Your collagen-injected pout glistens with cherry red lip gloss, your freshly highlighted tresses shimmer, your eyes are perfectly lined with smoky Dior shadow and your French manicured nails are flawless. You may feel there's no question that your complex beauty regimen is paying off ... but at what cost?
As it turns out, it's no pittance. Americans spend about $7 billion on cosmetics each year, according to a 2008 report by the YWCA. We spend another $1.5 billion on breast augmentation, $1.3 billion on liposuction and almost $1 billion on tummy tucks. While you may argue that you can't put a price on beauty, it's clear that when it comes to looking gorgeous, women across the nation are pulling out all the stops.

The Stunning Statistics
When it comes to America's beauty obsession, the numbers do the talking. Statistics show that American women spend ungodly amounts of money on everything from designer mascara, foundation and fancy moisturizing creams to Botox, breast implants and liposuction. But what could these women have bought instead with the money they squandered on beauty products?

  1. Colossal Cosmetic Costs
    The average American woman spends $86 a month on cosmetics, skin care and hair products, based on a 2008 survey by Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG). That comes out to more than $1,000 a year. $86 could also pay for a gym membership, a fancy restaurant dinner, car insurance or high-speed internet service. Even better, if you invested this $972 each year at a 5% interest rate, you would accumulate nearly $50,000 over 25 years. Now that's beautiful!

  2. Hair-Raising Numbers
    Depending on their age, hairstyle and preferences, the average American woman pays anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 to color, cut style and highlight her hair. $1,000 also covers a year's worth of the average girl's cosmetics. That same amount could cover a new computer, a tropical vacation for two or a portion, if not all, of your mortgage payment. In fact, if you made this yearly payment on a $300,000, 30-year mortgage with a 5% interest rate, you would save $33,000 in interest (ie. you would pay $33,000 less for your house!) over the course of the mortgage. You would also be mortgage-free faster - in 27 years, rather than 30. (To learn more about how extra payments add up over the course of your mortgage, read Paying Off Your Mortgage.)

    According to the YWCA report "Beauty at No Cost", five years' worth of beauty products costs about $6,423 on average. One full year of college tuition and fees at a public instate college is $6,185. But the investment in education will continue to pay off, by ensuring that your earn a much higher salary than your non-college educated peers.


  3. Pricey Surgical Procedures
    Americans spent a little less than $12 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2008. Of that total, approximately $7.2 billion was spent on surgical procedures, and $4.6 billion was spent on nonsurgical procedures. Overall, 92% of these cosmetic procedures were performed on women.

    In many cases, beauty doesn't just take money - it takes plenty of time, too. The average woman spends nearly three years of her life primping and preening, according to a survey commissioned by the British beauty brand Nephria. This results in what in economics is referred to as "opportunity cost". Cosmetic procedures have an opportunity cost, too, particularly when they require recovery time. In other words, instead of spending hours on your looks, you could work extra hours or learn a new skills that might increase your value at work, resulting in higher pay.

  4. The Final Bill
    Over the course of a lifetime, the average U.S. woman spends nearly $450,000 on beauty products, treatments and procedures, according to a recent NewsWeek report.
    Think about all the things you could do with this chunk of change if you were to forgo the expensive beauty regimens! This would make for a life-changing contribution to anyone's nest egg, but you could also buy a very nice house in many location - in cash. This is worth more than you think - about $420,000 in interest, which is what you would pay if you financed this house with a 5%, 30-year mortgage.

The Beauty Balancing Act
Of course, no one is saying you should quit your beauty addiction cold turkey, throw out all your eyeliner and hair serum and go "au naturale". However, you can make some compromises and find a happy medium when it comes to paying for beauty.

First and foremost, create a monthly beauty budget, and stick to it. Decide the top three or four beauty luxuries you absolutely can't live without, and cut out the rest. Also consider giving up designer makeup for the drugstore variety. You may shudder to think about purchasing your mascara in the same store where you buy your peanut butter, but it may be well worth it. If you buy your cosmetics at a department store, you could easily spend $50 or more on one eye shadow shade. You could probably find the same shade in your drugstore for $10 or less. Making the switch could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run. And that's a beautiful thing.

Related Articles
  1. Options & Futures

    Use Options to Hedge Against Iron Ore Downslide

    Using iron ore options is a way to take advantage of a current downslide in iron ore prices, whether for producers or traders.
  2. Home & Auto

    Understanding Rent-to-Own Contracts

    They can work for you or against you. Here's how to negotiate a fair one.
  3. Budgeting

    10 Ways to Save Money at the Farmers' Market

    Strategic shopping can help your budget as well as your health.
  4. Home & Auto

    Avoiding the 5 Most Common Rent-to-Own Mistakes

    Pitfalls that a prospective tenant-buyer could encounter on the road to purchase – and how not to stumble into them.
  5. Home & Auto

    Renting vs. Owning: Which is Better for You?

    Despite the conventional wisdom, renting might make more financial sense than you think.
  6. Investing Basics

    Explaining Options Contracts

    Options contracts grant the owner the right to buy or sell shares of a security in the future at a given price.
  7. Savings

    6 Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Stuff

    Those school-supply lists just keep getting longer each year. Here's how to shop smart.
  8. Home & Auto

    When Are Rent-to-Own Homes a Good Idea?

    Lease now and pay later can work – for a select few.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    How Does ClassPass Work and Make Money?

    Find out how ClassPass makes money, how the company aims to help both businesses and consumers, and why it has been so successful.
  10. Home & Auto

    When Getting a Rent-to-Own Car Makes Sense

    If your credit is bad, rent-to-own may be a better way to purchase a car than taking out a subprime loan – or it may not be. Get out your calculator.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Implied Volatility - IV

    The estimated volatility of a security's price.
  2. Plain Vanilla

    The most basic or standard version of a financial instrument, ...
  3. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a ...
  4. Theta

    A measure of the rate of decline in the value of an option due ...
  5. Derivative

    A security with a price that is dependent upon or derived from ...
  6. Security

    A financial instrument that represents an ownership position ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How does a forward contract differ from a call option?

    Forward contracts and call options are different financial instruments that allow two parties to purchase or sell assets ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the main risks associated with trading derivatives?

    The primary risks associated with trading derivatives are market, counterparty, liquidity and interconnection risks. Derivatives ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can an investor profit from a fall in the utilities sector?

    The utilities sector exhibits a high degree of stability compared to the broader market. This makes it best-suited for buy-and-hold ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between derivatives and options?

    Options are one category of derivatives. Other types of derivatives include futures contracts, swaps and forward contracts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How are rights distributed in a rights offering?

    In a rights offering, rights are distributed to shareholders based on the number of shares they already own. What Is a Rights ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!