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Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and are like … I can’t live like this anymore. My hair is too long. But you don’t have time to go to the salon? That was me a few weeks ago! More specifically, in my case, I not only did not have time to go to the salon, I detested going to the salon. For years I wished I had the ability to cut my own hair and save all the time and hassle of:

  • Commuting (I used to live in Atlanta where traffic was invented)
  • Experimenting and finding the right hairdresser any time I moved (I used to relocate every 6 months for work)
  • Having it maybe not be what I asked for (I would be momentarily distracted by the decent-looking cut and style, only to leave the salon and realize it was not at all what had been agreed upon)
  • Having to repeatedly explain why I didn’t want to buy any products on the way out (I don’t think the bottles like living under my bathroom sink untouched until they’re well past their expiration date and I toss them)
  • And so on…

I know for some people it’s relaxing, but I’m not some people. I would instantly get annoyed any time I had to think about getting a haircut, and inevitably one day I would wake up and it would be so long I couldn’t stand it anymore. So a few weeks ago when I was faced with that familiar feeling of irritation, I decided, no more of this.

I watched a few YouTube tutorials, I grabbed a pair of scissors, and I cut my own hair.  And guess what! It turned out fine. I’m sure it’s not as good as what they do in salons, but I wear my hair in a ponytail 99% of the time and it’s close enough. It was actually still too long at first, so two days later I cut it again. I cannot fully describe how empowering it was to be able to solve my own problem instead of running back out to a salon. Shocking, I know. But hang in there, because you’re going to want to save your gasps for what’s next. You see, cutting my own hair was the final frontier for me in terms of insourcing personal upkeep. I’ll be honest, my motivation was more around saving time than it was saving money, but I like having more of both of those things. I also felt inspired by Frugalwoods, an awesome personal finance blog I’ve followed for years. If Liz trusts her husband to cut her hair, maybe I can similarly learn to trust myself!

Today I’d like to share specifically what I’ve insourced, including the products I use, and compare that to societal norms of when and how women are expected to maintain themselves. If that sounded sarcastic, it’s because it is. My blanket statement here is you should do whatever the heck you want to do, or not do, to look and feel your best (as long as you already have an emergency fund and are saving for retirement of course 🙂 ) … not what other people / social media / companies / magazines say you need to do to look and feel good. Decide for yourself.

When I decided for myself that I did not enjoy schlepping to and from nail salons, hair salons, massage studios, estheticians and so on, I started to do these things at home, or I stopped doing them altogether. If you really enjoy those things and they’re in alignment with your goals and values, then please go for it! But it wasn’t for me. I calculated roughly what I save in both time and money each year by insourcing personal upkeep, and here’s what I came up with:

Time saved: Research, scheduling, commute & treatment duration
Money saved: Average cost of treatment including 20% tip (what I’ve paid in various urban and suburban living environments)

Each year I save:
  • 90 min Facial: Monthly – $155 + 20% tip = $2,232 & 18 hours
  • 60 min Gel Manicure: Bi-weekly – $35 + 20% tip = $1,092 & 26 hours
  • 60 min Pedicure: Monthly – $30 + 20% tip = $432 & 12 hours
  • 60 min Eyebrows: Monthly – $40 + 20% tip = $576 & 12 hours
  • 90 min Haircut: Bi-monthly – $65 + 20% tip = $468 & 9 hours
  • GRAND TOTAL: $4,800 and 77 hours EACH YEAR(!!!) 

Again, this is just my personal experience. I do think it’s worth going through a similar exercise for yourself and deciding if you’re happy with what you’re investing. I personally would rather paint my nails myself at home while I’m hanging out with my husband, because I’d rather hang out with him than with a bunch of strangers trying to make small talk (small talk can also be referred to as Introvert Emily’s kryptonite). That said, I know people who LOVE getting their nails done and it makes them feel amazing. So by all means, they should keep doing that. I, on the other hand, can’t even get out of the salon without messing up the polish in some way (it’s kind of ridiculous at this point – I’m an adult and I can’t sit still long enough for the polish to dry), so I know it’s a total waste for me. Does this mean I’ll never, ever go to a nail salon again? No, it does not. I still go a handful of times a year if I’m with girlfriends who want to go. I’m doing it to spend time with them! Which I value more than I value the $35 I’m essentially throwing in the trash. But you’ll never catch me sitting alone in a nail salon, ever. Of that I am certain. Will I never get a haircut in a salon again? Right now I’d say probably not, but who knows! Maybe someday I’ll want a totally different cut that I’m not satisfied with when I do it myself, or maybe I’ll want to color my hair or something. But right now, smart money’s on DIY haircuts for me.

