The Benefits of Hitting Pan on Beauty Products

Project Pan promotes completing makeup and skincare products over new beauty buys. We try Project Pan ourselves to see if it will save you money.

Make up products with pan showing
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Did you know that the average woman in the UK spends almost £400 on cosmetics and beauty each year? From beauty products to skincare essentials, we spend a lot of money on looking our best. Yet, some of us still have plenty of unused makeup products in our cupboards. 

With interest in beauty products, you might have to spend to get the products you want. However, there is a definite trend for sustainable products and beauty initiatives on social media. We look at one of the top ways to save money with beauty products: using the ones you already own. 

Beauty & The Waste

With over 120 billion packaging units produced by the cosmetics market each year, that’s a lot of waste. Then, add the fact it takes plastic products 10-100 years to decompose in landfills.

Whilst there’s no denying beauty industry waste can be problematic, there has also been a shift towards more sustainable beauty options. We’ve seen trends online and new more sustainable products, such as reusable makeup pads. 

Are you aware that organic cosmetics is an industry that is worth billions? By 2031, organic cosmetics and personal care products are set to make $59 billion. Currently, these products are estimated to make $39 billion or £31 billion. 

When we look at this graph, we can see there is definitely a consistent trend in organic beauty products. It’s safe to say more consumers are aware of alternative brands and looking for positive changes in their beauty regimes.

Organic beauty trends from Statista graph

(Image credit: Statista)

What is Project Pan?

Enter Project Pan: a sustainable makeup challenge with over half a million posts on Instagram alone. The challenge is based on the idea of ‘hitting pan’ with your makeup and beauty products. 

So, what does the term ‘hitting pan’ mean? Hitting pan means when your product runs out and you can see the back of the container. This term seems to have originally started with finishing eyeshadow palettes. However, you can also use skin care products, foundations, lipsticks, and concealers. 

In this guide, we try the project for ourselves over a one-month period to see if it can really save you money. We also talk to some of the ‘panners’ and experts out there about the small joys you can find in finishing your makeup. 

My Project Pan

As the health and beauty editor at MyVoucherCodes, I have a keen interest in makeup and skincare products. I was interested to see if I could try ‘project pan’ and if it would save me money. With my passion for makeup and skincare, I had plenty of products on my shelf that could be used up before purchasing a new one. 

For my own project pan, I was allowing myself to purchase any products I fully used up during the project. This meant if I was out of shampoo or conditioner, I could repurchase the product. However, the main aim was not to purchase any beauty products I owned a type of already. 

In the previous year, I had spent £353.88 at Boots alone, which is just short of the average beauty spend for a woman in the UK. These purchases would have mostly included beauty products. The brands I purchased most beauty products from were Boots and Wild Deodorant. My spending also depended on if I needed to refill any products each month and ranged from £12-£61 per month. My average spending for five of those months totaled £32.58. 

Project Pan Results

Within one month, I finished a total of 6 beauty products. This did not include any products I bought to share with others for approximately a week of traveling, such as miniatures of toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner. I have also excluded two products I bought on holiday, which will be birthday presents from family. 

Here is what I hit 'true pan’ on:

  • CeraVe Gel Foaming Cleanser 
  • CeraVe PM Face Moisturiser 
  • UpCircle Beauty Cleansing Balm 
  • Clinique Mini Mascara 
  • NARS Concealer 
  • Imperial Leather Body Wash 

Did I save money from Project Pan?

The short answer: no. I would say the main reason I didn’t save money was that the products I finished and repurchased were expensive to replace. I do believe you can save more money with Project Pan if you buy lower-cost beauty products. 

Here is a breakdown of my spending:

  • Wild Deodorant Refills £16.39 
  • Clinique Mini Mascara £13 
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Concealer £27 

It is worth noting the Wild Deodorant Refills are a pack of 3, with my last single refill lasting 6 months. The Anastasia Beverly Hills concealer was a replacement for my NARS concealer, with both being premium beauty products. This equaled spending £56.39, which is higher than my previous monthly average.

