Ask MBB: How Do You Handle Criticism/Pressure About the Size of Your Makeup Collection?

Published in: Just For Fun

Earlier this week I got a really interesting email from a reader (Hi, Aimee!) about something I’ve thought about many times myself…


Hi Karen,

Greetings from a long-time reader, first-time commenter/emailer! I discovered your blog when I first started using makeup during my undergrad a few years ago. Virtually none of the women in my life are into makeup, so you’re like the makeup-loving aunt that I wish I had 🙂 I love that you make cosmetics something very fun, and I’ve also learned a ton along the way.

I’ve got one small problem/dilemma though, and I’m wondering if you could help me with it/offer some advice? I’ve now got…a sizeable collection (not by blogger standards, but more than most girls have, I’d say), and I’ve also discovered the value in investing in higher-end/more expensive products that will really deliver, or that just make me happy. Unfortunately, I feel a little ashamed of my (relatively) huge stash. It’s also composed of far more higher-end/expensive items (to put this in context, one of my best friends feels that MAC is absurdly priced, while I’ve definitely got a fair amount from NARS, MUFE, Benefit, etc.).

I guess what I’m saying is: how do you handle any pressure/judgment you get/feel from others about your makeup stash — its size, how expensive/high-end its contents are, etc. I love makeup for its creative side, and as a tool to empower me…but am afraid to ever show my full stash to the ladies in my life for fear of judgment. And as embarrassing as it is, this is kind of affecting my life (I never leave anything out on my counter, most of my makeup is hidden in drawers which makes accessing it a pain, and if someone wants to come into my room, I make sure I’ve got my stuff tucked away first).

I’m sure part of this has to come from me, but if you have any words of advice at all, I’d appreciate it a ton. This is the one thorn in my makeup-loving side.

Thanks for reading, I know you must get a ton of messages!

Much love,


Hi Aimee,

Greetings right back ‘atcha from sunny (today) Marin County, California! Thank you for visiting the blog and being a reader all these years. It means a lot to me, and I am honored to be the makeup-loving aunt you never had. 🙂

You pose a fascinating question. I know exactly how you feel. Not that El Hub gets (very) cranky about my collection, except when he’s tripping over boxes or sitting on makeup pans. Sometimes I’ll hear a creative string of curses coming from the shower after a loud crash as 15 bottles of shampoo and conditioner rain down on top of him (haha!), or he’ll ask, “Babe, do you REALLY need another pink lipstick?” when he sees me with that rabid look in my eyes at a MAC counter, but other than little things like that, he couldn’t care less.

But I do experience what you described sometimes with friends. Like sometimes when my pal Cindy (who’s anti-makeup and recoils whenever I threaten her with lip gloss) comes over, she’ll say something mildly snarky like, “I’ll never understand why you need so many eyeshadows,” or “Why does it take you SO LONG to get ready?” or “Wow…that’s a lot of brushes.”

Whenever it happens, I tell myself that she’s probably just curious or trying to push my buttons (we’re like sisters and have known each other for more than 20 years).

Not wanting to bite, I’ll usually make a joke to diffuse the situation, saying something like, “Yup, that is a lot of brushes, and if you don’t get out of my way, I will paint every inch of your face with them,” or “Well, if I didn’t collect eyeshadow, I’d collect cats!”

But when someone I don’t know very well makes a similar comment (and they’re unfamiliar with my sense of humor), I’ll just smile and bite my tongue, and maybe say something like, “Yeah, it is a lot of makeup, isn’t it? It’s just a hobby, and I like it because it’s a little artsy-fartsy. Would you like me to show you how to use this blush (eyeshadow/bronzer/brush)? I bet it would look really pretty on you.”

