Friday, February 29, 2008

Being a Girl is Not Cheap

So, I spent some beauty money yesterday. I got a Bare Minerals starter kit at Sephora, and then added a Sephora brand longwear lipstick in a neutral color--I'm trying to convince myself that wearing makeup on a regular basis doesn't have to be an enormous pain in the ass and/or make me look like I'm trying too hard. That cost me my $75 gift certificate, plus about $8. Then I stopped at the drugstore in Grand Central for a box of hair color (a slightly darker, richer brown than my natural kinda-reddish, kinda-brownish color): $9.99 plus tax. The total out-of-pocket cost was just about $20.

Then, though, you consider what happens if I really like Bare Minerals--I use it daily, and I have to replace the products regularly! And they are certainly not cheap. It's like adding another regular bill.

On the other hand, though, I do think some makeup can make a 24-year-old look a lot more like a grownup, and thus add a little credibility in the world. Theoretically, I guess that credibility could boost my earning power. Still, can we really call makeup an "investment"?


Amber said...

I wonder whether it's a good "investment," too. I almost never wear make up and the folks at my current job couldn't care less. I'm changing jobs soon, though, and I'm pretty sure I'll "need" to wear it every day to project a better image.

I'll be making more, but I hate that a good portion of my hard earned money will be going toward make up, especially since I don't particularly enjoy putting it on every morning (even though I know it only takes 5 minutes or so).

Let us know how the experiment goes! Periodically I decide that I'm going to start wearing it every day (to get used to it), but that usually lasts about.... 2 days.

krystalatwork said...

I used to never wear make-up. All through college, I'd just roll out of bed, maybe brush my hair, and head to class. Now that I'm working, I notice that I garner a lot more respect when I look polished and professional. It's not just what clothing I'm wearing, it's the make-up too. And when you look professional, you feel professional, and that will make you more confident.

I don't know. It doesn't take much time to slap on some make-up in the mornings. Probably less than 5 minutes. But I've found that it makes a world of difference.

Jane said...

Makeup I think you can take or leave depending on your skin. I have an oil slick for a face and perpetually chapped lips so I need the help. As long as you look clean and healthy you can get away without it.

Hair color, though, that is serious upkeep. I stopped dying my hair about three years ago because I didn't like the time or money spent to maintain it, and having bad roots can make one look unprofessional. Once I start having a significant number of gray hairs I'll go back to coloring but not before.

mfaorbust said...

Confession: I go into Sephora before (and often after) work, just to touch up, all the time. The salespeople don't seem to mind, and hey! I get to try Chanel makeup for free!

I've never thought of makeup as an investment. I've worn it nearly every day of my life since high school, so it seems like a very quotidian yet necessary purchase to me--like toothpaste.

SJean said...

i think wearing make-up to make you "feel" professional is not necessary. I feel equally professional, either way. I feel I'm treated the same, either way. Depends on where you work.

In my industry make up seems unimportant. I usually wear it, but quite minimally and I don't (yet) buy the "nice" stuff. And it lasts quite awhile too, so I don't think it is a large expense.

I agree about hair color though--my current highlights look great (if I don't say so myself) but I am going to cut them out because it is just too expensive. A $9.99 box of hair color is not bad though.

It probably isn't an investment in the sense you'd earn so much more by wearing it. But some women feel a "need" to wear it, and that is fine.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I think that there are some professions where a woman is expected to look more "polished" and "professional". In those cases well applied makeup helps to project that image, in the same way decent, appropriate clothes do.

I also find that when I feel I look my best (and I feel that makeup does enhance my looks) then I act more confident. Whether people are reacting to the makeup or to my confidence really doesn't matter I guess, it just matters that they do seem to subconsciously react.

As a funny side note, when I was in the Army for 11 years, I didn't wear makeup to work, because in that atmosphere women who took too much time with their looks seemed less professional as a solider (unless in an office type job). Weird eh?

Anonymous said...

I think makeup is an investment for the first set (a good concealer, foundation, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick), especially since there is something to be said about looking professional and polished. But beyond that, the third/fourth/fifth lipstick ends up moving it beyond "investment" into frivolous consumption.

