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Women and Beauty: Part Two

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I’ve gone ahead and seen my dermatologist. My skin now tastes of medicine, but that’s okay– bring on the medicine. My dermatologist laughed when she looked at my record and pointed out that I’ve got a habit of scheduling an appointment exactly every 3 years.

The past 3 months has seen my skin spiraling down a pit of despair, and I wasn’t having it. My skin is one of those factors that, while I know it’s shallow, greatly affects my sense of confidence. For the most part, I like keeping my skincare in-house. My essentials include:

Moisturizer with sunscreen every day

Facial massage

Regular exfoliation

Sleeping on my back (the worst)

Still, no matter my wanna be hippie nature, I’ll gladly hand over my money when my skin is out of hand. For the skincare industry, it’s a measly drop in their $24 billion bucket. Today, let’s continue our talk about women and beauty.

Before the 20th century, the only women expected to be wearing makeup were prostitutes, movie stars, and showgirls. A woman had to live with the looks that God gave her. Besides, most of the makeup available was garish, chalky and limited in colors. You think you have a tough time matching your foundation to your skin tone now, just imagine what it was like in 1917.

For “nice girls,” the introduction of cosmetics didn’t go beyond face creams and powders which were meant to even out skin tone, not change the appearance of the woman. Being that 1 in 3 women in our day wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without makeup, I can feel your collective shudder.

Flappers, who saw themselves as exciting and liberated, dared to wear rouge on their cheeks, lips, and knees.

“I’m gonna rouge my knees and roll my stockings down… and all that jazz.” Chicago

iwannabealady.com rolled stockings flappers 1926

Why rouge their knees? To draw attention to them, of course. Boobs were out. Knees were, well, the bee’s knees. Still, it was scandalous… until it wasn’t. Elizabeth Arden was working to change the public’s perception of cosmetics. Close-ups in movies were highlighting the makeup that actresses wore lending lipstick and rouge a helping hand in gaining social acceptance.

By 1929, there were about 18,000 beauty parlors available.  The auto industry perfected paints that helped in the development of nail polish and the mani/pedi culture put down it’s first roots. Tanned skin became popular so arsenic wafers were out (thank freaking goodness) and women wanted a youthful glow. Cosmetic companies were ready.

While early cosmetics used common ingredients like bugs, berries and charcoal, today we find products containing everything from thermal mud to yeast by-products. Every company has a special formula.

Aveeno 1

avenno 2

olay 1

Most of us who aren’t chemists have no idea what any of this stuff means, but we’ll spend on average $15,000 in our lifetime on it. And while every company has their secret formula, most cosmetics brands are actually owned by the same multinational conglomerates. For instance, whether we’re buying N.Y.X, Maybelleline, or Yves Saint Laurent, our money is going to L’Oreal. And it’s a lot of money. Here’s some beauty industry figures.

Haircare brings in $38 billion yearly, skincare $24 billion, makeup $18 billion, and perfumes $15 billion.

Cosmetic surgery has increased by 220% since 1997. Botox increased over 2,400% since 1997. Cosmetic surgery has increased by 220% since ’97 with more than 70% of those electing for procedures earning less than $50K a year.

Even recessions and depressions can’t stop the rapid growth of the beauty industry. Studies have shown that in economic down times, women may shoot for a lower-priced brand, but they’ll continue buying just as regularly. Of course, the fact that the same companies own the affordable and luxury brands means that they keep raking in the dough. We keep raking on the mascara because who dares leave the house without it, right?

Coincidentally, 75% of men use no facial skincare at all.

The other day, my daughter expressed how surprisingly heavy my make bag was. A few weeks before that, she was flabergated to see me applying waterproof mascara for a trip to the beach. Two years ago, I would never be caught dead with makeup at the beach. “It’s just a little mascara,” I said. “My lashes disappear without mascara.”

Faintly I could hear the voices of flappers ringing in my ears, “It’s just a little rouge.”

If you gathered all of your beauty products together– makeup, hair, skincare, perfumes, dermatologist visits, how much would you guess it comes up to? Better yet, how much of it do you actually still use, and how much space does it take up in your life?

If you’ve been thinking about really decluttering your life, the beauty cabinets/drawers/bins are an excellent thing to tackle. Pay attention to the items that you use frequently and those that you rarely touch. Let those go and never purchase them again.

See if you can pare down your beauty products to as few as possible. Donate unused or gently used items, like body washes, to friends and shelters. If you typically get your nails done at a salon, do you need 25 bottles of nail polish? Personally, I’ve pared down my polishes to 5 colors that I love and gave away or tossed out about 20 that I kind of liked or never even used because they were cheap and crappy.

Listen, I’m not trying to get between a girl and her beauty products, and I wouldn’t want to. Beauty is fun and, dare I say, empowering, but it can also be an expensive prison if we aren’t paying attention. Let’s add a bit more mindfulness.


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My name is Lyz-Stephanie and I want to inspire you to be more connected to yourself and the world, to find beauty in simple pleasures, and to have more adventures. Every day we can do something to make our lives happier and richer, make our minds more active and engaged. I’m on the journey. Will you join me?

12 thoughts on “Women and Beauty: Part Two

  1. I love the historical references for how beauty and fashion came to be! I hate hoarding cosmetic products. Those viral Instagram photos with piles and piles of palettes, makeup brushes and compacts drive me BONKERS! Buy what you think you need, keep what works, return the rest!

    Dom | http://www.DivaNamedDom.com

    1. Seriously, I don’t even wear that much makeup and I was swimming in random palettes like I ever needed three different shades of bright green eyeshadow. Tsk, tsk.

  2. Loved reading through this! Brings me back to earlier today when I was picking out glasses at Target- I told Justin “it’s good to shop for frames without makeup on cause then you’ll know what you’ll look like ‘plain Jane’ and you’ll know you’ll look even better in the same frames with makeup on!”

    1. Totally. I feel like the more makeup I wear on a regular basis, the more I feel uncomfortable without it, so I like to give myself free days. Also, with eyebrows like yours, who needs anything else? 😄

  3. I used to wear a lot of makeup back in my modeling days, but even outside of modeling I’ve never actually worn “all that much”… Little semi-transparent foundation for color correction, some eyeliner, bit of mascara, a shimmery highlight because I love the ethereal look, and some lipstick and that’s it. Too much makeup always made me feel dirty- and my no one likes to feel their face literally melting in the humid summer heat, primer or no primer.

  4. Wow this post really gave me some insight into how much the beauty industry really pulls in!! I can’t believe how much money is spent yearly on just one part alone for example hair care xx

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