The One Question to Ask Yourself Before Buying a New Product

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Back when I was first starting out as a beauty editor, shopping for products was a little less overwhelming than it is now. Mind you, this was nearly a decade ago, when we did most of our shopping in actual stores and Instagram was still just a photo sharing app between friends.

I was working as an assistant at a women’s lifestyle magazine then, and we had this reoccurring page that highlighted noteworthy beauty launches each month. To determine which products would make the cut, my boss and I would hold a big pitch meeting with all the top dogs at the magazine (including our editor-in-chief, a self-described beauty minimalist who had the sort of unflappable confidence that made a 20-something-year-old me extremely nervous.)

This meeting was essentially an adult show-and-tell, but with a printed-out presentation deck that outlined the key facts about each product, accompanied by a full demo—QVC style—and audience Q&A afterwards. I didn’t know it then, but this thorough vetting process shaped the way I would approach my assessment of new products in the future.

During those meetings, my editor would ask extremely pointed questions about each thing we showed her. (Even thinking about it now makes my palms sweaty.) One question she never failed to ask was “are we creating a problem here?” As in, by introducing this product, were we making something out of nothing? For example, does one actually need a frother to lather up their face wash? (Err, I guess not.) And does this tool really make drawing your eyeliner easier or are we just asking people to buy something that will end up collecting dust in their bathroom drawers? (Perhaps, but can I get back to you on that?)

At the time, it could feel like a buzzkill. But now, with so-called “viral” products that change by the day and celebrities and influencers launching new brands every other week, I think it’s even more important for me to ask this question.

“Am I creating a problem here?” This simple question continues to be the first filter I use when considering any new product to recommend to friends and readers. It’s also kept me from making countless impulse purchases while scrolling Instagram late at night.

And hey, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t leave space in our lives for the occasional simple delight (like this lip crayon that’s a downright joy to use). It’s just a little prompt to ponder if you’re trying to cut back on spending or consumption.

Hope it helps, and if you ever need more shopping tips or just want an honest opinion on something, drop me a line at

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Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023
Jenny Jin

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...
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