And if that fails, well, whatcha gonna do? If someone still wants to be cranky after that, there’s nothing I can do to stop ’em. Water off a duck’s back. Maybe they’re just having a bad day and want to take it out on me. Sometimes all you can do is Kanye shrug, ya know, and go on your merry way. 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,




Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 34 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Sandy says:

    This “with that rabid look in my eyes ” made me lol! I guess I have a medium-to-large collection of makeup and I don’t keep it hidden but I keep my makeup with my ‘dressing table’ [desk], so it isn’t front and center for visitors. But I’m not ashamed of it! I haven’t had anyone react negatively to my makeup love but I really only talk about it with like-minded people. 🙂 My husband just shakes his head and smiles fondly [or that’s how I interpret it, although his teeth are kind of clenched when he smiles, so…].

  2. lila says:

    To me the biggest question about huge makeup collections is how to deal with expiration dates and not having your money wasted on barely touched expired products.

    • Shannon says:

      Hey Lila! For me, that means limiting things that go bad quickly – particularly mascara and liquid eyeliner (which only lasts about 3 months). A lot of other products, if you use them with clean brushes/fingers and store them appropriately, can last a good long while.

  3. bernadette says:

    I tend to justify the expensive stuff with “it goes on my FACE, so it better be good stuff”. (Not to say that all cheap stuff is bad!)

  4. Kimber says:

    So far I haven’t gotten much slack for the amount of makeup I have (fortunately one of my best friends also has a sizable collection), but I also rarely have people over. The only comment I’ve ever gotten was “Wow, you have a lot of lipstick!!” So maybe my friends are just quietly judging me, who knows!

    But I like to this of it this way: Yes, I DO have a lot of makeup. Yes, I DO have mostly high-end makeup, which means I have spent a lot of money at this point. But this is something I enjoy, and buying/using makeup truly makes me happy. Some people spend money on shoes (which I occasionally do splurge on–I love me some Sperry’s!) or bags or hobbies, etc etc, and the thing I like to spend money on is makeup and skincare. We all have our little luxuries we like to indulge in.

    I don’t think anyone should feel ashamed or embarrassed by the things they love. It’s your money, it’s your decision to spend that money on makeup. Enjoy it!! 🙂

  5. Bee says:

    I can relate to Aimee’s letter! However, I’ve come to realize that my makeup and nail polish collection is a hobby. People may not see it that way, though. Some collectors collect items that are supposed to increase in value and this may be provided as a justification. However, the bottom line is if it makes me happy, that should be enough!

  6. Kim says:

    Love all your humorous posts! Make up makes me happy and helps get my creative juicies flowing. Like the saying goes… They’re all going to talk might as well give them something to talk about lol. I think we should all just do what we love, maybe there would be more positivity in the world!? Anyway TGIF Karen 😉

  7. Rachel P says:

    Karen, I am so glad you posted this and I am glad Aimee asked. This is something I deal with a lot too, but it’s not something I consciously thought about before now. I had a friend sharing my bathroom a few weeks ago and her eyes got HUGE and she said, “I’ve never seen this many lipsticks in my entire life.” I don’t even feel like my collection is that big, and she hasn’t been the first to comment. But I felt ashamed because people who aren’t makeup enthusiasts can so easily blow off beauty and styling as frivolous and unnecessary. Which I can (almost) understand, but the frivolity is what makes it so fun! And the creative energy you generate doing makeup and exploring new products is really cathartic and important. If you can’t express yourself in life, what’s the point? People who love makeup will always be buying/trying new products, and that typically leads to a big collection. Reading this post now makes me realize that everybody has their hobbies. The money we spend on makeup, brushes, perfume, etc, other people will spend on their frivolous hobbies as well. Ours just happens to be more glamorous.

  8. Amanda says:

    ummm… this happens to me quite often. I feel like people “shame” me because I’m addicted to makeup ! I always say… “hey, it could be worse!” It makes me happy and it makes me feel good so I say ignore those people! 🙂
    Karen you may be my soul mate! HA!

