Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cash for Beauty

Taking joy in living is a woman's best cosmetic. ~Rosalind Russell

By: Stephanie Horton

Over the weekend, I was putting on make-up and came to a realization: As I get older, I spend more money on my appearance with almost every year. "Is this true for everyone?" I anxiously thought.

My hair appointments have increased in expense by about $75 every 6-8 weeks compared to 1 year ago. My eye-brow grooming has increased by approximately $25 every 4-5 weeks compared to 1 year ago. My shampoo & conditioner went from Alba to Bumble & Bumble (about a $25 increase) over last summer. My lotions and perfumes are much more expensive now compared to two years ago. My make-up quality has drastically improved over time, but with that comes a drastic increase in price ($35 for mascara, $90 for primer and foundation combined, $25 for eye-liner, etc.) My gym membership and personal training preferences have increased by about $100 per month as of three weeks ago! My clothes cost more. My food costs more. And on top of all that, I've grown accustomed to getting weekly or biweekly manicures and pedicures. And lately, I've been considering fitting routine facials into my schedule. The list goes on and on!

I wonder if most women can relate with what I am saying or if I sound like a complete lunatic. After all, who would pay over $25 for shampoo?! Apparently, I would...co-creator of Guiltless, advocate of self-love, preacher of self-acceptance. And of course, I can rationalize each and every single one of these price increases, and I feel anxious and somewhat fearful when I consider changing even one of them! On one hand, this is comedic. But let's face it, it's also a little scary. Does my taste in beauty products and salon services have a cap on expense or will I continue to fork it over more and more as I age?

Something about the expensive products and services makes me feel sexier, more professional, pretty and polished, aware and in-tune. It's somewhat of an addiction, and one that I have been completely unwilling to admit to as a potential problem until this moment. Some things, I still believe, are worth the extra cash. For example, a gym membership that inspires your workouts or fresh produce that gets you in the kitchen - these are things I will not sacrifice (along with my eye brow shaping, because let's face it, Italian eye brows require true professional care). But the lotions and perfumes, make-up and nail appointments are a bit excessive.

I want to challenge myself to spend just a little less on my appearance, which I feel will be a step toward self-acceptance. I won't sacrifice the things that I believe are actually worth it, but a few changes here in there can't hurt! I am ready to take the plunge!

First step: Purchase cheaper shampoo and conditioner.

Any recommendations?

Do you relate with this problem?
How much of our bank accounts are we willing to sacrifice to perceived beauty?


  1. Wow, I am surprised to be reading this post here. All the other articles that I have read from this website have left me feeling more self-confident, proud of my body, and beautiful. This post did NOT give me that same take-away lesson. I appreciate that the author is willing to make changes in a routine that she sees as necessary, but I am astounded that this realization has not come before now!

    If the "preacher of self-acceptance" feels that hundreds of dollars a year is needed for make-up, eyebrow care and manicures, I'm not sure that I understand what the purpose of this site is. Are we supposed to love OURSELVES or the version of ourselves that so many women paint on their faces each morning in the mirror?

  2. I think the point of this entire blog is to not make people feel bad about being who they are.

    To me, Guiltless is a place where people can talk about what makes them who they are... flaws and all.

    If buying beauty products and spending money on oneself makes a person happy, then I think it's totally in the realm of Guiltless.

    Being guiltless is about being ok with you are, beauty products and all :)

  3. Hi there, Kate! I am so sorry that this article did not leave you feeling more self-confident. The purpose of this website is to build a forum of discussion on the topics of body image and the influences that modern society may have on our self-images.

    My purpose for this article was to point out that even though I participate in positive messages toward myself and others each day, there is always room to grow and learn. For example, even someone like me who dedicates a lot of time to spreading messages about self-acceptance still has a journey ahead! I took a risk in sharing this information, not to advocate for spending on beauty products (certainly not!), but to show that no one is ever perfect - and to start adding the concept of "perfection" to self acceptance could become dangerous.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I hope that Guiltless will continue to broaden your horizons on both self-confidence and awareness. I hope this comment clarified my purpose for the article. Be well, and enjoy the day.