And places like Sephora are great in that they have a generous return policy if you're not happy with the item, so even if it's expensive, at least you'll be buying something you really really like and get good use out of.

If you like Bare Minerals, there are definitely some good cheaper alternatives out there. Everyday Minerals is one I've liked. And all the drugstore chains have also jumped on the mineral makeup bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

I think it is preposterous that women are expected to wear make up (and in a lot of cases, they are not considered polished or professional unless they wear it)...and men are not.

Ms. M&P said...

I'm from the south and was brought up to think that makeup was not an option--ever. I mean, my mom was a mary kay lady (true story!). I don't think makeup is necessary in the workforce, but it does help. I really do think it's helped me professionally in the past (as much as appearance can help). So, I do think it's a good investment as long as you don't go overboard.

I also agree with anonymous on the double-standard for women. It's too bad men aren't expected to wear makeup as well ;)

Lindsay said...

I love BareMinerals. It's the only makeup that makes me feel like I'm not wearing any. And I agree about the whole professional thing--I look a lot younger than 24, and it really helps me look my age. Or closer to it anyway :)

Kaitlin said...

I love mineral makeup and I otherwise hate wearing makeup. Physician's Formula (drugstore brand) makes a mineral makeup that I like just as much as Bare Minerals. They don't make a mineral veil type product, but I don't know that it is necessary.

hervor the howler said...

You don't need to look professional, you need to BE professional and there are many other ways to create that image.

If you want to buy the make up and wear it for whatever reason, then that is cool but don't justify it in terms of professional investment. it's not.

MEG said...

It's a necessity in the professional world, but it isn't an investment and doesn't have to be expensive. I splurge for good foundation/powder (the only thing worse than no makeup is cakey makeup that doesn't match your neck), but you can go super cheap on just about everything else. Shadow, mascara, lipstick/gloss, liners do NOT need to be expensive.

Also, I NEVER buy makeup unless they're having a bonus. Then you get a free bag of lipsticks and shadows with your purchase. I haven't bought eye shadow or blush or lipstick in like years.

Sue T. said...

I like makeup because it has sunblock in it and it evens out my skin tone. They have great stores that the products are less expensive. Harmon's is one of them where I am. They have other stores, if you hate getting stuck with products after trying them and not liking them, who will take them back w/o question. I like that since I like to give myself a little surprise now and then. Like eye shadow or something.

Megan said...

I use Bare Minerals. You will have to replace the products regularly, but that stuff lasts FOREVER. The starter kit has smaller containers, I think, but the regular sized containers of foundation and mineral veil last me at least 6 months - and I do wear it daily.

alice said...

Ditto on BE lasting forever. (And if you're just looking to look older, try doing just your eyes and lips - way faster, and gives a hint of polish.) I think of it as an 'investment' the same way a suit is an 'investment' - it's not something that will directly appreciate over time, but if you didn't have it, you would be limiting some of your options. I work at a nonprofit, and am *rarely* in need of the suit. However, I wear it at our bigger, fancier events and it's good to have, because my everyday clothing would be distracting. Ditto the makeup, since we're pretty casual most of the time, but if I have to unexpectedly be on the local news, I want to be able to conform to what the norms for that are.

I wholeheartedly concur that it sucks massively that conforming is still much more rigidly defined for women than it is for men, and that it's still as powerful as it is. That said, my partner is very anti-conformity, and went to his recent academic job interviews in slacks and hemp short-sleeved shirts, because he despised the idea of buying a suit to interview for a job that he does in a chemistry lab. He got the offer he was hoping for, and his lack of a suit wasn't a hindrance. I do think that a lot of this stuff is in our own minds - figuring out what's really a dealbreaker is tough!

Kim said...

I have faced the same makeup problem...I generally only wear it for "special occasions" but I'm aware that I could look more put together (or at least less tired) if I wore it daily. I just haven't really gotten to the point yet where I've convinced myself to go for it.

I hear you on the "being a girl is not cheap" thing though. I just dropped close over $80 on bras today -- and they were necessities (old ones don't fit). Oy.

