The cost of living is increasing at its fastest rate in four decades. But while many of us are saving the pounds to pay rent and buy basic foods, the lucky few are reserving their disposable incomes for other priorities – namely keeping up with today’s increasingly high beauty standards.
In a now deleted post by Marissa Banks, late last year the TikTok creator published a rant about beauty maintenance, detailing how she spends £1.5K each month to avoid looking like an “ogre”, in her own words. This eye watering sum is spent on salon visits, lash care, manicures and other indulgences deemed by Banks to be essential care.
In her controversial spill, she expressed: “females will not want to be seen if their nails, lashes and hair are not done.” She continued: “Why would you put yourself in a predicament to be seen as a tramp, an ogre, basically a pest to society?”
While many women attend regular beauty appointments as a form of selfcare, social bonding and even female empowerment, others may argue that these kind of expenses are frivolous – particularly in today’s uncertain economic climate.
In response to Banks’ TikTok video, users expressed their shock, comparing her beauty bill to their monthly income. Others questioned her self-confidence, surmising that her obsession with aesthetics is a cover-up for her insecurities.
Undoubtedly speaking from a place of privilege, Banks seemingly forgot to take into consideration that her audience may not find it possible to keep up with her recommended beauty regime, and as a result may suffer from feelings of inadequacy. According to an analysis by the Royal Society for Public Health, young people who use social media for more than two hours per day are more likely to report poor mental health and increased psychological distress. This has even been given the name ‘FaceBook depression’ by researchers who suggest that online peer pressure, unrealistic representations of beauty (for example, Photoshopped selfies) and the fear of missing out (AKA ‘FOMO’) are to blame for triggering depression or exacerbating existing conditions.
Is frugal influencing the way forward?
The cost of living crisis is changing the beauty landscape. More than half of the nation (51%) admit their biggest stresses are due to personal finance struggles, with 48% feeling more stressed in 2023 than they did last year.* A staggering 61% of those who responded admit to worrying about the little things in life, with over half of the nation (54%) admitting they struggle to destress during their daily routine.
That being said, for every influencer pushing unattainable beauty budgets, there are five more showing you how to care for your hair, skin and nails without having to sacrifice the necessities or impacting your mental health.
Oluwaseun, self-confessed stylist and outfit repeater, shows us thrifting done right. Her tours around goldmine preloved shops and sample sales prove that, with a keen eye (and sometimes sharp elbows) you can get your hands on premium and one-of-a-kind pieces for much, much less.
YouTuber Hannah London’s affordable drugstore make-up tutorial is a must-watch. Using products that cost no more than £10 each, Hannah creates a full-face look that could be mistaken for a completely premium beat, taking the fear out of costly make-up bag restocks.
Head on over to TikTok and @_theali.house recreates trending looks like the iconic 90s two-tone lip combo using only two products. Using the Nyx Professional Makeup Slim Lip Pencil in Espresso and e.l.f. Lip Plumping Gloss in Pink Paloma which cost less than £10 – a bargain! The throwback style comes to life with just a few swipes.
The future: Affordable beauty
The rise in living costs doesn’t mean beauty lovers have to compromise on quality or value by, for example, reverting to buying throwaway cosmetics. Instead, savvy consumerism is expected to become an art and a necessity. Quality and performance-driven beauty can be delivered at affordable prices, but this year, customers will want, need and get even more for their money.
Searches for #makeupdupes total 252.4M views on TikTok to date, showing that shoppers are searching for more affordable alternatives for their favourite products. But the fact that these searches are taking place on a user-generated video platform, rather than Google, shows that makeup lovers are turning to – you guessed it – other make-up lovers to find out whether a low-cost product is worth their time, rather than trusting the word of a brand. Meanwhile, almost nine out of 10 shoppers look for sustainability credentials in their beauty and personal care purchases; this can be seen through the success of the Recycle at Boots scheme, which has banked over one million product empties.
With affordability and eco-friendliness currently leading consumer spending trends, it’s not an entirely baseless prediction that, in 2023 and beyond, beauty that aligns to sustainable and ethical values will come as standard, not at a premium.
(Don’t) forget about the price tag
We know that self-care rituals are good for the soul, however they’re not always great for the purse strings. Here are five money-saving tips for your beauty regime:
- Keep an eye out for multi-use products
- Get the most from beauty gift sets
- Fall in love with a beauty mini
- Swap salon treatments for DIY
- Take advantage of in-store and online offers
Beauty bills: The Spell team reveal their most lavish beauty expenses
“I paid just under £400 to have my hair dyed blonde by a celebrity hairdresser. Luckily it was mates’ rates and well worth it.”
Social Media Executive
“One time I paid £60 to get my nails done – and this didn’t include my feet. It did have a design but the most I would pay is £30.”
“Before my holiday I paid £90 to have hybrid lashes installed. The technician didn’t do a patch test and I had an allergic reaction. I had to take them off the next day – I was so upset.”
Feature image c/o Fenty Beauty