  9. Shannon says:

    I’m a total fan of my “little” collection of Benefit/UD/bareMinerals (etc) products. While I don’t talk about makeup that often, it’s definitely one of my loves in life. As such, I find it pretty easy to talk about when someone brings it up (or when I bring it up, haha, by saying something like, “I love your eyeliner, it always looks so awesome – what do you use?”). I have a lot of friends that I’ve introduced to the Wonderful World of Sephora, and while none of them are as totally into makeup as I am (and really, my collection isn’t massive by any means – but it’s much larger than anything any of my friends have) they’re pretty cool with me being into makeup. It’s just one of those things that I like, and if my friends like me, they’ll just have to put up with it! 🙂

    As far as the high-end thing goes, I agree that a lot of people spend money on a lot of different things that they, themselves, are totally into – food (which goes into your belly and is gone immediately!), boating, clothes, shoes, collectible cards, instruments, you name it. And if you want to spend money on those things, kudos to you! If you love it, whatever “it” might be, why not enjoy the better part of what it has to offer?

  10. Katherine M says:

    I love makeup and products, myself, and hubby will make fun of me if I come home from Target or Ulta or Sephora with new eyeshadow, liner, or blush. My supply is limited to a drawer and some travel makeup bags full of stuff, but that drawer is jam packed full of makeup that I have organized into various sections. Because of working out a lot, I rarely wear makeup anymore, except to go out or for a dressy/nice occasion. My husband claims that I am “too beautiful to need makeup” which is nice of him, but I think there are certain times I need or want to look polished or have a fun eye look.

    Basically I handle the situation of hubby or friends/family asking me about makeup by letting them know just that – that I want to feel feminine and beautiful when the occasion allows for it, and I have fun makeup because I truly do enjoy experimenting with different runway eye looks or I think that fun makeup colors can add a small “pop” to a neutral look. I also explain that I like dying my hair and having a few different hair products because I want my hair to look good and be healthy. I do believe that appearance is everything when it comes to impressions – if I am not wearing makeup, how does my skin and hair look? Do I look healthy, neat, orderly?

  11. Tennyoceres says:

    I don’t mind a large collection if you use what you have. It’s just sad if an untried just sits there and expires.

    Usually there are no problems if all the makeup/beauty supplies are stored (if rarely used) or displayed in a functional way.

    If I get snooty remarks from my husband that my makeup stash is growing exponentially I just remind him that his electronics and games are also growing exponentially. This solves most arguments ;D

  12. Natalie says:

    I have an extensive makeup stash too. It does not worry me what people say though. I also have an expensive bag collection and when people say stuff like ‘I don’t understand why you would spend so much money for just a bag’. Then I would say, ‘oh well, people buy expensive house, car, diamonds or shoes… People have different lifestyle and preference’. What I really want to say is it is my money, so I can buy whatever I want, but just like you Karen, I bite my tongue and smile 🙂

  13. NeenaJ says:

    Everyone has *something* they indulge in. I enjoy the snark so, if I know the person well, I just ask about their burgeoning collection of… (Swedish 1920’s toadstool figurines). If I don’t know the person or am attempting to be polite, I say: as a vice of choice, makeup is by far preferable to drugs, cigarettes or Birkin bags. Either way, it usually shuts them up. 🙂

    One thing I wish someone would have told me early on is: Dont’ Settle! Be ruthless about the quality and texture of the makeup you purchase. Being “a pretty color” isn’t good enough because you’ll buy 10 of the exact same thing until you finally find “the one”. Good luck and have fun with your makeup!

  14. ericca says:

    I would give that friend who constantly says somethign about your huge ,expensive collection. Live a little. I do what mnakes me happy and if you have a problem , go fly a kite. People spend money and it makes them happy who is anyone to judge if its legal. People need to get over what makes other people happy. karen, love the site and love your advice. step away from the bruishes before i makeup your whole face up. lol

  15. Elena says:

    I don’t know how people can be so judgamental! I own lots of make-up, so what? Maybe they own lots of other things I find silly but I just have the decency not to comment on it.