  4. I think this post is interesting in that it addresses the little luxuries that people allow themselves to have in their day-to-day lives. If we choose to spend some of our disposable income on nicer products or treat ourselves to a nail appointment, it doesn't have to mean that beauty image is defining of who we are.

    I respect the author for opening up to the readers about this. It is important to be mindful of these things in our lives, and to evaluate what we find important, or what we spend our money on, and still be able to be happy with ourselves and enjoy the everyday.

  5. The indulgences that the author talks about all give her a sense of happiness and security. Never is there a mention of social pressures to look a certain way, or outside opinions influencing her likes and luxuries- it is simply what she likes, and it gives her some sense of happiness; this is true guiltlessness.

    I like the honesty and self-evaluation in this post. Maybe high end beauty products are not practical or even necessary. Regardless, they bring some little bit of bliss to the author and for this very reason alone they should never be causes of shame or GUILT.

    Awesome post- debate and disagreement is healthy!

  6. No, you don't sound like a lunatic :). The things you described are truly enjoyable luxuries if one can afford them--I would love a facial, given the option!

    I appreciate you opening up.

    Finding balance in everything is key, right?

  7. Thanks, Leslie! That was a very sweet comment. I agree that finding a balance is key. It's not always easy, but it's worth trying :)

  8. First of all, Steph, paint your own tootin’ nails! You are nuts!!
    Just kidding. I totally hear where you're coming from. I think that, like me, you’re finding that there's a reason that mascara and primer costs more: it works better. It really does. But you have beautiful skin so enjoy your youthful beauty and maybe just use it for very special weekend events and such! You also do not need to go that frequently for a haircut, especially if the stylist that you love is expensive. I think you can cut back on your addictions just by slowing down your frequency of uses. Otherwise, they’ll become less special and you’ll need to up the fanciness of services to feel like you’re doing something special for yourself!
    I've been debating with myself over what to do about a better shampoo and conditioner because I've tried every $5 brand at CVS and I can't find one. So let me know what you find.
    And I’d just like to add that I while I understand where Kate is coming from, it’s just as judgmental to turn your nose down at a woman who simply ENJOYS having painted nails and hot-rolled hair as it is to do so at a woman who doesn’t give a hoot.

  9. I noticed, in later college and after graduation, a similar increase in cosmetic expenses. Honestly, I think for many it's just a phase. You have new found financial freedom and a whole world of luxurious products to explore, and it's fun to be able to stroll into a fancy store and get whatever you want.

    That said, unless you have a generous income to support it, (and still be making other financially responsible actions, like saving or donating to charity), it's best to reign it in, lest it snowball out of control. That doesn't mean giving everything up. Instead, take a look at the value of the products and the results you get from them. Mascara is definitely not worth $35 (it's always on those lists of best products to get cheap). I've bought that mascara. It was fun but it's not any better. Be honest with yourself and make sure you're not buying something just for the label (it happens to the best of us). Foundation, however, I continue to splurge on. My foundation looks great and makes my ultra-sensitive skin feel great. I never found a drugstore one that compared. I don't mind spending more on shampoo because, with my short hair, a bottle lasts me almost a year (fun fact, most people use a lot more than necessary), though I'm also trying to go 'no-poo' as an experiment. I also recently gave up my expensive moisturizer. It wasn't cutting it in this harsh winter, so I gave the oil cleansing method a try. Much more affordable, better results, and it feels like a spa treatment. Keep an open mind-- cheaper doesn't always mean less effective. It will take you some time to figure out what products are worth the splurge for you, but it's worth the effort.

    Another tip: take care of what you do have. You're more likely to go out and buy a new product if yours are just dumped in a box, smudged, caps lost, etc. If you keep track of what you have and keep things tidy and visually pleasing, you'll feel more satisfied and crave the shiny new things less.

    The most important part is to set limits that are realistic and stick to them (just like exercise). Mark it on your calendar-- you'll be able to look forward to the event and prevent yourself from letting your 12 week haircut become 10, 8, 6.... Pick a number for services like these and stick to it!

    Good luck!