According to this study done by the YWCA (PDF), US American women spend $7 billion (with a B! Billion!) on cosmetics alone. Read the whole nauseating thing; it’s got data on plastic surgery, smoking, eating disorders, etc. It’s hard to even get my mind around a number like 7 billion, so let’s look at some smaller ones:
The average of our survey was $798.92, and I’m going to take the liberty of rounding that up $1.08 to a flat $800/year, or $66.67/month.
I’m not going to ask you to give up every little thing, or even most little things, but maybe, just maybe the next time you’re having a craptacular day and you think you’ll just bop over to Sephora, the schmancy cosmetics counter, or your favorite drugstore (mine is King’s in Brooklyn) and pick up a new tube or bottle of something–that really, you probably don’t need, since you probably have 2 or 3 at home already–you’ll think again.
Instead, you could put that chunk of that monthly change into your 401(k) or an IRA. The YWCA study notes:
If a woman invested the average amount of money she spends on a monthly manicure/pedicure treatment ($50) into her retirement account every year for ten years, she would have almost $10,000 in her account at the end of
As someone who doesn’t have benefits like employer-matched retirement contributions, that’s a might attractive number to me. If you’re feeling more secure and/or generous, you might also consider the following charitable contributions with a little of your mad money:
Heifer International: $20 will buy a family a flock of ducks, chicks, or geese; $30 will supply them with honeybees.
Women for Women: $27 a month will support a woman (and her family) in the aftermath of war and personal violence.
Children International: $22 a month will provide food, education, medical care, and familial support to a child in one of 11 countries (including the US)
National Network of Abortion Funds: Donating any amount will help provide the funds for a woman in need to travel to and pay for an abortion.
Beauty culture can be fun. But so can the knowledge that you’re bucking harmful cultural messages, saving yourself time and money, and even helping out your sisters elsewhere in the world. I’d take that over another gloopy container of lipstick anyday.
You look great today, by the way.
ETA: There must be something going around, because Newsweek magazine just published a data-story (although I’m not crazy about how they went about it) about the big bucks of beauty culture.