Are you Washing your Money Down the Drain?
Hello, everyone! Grizzly Mom here, with a post directed at people (like me) who say they want to be financially independent but then cringe at the thought of giving up their favorite beauty products and services. (I anticipate that this group is comprised primarily of women, given that the cosmetics industry directs its advertisements at us, but I also know men who enjoy pricey grooming products and services. So, although my advice concerns women’s beauty products, anyone who wants to retire early but is reluctant to give up expensive personal grooming products might find this post useful.)
When Grizzly Dad approached me with a plan for our family’s financial independence, I was thrilled because (as I said in my last post), I hated my job as a corporate lawyer. But when Grizzly Dad started explaining how we would have to drastically cut back our spending, my joy quickly faded. There’s nothing we can cut! I thought. Sure, I spend money on some things – such as skin and hair products – that might seem unnecessary, but these items are actually required for women!
As detailed below, I spent approximately $2,600 a year on skin and hair care products. Now, that is a ridiculous sum of money. And I didn’t even realize I was spending that much each year until Grizzly Dad suggested that I take the time to actually add up those expenses. But even after I saw that crazy number, I attempted to justify it, arguing that American society “requires” women to adhere to certain minimum grooming standards and meeting those grooming standards “required” spending gobs of money.
Obviously, that premise – that women “need” to wear makeup and straighten their hair in order to some unachievable societal ideal of feminine beauty– is flawed. There are plenty of people who have written thoughtful articles on why the western standard of female beauty is unattainable, pernicious, and arbitrary, so I wouldn’t delve into the reasons why my attempt to achieve that standard was dumb. But I will delve into the reasons why achieving that standard doesn’t have to be so damn expensive.
Here’s my average annual hair and skin care expenses before Grizzly Dad and I embarked on our plan for financial independence:
|Getting my hair blow dried and styled at Drybar or Halo||$40 per blowout, plus $5 – $7 tip (~$45)||Once a month||$540|
|Getting my hair cut||$150||Three times a year||$450|
|Salon deep-conditioning treatment||$50||Three times a year||$150|
|Salon hair coloring / highlights||$250||Twice a year||$500|
|Freeze 24/7 Instant Targeted Wrinkle Treatment (sold at Bloomingdale’s)||$95 per 0.5 oz||Four times a year||$380|
|Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Lightweight Creme 1.7 oz||$105.00 for 1.7 oz||Three times a year||$315.00|
|Lancome Progress Eye Creme||$64.00 per 0.5 oz||Four times a year||$256.00|
|Bumble and Bumble Shampoo||$34.00 per 8.5 fl oz.||Four times a year||$136.00|
|Bumble and Bumble Conditioner||$34.00 per 8.5 fl oz.||Four times a year||$136.00|
Holy cow! I know L’oreal says, “Because you’re worth it,” but spending $2,607 a year on my skin and hair is nuts. And that colossal sum is just for hair and skin care — it doesn’t even include all the money I spent on makeup. Here’s what I spend now:
|Cetaphil lotion||$10.66 for 16 oz||1 once a year||$10.66|
|Suave Shampoo, Almond & Shea Butter||$2.69 for 28 oz||Twice a year||$5.38|
|Suave Conditioner, Almond & Shea Butter||$2.99 for 28 oz||Twice a year||$5.98|
I now spend a whopping $22.02 a year on my hair and skin – a significant drop from the crazy $2,600 I used to spend. How was I able to reduce by so much?
I no longer go to a hair salon: I now have Baby Bear, so between taking care of a baby and working crazy hours as a corporate lawyer, I have zero time to go to a hair salon. (I barely have time to eat lunch – most days, I spend my lunch hour pumping milk in my office for Baby Bear while I am on a conference call and trying to wolf down a sandwich at the same time.) If I want to style my hair, I don’t go to a salon to get an expensive blow-out; I just use a straightening iron. A good one I is Remington’s Ceramic Hair Straightener, which I bought for $19.96 off Amazon.
I cut my own hair. Sounds drastic, but I don’t have a complicated haircut, so it’s really not hard. I have long wavy brown hair that is one length (no layers) and I can keep it looking OK by trimming it myself every few months. The key is to buy a pair of sharp scissors that are used only for cutting hair (don’t use the pair of heavy-duty scissors that you use to open up a cardboard box). I like Tweezerman hair scissors, available on Amazon for $17.00. I just trim off the split ends every couple of months—nothing drastic. I doubt anyone notices that I trim my own hair.
I no longer color my hair: Maybe I’ll try the at-home coloring kits when I start to get gray hair, but for now, I think my natural color is fine. The expensive highlights I used to get would look great at first but would soon turn brassy and wrecked havoc on the condition of my hair. So, in some respects, I think my hair actually looks better now because it is healthier. And the overpriced in-salon conditioning treatment I used to buy did not effectively counteract the damage caused by all that bleach and hair dye.
I stopped buying expensive face cream and other anti-aging crap: For decent-looking skin, I think the best thing you can do is to wear sunscreen, remove your makeup at night, and stay hydrated. All moisturizers work pretty much the same and consistently of largely the same ingredients. The expensive Freeze “anti-wrinkle” lotion I used to buy from Bloomingdale’s would apparently lessen the appearance of wrinkles by temporarily plumping up skin cells to reduce the appearance of lines, but that sounds like a bunch of bull shit now. Certainly, it was not worth the hefty price tag of $95 for half an ounce.
I stopped buying expensive shampoos and conditioners: Honestly, there really is no difference between the expensive salon-quality brands and the cheap Suave brand of shampoos and conditioners. In fact, the best conditioner I have ever used is the one I make myself using with eggs, olive oil, and honey. Beat two eggs, ¼ cup of olive oil, and 1 tbsp of honey together, and apply it your hair. Leave this mixture on your hair for 20 minutes, then shampoo. Your hair will feel amazing—and so will your wallet!
In short, I saved $2,584.98 a year by cutting out over-hyped, overpriced beauty products from our budget. As a result, I now look like this:
Just kidding! I think I look the same. At any rate, retiring early from corporate law will probably do more for my skin, hair, and overall health than any fancy skin cream.