On consumerism and blogging.

Things have been a bit quiet on Makeup Utopia recently, because I’ve found myself having something of an existential crisis about the future of Makeup Utopia. I like to think that I am a very spiritual person. I try to live consciously and with meaning, and to place value in people and experiences as opposed to things.

I started my first beauty blog, Makeup by Sara-May 5 years ago. I started it as an online forum for my absolute love of makeup as an art form, and a place to share the makeup looks I created.

Over time, and through the allure of working with brands, Makeup by Sara-May became more of a review blog. When I retired Makeup by Sara-May and started Makeup Utopia, I retained a very strong focus on product reviews. After 5 years of blogging, I had an embarrassingly large collection of makeup completely separate from my professional kit, and, being completely honest, most of it never got used.

Nowadays, people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
-Oscar Wilde

Then, in August of 2014, our family packed up the things we couldn’t live without, sold or gave away everything we could live without, and moved quite literally halfway around the world.

For a year or so before our move, I had been feeling a very strong sense of dissatisfaction at the amount of stuff we owned, and as a result, the amount of clutter we were living with. I started reading as many minimal living blogs as I could find, adopted a capsule wardrobe with only 25 items of clothing, and honestly assessed what of our belongings added value or function to our lives as a family. Moving to Europe simply gave me a deadline to complete the transition to minimal living. In terms of makeup, being forced to part with the things I didn’t truly love for myself or need for my kit really emphasised just how much I was storing for the sake of it. I had a room in my house dedicated to the storage of makeup. This felt obscenely bourgeoisie and I have almost no words to describe how good it felt to pass 95% of my “collection” onto family, friends, and people who would use and love these products.

Since moving to the Netherlands I have made no real effort to connect with brands or pr companies, nor do I plan to.

I used to love watching haul videos on YouTube, but now they feel like consumerism at it’s worst. I read/watch monthly favourite posts and videos, and feel like I’ve willingly just watched/read a commercial – when I use every tool at my disposal to block advertisements from my internet and my tv screen. How authentic can this style of content be, when almost every product included is a recent release, most gifted to the blogger, and all products that have been hyped up in the weeks before?

We use money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.
-Tyler Durden

Maybe I’m just getting cynical in my old age, but when I was a kid, I wanted to be a makeup artist. I wanted to paint faces and make aliens and be creative. Somewhere in the last 5 years, I lost my way and became an advertising tool for brands and prs instead.

I’m done.

I’m done with reviewing products I didn’t absolutely love, just to maintain relationships with brand contacts. I’m done with featuring products just because they’re popular and I know they’ll get a lot of hits. I’m done with creating rigorous posting schedules, and then beating myself up because I can’t maintain them due to both lack of time and lack of inspiration (I have 2 young kids and as much as I’d like it to be different, I can’t post every day, and even 3 times a week is unrealistic at the moment.) Above all I’m done collecting, storing, and finding room for makeup products I’ll never use.

Minimalism is not a lack of something. It is simply the perfect amount of something.
-Nicholas Burroughs

What does this mean for you? It means when I post on Makeup Utopia, it will be a high quality, well thought out article, but it’s not going to be on a regular schedule. I’ll post when the inspiration strikes, and hopefully my posts will be inspiring.

Will I be partnering with brands? I’m open to brand collaboration, but only if I can create meaningful, authentic and useful content for you guys. So no, you probably won’t see much by way of brand collaboration on Makeup Utopia moving forward.

Will I stop doing product reviews? No, I still love and use makeup, and when I really love something, I want to shout it off the rooftops. HOWEVER, the products I review will probably not be the new, hot thing. They will be long-term loves, products that I have used time and time again, the staples of my personal or professional kit. And chances are, I paid for them myself.

My vision for Makeup Utopia is to cater to the average person, the aspiring artist and the industry professional. I no longer want to enable destructive behavior (and I believe rabid consumerism is destructive to the environment, as well as the consumers finances, self esteem and happiness.)

I hope that the average person can come to Makeup Utopia, learn a makeup technique, find inspiration for a makeup look, or learn about a reliable product that they might want (because let’s face it, makeup is a want, not a need), without the hype.

I hope that the aspiring makeup artist can come to Makeup Utopia and learn about products that will perform well in their kit without the expense of a trial and error approach, as well as picking up a new technique, or inspiration for a makeup look they love.

I hope that the seasoned industry professional can come to Makeup Utopia and find practical and informative product recommendations from a trusted colleague, and maybe learn or relearn something useful.

Ultimately, you the reader may not notice a difference, but for me the difference will be profound. In making the decision to change, I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel honest and free, and most importantly I feel the urge to paint, to play with my makeup and to write from the heart.

This is not intended as a criticism of any other digital content creators. I simply feel like this style of content is no longer the right choice for me.

I’ve put a little piece of my soul into writing this article, and I’d love to hear from you. As a reader of blogs, how do you feel about native advertising and the trend towards blogs enabling consumerism? If you’re a blogger, have you ever felt unhappy being a part of the marketing machine? How did you deal with those feelings?

