As the Shampoo Lady worked her magic on the woman next to me, she said that hairdressers will never go broke. The woman said that no matter what is happening in her life—stress, a leaky roof, or refrigerator repairs, her hair will get did.

And she’s absolutely right.

This declaration got me thinking about my non-negotiables when it comes to my appearance. The woman mentioned that having a corporate position calls for her to look good at all times. It is part of her “image.” I work in a non-corporate sector and while I theoretically agree with her, I have missed many a hair appointment and did not feel my image as an administrator was compromised. On the other hand, I have sometimes felt self-conscious about my skin, and have since made facials my come-hell-or-high-water monthly must-do.

But how much does beauty, which is what my friend and I were alluding to, cost us? Have you ever ran your numbers? Sitting next to this lady made me curious about my beauty price tag and what percentage of my budget is earmarked for it. Here’s how to calculate yours in hope of being able to set aside extra income each month.

Step 1: Make a list of the monthly beauty rituals that you pay for.

For this number, do not include products, just services.  For me, every four weeks, I pay for a gym membership, my facial, eyebrow and loc maintenance. For those of you who must get their manicures, pedicures, bikini waxes, and massages done, be sure to add these to your list.

Step 2: Find the total that you pay for these services (don’t forget the tip.)

Here are my numbers.

Locs: $100 with tip included

Gym Membership:  $50 (no tip needed)

Facials: $75 with tip included

Eyebrow (threading): $4 with tip.That is not a typo. In NYC, there are excellent spots that do eyebrow threading for a low as $1.99. The competition is high in certain parts of Queens.

So, every month, to maintain my beauty, I pay $ 229 a month.

Step 3: Add in related costs associated with the maintenance.

Depending on the wait time and the nature of the service, it’s not uncommon for women to order lunch or dinner while they are waiting to get their beauty rituals done. Also, don’t forget the cost of gas or paid parking if you drive to your appointments. As for food, I usually plan for this reality, but there are times that I want to buy something to hold me over until I get home to eat, which costs me no more than $5.

Step 4: Recalculate your beauty maintenance budget.

It is important to pay attention to the hidden costs of your beauty maintenance in order to have an accurate account of how much you are really spending. Once you figure out your beauty budget maintenance number, you may cry, shrug, or pat yourself on the back.  When I looked at my beauty maintenance number ($234), I did not make any plans to trim down on these costs anytime soon.

Here’s why.

I thought about one important thing that we often overlook when we are thinking about money in a strictly dollars and cents way. That one thing is value.

When I reflected on what hair meant to the lady in the seat next to me and what clear skin meant to me, we were both saying that taking care of our hair and skin brought us confidence and positively added to our self-image. In other words, beauty is a priority for us.

What to do when the price of beauty Is too damn high.

If you find that your beauty budget is out of control and accounting for more than 5-7% of your monthly budget, you can always go the DIY route, find a cheaper alternative, or increase the times between visits. (Think: instead of once every four weeks, try once every six weeks.)

If this is not an option, try becoming merciless about all OTHER spending in your life. I can tell you from personal experience, having completed five cycles of the $20 Cash Crash Diet has fundamentally changed how I use my money.

Instead of saving for saving’s sake or spending impulsively, I mindfully align my spending with my values. My $75 facial can’t break my monthly budget if I take my lunch to work or I ensure that I get up on time to get the bus to work instead of paying for cab.

If you need more money to upkeep your beauty, don’t be afraid to sell what you don’t need, start a side hustle to bring in more income, or do both.

Connect with Kara @thefrugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at