog is largely about beauty, we’ll keep it in the realm of changes in that regard:

  • Although we all should have been wearing masks when out, if you were not able to work from home, you wore one more than most.
  • If your employment situation changed, perhaps you didn’t have to leave home at all or be on camera.
  • If you transitioned to working from home, you might have found yourself on camera more than you have before.

I’m in the third camp, though I was required to report to the office periodically. All of these things represent, in one way or another, a likely change in your grooming processes: if you have a mask on all day, maybe you’re skipping foundation to avoid, “maskne.” You’re almost certainly skipping lipstick. If you’re on camera, you might be fighting looking pallid and exhausted/sick/etc.

I’ve advocated, for those WFH, to try to continue getting ready – even if not identically – to maintain a routine. It’s good for your mental health! My routine has changed considerably – which has altered my buying habits.

Here’s what I didn’t buy in 2020:


I had enough on hand to cover my reduced needs this year. I use foundation (well, BB cream) daily when I’m on camera, but I won’t need to repurchase until at least February.

Savings: $30
Verdict? I’ll buy it when I need to stock up.

Brow Waxes

I haven’t gotten a professional brow wax a single time during 2020. It wasn’t something I did often previously (maybe 3-4x per year) because my brows are decidedly not wild, so this wasn’t a glaring miss for me.

It was a year of skill development for me, though, so I bought supplies and learned to do it myself. For the cost of less than two Brow Bar appointments, I can do it myself more times than I can (so far) count. This is a big time and money savings for me. Combined with brow tinting (which is new to me entirely), I use less brow product, too.

Savings: $60-80 (for the year) before tip.
Verdict? I’m firmly keeping this DIY.


I got one haircut before everything shut down earlier this year. I’ve cut my hair three times since then. That’s shaping up for about as often as I’d get it done professionally.

Savings: $45 over the year before tip (I get cheap haircuts because my hair is simple).
Verdict? I do a passable job to get through this without looking foolish, and I’ll continue to do it until things feel safer, but I will definitely return to a professional for this.

Highlights / Balayage

I last got my balayage refreshed in February 2020. I usually go 3-4x per year Thankfully, balayage neglectsages well. I’m toying with the idea of doing it myself, and getting closer by the day. I do tone my hair myself with good results via shampoo and Wella Color Charm. I haven’t tried to do my own highlights, though.

Savings: $250-300 over the year.
Verdict? Well, I haven’t tried to highlight it yet (and I still might) but I nearly guarantee I will still prefer a professional touch for this. Toners are fine, though, and I did the shampoo method before the world went to shit.

Nail Care

I’d get a pro one maybe once a year to be disappointed and remind myself why I DIY. I consistently produce better results at home.

Savings: $60
Verdict? Unless it’s something like a spa day (which I’ve never really done), I’m just going to lean on my own skills.

Vitamin C Serum

I really like Vitamin C serums. I loved Drunk Elephant but switched to Ole Henriksen Truth Serum a while back due to the price-per-ounce and stability intersection. I’ve pared back my usage to ration it this year. I usually buy the big holiday bottle Sephora usually has … but they didn’t offer it this year. I’m going to see how long what I have lasts, and how long some Ordinary offerings I had perform, before I shop.

Savings: $70-120 depending on what’s available.
Verdict? My skin likes Vitamin C. I want it in my skincare routine. I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it.


Since I started to shop my stash (over two years ago), I haven’t purchased eyeshadow with the exception of some Julep sticks. Yeah. It’s been years. It is interesting given that eyeshadow is my favorite part of makeup and I wear shadow regularly, but I guess I’m gentle on my products.

My eye looks have changed given the way I appear at work has changed – my lighting situation has led me to go heavier with darker colors on my eye so that my eyes appear are a reasonable facsimile of how I do my usual makeup (remember how makeup for cameras tends to be heavier?) Smoky looks weren’t common for me in The Before Times; now, I’m putting dark shades that I’d never reach for during the day to work so I look alive-ish on camera. This means I’m using things I didn’t really use before, and though I’d just get rid of.

Savings: $60 or so; though I didn’t buy any palettes in 2019, either.
Verdict? I’ll buy more eventually. Although the pandemic has changed my usage patterns, it hasn’t really influenced whether I buy or not.


I use argan oil to moisturize my face. I purchase 4oz bottles from Mountain Rose Herbs because the quality is great and its a great value; four ounces lasts me approximately two years (decant into a smaller dropper bottle and store the rest in the fridge to prevent it from going rancid). For context, I’ve been buying from them since 2017 and am only just now ready to purchase my third bottle.

Savings: Debatable.
Verdict? Well, considering this was an established habit for me, I really didn’t save more than usual – but compare it against what Josie Maran charges nearly 3.5x as much for the same volume, we can call it $68.

Other Items

This category is difficult to quantity savings for because the products contained therein aren’t purchases that I made often anyway – for example, I haven’t purchased blush since 2018 at latest.

  • Blush (use regularly, had plenty)
  • Eyeliner (use regularly, had plenty)
  • Brow Products (use regularly, had plenty)
  • Concealer (not using right now)
  • Setting Spray (rarely using due to changes; have plenty)
  • Bronzer (don’t use it in general)
  • Contour (don’t use it in general)
  • Highlighter (used sparingly even in The Before Times; but I like Becca’s creams)
  • Primer (use it sparingly)
  • Powder (rarely using + have plenty; the full size Hourglass ALP is huge)
  • No novelty items either like lashes, glitter liners, and the like.

Overall, there was a lot that I didn’t buy in 2020. Overall, my beauty spending decreased dramatically between shifting visibility demands and a desire to be more cautious with luxuries like this due to uncertainty. I also had a lot of stuff to use up, so it’s a good thing! I would not have maintained Sephora VIB or Ulta Platinum if they had not just moved everyone’s status forward, because I didn’t even spend half the required amount(s) of either company across both combined!

What beauty purchases did you eschew in 2020?