Prioritize Your Beauty Fixes with the Pain Scale

The Beauty Pain Scale

The other day, I was tracking my budget on Mint.com and was floored by how much I spent on beauty over the past year.   I could have built that 9 month elusive emergency fund Suze Orman says we all need and fed a small village in Africa.

Even more sobering was realizing how much money I waste on things that don’t make me prettier.  Case in point.  Last year I got a Fraxel Restore laser treatment.  My dermatologist convinced me I needed to “clean up those sun spots” and before I could say “huh, wait, what?”, I shelled over $1500 for the privilege of having my epidermis burned off.

The big procedures weren’t the only culprit; those sneaky little purchases at Sephora (a new lipstick here, face mask there) contributed to about 50% of the problem. According to the Huffington Post, Americans spent $10.4 billion on cosmetic procedures and I’ll bet not everyone is happy with what they’ve done.

So I bring you, The Beauty Pain Scale.  It works like the Pain Scale they use in hospitals, except here 0 is a Beauty Asset while 10 is a Beauty Buzz Kill (and there is no Vicodin).  Overlay your beauty gripes and rank from there.  Here’s mine: What I took away from this is that I’m spending money on the wrong problems, instead of devoting resources to the real confidence stealers, like getting into better shape and addressing that widening hair part I have.

So instead of Botox every 3 months, I’ll hire a trainer and recommit to Weight Watchers,  I’ll swap my face laser budget for a visit to Dr. Philip Bruder, a hair specialist who is doing some clinical trials with a hair laser.  As far as my jowls and crepey eyes, they’re not as much of a buzz kill as I thought.  I know for sure a blehparoplasty(upper and lower eye lid lift) is in my future, just not this year or next.  Jowls, I’m taking a wait and see approach as there don’t seem to be any silver bullet in this area.  Lasers like Thermage, Emax and the newer Ultherapy are expensive, have very mixed results and I really don’t want a face lift.

The bigger question for me, was why it is so easy for a thinking person to lose perspective?  My theory is that a few things are at play.  First, I think our culture celebrates celebrity beauty which sometimes creates a need we don’t have, such as a totally line free forehead, bolt on boobs or hair extensions.  I think most of us have forgotten what a wrinkle looks like.  Secondly, I think we do it largely because we can.  It’s simply amazing that you can make a wrinkle or spot go away.  That sense of immediate action feels good!  And if it hurts, even better!  There’s a little high we get from thinking we’ve found this back door into the fountain of youth, which clouds our ability to discriminate if it’s really needed.

At the end of the day, it’s all good — if you really need it, and you think it makes a meaningful difference in how you feel.  Just don’t let someone create a need you really don’t have.