Today’s Woman: The price of beauty – so is it worth it?

Local business women empty their makup bags to tally up just how much all of their makeup costs
Local business women empty their makup bags to tally up just how much all of their makeup costs
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Self-confessed beauty junkie Louise Oliver tips her stash out on to the table - and happily confesses it’s set her back over £600.

Lipstick, powder and paint... Most women never go without their beauty arsenal.

Local business women empty their makup bags to tally up just how much all of their makeup costs

Local business women empty their makup bags to tally up just how much all of their makeup costs

But the true cost of their beauty addiction could come as an ugly surprise to Sheffield women.

We are the fourth biggest spenders on cosmetics in the UK.

Research says that, in a lifetime, we spend on average a staggering £9,849 over six decades on make-up – that’s £1,349 more than the national average.

Even the day-to-day cosmetics you carry around in your handbag cost around £256. On average, there will be 13 items you deem your everyday essentials – with mascara the ‘must have’ for 95 per cent of women.

Local business women empty their makup bags to tally up just how much all of their makeup costs. From left, Alison Fernandes, Louise Oliver and Faye Smith applying their make up

Local business women empty their makup bags to tally up just how much all of their makeup costs. From left, Alison Fernandes, Louise Oliver and Faye Smith applying their make up

Make-up is seen as an essential. In Debenhams’ poll of 2,500 women, almost a quarter revealed they would never consider leaving the house without their war paint because it makes them feel more confident.

And we’re constantly splashing out. Lipstick, eye shadow, foundation and blusher costs the average Sheffield woman £164.15 a year – £34 more than the national average.

As the recession bites, it’s lippies we reach for. The Lipstick Phenomenon during hard financial times is a well-documented one.

When it seems too frivolous to fritter cash on new clothes, a tube or three of make-up boosts a woman’s mood just enough to keep her smiling.

Local business women empty their makup bags to tally up just how much all of their makeup costs

Local business women empty their makup bags to tally up just how much all of their makeup costs

We asked three well-groomed Sheffield businesswomen to turf out their make-up bags, tot up the cost and ask themselves: is it worth it?

‘look better and perform better’ – louise oliver

Self-confessed beauty junkie Louise Oliver tips her stash out on to the table - and happily confesses it’s set her back over £600.

Her day bag alone racks up at a £205 spend, thanks to its top-notch names.

Although she always buys her hero product, YSL Touche Eclat, in airport duty-free shops to save a few pounds, the make-up in her handbag includes a Nars blusher, a Clarins eye pencil, Bobbi Brown Lipliner, YSL eyeliner, and a Dior lipstick (“the colour changes daily, according to my clothes”).

She is no slave to posh brands, though, as a Vie eyeshadow, a Rimmel eyebrow pencil and a basic pair of tweezers testify.

Her regular make-up at home totals £395 and her favourite product is Chanel Pro Luminaire foundation, which costs over £30.

“It’s my biggest indulgence - I think foundation is very important,” says Louise, 45, who does her entire face in just five minutes every morning before heading for her Chesterfield office.

“I didn’t realise I’d spent so much, but I don’t regret it. I see good quality cosmetics that make me look better as investment purchases,” says one half of the chartered financial planners partnership Taylor Oliver.

“I love wearing make-up; it makes me feel more confident and that helps me greatly in my job – I would not go to work without it. If you look better, you perform better – and I think people take me more seriously because I believe in making the most of myself.”

The make-up habit Louise acquired at 14 via sooty eyeliner and pale pink lipstick has cost her thousands over the years. She admits she has hundreds more products she wears only occasionally, if ever, in her “beauty drawer” at home.

It includes a fair few mistakes: “Things I bought because they were on special offer, or to try after seeing it in an advert that promised the earth. Lots of women must fall for those marketing gimmicks,” she says. “But still, I had fun trying them.”

‘i like to make an effort’ – alison fernandes

Family lawyer Alison Fernandes always arrives at work with a naked face. But as soon as she gets to her office, she puts her face on.

The only reason I don’t leave the house with it on is because I have a 14-month old baby to attend to. It’s easier to do it at work.

