I will admit that the title of this post is a bit inflammatory. I should specify that the more accurate number one frugality tip should be “Don’t be a woman (or a man, but in our society, mostly a woman) obsessed with beauty.” Newsweek illustrates this by breaking down the cost of female beauty maintenance over a lifetime in a recent article, linked below.
According to the study, the average “modern diva” will spend over $200,000 on hair alone. Add in the expenses for maintaining a beautiful face, body, hands and feet, and the average lifetime expense climbs to almost $450,000.
The Newsweek editors go into further detail by splitting the expense by age group. The graphic below shows how much a woman will spend throughout her “tweens”.
Now, I don’t judge. If you have the money to spend, spend it. But it’s better to be conscious about these costs than to let them go by without thinking about them.
The Newsweek study doesn’t go far enough, however. While they’ve provided details about the expenses, they haven’t studied the effect that spending money on beauty will have on a woman’s income or other levels of success. For example, one theoretical possibility is that a lifetime expense of $450,000 for conforming yourself to what the rest of the world considers “beautiful” will result in a lifetime increase of income of $1,000,000. If that is the case, it would be hard to argue than the price of beauty was not well spent.
And in real life, return on investment (ROI) is measured in other ways than money. If for whatever reason, spending money to fit into a certain category makes a person happier, and she can’t find happiness by any other means, how can you argue against spending the money if it is available? If the money is not available, and our diva relies on debt to finance vanity, the true cost out of the pocket could be much greater.
According to the survey’s methodolody, invasive procedures like breast implants and liposuction were not considered in the totals. You can view the raw data here or view the Newsweek story that offers a browsable interface.
Any divas out there? Can you cut back on spending on beauty or is it a justified expense?
Updated September 26, 2016 and originally published April 2, 2009.