Last night, the lady in the chair next to me was getting her hair washed. As the shampoo lady worked her magic on the woman’s scalp, she said that hairdressers will never go broke; she said that no matter what is happening in her life—stress, leaky roof, or refrigerator repairs—her hair will get did.
This declaration made me laugh and got me thinking about my non-negotiables when it comes to my appearance. She mentioned that having a corporate position demands that her hair looks good. It is part of her image. I work in a non-corporate setting and while I theoretically agree with her, I have missed many a hair appointment and did not feel my image as an administrator was compromised. On the other hand, I have sometimes felt self-conscious about my skin, and have since made facials at medical spas like Dr. Jacono’s my come-hell-or-high-water monthly must-do.
But how much does beauty, which is what my new friend and I were alluding to, cost us? Have you ever run your numbers?
Sitting next to this lady made me curious about my beauty price tag, what percentage of my budget is earmarked for it, and if my beauty budget is out of control.
How to Calculate Your Beauty Price Tag
Step #1: Make a list of the monthly beauty rituals that you pay for. For this number, do not include products, just services. So for me, every four weeks, I pay for a gym membership, my facial, and my locs. I also pay for my eyebrows. I know that there are some of us that must get their manicures, pedicures, bikini waxes, and massages done.
Step #2: Find the total that you pay for these services (don’t forget the tip.) Here are my numbers.
Locs: $100 with tip included
Gym Membership: $50 (no tip needed)
Facials: $75 with tip included
Eyebrow (threading): $4 with tip. That is not a typo. In NYC, there are excellent spots that do eyebrow threading for a low as $1.99. The competition is high in certain parts of Queens.
So, every month, to maintain my beauty, I pay $ 229 a month.
Step #3: Add in related costs associated with the beauty visits. Depending on the wait time and the nature of the service, it’s not uncommon for women to order lunch or dinner while they are waiting to get their beauty ritual done. Also, don’t forget the cost of gas or paid parking if you drive to your appointments. When it comes to transportation, I take public transportation to my destinations, so I don’t pay extra for that. As for food, I usually plan for this reality, but there are times that I want to buy something to hold me over until I get home to eat, which costs me no more than $5.
Step #4: Recalculate your beauty price tag: It is important to pay attention to the hidden costs of your beauty maintenance so you have an accurate account of how much you are really spending.
Once you figure out your beauty budget maintenance number, you may cry, you may shrug, or you may pat yourself on the back. When I looked at my beauty maintenance number ($234) and realized that it was less than 5% of my monthly income, I did not make any plans to trim down on these costs anytime soon.
I thought about one important thing that we often overlook when we are thinking about money in a strictly dollars and cents way.
That one thing is value.
When I reflected on what hair meant to the lady in the seat next to me and what clear skin meant to me, we were both saying that taking care of our hair and skin brought us confidence and positively added to our self-image. In other words, beauty is a priority for us.
What to Do When the Price of Beauty Is Too Damn High
If you find that your beauty budget is out of control and accounting for more than 5-7% of your monthly budget, you can always go the DIY route, find a cheaper alternative, or increase the times between visits. (Think: instead of once every four weeks, try once every six weeks.)
If this is not an option, try getting merciless about all OTHER spending in your life: food, clothes, electronics, books, and travel. I can tell you from personal experience, having completed five cycles of the $20 Cash Crash Diet has fundamentally changed how I use my money.
Instead of saving for saving sake or spending impulsively, I mindfully align my spending to my values. So, my $75 facial can’t break my monthly budget if I take my lunch to work or I ensure that I get up on time to get the bus to work instead of paying for cab.
If you need more money to upkeep your beauty, don’t be afraid to sell what you don’t need, start a side hustle to bring in more income, or do both.
Frugal Feministas- What do you think? Is the price of beauty too damn high? What are you doing to keep your beauty together?
If this posts inspires you to get your finances in order, don’t let the work stop here. Consider enrolling in one of my online courses. I have one on budgeting and one on saving.