Are your beauty habits starting to look more like your grandmother’s?

Beauty salon

Then. Our grandmothers at the hair salon. (Photo: Vintagewarbride.blogspot.com)

The first time I got a blowout at a glam New York blow-dry bar, I thought immediately of how my mother would have found the service utterly ridiculous. She plucked her own eyebrows, colored her own hair out of a box, and I honestly don’t remember her ever getting a manicure.

My grandmother, on the other hand (despite never having extra money to speak of) has had a standing weekly hair appointment for as long as I can remember, and her acrylic tips are always flawless.

These days, at least in New York, my grandmother’s approach to beauty appears to be more on-trend than her daughter’s, as women in the city increasingly pay others to attend to every aspect of their routines. They get their eyebrows waxed, threaded, and tinted and their lashes extended. Manicured nails are a must-have, and there are special studios for next-level nail art and companies that bring manicures to your office.

Now. Rachel Zoe at DreamDry. (Photo: Sara Jaye for DreamDry)

Now. Rachel Zoe at DreamDry, the blowout salon she c0-founded. (Photo: Sara Jaye for DreamDry)

And the explosion of the blow-dry salon is perhaps the most telling, with Drybar locations opening every month, DreamDry steadily expanding, and smaller brands popping up from the Upper East Side to the Hamptons. There’s a subcategory of braid bars, too.

“Ironically, it’s kind of a throwback to the ’50s or ’60s, to the whole hair-salon mentality of people who would go with their friends, and it was a weekly thing. You just had your appointment, and you did it every week,” says DreamDry co-founder Robin Moraetes. “We’re such a different society now, but it’s the same activity.”

She’s not kidding. A stylist at DreamDry told me one of his clients books her Wednesday 6:30 a.m. appointment in six-month blocks. And a lead stylist at the former Blow on 14th Street said one of his clients hadn’t washed her own hair in years (who knows what she’s been doing since that salon closed!?).

So why are more and more professional, urban women spending their hard-earned cash on things they could really do for themselves at home?

“When I started working a couple years ago, I had to have manicures—I had a bad habit of picking at my nails,” says Kate, a 25-year-old Upper West Side resident who works in software sales. “I’m in a client-facing role, and I work with my hands. I have to be an adult about it.” In addition to weekly manicures, she gets pedicures once a month, eyebrow waxing and tinting, and blowouts only on special occasions.

And for some, it’s about personal confidence and well as professional expectations. “I walk out of there, and I know it looks a lot better than it would have had I done it on my own,” says Pauline, a 24-year-old ad agency recruiter who never misses a weekly manicure. “I pay a premium to feel good about myself. I can’t do it as well.”

Pauline says she will often get regular blowouts, too, although since she started working out and doing hot yoga she’s been doing it less, since it’s impossible to keep it fresh after sweat sessions. “I’m not as compelled to go get a blowout as often, and it definitely affects my schedule. Fitness comes before everything else,” she says.

Of course, she may change her mind when she finds out there are now blowouts and braiding being offered in boutique fitness studio locker rooms. My grandmother definitely would not have gone for that. —Lisa Elaine Held

Do you outsource any parts of your beauty regimen? Is it worth it? Tell us in the Comments, below!


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7 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. June 25th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    My favorite article on well + good!!!!!! Now I no longer feel bad that I get weekly manicures just like Kate and Pauline. A gal has got to treat herself every week, if not every day!

  2. June 25th, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Does Kate still have a bad habit of picking her nails? I just always wondered if manicures helped kick that habit. She should try the paint box! Well and Good did a great article on that new nail art location.

  3. June 26th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I would love to hear more about the braiding bars!

  4. June 26th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    GREAT article! I currently have a start-up company called Pretty Easy based in NYC. Generally it is one on one Beauty Consulting and specifically it is anything from teaching you basic makeup application, personal shopping to get your kit in shape and much more. I appreciate Well & Good for the article reminding readers that one should never feel guilty for taking care of themselves!

  5. June 27th, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I definitely believe that people should have a choice and feel great about. Too often where self care and women are concerned, we are made to feel guilty. Just as I am glad that women are embracing the salon services, I also hope that women who are DIYers feel good about their choices.
    For me personally, I’ve had issues with salons and my hair. I wear natural hair and I’ve often felt pressured by stylists to alter my hair’s natural texture so that they can work with it. Now that I care for my own hair, it’s never been healthier! And I love to do my own brows. I do like manicures but I carry my own tools for the sake of hygiene.

  6. June 29th, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Perhaps Wellandgood should include a link to the many articles about the dismal savings and investment rate among single women. Those beautifully kept nails aren’t going to do you much good while you’re standing in line for food bank cheese. Our grandmothers had a reasonably good chance of having some man provide for their financial future. Us? Not so much.

  7. August 20th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    After reading this, I realize that I must be saving myself a ton of money.

    I’ve always been very conscientious of my appearance and, from a young age, loved styling my naturally curly hair. After high school in 1970, I went onto cosmetology and eventually became a licensed hairdresser so I definitely relate to those women who have a standing appointment at a salon. I had many of them as customers in the 70s/80s. Although I retired that part of my life, I do my own haircuts, manicures and pedicures and they look quite good. I invested in permanent cosmetics about 15 years ago (eye liner and brows), and have had touch-ups from time to time. I check the magnifying mirror daily for stray eyebrows so they don’t get out of hand.

    I understand that it is a luxury to get these services and something many women find essential but, for money conscious individuals, it can be quite satisfying to do your own hair, nails, etc. I prefer to spend the money on a monthly body massage – something I can’t do for myself.

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