The beauty of this is that because I am vicious about what to use my money for, I end up saving a lot of it. That means I have a lot of it available if I decide to outsource something down the road. I revel in self-sufficiency, but if life changes in the years ahead, as life tends to, I feel comfortable that I can make an informed decision about how to allocate my resources.
Now, what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for … just what DOES an insourcer of personal upkeep favor?! Here you go:
  • Face wash/toner: One thing that does two jobs? Yes please! I travel a lot so anything that minimizes the carry-on liquids burden is a win in my book.
  • Moisturizer: I thought this was weird at first but I got a sample in my swag bag at Lola Retreat (when I was conveniently in the market for a new moisturizer – the universe provides!), and now I love it. Super simple, natural and very inexpensive.
  • Face peel: This is the BEST thing I’ve ever bought and I’ve been using it for years. It’s this mushroom enzyme thing that chomps up all the dead/dying skin cells (cute) and then stops. So there’s no chance of it burning living skin cells the way traditional peels do. It might seem expensive but it lasts a long time for me (like a year). I just apply it the night before a big event where I know there will be photos taken, so my skin looks ultra fresh like I just got a facial. This actually is precisely what my esthetician in Atlanta would use when I got facials regularly, so it’s legit. It’s also hard to find the “30” because it’s professional grade, so I’m linking to the only known source at the time of this writing! But you can get lower-intensity versions on other beauty sites (10 or 15 instead of 30)
  • Makeup: I hardly ever wear makeup, but when I do, it’s 90% Bobbi Brown
  • Nails: I like their colors and it goes on really smoothly. A+. I’ll note that I wasn’t magically good at doing my nails right off the bat. I’m a righty, so painting my right hand with my left hand was initially … troublesome. But now I’m a seasoned expert and my nails always look good!
  • Brows: I love this dang kit so much! And this is actually Brow Kit 2.0 … my first one was confiscated randomly on a bag search on my flight home from Panama a few years ago. I was furious. Not at the Panama version of TSA, they were just doing their job (although they did not confiscate my husbands razor, which was decidedly sharper). I was just mad that I would have to go to the mall (aka Hell) to get a new one. So now this one doesn’t travel on planes with me. It lives in my bathroom cabinet. I also store my tweezers in there so my whole brow situation is always together in one little bundle.

Side note(s)! I generally don’t:

  • Wax (except for swimsuit vacations) … I used to, but let’s be real, it’s excruciating. So I only do it when I’ll be living in a swimsuit for an extended period. Otherwise, there’s this cool thing called a razor that works just fine.
  • Get lash extensions … I have had them dyed twice and I was like umm I’m fine with mascara, thanks so much.
  • Color my hair … Also have some major fails in this category from my youth. Let’s just say when you are essentially a clone of your mom, just because she has blonde hair and it looks great does not mean that you would look great with blonde hair. If I ever talk about dying my hair blonde, everyone reading this has official permission to stop me by any means necessary.
  • Do botox/fillers … Legitimately no judgement if it’s something that makes you feel good, but the hassle, risks and expenses are not worth it for me personally. For plenty of people it’s totally worth it to have that boost of confidence, and if that’s you, then botox away! But it’s not for me.
  • Get massages … I’ve gotten plenty, at very fancy spas, and it’s just not for me. Maybe it’s that I have too many knots for them to be relaxing? And I feel like even if the knots are worked out in a session, they’ll be back by the time I have another session. I’d rather put energy into cultivating a lifestyle that does not spawn knots in my shoulders and mid-back. But if you love it, get at it, sister.

There you have it! Everything I do and do not do when it comes to personal care and beauty. I’m very low-key (as evidenced by my utterly makeup-free photo montage above). Again, what works for me might not work for you, because everyone’s goals and interests are different. I like to do things for myself as often as possible, and when I find something that works well, I stick with it. If you’re really into trying the latest products for your skin, hair and nails, and that’s important to you, that’s totally fine! It’s just making a choice to prioritize one thing over another, and at the end of the day, only you can do that for yourself.

Now, I’d love to hear from you if there is anything else you’ve insourced or consciously outsourced, and why! Let me know in the comments below.