As a senior in high school, I became completely obsessed and captivated by YouTube beauty gurus and their transformative routines. So much so that I started spending a considerable amount of time and money honing my own. I’d go on elaborate shopping binges, buying and testing out product after product in an effort to figure out what worked for me and my own aesthetic. I tried all sorts of beauty trends that year and in college, rocked some rather interesting hairstyles (like a black lob with hints of blonde in my bangs, then strawberry blonde, then cut all my hair off myself), and even donned all sorts of elaborate nail art — all in the name of experimentation.
While I never splurged on high-end luxury beauty products like expensive foundations from Dior or Chanel (I just didn’t have the means to) or pricey beauty treatments (the ones that claim to turn to back the hands of time), I still spent quite a bit of money trying to figure out myself and my relationship to beauty. It was often to the detriment to my bank account, which would sometimes force me to cut corners in other areas in my life to cover necessities.
One day towards the end of college, I had an epiphany while getting hair extensions put in. While I admired beauty as an art form and all of the ways in which people use it to transform themselves, I didn’t really care to adorn myself elaborately. I’m just the type who truly enjoys making themselves up in all sorts of fantastical ways. Once I came to that realization, I stopped spending as much as I used to on beauty. In fact, I went from one extreme (shopping too much on beauty) to another ( barely spending anything at all on my appearance). At one point, I started skipping out on going to the hair salon entirely and instead did my hair myself or had my mother do it (even though her hair skills are fairly limited), save for when I needed to get braids done for vacation. I’d also stick doing my nails at home rather than going to a nail salon.
For a while, that approach worked perfectly fine. But eventually, doing everything on my own started to become a nuisance. Whenever it came time to wash my own hair, I’d find ways to avoid doing it. Same went for my nails. Then, towards the end of last year, I finally admitted to myself that as long as I can feasibly budget for it, it’s much better for my sanity to just pay to get certain things done professionally. While being my own hairdresser and nail tech saved me money all of those years, over time, it just became far too laborious — and I no longer saw the point in continuing that behavior, especially since I was now in the financial place to be able to outsource certain parts of my beauty routine. This year, here’s what I’m gladly coughing up money for:
1. Getting my hair done
I envy those who are really good at molding their hair into whatever hairdo they want because I am not one of those people. The only styles I really know how to do with my natural hair are low buns. Otherwise, I typically just twist it up at night, pull out the twists and just let it free — I have no clue on how to execute any other styles. Washing my hair is another arduous task that, quite frankly, I can no longer stand to do myself. So you bet I’ll be spending two Saturdays every month this year having someone else do it for me, and giving me a blowout. It’ll cost me about $50-$60 for each session based on some of the prices I’ve discovered recently in my search for a good salon specializing in natural hair. To me, that’s worth it.
2. Doing my nails
It’s about time I admit it: I’m terrible at doing my own nails. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done them — there is always a lot of clean up involved in order to make them look presentable in the end. I usually get some of the color on my fingers and toes that I have to meticulously remove with q-tips soaked in nail polish remover. This year, I’m going to save myself the headaches and just get monthly gel manicures and regular pedicures. It’s $50 per visit at my local salon. Whenever the paint chips, I plan to paint clear nail polish on my nails with a bit of glitter over it (which is super hard to mess up) until it’s time for my next appointment.
3. Getting frequent facials
While at-home facials are one of the ways I pamper myself when I’m feeling a bit stressed or when my skin is going through it, there’s nothing quite like getting a professional facial done by an esthetician. It doesn’t matter how many facials I attempt at home — they are far more knowledgeable about taking care of all kinds of skin ailments and are better equipped to eradicate (or at least minimize) my skin care issues than I ever will be. Plus, it’s always satisfying have a facialist do extraction and suck out all of the gunk that’s been living in your skin and clogging your pores. This year, I’m making a point to get facials at Mario Badescu in New York City at least once every quarter, which often runs about $65 a session for the European facial.
Despite what you may read on personal finance blogs or sites, there’s no right or wrong way to use your money. It’s okay if you don’t want to penny-pinch all the time, and want to buy those products or indulge in luxuries some financial experts say to avoid. If it’s something that adds a bit of joy to your life or makes your life easier in some way, feel free to spend on it. Just make sure you’re budgeting for it (like I’m doing). Even though I’ll be spending a bit more on my physical appearance this year than I have in years prior, I’m still making sure I’m always living within my means and opting for places to get my hair, nails, and facials done that I can genuinely afford.
Shammara is a featured columnist at The Financial Diet. When she’s not writing about her financial woes, you can find her on Twitter sharing her thoughts on beauty and fashion trends and pop culture.
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