25 Comments

  • Yes, yes, yes! There comes a point where we need to step back and let ourselves breathe. I look forward to seeing your new direction. All the best
    Caity in Toowoomba, Queensland

  • Great post Sara! I’ve been really inspired by your declutter and I too feel wasteful with my unused beauty products. I look forward to your real recommendations and will read your posts whenever you have something to share xx
    Christina @ Hair Romance recently posted…DIY Bridal Beauty is here!My Profile

  • Jen w says:

    Fantastic post, and almost a little bit of relief to read about the tiresome-ness of excess from a successful blogger. I’ve felt the same but haven’t really made any solid decisions myself.

    • Sara-May says:

      I’m so glad it’s not just me feeling this way, let me know how you end up resolving your feelings (or blog it – you’re in my reader :))

  • Lilit says:

    What a fantastic post! Loved everything you said, it’s like you took the feelings right out of me and put it into words. That bit about being done with reviewing products just to maintain PR relationships? Me, so me! And you know what’s funny, I feel bad every time I send a “no thank you” email to PRs, because I think oh but they’re just doing their job trying to get the name of the brand out there, I should try to help out. Because you know, big name brands really need my help LOL.
    Seriously though, I love that you’re changing direction on the blog, I don’t need to see posts about all the latest releases. I’d rather see posts about tried and tested products that you really love.
    PS: Hope you’re enjoying life on the other side of the world! xx
    Lilit recently posted…Two Ways I’m Wearing Colour On My EyesMy Profile

    • Sara-May says:

      Thanks so much Lilit, I think a few people are feeling this way, and good on you for standing by your decision to say no sometimes. It’s really hard when you spend years building relationships with PR’s, you want to help a friend! But at the end of the day you have to look after you and be true to why you started in the first place x

      Oh, and things here in NL are pretty good. Crazy different, and I’m missing home like crazy, but it’s a real adventure!

  • Rebecca says:

    What a beautiful post Sara!

    there is nothing more exciting than reading a blog that has an authentic, no bs feel to it! i think as a reader you can really feel the energy of the place someone is writing from and i cant wait to see what amazing things are to come.

    Wishing you much love and inpiration from Sydney

  • Norlin says:

    Great post Sara-May! Yeah, agree with you with the fact that it has gotten a bit (or a lot) out of hand with the products that I’ve been receiving. I think now that I’m focussed on my blog being more of a hobby, I’m churning out (or try to) posts that will benefit my readers. Yes, there’s affiliates on there but it has only ever been of brands I do use/support and love. Same goes with products I review, write about and share with my readers. I’ve already started (a while back) saying no to a lot of products because I just don’t need them. I can write a whole blog post on this but I won’t. Good on you for changing the way you’re going with your blog!
    Norlin recently posted…Saving Up With Cyber Monday SalesMy Profile

  • Kate says:

    So beautifully put Sara. I have been feeling exactly what you have for quite some time and with all of the talk last week of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and the launch of Sephora in Australia it has just made me steer clear of it all. I didn’t place one order as I don’t need anything and I honestly could use my money for more important things. We are travelling to Europe next year and I would rather use any excess money on éxperiencing’ the world rather than buying ‘things’.

    I have to do a major cull throughout our home as it has really started to get to me. We have lived in the same home for 23 years and have accumulated ALOT so during my Christmas break I am going to tackle it. I am sure I feel SO much better once I have cleared out the excess.

    I will continue to follow your blog as I really appreciate the knowledge that you have and the honesty that you share with us all.

    PS Enjoy a lovely white Christmas xxx
    Kate recently posted…Sephora VIB Rouge PR disasterMy Profile

    • Sara-May says:

      Thank you so much Kate, I can only imagine you’ve got a big job in front of you, but you’ll feel so much better one you clear out! Maybe you can sell your unwanted things and put the money towards saving for your trip?

      Oh, and if you happen to come through Rotterdam on your travels, let me know. Maybe we can have a coffee (or hot chocolate or something!) x

  • Ling says:

    I have always admired your work and will continue to do so. You are an amazing person!!! <3
    Ling recently posted…Review : Mary Kay Timewise+ Volu-Fill Wrinkle CorrectorMy Profile

  • maddy says:

    I have been thinking on the same lines myself. Everytime I reorganize my drawers the amount of stuff I have amassed makes me sick. Now I try to buy only the necessities not what everyone is raving about. I think that the beauty blogging will very soon complete circle and will come back to simple bloggibg instead of being a glossy online magazine
    maddy recently posted…NYX Matte LipstickMy Profile

    • Sara-May says:

      I am so reassured that I am not the only blogger experiencing this “product burnout”. I’d love to see a return to a more old-school style of blogging, it’s certainly where I can see Makeup Utopia headed xx

  • Alice says:

    This is something I’ve been grappling with for a while as well. I have SO MANY products and it feels horrible since I don’t use them all and I’ve pretty much settled into a “routine” and a “look” that works for me. There really isn’t a need for me to try anything new anymore!

    Please make a post on your favorite minimalist bloggers! I would love to check them out!
    Alice recently posted…Brief IntermissionMy Profile

    • Sara-May says:

      Isn’t that the struggle! When you’re happy with your beauty routine, what is next to blog about?

      Great idea about the minimalist bloggers post, I’ll definitely start working on that.

      Thanks Alice for your kind words x

  • Jade says:

    Hear hear! Speaking of minimalist inspiration/blogs do you have any favourites? I’m looking to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle in the new year (but starting to approach this now by getting rid of stuff)

Comments are closed.