Why shaming the beauty industry isn’t the answer to your financial problems

Sitting in the hairdressers last week I started thinking about the beauty industry and why women, and an increasing number of men, are made to feel bad about spending money on their appearance. It’s hard to talk about saving money or frugal living without someone piping up with: ‘Stop dying your hair, stop spending money on makeup and stop getting your nails done.’

But why is spending money on beauty products considered worse than spending money on anything else? I’m tempted to say it has something to do with it primarily being considered a women’s expense and a sign of vanity.

In this post I’ll aim to explain why shaming the beauty industry is a problem and also highlight the benefits the industry can have on the economy and individuals. I’ll also offer some tips of how to do beauty on a budget, if you’re looking to save some cash.

The UK beauty industry makes nearly £30 billion a year.

The problem

As a society, we put pressure on women to look a certain way, but simultaneously make them feel bad for spending the money required to look like this. Women are expected to look good but at the same time are shamed for taking the necessary steps to do this.

When I was about 16, an elderly relative said to me: “As a young woman you can choose to be either pretty or clever.” Now I laugh about it because it’s a ridiculous concept – the two are clearly not mutually exclusive.  But, it could have been very damaging. Telling people they have to fit into specific boxes in life, puts a glass ceiling on what they can achieve.

This is also becoming a problem for an increasing number of men. They also want to present themselves in a different way to what society would describe as normal, but simultaneously may want to succeed in the corporate world.

Society looks down on the industry, which largely employs and benefits women and minority groups. Dismissing the beauty industry as frivolous or surplus to requirement only increases inequality and ignores the needs and wants of women.

Feminism, and equality more generally, is about the right to choose. Shaming the beauty industry and vocalising how much money people ‘waste’ makes people feel ashamed of this choice. For example, I’m too embarrassed to tell people how much it costs to get my hair done, but will happily talk about how much my car costs to run. Spoiler alert: the car is far more expensive…

I feel more confident when wearing make up.

Economic benefits

Do you know how much the UK beauty industry makes? The answer may shock you.

Consumers spent £27.2 billion on beauty in the UK in 2018 alone, according to a report commissioned by the British Beauty Council. This is a huge amount of money that goes into the economy, which would undoubtedly be missed if we all suddenly stopped spending money on beauty.

On top of this, the beauty industry is also responsible for keeping millions in employment. In the UK alone, the industry supports a total of 590,500 jobs, with one person in every sixty working in this sector, as of 2018.

The industry also contributed £7 billion in UK tax revenues in 2018. That could run seven large hospitals for a whole year. This figure will almost certainly be lower this year, due to the majority of beauty businesses having to close for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this should only serve to highlight their importance to the economy going forward.

Personal benefits

Do you know that it takes just seven seconds for someone to form their first impression of you? In such a short space of time, you’re lucky if you’ve even managed to say hello. That means how you present yourself is very important in both your professional and personal life.

How you present yourself is of course up to you. Some find make up helps, others rely on a strict skincare routine, while others don’t like using any products at all. No way is any better or worse than any other.

Aside from other people’s perceptions of you, your appearance can have a big impact on your personal confidence. If you feel your best wearing bright red lipstick, why should you feel bad for spending money on it? The positives can more than outweigh any financial negatives.

I spoke to one stylist, who said she always wears high heels, even for Zoom meetings. For her, wearing these shoes, puts her in ‘work mode’ and makes her feel more confident. As a result, she performs better in these talks and meetings, benefiting her career.

The money spent on beauty products and services might give you the confidence to promote yourself more and network more effectively, thus helping you get ahead in your career. Therefore, you could argue its money well spent.

Beauty on a budget

Like all things, it’s possible to cut down on how much you are saving.

As a starting point, I would recommend checking out Beauty Markdown. Here you’ll find beauty discounts, news and freebies, which could save you a lot of money.

For treatments and appointments, search for deals online first. Groupon often offers discounts, as does Wowcher.

If you’re feeling brave, you could sign up to be a hair model. This means a trainee will do your hair for you. You might not get much of a say in how it ends up, but some salons won’t charge you at all for this.

One must have for everyone is a Boots Advantage Card. If you’re buying make up or skincare products, the points add up remarkably quickly. It won’t be long before you can use your points to fund your next purchase.

Another tip is to use cashback apps where possible when making online purchases, I personally like Quidco. Sign up using this link and we both get £10!


Spending money, and saving money, is personal and should always remain that way. No one should dictate how or when you spend your money. You should also not feel guilty for spending money however you choose, providing you do so responsibly.

If spending money on beauty products makes you feel good then why shouldn’t you? Being financially healthy and eventually financially independent is a long-term lifestyle. Much like a diet, you can’t deprive yourself of certain things you enjoy forever. Instead, we all need to learn to be comfortable spending responsibly on the things we value.

I hope this post explained why you need a will. If you found it interesting, please like it and share across social media or send it to your friends. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so please do leave a comment! What are your thoughts on the beauty industry? Do you spend money on your appearance?

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