Why I’m happy to spend more on personal care products during COVID-19

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  • Before the pandemic, I didn’t think much about my hair or skincare products. But since I’ve been spending so much time at home without makeup or a haircut, I’m paying more attention.
  • My husband and I have tightened our belts to spend less overall during the pandemic, but I’ve allowed myself to spend more on personal care products than I used to.
  • I like the way they make me look and feel, but more than that, researching new products has given me a way to escape from the (usually bad) news of the day.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on most people’s budgets. For my family, things seem to have — luckily and for the most part — leveled out. For example, where we’ve spent more on electricity and food over the past few months, we’ve also cut back on costs associated with commuting, entertainment outside the home, overall travel, and childcare, so our budget has remained balanced.

Still, despite maintaining this balance during a chaotic financial time, my husband and I don’t totally trust it. We’re concerned our income could dip dramatically, so over the past few months, we’ve tried to live frugally, just in case the future decides to throw us some curveballs. We’ve settled on ordering out less, and we’re spending way less on individual items for ourselves, like clothes (really, who needs ’em?) and haircuts (I’m still not totally comfortable heading to a salon, anyway). 

My new COVID obsession

However, despite all of the areas where we’ve tried to scrimp and save, there is one budgeting item that, surprisingly, has become extra important to me during this pandemic and that I now refuse to cut back on: personal care products.

If you had asked me at the beginning of March what products I used in my hair or on my face, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell you. Whatever curly hair product looked good or was on sale when I was shopping was what went into my cart. As for skincare, I have pretty much circled the block and had settled on the easiest and relatively cheapest routine I could find — Cetaphil with a mild peach and willow scrub every few days. Boring. Cheap. Effective. (To a degree.)

Then, the pandemic hit.

Suddenly I was home a lot more, which meant wearing even less makeup and even fewer trips out to the salon. I usually only get my hair cut a few times a year anyway, but with my last visit in February and no telling when I’ll feel comfortable enough to go again, things were starting to get a bit dire in the hair department.

Although my plate is anything but empty — both my husband and I are trying to hang on to a semblance of our careers while working from home with two children aged 4 and 2.5 and zero childcare — I was starting to nitpick about my appearance. Has my hair always been this dry? Why does my skin always feel simultaneously oily and dry? Are those lines supposed to be there?

Spending money on personal care products

In the absence of much else to focus on in terms of nighttime activities or a social life, I decided to start caring more about the personal care items that had never really appealed to me in the past. I bought and tried a number of different hydrating hair masks, as well as skincare products I had never really researched before. (I truly did not know that night masks were a thing, and why are there so many facial cleansing products?) 

I tried to stick to a budget, but since I wasn’t buying anything else fun for my own use (for our girls, however … well, that’s another story), I allowed my budget to stretch a bit in this category in an effort to find the products that I would love and want to stick with. 

On haircare products, I’m spending approximately $68.50 more per month now. On skincare products, about $151 more.

Spending this money is bringing me joy in dark times

About a month in, I started to wonder if it was smart to be spending extra money on these items, which to me seemed frivolous. Then I realized something: This was about much more than just fixing the “problems” themselves. 

Researching these products and focusing on something other than the current state of the world had given me a hobby, something to do other than scrolling through Twitter and Instagram endlessly in search of the latest (likely devastating) news.

We have made the decision to live as socially distanced as possible for the foreseeable future, which often leads to moments of loneliness and sadness. If these few products can bring me just a little bit of happiness each month, who am I to get in the way of that joy?

And if my hair is bouncier and my face looks more radiant as a by-product, well, I’ll take that as well. 


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