“It takes just a few minutes, but it sets me up for the day. It makes me feel more confident. I respect the views of women who don’t feel the need to wear make-up, just as I would hope they understand that it makes me feel better.”

Alison, 41, believes it enables her to be perceived more professionally by others: “I wouldn’t see a client without my make-up on - I would feel it was disrespectful to them,” she says. “I want to show them I have made an effort. Men might think that’s quite facile, but I think women understand where I’m coming from.”

Male colleagues, she says, would probably not admit to taking more seriously their female colleagues who wear make-up over those that don’t. “They would say they weren’t bothered whether we did or not. But they would all definitely notice if I didn’t have any on,” she insists.

Irwin Mitchell divorce law specialist Alison carries around £220 of make-up - lipsticks by Lancome, MAC and Vie, Lancome foundation and blusher, Clarins powder and No7 eye and lip liners.

At home, she stores £255 of make-up neatly in a vanity case. “It’s very organised - I recently had a big clear-out of stuff I didn’t use. It now contains a heavier foundation, some freebies I got with purchases, mineral powder foundation, a MAC primer for days when I need my make-up to last, plus eye and lip colours.”

She shops for make-up twice a year, in spring and autumn, to update her look. It’s an organised, purposeful trip.

But her most recent purchase is a frivolous one... a huge pair of false eyelashes she has only dared wear the once.

She laughs: “I thought they were fabulous, but my other half said they looked like a transvestite’s!”

‘it doesn’t have to be expensive’ – faye smith

“AN average of £8,500 in a lifetime?” Not me, shudders marketing and training consultant Faye Smith.

“I don’t have the time, the money or the inclination to buy all that make-up - let alone the need.”

Faye’s entire collection comes to £286. She buys and uses only what she needs.

“It’s simple, pared back and time-saving,” she says of the make-up that acts like a working wardrobe.

This marketing guru doesn’t heed glossy advertising campaigns. “Don’t get sucked into buying only expensive brands,” advises the 44-year-old mum of two. She buys most of her products from only two brands - Clarins and Sheffield’s own Jane Fardon range (Jane is one of Faye’s marketing clients).

Her collection runs to Clarins tinted moisturiser, set of eye pencils and blusher, a Fardon eye palette and version of Touch Eclat, Estee Lauder mascara, a four-colour Chanel eye palette and a Body Shop brow and lash set. And all of them, bar her lippie, live in a wicker tray at home.

She can’t understand why women need to carry around a bagful of cosmetics. “This is all I need during the day,” says Faye, brandishing a brightly-hued £11.50 Fardon lipstick. “I swear by them. And the colours I’ve chosen suit me,” says Faye, who runs Sheffield consultancy Keep Your Fork.

Faye, a True Colours image consultant who advises clients on what precise shades suit them best, practises what she preaches.

“I rarely buy new make-up. There’s no point. I already have what suits me. It’s perhaps a bit dull to some women, but I never waste my money or my time.”

Faye’s look is natural, but groomed. She strongly believes make-up enables a woman to be taken more seriously at work. “I tell the women I train it makes you look warmer, friendlier and more approachable. Employees think that if you take care of your appearance, you will take time and care with their business.”

WEAR MAKE-UP AND GET ON

Research suggests women who wear make-up and dress well earn more money and advance faster than their colleagues who don’t.

In a study, CVs and photographs of women with and without make-up were sent out to top personnel officers.

Their qualifications and experience levels were the same, but when the officers were asked which of the women they would hire and how much they would pay them, candidates wearing make-up were more likely to be offered jobs, plus salaries up to 25 percent higher than the un-made-up women.

Is your face a make-up-free zone?

If you spurn cosmetics in favour of looking natural, step forward and have your say.

We’re looking for three women to give the opposite point of view to our cosmetics queens.

email jo.davison@thestar.co.uk with your opinion and a contact telephone number.

How Much?

Women spend £1,998 on foundation throughout their life, £1,342 on lipstick, £1,404 on mascara and £1,144 on eye shadow.

n The top six everyday essentials in your handbag:

n 95 per cent of women carry mascara

n 79 per cent carry perfume

n 76 per cent carry foundation

n 75 per cent carry lip balm

n 69 per cent carry concealer

n 68 per cent carry moisturiser.