    As I usually say of many other issues in life: to each, her own.

  16. Susanne says:

    I don’t have the biggest makeup collection at all, but i experience it with books. I LOVE books. I read alot, so naturally i have tons of books everywhere.
    People don’t seem to understand that though. “Why do you need so many books?” Well duh, because i read alot xD. “I would never spend money on a book”. Good for you, but you see, i love books – so why shouldn’t i? I actually feel this kind of judgement comes up no matter what it is you have tons of. Be it books, makeup, shoes or decorative mirrors.
    I usually just handle it with an explanation of how i love books, and therefore like spending money on them. That it’s a hobby. And people actually respond to that very well – allthough there will always be idiots who thinks their interest are the only ones you can spend money or time on without being weird.

  17. Eileen says:

    I keep my makeup organized in drawers in the master bathroom so needless to say, no one is ever in there pawing through my collection. Only like minded friends and my husband know what an extensive collection I actually have. I’ve never had anyone make any kind of rude comment about the number of cosmetics I have, but if someone did, I’d simply ask why they cared. If they were being snarky, I’d tell them it’s not their concern. If they were expressing genuine interest; however, I’d tell them about the esthetic satisfaction collecting makeup gives me. On one hand, you’re dealing with rudeness which does not require any explanation or justification. On the other hand you’re dealing with genuine interest in which case it can be fun to discuss makeup collecting as a hobby. In either case, I’d never feel ashamed or shy away. There is nothing dishonorable about collecting beautiful cosmetics!

    Apropos high end lines like Clé de Peau, Guerlain, Chantecaille, Le Métier de Beauté, etc. After years of gradually working my way up through various cosmetic lines, I can honestly say that there is a huge difference in complexity of color, texture, finish, etc. between high end and low end cosmetics. If I’m going to collect, I want items that represent the best in terms of quality and esthetics. Once again, if someone were to ask me why I’d spend $50 on a lipstick, my response would be, “Why do you care?” Snark or genuine interest? That would determine my response.

  18. Maegan Morin says:

    I have a small makeup collection but I can still identify with Aimee. I have more family members that dont wear makeup then do (and I have a LARGE family) they come over to my house because they dont see how anyone could really need that many eye shadows (I have 100 max :S). I live in a rural area and they will call me a “city girl”. Is it so wrong to just want to be pretty and take care of yourself? Guess so…

  19. Enka says:

    I also face a lot of comments about it; I’m regarded as the ‘tomboy’ of my family and, still, I’m the one that has the biggest makeup collection. I also have a lot of nail polish, and I have a place specially designed for its display. When a friend or a family member asks me, they usually do it out of curiosity; they know I’m an art graduate, so a quick “I love color” will do. But my mother is specially judgemental: she saves every penny she finds, and says makeup is useless (as a result, she doesn’t really make a first good impression, my mother doesn’t care for fashion either). She likes to scold me about my makeup or nail polish, so I usually tell her two things: one, it’s my money (she hasn’t bought me a single bottle of nail polish ever), and second, I USE IT.

    I guess the best way to deal with it is just to show that you aren’t ashamed with your hobby. When someone points out I have ‘too many nail polish bottles’ I tend to answer with ‘yes, and I know the name of each shade, wanna try me?’ or even ‘and there are a lot more I want to purchase’. That way people know that you don0t care about your opinion.

