Discuss: Beauty Budgets

Beauty Budgets - Vladimir Tarasov / Via Getty ImagesBeauty Budgets
Vladimir Tarasov / Via Getty Images

This legacy post has been given a facelift and an update, but content/opinions are the same. Enjoy!

I came across this Wall Street Journal article on the the high price of beauty. In the article (here), the annual beauty budgets of four successful women are discussed.


I’m not quite sure what I expected, but what I read was definitely not it.

The four women are, in order:

  • A, “style expert,” and founder of what is essentially an organization that gives makeovers to needy women
  • An actress
  • A jewelry designer and
  • An entertainment executive

Clearly, all women of means, but I was still not prepared for what I read.

Three of the four women indicated an annual beauty expenditure was around twenty thousand dollars. Let’s put that into numbers instead of words, and let it sink in. Their beauty budgets were around $20,000 per year. The fourth came in just under $10,000.

But Is It All Beauty?

In my mind, some of what they included on their budget breakdown doesn’t register in my mind as, “beauty,” so much as, “health.” Examples like chiropractic treatments, and fitness classes or memberships, and vitamins. In sharing the contents of my blown mind with my husband, he made a good point: “Maybe these people would not pursue these things if they did not think there would be some appearance-related benefit.” Given everything else in these lists, I’m inclined to agree with him in spite of my initial opinion.

Professional Presentation

A comment on the article posited that these women are in appearance-conscious industries; that their spending is more the cost of doing business than an extravagant splurge on vanity.

To that I say, “Who in the professional world isn’t?”

For one of the four, the actress, I could buy that. Whether we like it or not, that’s her reality. Hell, she can probably write a big chunk of it off as business expenses. The rest? I certainly wouldn’t dream of asking someone who earned their own money to justify how they spent it, but I literally could not have conceived this stuff without reading this article. And out-of-pocket-cost aside, what about the time commitments that all of these treatments and activities require?

Budget Cuts

Three of the women were asked, “If you had to cut $2,000, what would you lose?” One of the responses was, “I would do either reflexology or massage each month, not both. To have two a month is kind of a luxury.” Oh, only kind of?

Here I was, thinking that my investment in the Silk’n Flash and Go Freedom last year was pushing it. Just last September I was wondering, “How much is too much,” with respect to makeup collections.

2019 Update

Clearly, things have changed since this post originally went live. Since then, I’ve earned a promotion and a few raises. My resources are more plentiful than they were, then. In July 2017 I invested in my smile via getting Invisalign to the tune of around five grand. I’m still in refinement, but it’s easily the best money I’ve spent on myself. My reasons were not primarily vanity, though – and it certainly isn’t reflexology.) Apart from that splurge on myself, if anything, my beauty spending developed an inverse relationship with my income. Correlation is not, however, causation; my resources did not cause it so much as maturing in my consumption. I previously spent a lot of time and money learning what I want from my cosmetics and beauty products – but I know, and have known that for a while now.

I need to sit down and complete an updated beauty budget exercise. I wonder where I’d shake out!

The Bottom Line

This article just left me reeling. Not just reeling, though – but inspired. At the time I’d originally written this, I’d recently entered a new season of fiscal responsibility, so this inspired me to try to get my arms around how much my annual beauty budget is (I guarantee, with this perspective, I won’t feel bad about it).

How do you feel about the WSJ article?