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Is Your Beauty Routine Hurting Your Career?

Posted March 26, 2014 by Kristen Zavo in Building Your Brand
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Have you ever thought about how much time you spend on your beauty regimen each day? In the shower: scrubs, deep conditioners and even a special brush to wash your face with (gotta have clean pores!)…then comes the real primping: blow out the hair (and iron it on those days it refuses to comply), apply face serums, lotions and potions in precisely the right order for maximum anti-aging benefits…when that fully dries, put on makeup – again, in the correct order to ensure a smudge-free face with maximum staying power. This is all before getting dressed and doesn’t include weekly rituals such as manicures, waxing, and whatever else today’s woman considers a necessity.

Our beauty habits have become so routine – and in some cases even enjoyable or comforting – that we may not realize just how many minutes, hours and days we are subtracting from our lives. Tracey Spicer claims in her Tedx Talk that:

The average woman takes an average of 27 minutes to get ready for work…[and over a lifetime she will spend over 3,000 hours grooming.]

That’s 137 days! And let’s be honest – I envy the woman that takes less than 30 minutes to get ready for work. Really? Does that include a shower and drying her hair? Wouldn’t it be interesting if these numbers only included professional women? I’d guess the number would be at least 40 minutes. The question though, is not how much time we spend on beauty, but why we do it and how much value we get out of it – or conversely, how much value it robs us of.

In her thought-provoking and at times comical talk, Ms. Spicer pokes fun at the detailed beauty routine of the average woman, herself included. Then she bravely bares all by un-doing her beauty tricks one by one, so by the end she is standing in shorts and a t-shirt, with frizzy hair and no makeup.

Is Your Morning Routine Affecting Your Income?

She goes on to imagine a world where society didn’t demand so much of women, and what they’d do with all the free time if they’d just stop grooming all together – go to business school, learn a language, become proficient in playing an instrument.

It gets serious though when she throws out the claim that excess grooming time decreases earnings. Taken at face value, it sounds straightforward enough – if you’re primping when you could be working, of course you are at a disadvantage.

I’m not so sure it’s that simple, though. As with everything else that can be taken to excess, it is certainly possible to cross the line from normalcy to an unhealthy obsession with beauty. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m referring to what most of us would consider a normal amount of time to get ready for work – to leave home clean, with dry hair, light makeup and well-fitting, work-appropriate clothes. For me, this is usually more than 27 minutes a day. But that time is worth it.

Self-Confidence & Perceptions Matter

Looking and feeling our best boosts our confidence, and in turn, our career. Numerous studies have shown that whether right or wrong, the way we present ourselves is vital to how others perceive our abilities and intelligence. Case in point: We’ve all read about studies like the one mentioned in this New York Times article, that show that wearing natural makeup tends to boost others’ perceptions of one’s competence, likability and trustworthiness.

But it’s not just other’s perceptions that are affected. Being put-together also has a positive impact on the individual – both in how they feel and behave. Take dress for example – this recent article from Fast Company highlights how important a role clothes play when it comes to focus and productivity.

Final Thoughts

If you are someone who feels that your morning routine has the ability to lift your mood and give you confidence to face the day, how is it any different than spending time journaling, meditating or working out? These other non-income producing activities contribute to our well being, but take time away from making money – yet I doubt that someone would argue a negative correlation between them and earning potential – if anything, quite the opposite.

Your Turn: Watch Tracey Spicer’s Tedx Talk below and share your thoughts.

  • How much time is too much time to get ready in the morning?
  • Do you believe that personal grooming negatively affects earnings?
  • What are the motives behind your beauty routine – to feel your best, to meet society’s expectations, or a little of both?

About the Author

Kristen Zavo

Kristen Zavo is a strategy and marketing professional, with a special interest in the retail industry. Having always been interested in the people side of business, Kristen loves to explore, reflect on, and share stories about the challenges and adventures of being a businesswoman. No topic is off limits - whether it's how to handle being the only woman in the boardroom, or figuring out how to to pack all the "essentials" for a 2-week business trip in just a carry-on! Outside of work, she loves exploring new places, spending time at the beach and meeting friends to workout (spin or yoga, anyone?!).