  20. Enka says:

    *their opinion, sorry XD

  21. TrishB says:

    I love my makeup collection – and that’s exactly what it is, a collection. It took me a while to realize this. My 70 year old mom collects vintage dolls and accessories, my dad does model trains, and omg, my sister knits, and her yarn stash is insane. It took me a while to realize that collecting is collecting. Now ask me about my 250+ BareMinerals loose eye colors, before we discuss Bobbi Brown through the years. 🙂

  22. christina says:

    I have quite a lot of makeup for an “amateur”. Three huge chests of drawers and a few (OK six) big bags in my wardrobe. I don’t blog but I follow about 15 beautybloggers daily (including Karen of course) and I ususally never comment. Whenever one of my favourite bloggers recommends something I find interesting I HAVE to buy it. This is quite a challenge since I live in Sweden (we only get the boring makeup brands). So I order most of my beautyproducts online directly or I use a personal shopping site (myus). In extreme cases I force my cousin in Florida to get it for me. Once when I didn’t order anything via myus for a month I got an email asking if I was allright! The thing is I have this OCD thing with makeup (not with anything else). I tend to collect (well hoard…) many items from the same brand and then I have to use them in a certain order (yes I have a list). I’m now on Benefit, then comes Laura Geller, Nars, Dior etc. It can be anything fom drugstore to very high end. This means I cannot open things I buy until I have decided to use them. I currently have 44 different Foundations (39 of which are unopened). God knows how many unopened lipsticks I have. Literally hundreds. I feel if I open everything when I get it there will be chaos and makeup going bad all over the place. I also have a lot of unused makeup brushes, beautyblenders etc. I sometimes feel anxious that I have to “move on” to the next brand (I keep the opened stuff I really like for use “in the future”) and that I will never be able to use all this makeup if I live 100 years. 99 % of all the make up I own is unused. Anyone else have this “problem”? Regarding snide remarks etc I have not had a lot of that. Of course, most of my stash is not in plain sight. At least in Sweden makeup obsession is regarded largely as a “Bimbo interest”. I’m 49 and a judge ha,ha. I have other interest too but I LOVE beautyproducts. I work hard, take care of my family, I don’t buy a lot of expensive shoes and handbags and I’m not in debt so I can do what I like! My husband is resigned and my twelveyear old daughter has sworn to never wear makeup ha, ha. One funny thing is when I showed my beautystash to one of my oldest friends, she said to me, looking all serious, “maybe you should talk to someone?”

  23. Julia says:

    I feel like I have a mid-sized collection of makeup, but most of it tends to be a little more high-end, like Chanel, Guerlain, and Nars. I’m very lucky that my friends totally support my collecting habit. I tend to acquire lots and lots of makeup samples that I always share with them so they love coming over my place.

  24. Susan says:

    I can relate to many of the comments here. I have been in love with beauty/beauty products for as long as I can remember – Glamour used to be my bible when I was young (way back when:)! I have always “collected” beauty products, and enjoy using them and trying out new looks. I am a licensed cosmetologist, but I also have a degree in marketing, which is how I’ve spent most of my career (although I still cut hair on the side). I feel some pressure as a “professional” marketing person to not share my hobby with most of the ladies I know, but I also feel what others have expressed: this is my hobby, I don’t collect Snowbabies, or Beanie Babies, or anything else like that, my family is well cared for and I don’t go into debt for my hobby. And hey, freedom of choice is as basic to the USA as breathing, right?

  25. Lori says:

    I can relate. While I don’t have a huge makeup collection, most of my friends aren’t into makeup at all. I have one friend who really likes makeup and can talk to about it, but none of my friends are into it nearly as much as myself.
    The way I look at it, it’s just another art form. I have a masters in art (although it’s in ceramics) and it’s just another way for me to flex my art brain. I think a lot of people think girls wear makeup because they feel like they have to or think they are ugly without it, that it’s to look good for men, etc… and I wish more people understood that that’s BS. It may be true for some ladies, but for me it’s art. Period. I loooove thinking about what I want to do with my makeup that day( I’m usually thinking about it before I go to bed the night before), and trying to be creative with it. My boyfriend couldn’t care less if I wore any or not. It’s for me. Anyone else who doesn’t like it will just have to cry about it. 🙂

  26. Sun says:

    Really, it’s no one’s business but your own regarding how much makeup you own. The only people who get a right to say anything about it are the ones who are footing the bill for your makeup purchases. If you’re paying for your own makeup expenditures, then no one has the right to say anything, unless of course, it’s really negatively impacting your life, e.g., you are prioritizing makeup ahead of paying for rent, food, etc., in which case you have a bigger problem on your hands.

