The Blog

How to Look Better in 2016 Without Dropping $20,000

The price of beauty does not have to cost a small fortune. Many people who spend large sums still still can't fix what matters most. A strong sense of self worth is priceless.
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Hands holding a scalpel and a woman's face with a dotted line under her eye
Hands holding a scalpel and a woman's face with a dotted line under her eye

An article in the January 8th Wall Street Journal called "The High Price of Beauty" revealed what four women spend annually to maintain their looks. Average cost? $20,000.

For some that's a child's school tuition. For others it's a mortgage. For these women and many others it's annual maintenance. I used to be that woman. I've been a beauty junkie who has spent a small fortune over the years. I still have drawers and bowls of beauty products to show for it But what needed fixing first was my self-image. This couldn't be treated with shots, creams and serums. I still value a great facial and believe in upkeep at every age. But I also learned that unless you keep up with other areas of your life that affect your looks and how you feel, you may just be wasting your money.

When I wrote my first book "Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor's Guide To Staying Fearless & Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer," I had a chapter on how much I saved during my cancer treatment by not spending it on expensive hair appointments, waxing, mani-pedis and face treatments. I had no hair to color, cut, wax, pluck or shave, and my oncologist discouraged other treatments to reduce my risk of infection. I figure I saved about $8000 that year. I decided to remove the chapter from my book because sharing with my readers that I spent $8000 a year in beauty treatments wouldn't resonate with under served women fighting cancer I wanted to help.

I now spend a fraction of what I used to. I decided to make healthier changes to look and feel better in other ways. I don't have anything against spending a large sum of money to look good if it makes you feel good and you have the resources. But it is not a replacement for living a healthier lifestyle, and beauty treatments are not a panacea for anyone who doesn't believe she is beautiful and worthy in the first place.

Recently I was asked for easy low cost beauty tips for 2016. Here you go:

1. Learn to manage your stress. Stress shows up on your face and body. It's about portion control in your lifestyle diet. This means not overdoing it in any area: overwork, overeat, over-commit, over-spend. If you look at your life like a dinner plate, you want the portions to be balanced. Say "Yes" to taking more time for yourself and "No" to enabling or allowing others to take advantage of your time.

2. Move your body. Studies show that daily exercise for 35-40 minutes is good for cardiovascular health, boosts energy, helps alleviate stress and creates a better sense of well-being. If you don't have a block of time, take 10-15 minute movement breaks (jumping jacks, brisk walk, push ups, jog in place, dance). We are all too sedentary.

3. Tuck in without your tech. Remove all technology from your bedroom and turn bedtime into a relaxing, nourishing end of day ritual. Bedtime should be body-care time: wash off your makeup, moisturize and sooth your skin head to toe, drink a soothing cup of herbal tea, warm milk or lemon water, curl up with a good book (or great guy!).

4. Wear broad spectrum sunscreen every day. Put it on after you moisturize (face, neck, hands). Dangerous UVA/UVB rays can even penetrate a window by your desk, and those unattractive fluorescent offices lights are bad for skin.

5. Cut - or reduce- your sugar intake. You're sweet enough. Instead of ingesting sugar, use it as an inexpensive body scrub. Mix 1/2 cup of white or brown sugar and 1/2 cup of coconut oil. Add a few drops of an essential oil of you want. Rub it on!

6. Add at least two to three more handfuls (servings) of fresh green vegetables to your daily diet (cooked, raw, smoothies). Your goal should be 4-6 servings of vegetables daily. My tip is to make your lunch or dinner a main course of vegetables and a side dish of protein (lean meat, chicken, fish).

7. Laugh more. Complain less. Smiles and laugh lines are better markers on your face than frown lines as you age.

8. Invest where it matters such as a good facialist and dermatologist if your skin is prone to flare ups, extreme dryness or sensitivity that become difficult to manage yourself. Self-administering to your skin's needs can backfire if you are too rough or using the wrong products. If you can't stick to an exercise or diet regimen and can afford a trainer or health coach to keep you on track, do it, rather than give up. Or buddy up with a friend and make each other accountable.

The price of beauty does not have to cost a small fortune. Many people who spend large sums still still can't fix what matters most. A strong sense of self worth is priceless.

What is your favorite and least expensive way to feel beautiful?