Why are we fixated on “saving things for best”?

It’s time to emancipate the sad, dusty pots of body lotion from the back of our drawers and properly enjoy them, says Edwina Ings-Chambers

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By Edwina Ing-Chambers on

It was never mine, not even for a moment. It was only ever my mother’s. And yet, from when I first saw it at about the age of seven, I believe it formed a core part of how I consume – whether that’s beauty products or frankly anything at all. It doesn’t affect what I choose or even how much of it I can snuffle up, but it affects how I use it. Or, more to the point, it affects how I don’t use it. And it all comes back to that bottle of Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass body lotion.

It was, back in the day, pretty swanky stuff. OK, the bottle was plastic but, gosh, it was no lesser for it. The lines, the grace of the thing, were on a par with those that a manufacturer would normally commit to crystal. The cream inside was a pale shade of exotic blue. My mother loved the stuff.

But it was never used. Not once. It languished in a wardrobe, kept Miss Havisham-like away from light and life, because my mother was saving it for best. A best that, to my knowledge, and decades later, still has not arrived.

I remember thinking that this behaviour was oh-so-silly, and planned to merrily use the things I bought because, otherwise, what on earth was the point of buying them in the first place? Ah, but in the blind confidence of youth, I overlooked one important little detail: that one day I would turn into my mother. For, yes, it turns out that I too am saving things for best – not using the very things that I bought because I so wanted to use them.

I remember thinking that this behaviour was oh-so-silly, and planned to merrily use the things I bought because, otherwise, what on earth was the point of buying them in the first place? 

A very short catalogue of my own comedy of errors (for, trust me, this list could be a lot longer): I have a jar of untouched Chanel No 5 bath oil shoved into a cupboard awaiting some epic bathing day (my thinking goes along the lines of: they only make it at Christmas and not even every year, so what if one day they make no more?). But this is not an issue confined to the fancy. In my desk drawer, I have packs of humorously shaped Post-it Notes (other sticky notes are available) that I don’t want to run out so, you guessed it, I don’t use at all. I take them out and look at them occasionally, but that’s as far as any usage has got. I have fancy matchboxes that have never been struck (Bella Freud’s are a particular favourite) and posh candles that have never been lit. I have childhood notebooks with no words noted down in them because I’m waiting for thoughts I believe are fully deserving of their hallowed pages. I’ve even had a tin of personalised Heinz tomato soup in my larder for well over year because, goodness me, once I use it I will no longer have a tin of tomato soup with my name on it, and surely opening it demands some kind of trumpet fanfare and witnessing by my nearest and dearest.

But I’ve decided that 2018 is the year to call time on this behaviour. A survey by Poshly and Stowaway cosmetics found that the average woman owns 40 make-up products, but uses only five of them on a daily basis – meaning we have eight times more make-up than we actually use. I am no longer going to save things for some special occasion in the far-off future that may or may not happen. I’m over delayed gratification. It’s time to live in – and enjoy – the moment and all the things that surround me. I’m going to use that fancy bath oil, strike those matches and jot things down in notebooks to my heart’s content. Otherwise, it's like preserving hope in aspic, making your life a constant time capsule that only the future gets to enjoy. It’s high time we started to celebrate the here-and-now moments.

The gods, by the way, have already tested me. Only yesterday, as I was planning this piece, I dropped my recently deployed, elbow-length and much-loved sheepskin gloves in a puddle without realising – ironically, as I was rescuing someone else’s forgotten umbrella from a taxi. After much hunting, that evening I discovered them placed by some kindly soul on the railings near my flat. They were stained and sodden and, once they finally dried out, stained and crispy. "That wouldn’t have happened if I’d kept them safely at home," would have been last year’s thinking, but my 2018 thinking went thus: "Marvellous! Now, I have a perfect excuse to go shopping."

The 6 treats to buy now and enjoy now



A luxuriously unctious oil that leaves skin silky and smells wonderfully relaxing.


The candle: DiptyquE Figuier Candle

A bright, beautiful fig scent that will make your home smell delicious.


The Blusher: By Terry Hyaluronic Blush

Not only does this gives cheeks a sheer wash of fresh-looking colour, but the hyaluronic acid in the blusher hydrates and smoothes skin, too. Squeeze on to fingers from the tube and blend across cheeks. 


The Lip Balm: Nuxe rÉve de miel ultra-nourishing lip balm

A dreamy, nourishing concoction for dry lips. It feels soft and creamy, rather than sticky, and smells like lemon drizzle.


The nail polish: YSl La Laque Couture Nail Lacquer

You can't beat a bit of YSL for plush polish. The colour range is lovely, it slicks on over nails easily and lasts several days without chipping.



A silky, delicate-smelling formula that will soften dry skin and feels like a treat to use.



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