With this being said, Project Pan positively affected other areas of my life such as nutrition. As an avid gym-goer, I regularly purchase protein powders and have a lot of flavours I have not finished. Project Pan meant I used two protein powders I had half-finished instead of buying a new one. This definitely saved me £24.99-£44.99 on Vegan Clear whey Isolate protein powder. I managed to develop a more conscious spending habit and save more money too. 

Project Pan possibly works better for those dedicated to ‘panning’ instead of makeup lovers in general. For complete transparency, I did buy two beauty products on holiday which will be birthday presents from family. I am allowing myself these as they are funded by someone else. However, it does highlight how difficult it is to stick to complete beauty bans if you enjoy keeping up with the latest makeup trends. When speaking to beauty panners, it’s clear a true passion for panning makeup can save you money.

Beauty Panners & Bloggers

Beauty Blogger showing make up palette

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The beauty panner community is steadily growing online, providing a place with like-minded people who focus on completing makeup and skincare products. Beauty panners rejoice at the sight of a used eyeshadow palette. There is almost nothing more pleasing than an empty product in their hand. They usually post progress photos or videos on social media, such as YouTube or Instagram. ‘It’s about shifting your mindset to using what you have rather than overconsuming.’ Eleni tells us. She’s a beauty panner with over 16,000 followers online. Eleni’s Instagram includes project pans documenting her progress with eyeshadow palettes and blushes. ‘Personally, it helped me save money and keep a more curated collection of products I love. I’m more mindful with my purchases.’ Eleni says. 

And she’s not alone. The beauty panning community has over half a million posts on Instagram alone with the hashtag #projectpan. ‘Panning is such a huge accomplishment for people like me and it serves as proof that a product is good’, says Kate, who started panning on Instagram in 2021. Panning helps people become more informed consumers by using up different products and focusing on avoiding overconsumption. ‘It’s totally changed my makeup consumption. When purchasing a product, I find myself considering if I will use it three years from now.’ 

There is definitely a shift to be more conscious and mindful of beauty products when being part of this community. Like me, it seems this has helped others with savings in different areas of their life too. Another blogger, Sarah Rose, admits ‘It’s made me a more discerning consumer and more conscious of the items I purchase, whether that’s makeup, skincare, food, or household items, which I’m sure has saved me hundreds of dollars.’ 

The Future of Panning

Over the next month, I want to be more conscious of my makeup spending habits and appreciate the products already in my vanity storage. I’m still excited about new makeup trends and beauty products, but this process has taught me to be more mindful going forward. 

When I fully used my UpCircle Beauty Cleansing Balm, hitting a ‘true pan’, I felt a sense of achievement. Seeing the empty glass bottle does give you a strange feeling of joy - you have kept to something and not wasted it. Panning is a community, yes. It also helps you pause before that late-night beauty purchase or impulse in-store buy. 

Whilst panning is a relatively small movement online, it’s a sign of how times are changing. Consumers are thinking about their impact on the environment, and their waste, more than ever. I would warn it’s maybe not the best savings endeavor for those who tend to obsess over small things. However, it does promote mindful spending and less obsessing over new shiny products. If you want to save on beauty products, then it’s worth trying Project Pan for a more conscious spending attitude if anything. 

Becky Spicer
Health & Beauty Editor

I’ve been the Health and Beauty Editor here at MyVoucherCodes since March 2022. I love writing, and I’ve been doing it since my second year of university back in 2019, and what I love to write about most is beauty, skincare, health, protein, and wellness. On top of my work for MyVoucherCodes, I have a lifestyle blog on social media.

In my spare time, I enjoy heading to the gym, watching Love Island, and spending some time with a good book. I also have a degree BA degree in Creative Writing and English Literature from Bath Spa University.