Friday, September 19, 2008

Egads! Future Beauty Items I May Need To Start Budgeting

Completely oblivious to my biological age, I consider myself very youthful looking. But yesterday morning, as I was brushing my hair, I noticed an unusually shiny, reflective strand of hair on my left temple. I initially thought it was just the reflection of the fluorescent bulb on my dark hair. But I soon discovered, to my horror, that it was a single, long, silvery strand of gray hair.

Panicked, I plucked the offending hair, and then I inspected my face closely. And there it was – the deep lines running from corners of my mouth to the sides of my nose that I never noticed before.

My graying and wrinkling have officially started. In time, the smoothness of my skin will give way to fine creases and wrinkles. I can only stem the tsunami of gray hair by plucking for so long.

This begs the question: What will I need to start budgeting for age-related vanity costs? Is there anything I can do to minimize these age-related vanity costs?

I figured since I better be prepared sooner rather than later, I began to research my hypothetical future beauty maintenance budget.

I’ve never dyed my hair. Ever. So I'm not quite sure what I’m in for.

I took an unscientific poll of my older female friends who have their hair colored professionally and regularly. My poll revealed that my friends get their hair professionally colored (not including touch-ups) every 4-6 weeks at $200-$300/pop. This would mean that assuming I get my hair colored professionally 8 times a year at $250/coloring, I would need to budget $167/month.

$167/month x 12 months = $2,004/year! If I instead saved $167/month in a 3% APY savings account for the next 20 years, I would save approximately $55,000. I don’t think I’ll be dying my hair professionally any time soon.

I checked and found that Clairol’s Perfect 10 hair color normally costs $12.99 and the Root touch-up kit costs $5.99. It’s my understanding that at-home hair dyes don’t cover gray as well as professionally dyed hair. But at $20/month, the at home hair-dying seems like a much better and affordable alternative for me.

My Potential Future Vanity Monthly Budget: $20/month for hair-dyes

About a year ago, I upgraded my moisturizer to an anti-wrinkle formula with SPF 15 sun protection. I researched whether there was something else I could do to help slow down the aging process on my face.

What I Can Do For Free:
  • Avoid the sun - Check

  • Don’t smoke - Check

  • Get adequate sleep – Usually okay

  • Sleep on my back – This one is going to be difficult. I love sleeping on my side and tummy. But sleeping on my side exacerbates the wrinkles on my cheek and chin. Sleeping on my tummy causes furrowed brows. Darn it!

  • Don’t overwash face - Check

  • Things That Aren’t Free But Are Probably Included in My Current Budget Anyways:

  • Wear sunscreen/use moisturizer - Check

  • Don’t squint – wear sunglasses (and eventually, use reading glasses) - Check

  • Eat more fish – Check. Apparently, the essential fatty acids of Omega-3 help nourish skin and keep it plump and youthful, helping to reduce wrinkles.

  • Eat more soy – Check. Animal studies show certain properties of soy may help protect or heal of the sun’s photoaging damage. In one recent human study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers reported that a soy-based supplement improved skin’s structure and firmness after just six months of use.

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables– Needs significant improvement. The anti-oxidant compounds in dark fruits and vegetables fight damage caused by free radicals, which in turn helps skin look younger and more radiant, and protects against some effects of photoaging.

  • Extra Stuff I Am Seriously Considering Budgeting For In The Future:
    The following are items that I am considering for my future budget. I have put them in the order I am likely to do:

  • At-home Chemical Peels: DIY chemical peels use low concentrations of alpha or beta hydroxyl acids to remove top layers of dead cells. The DIY peels purportedly will give me a “healthy glow” but won’t penetrate enough to improve wrinkles. According to, Neutrogena’s Advanced Solution Facial Peel will cost about $25.00 per jar.

  • At-home Dermabrasion Kits: The DIY dermabrasions kits rely on exfoliating “crystals” that I rub onto my face with a scrubbing wand. After a few weekly treatments of this treatment will allegedly cause my skin to “appear smoother” without much improvement in texture. According to, Neutrogena’s Advanced Solution MicroDermabrasion kit will set me back about $40. If I don’t see much improvement with the DIY facial peel, I may consider moving onto this item.

  • My Potential Future Vanity Monthly Budget: $25/month for DIY Facial Peel

    Stuff I May Consider In The Future But Not Likely to Budget Any Time Soon:

  • Chemical Peels at Medi-Spas or Doctor’s Office: Chemical peels at a medi-spa or a doctor’s office uses a higher concentration of acids that dissolve the top layers of dead cells, revealing fresh skin. At my local medi-spa, the Biomedic Micro Peel costs $95 and the Cosmelan Peel (whatever that is) costs $800/treatment.

  • Dermabrasions at Medi-Spas or Doctor’s Office: The combination of abrasion and suction stimulates collagen production, helping improve fine lines and minor scars," says Debra Jaliman, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The 30- to 45-minute procedure leaves skin slightly pink for up to a few days. After five monthly sessions, skin is smooth and glowing. My local medi-spa charges $95/treatment.

  • Stuff I Won't Consider Anytime In The Near Future But Never-Say-Never Items:

  • Wrinkle Fillers (e.g. Restylane, Juvederm, etc.): These are considered the putty and spackle of medicine. In this treatment, doctors fill wrinkles with a variety of substances, including collagen, hyaluronic acid, and other synthetic compounds. Treatments last 6-12 months. My local medi-spa charges $550/1.0 cc syringe and $300/0.4 cc syringe (for touch-ups) for Restylane injections.

  • Botox: An injection of this purified version of the A-Botulinum toxin relaxes the muscle just underneath the wrinkle, allowing the skin on top to lie smooth and crease-free. Treatments last 3-6 months. My local medi-spa charges $295/1 area - $775 /3 areas.

    This little research project was an eye-opener. It appears that in the near future, (i.e., in the year or so), my beauty budget will only increase by $45/month.

    The cosmetic procedures offered by my local medi-spa is prohibitively expensive since it appears that I'll need to get multiple treatments per year ad infinitum. The treatments also are pretty distasteful since it involves injecting toxins or acids and/or scraping off or peeling off my outer-dermis.

    But the biggest concerns I have in starting these cosmetic procedures is that it may become a gateway towards other more invasive procedures. I know this is a big leap, but if I start using cosmetic procedures and surgeries to compensate for personal insecurities or lack of self-esteem, it can lead to a never-ending personal hell where I'll end up looking like Jocelyn Wildenstein.

    Perhaps the best thing for my budget (and myself) is to accept myself as-is and to grow old gracefully and naturally as much as I can.


    FruGal said...

    That seems like a lot for hair appointments to me. Are you sure your friends aren't visiting unneccessarily expensive salons?

    Shtinkykat said...

    There is a good possibility that they're visiting salons (a) more often than they need to and (b) expensive ones. I asked for further clarification and with respect to frequency, the 4-6 week time frame is because that's how long it takes before the gray roots start showing and becoming yucky looking. With respect to the expensive dye-jobs, that's confirmed. Rather than getting a root touch-up, my friends are opting to change their hair color entirely or to get a new "look". Either way, I think I'm going to start with the home-dye kit first.