The overwhelming majority of makeup and beauty internet is about convincing you to buy more shit.
From "haul" videos, where YouTubers show off their latest purchases, to the endless articles detailing which new trends you should invest in, the online beauty industrial complex is mostly concerned with getting you to open your wallet. Except r/panporn.
The curious subreddit is dedicated to pictures of makeup and beauty products that are almost empty, or nearly used up. The subreddit's name comes from the term "hitting the pan," meaning to reach the metallic base at the bottom of products like blush and eyeshadow palettes.
The subreddit doesn't discriminate though. Users on r/panporn are more than welcome to post products that don't have a "pan" in the traditional sense, like lipstick, or even those that don't fit neatly into the category of makeup, such as face wash.
Every couple of hours, one of r/panporn's 9,500 or so subscribers posts an extremely satisfying photo of their finished product. Each post is neatly labeled with the item's exact name—often down to the specific shade of foundation, for example.
It's fun to scroll through r/panporn in part because it exists in such contrast to the rest of beauty internet, which is something the subreddit's moderator, Alicia, is keenly aware of.
"I always had this pet peeve with beauty YouTubers where they say they love a product, it's perfect for them, it's so great, you've gotta buy it, then you never see it again," she told Motherboard via Reddit private message.
r/panporn, on the other hand, is a place to celebrate actually using the stuff you paid for. "It's really easy to hop on a bandwagon, or add to an echo chamber when it comes to the newest thing that's cool to have. I think it's something else to put your money where your mouth is and actually use it, and I feel like there's a great feeling of joy in that," Alicia said.
The forum is also decidedly not about how expensive your panned product is. "One of our most popular pans here [on the subreddit] is a powder that retails for about $4 US, and I don't feel like it's any less warmly embraced than someone finishing a $90 palette from a high end brand," the moderator explained.
The subreddit began as a thread on a related forum, r/makeupaddiction. "When a few people cropped up and said they loved that sort of content, I made the subreddit. Since then, it's been a dream to moderate. The people there cheer each other on and are so supportive, and the worst I've seen is the occasional outside troll coming in and being a bit mean," Alicia said.
The best thing about r/panporn is the way the photos of empty makeup containers make my brain tingle, in a deeply primal way. The images are reminiscent of the kind found on similar forums, like r/oddlysatisfying.
Even if you don't care for makeup, it's worth stopping by r/panporn just for the satisfaction it brings.