Friday, October 10, 2008

Looking my best

Yesterday I spent $91 on a manicure and pedicure. This is only because it was a mystery shop, and therefore I will be getting reimbursed because ye, gods—nearly $100 for little more than nail polish I could have applied myself?! Sure, it was a nice spa but wow.

Watching the other women in the salon, I started thinking about the amount of money that is spent on self-care, particularly in New York City, and my mind is boggled. Many of these women appeared to be on a close basis with the employees of the salon, indicating they go there frequently (every week, maybe?). And they were there in the middle of the day on a Thursday, not in work clothes like I was but in the spa robe and hair up in a towel—it seemed like an all day thing for them. HOW?!

For the most part, I’m quite frugal about personal care. I buy drugstore products, and not the most expensive ones. I use as few products as I can get away with—shampoo, conditioner, and mousse for hair, a cleanser and moisturizer for my face, simple soaps and lotions for my body. I rarely paint my fingernails, preferring to buff them to a high shine, and my toes are usually polished but not perfectly. I wear makeup pretty much every day, but it’s minimal, and I buy cosmetics at a discount store. A friend cuts my hair for $25 two or three times a year. I get massages twice a year during Spa Week, and usually treat myself to one other service like electrolysis or a facial at the same time.

Should I be doing more? Or rather, should I be doing things differently? I’ve never had great skin, but it’s never been terrible. I get blemishes fairly frequently but I don’t have acne scars. I keep a regular routine, but at my age, would it be worth it to invest in ProActive? I can’t see spending so much money on so many products but honestly, I’m starting to be unhappy with my skin. I feel like as I get closer to 30 my skin shouldn’t look like I’m still in high school sometimes. Is this a vanity issue, or is it worth doing because it might make my skin healthier?

Also, home mani-pedis. I do a good-enough job with an emery board and some clippers, but I love that cuticle clipper thing salons have. And nail stones --those things are great. I think I would be able to mimic a perfect salon mani-pedi with those tools, so aren’t they worth the money?

The thing is, I am not going to start spending lots of money at salons and pay someone else to do my nails when I’m perfectly capable of doing them myself. I’m too frugal by nature for that, but maybe I’m being TOO frugal for being a professional woman. Much as I hate it, people do judge you on your looks and it’s important to present yourself in the best light possible—you only get one first impression, as they say. As I get older, perhaps it is worth it to spend a little more money on products that both make me look good AND take care of my physical appearance as I age.


  1. As far as skin goes, I'd go to a department store or somewhere you can get a personal consultation (but not to buy anything). If you go to a good one they'll be able to recommend stuff, tell you why and what the product will do...and not just try to sell you a bunch of stuff. From that you can figure out what "problems" you want to address the most, and write down what ingredients will do the trick. Afterwards you can go back to the drugstore and pick out products that have the same ingredients. And voila! (I recommend getting a consultation, because you might "self-diagnose" incorrectly. A dermatologist would probably be even better, but more expensive.)

    I wouldn't just go off and buy Proactive. I've never used it, but have friends that do. It will take care of your acne, but thats about it (from what I understand...I could be wrong). If you're worrying about aging, Proactive won't do anything about that.

  2. I agree. Proactiv is not the answer right now.

    Try just: Cleansing and Exfoliation, Toning, Moisturizing

    That did the trick for me with Paula's Choice cosmetics

    Email me brokeinthecity at gmail dot com for more specifics

  3. I feel like as I get closer to 30 my skin shouldn’t look like I’m still in high school sometimes.

    Oy, I'm feeling exactly the same way right now.

  4. Thanks, QL and FB, for your suggestions.

    QL, you're right--I am probably totally misdiagnosing myself. I am not sure whether I have dry or oily skin (!). The same bits that get oily and breakout also get dry and flaky, so I moisturize, which makes me break out...and so on. Maybe this just means I have "normal" skin, but it wouldn't hurt to have a professional tell me what to do (and I could even buy something as a gift for someone else, so I don't feel guilty not buying something from them!).

    FB, I looked at the Paula's Choice website and I'm very interested. I'll poke around and if I have questions, I'll email you.



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