How much money do you spend on your hair? Are you worth it? The woman on the hair-dye commercial says, with great certainty (that annoys me for some reason) that she’s worth it, but I wanted to find out if I am. Curious, I walked into my bathroom to get an accurate picture of how much of my paycheck was sitting around in brightly colored tubes and bottles of hair care and hair removal products. I consider myself low-maintenance, so I didn’t think it would be much. In contrast to some women who won’t go to the grocery store without lipstick and a fresh coat of Aqua Net, my friends will tell you that my attitude about my hair is, “I don’t have to look at it, you do.”
It therefore came as a huge surprise to realize that I had 16 hair products and 7 pieces of hair care equipment (including an industrial strength nose-hair trimmer) and that I spend a total of $844 per year on products, cuts, color and waxing – a hefty sum for a woman who claims not to care.
That weekend, still reeling from this revelation, I decided to tackle my biggest expense – waxing. Bikini waxing is big business because, as those of you who have tried it at home know, only a professional – meaning someone who can keep a straight face and act like it’s all very normal that you are contorted in a way that would make even your gynecologist blush – can remove hair from there. Unfortunately, though I have been told otherwise, it is physically impossible to wax yourself. I respond to people who tell me they successfully wax themselves the same way I do to those who tell me about UFO sightings. I listen politely because I respect their beliefs, but I know that it will never happen to me. Luckily, my husband, good sport that he is, agreed to embark on this journey of frugality with me. Friends of ours, a husband and wife, had told us they bought their own waxing kit and that the husband was able to wax his wife with great results. With such a convincing first-hand account, we decided to give it try. What could go wrong?
Since my husband was new at it, and an engineer by training, he worked to apply the first smear of wax with great precision. But, after the first halting riiiiiip – which, by the way, makes it infinitely more excruciating – and a primal roar from me that rivaled Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, I sent him to the kitchen to fetch me a large shot glass of tequila which I threw back like a sorority girl at Myrtle Beach. We waited a few minutes and let the liquor work its magic but when, during the second attempt, he lost his grip and the rip became two – rip-rip – I kicked him – an innocent reflex, I swear – full in the chest and he flew backwards, wide-eyed and still gripping the scrap of waxing paper, because I had told him that a good, firm grip is very important – across the bed. After a few tense moments and profuse apologies on my part, we decided we would stay married instead of continuing the experiment.
A week later, still determined to save a few bucks, I cancelled my appointment with the hairdresser, wrapped a towel around my shoulders and began to cut my own hair. It had been years since I’d done it and one quick minute later, as I stared at the little Amish boy in the mirror – Oh, wait, that’s me! – I remembered why. Note to self: Never wet your bangs and stretch them waaaay down before you cut them.
Fortunately, however, after a disappointing initial attempt to dye my own hair – my sister called me Roy Orbison – I now save over $30 every six weeks that way. I also found that less frequent haircuts and waxing greatly reduce expenses without producing vastly different results.
So, am I worth it? Yes, I am worth the effort it took to evaluate my budget and decide what is reasonable to spend. And though I don’t recommend that you recreate every step of my research, for fear of a personal injury lawsuit, I encourage you to take a few minutes to calculate how much you are spending and decide for yourself. Quantifying this expense may motivate you to find creative ways to reduce it, but remember…some things are best left to the professionals.
Image courtesy of Laura Woolf