Anonymous said...

Even a tiny bit of great makeup makes a huge difference in making you feel -- and look -- more polished. But I agree, it depends on the person. I look vastly better with some de-blotching action and some eyeliner, but some people can do without, I guess.

That said, I don't know that you HAVE to do Bare Minerals. There are a lot of really light mineral makeups sold in drugstores that are less expensive. The catch there is that you can't test them out ahead of time to make sure they match your skin tone, which sometimes means you have to buy a couple to find ones that work.

My makeup budget (replaced every 6 months/year):
Drugstore powder foundation $7-10
Drugstore powder blush $6-8
Mascara (I like Full 'n Soft)$6-8
Good eyeliner pencil $5
Clear cheap lip gloss for everyday; red lipstick for special occasions ($5)
Eyeshadow (deep brown) -- I have such a stockpile of these from spendy days/HS that I shouldn't need to buy any again until, like 2012.

I don't vary my makeup look very much, and it's not that expensive, as you can see (about $50/year on it). But I do think it makes me look vastly better.

E.C. said...

I spent many years being fairly anti-makeup, largely because my mother pressured me to wear it and made me feel very self-conscious about my appearance. I have started wearing a bit for interviews and such.

When I started college, my aunt mailed me some Clinique. (She tend to give gifts that come with orders, like earnings that I can't wear in my non-pierced ears.) I gave the mascara to my mom since I can't stand the stuff, but the sheer lipstick and tiny trial size blush and eyeshadow have served me well. Along with Neutrogena Healthy Defense powder, that takes care of my cosmetic needs. Alas, after four years, I'm just about out of the lipstick, and I can't quite decide whether it is worth $14 bucks to replace it.

Anonymous said...

Bronx Chica...Bare Minerals is a great "investment"! I seen it work wonders and look better on females! Though they send you alot "replenishments" every month. Other than that, it is a great product!

her every cent counts said...

Makeup is such a waste of money. Any beauty product that doesn't actually clean you is a waste of money. That said, I waste money on that stuff all the time. I also don't wear makeup everyday, so I buy new makeup less often. The problem is when I do go out to buy makeup I spend like $300. So I'm trying to stop doing that! Then again, I spend like $300 every other month on my hair.

Anonymous said...

Makeup is an investment. You look more polished, and if done right, you need not spend much money at all.

1. Return the bare esenctuals. It's expensive, it has mica in it which will make you look shiny, if you have tanned or darker skin it will make you look ashy because of the zinc in it, and the brand name is spelled stupidly. Everyday Minerals (on the web!) is a great company with wonderful, inexpensive makeup. You can actually order a free sample to figure out what color you are in their foundation. Give that one a try!

2. Get a quality curler, and a metal eyelash comb. Tweezerman makes a great eyelash comb for ~$6, and e.l.f. makes a great curler for $1. These things last, and will make any mascara you use, even the cheapest, clumpiest mascara, look wonderful.

3. Try a tinted moisturizer if you feel like you have to wear makeup, but don't want to. If you're going the Sephora route, Sue Devitt and Stila have awesome formulas. If you're feeling less spendy, Physician's Formula just came out with a killer formula in their Organic Wear collection. Total cost? $7. More coverage can be achieved by dotting more moisturizer on in any area.

4. Substitute face powder for either cornstarch, or a cornstarch-based baby powder. Your skin will be far happier, it suits pretty much every skin tone, and when buffed on with a kabuki brush, your skin looks flawless. Johnson & Johnson makes a great Vanilla Jasmine one. You can't get higher quality than that! And the smell is divine. To travel with it, you can just buy a small powder sifter. I know Sephora sells them for $4, and you'll only ever need to buy it once.

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rama said...

Yes, being a girl is definitely not cheap. We've got lots of guilt pleasures like perfumes, apparels, and other not-so-practical items. And, when you have a credit card, everything you want, it seems, just magically lands into your lap. In my case, it came to a point when I wallowed in credit card debt. So, I sought for all remedies I could avail, even tried debt elimination online. So, yah, I agree, being a girl is not cheap. Lol