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  • Nelufer Beebeejaun

Dear Ipsy, I’m sorry, We’re Through.

Dear Ipsy,

I’m sorry, we’re through.

There were good times, sure, but it’s not me, it’s you. I can’t reconcile your glaring inadequacies anymore and you deserve an explanation, so here it is:

I turned to Ipsy (popular cosmetic subscription service) in a vulnerable time. I was single, late 20’s, and grinding long hours at work. My group of girlfriends, though still tight, was no longer spending hours getting ready to go out dancing on a regular basis (who among us hasn’t known the white hot agony of their ride-or-die getting drippy with the lash glue?), so my makeup routine hadn’t changed in a while. I have never had time to scour youtube for application tips and reviews of the latest products, or spend hours sifting through vacuous nonsense in fashion mags in search of the sparse beauty intel. Malls full of slow walkers and screaming kids give me the scaries, so my approach to shopping has always been “Know what you want. In and out.” --casual trips to Sephora are not a thing in my world. I needed help: convenient, customizable help, and I found it in Ipsy.

At first, all was roses -- I got a referral code from one of my girls, set up an account and went through the quiz on my skin type & tone, makeup preferences, proficiency levels, skin and hair care concerns, and preferred colour palettes. A few weeks later the first burn-your-eyes-fuschia bubble-wrap envelope arrived at my door, and I ripped into the goodies stashed in a cute patterned makeup pouch. A lipgloss here, an eyeshadow there, a little thing of eye cream, my new favorite brush, and a highlighter that I had to google what to do with --it was GLORIOUS.

The program itself is very straightforward, and very millennial. Their web copy talks about inspiring women everywhere to express their unique beauty. Every month you review the products you’ve been sent in exchange for points. After a few months you have enough points to order an extra item or two. You can also purchase full-size versions of products you like, or other promotions, to arrive with your next month’s shipment. It’s so easy it’s stupid, and has clearly been beta-tested and focus-grouped to oblivion. Over the next two years, I discovered some of my absolute favorite products through Ipsy -- that argan oil that replaces like half my moisturizers, the glycolic toner that my man won’t admit to stealing, the literal actual best mascara I have ever used (seriously you guys it’s life-changing). I updated my brushes, stocked up on masks, never had to ask myself if that concealer had turned into a petri dish, built “face-in-a-bag” skincare kits with the essentials for travel, and expanded my makeup repertoire.

After a few months however I started to notice downsides. There’s a passage from a movie that’s stuck with me for over a decade, where the main character describes as a youth being captivated by an ancient greek statue, but when he got closer to the statue and could see the cracks, that its beauty was lost for him. Ipsy my love, you are too flawed to ignore.

There were a handful of low-key failures in the form of eye-creams that sting eyes, cheap perfume, and brands that have clearly spent more on marketing and packaging than on their actual product. There were one or two unmitigated disasters --perhaps my favorite being the sparkly moisturizing charcoal scrub that turned my ENTIRE BODY a shimmering greasy slate grey and made me late to work because it took several kinds of soap, a loofa, and a pair of tongs to get it all off me.

Then I realized that there was no way, other than down-rating items I’d already received, to avoid products that aren’t cruelty-free. Ditto for microbeads. Seriously Ipsy? Its almost 2020 and animal testing IS MOTHERFLIPPIN OBSOLETE. Most brands that haven’t discontinued the practice are corporations who value access to the Chinese market over ethics, as China maintains antiquated laws requiring it. Hard pass, mi amor. Even by proxy, I have no desire to signal to brands I was once loyal to -- Estee Lauder, MAC, and others, that putting lipgloss on bunnies to appease dictators is still tolerable. I felt so badly about using these products that most ended up in the bin.

After a few more months, I started to wish there was a way to tell Ipsy that I don’t need any more of the little makeup pouches --”glam bags”. I’m convinced the stack of these things sitting empty in my hall closet is growing in the dark while I’m at work, reproducing like mushrooms. What could anyone possibly need one of these every month for?! My plan to Kondo that ish is fill ‘em with tampons and drop them at a women’s shelter, but come on.

I’d also started to accumulate products that were quite obviously “fillers”, or straight up not for me --cobalt blue nail polish, metallic orange lip stuff, cheap blush in the wrong color, and more than a few “wtf” shades of eyeshadow, despite in the settings stating that my colour preferences are more traditional. Some I gave away successfully, but most are chilling in my hall closet with the empty pouches until I figure out a better solution. I feel terribly throwing out brand-new perfectly good products but rehoming them takes time, the paucity of which had led me to Ipsy in the outset.

Meanwhile, amid news reports of the planet’s oceans basically dying, micro-plastics turning up in even Earth’s most far-flung and pristine water sources, and developing countries being a dumping ground for western countries’ garbage, my guy and I are trying to cut back on the waste we produce. Such is the state of the natural environment that it feels like the next generation straight-up isn’t going to have it as good as we did and I’m genuinely unsure about having kids. But my guy and I are trying to do our part. Between kicking our filthy takeout habit in favour of home cooking and reusable containers, skipping over fast fashion for well-made brands that’ll live a little longer, and more, we have been putting sincere thought to more conscious consumer habits.

Ipsy, I think you know where this is going. The real and overarching reason --the dealbreaker as it were, is how much garbage you bring into my life and into the world every month. Seriously, I’m one of over three million subscribers. The bubble-wrap envelope, promotional materials, gratuitous plastic packaging, and other non-recyclable miscellaneous garbage that you generate in one petite pink parcel is almost as much garbage as I create in a non-Ipsy week. Further, the accumulation of superfluous makeup bags and products you had to know would not spark joy is out of control and needs to be stopped.

I’m grateful for the things I learned from this experience, and the updates to my beauty routine I’ve found along the way, but it’s time for us to call it quits. I hope you’ll read this and take it to heart. Maybe someday, if you’re willing to put in the work and get your life in order, we can be friends.

Until then, I am taking back that space in my life, and that shelf in my hall closet.

Xoxo Meagan


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