    Having said all that, it’s always a good idea to take stock of what you have and ask yourself, “Do I really need that?” I recognized a while back that I tend to buy the same makeup shades over and over — the only variability are the brands — how many different shades of dusky rose/mauve lipsticks and taupe-y eyeshadows do I really need?

  27. Great advice, Karen! Aimee, I definitely feel for your situation! I’ve felt the need to tuck things away before fearing judgment for spending too much money on makeup and beauty. One thing I try to keep in mind is that everyone – EVERYONE – has their “thing” that they spend money on. Be it shoes, purses, clothes, jewelry, DVDs, books, wine, etc. We all know a Shoe Girl whose collection resembles that of Mariah Carey’s, or a Purse Girl who owns a Coach bag in every color. I have a friend who has a bubble necklace for every day of the week and the $200+ Tory Burch sandals in 4 different colors. We makeup lovers just spend our extra money on makeup; it’s our version of having a closet full of to-die-for heels or a DVD collection that spans the length of the living room wall. I don’t have 50 pairs of shoes or 20 pairs of jeans or a cellar stocked with the finest French wines, because I don’t love that stuff as much as I love makeup. It sounds like you’re the same way. I never judge anyone for what they spend their money on because they earned it and they can spend it on whatever makes them happy. Hopefully your friends and family will keep that sentiment in mind, and maybe think about what they like to buy, before judging you for your collection. Good luck, Aimee!

  28. Kristy says:

    Everyone pretty much accepts it. My mom and my husband know not to bother because the conversation would go nowhere! I think my husband thinks it’s cute at this point. I’m actually harder on myself, because I’m constantly trying to cull and edit everything to the “perfect” collection. And we know that’s not going to happen.

  29. Xuvious says:

    I guess my collection isn’t large compared to most bloggers but it is compared to my friends. I go through exactly what the email describes but in the end, if it makes you happy and you’re being smart about the money side of things, it’s a hobby just like any other.
    Hope that makes any sense.
    Xuvious recently posted … Wishlist : August 2013

  30. cncx says:

    I went through a few years where i had a huge stash by average people standards (three huge boot boxes of just makeup, not counting skincare) and what was nice is that after a divorce where my finances took a hit, my collection did three things for me: 1. Shopping my stash was fun; 2. I swapped and sold a lot of it, and; 3. Most importantly, now that my finances are different, being able to have had experiment with such a big stash has really helped me pare down my brands and my beauty routine. It was a wonderful life experiment, my big stash, and i wouldnt have a lot of my hg items if i hadnt gone that route. I now have a small but expensive and useful collection, with a few splurg-y collectors items (meteorites). Never underestimate the power of a big stash!

  31. Kim says:

    It’s too bad but people tend to judge and when it’s about something they don’t “get”, they tend to feel like it’s stupid or a waste. I’m not big into makeup or shoes/accessories/jewelry but I don’t think less of people who are. I’m sure there are plenty of things that I like that they’re not wild about either. Aimee, if you can afford higher end makeup and it makes you happy to buy it, that’s all that matters. There are a lot of worse things you could be doing with your money and time! I think your advice was great, Karen. 🙂

  32. Aimee says:

    Hi everyone, this is Aimee (from the letter). Just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading about everyone’s different experiences. Thanks to Karen for posting this here, it’s been nice to read everyone’s comments and positive thoughts; they’ve been really uplifting, so thank you for taking the time to write in!

  33. jillo says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I will arm my self with the new confidence that everyone with an issue will not matter anymore and I will sass them if they mess with me. I am a blogger, and as such I own lots of makeup!
    jillo recently posted … Sephora Haul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge