"I think two countries produce all the beauties in the world: Russia and Brazil,” stated Jean-Paul Gaultier in an interview on Russian television.
Yet ladies themselves seem to disagree with the legendary couturier: only 13% of Russian women are satisfied with their appearance, according to a poll by Lady Mail.ru. To “hide their flaws,” 61% start using makeup at the age of 13, as revealed in an infographic published by Kommersant. 37% of those surveyed spend between $50 and $100 a month on makeup, and that's not including cosmetic procedures.
How much do Russian women actually spend on beauty, and why?
Ekaterina, a 24-year-old promotional model, spends 72,500 rubles ($1,148) every month on personal care. Her list of expenses reads as follows:
Manicure and pedicure – 2,500 rubles ($40)
Eyebrow shaping and eyelash extensions – 10,000 rubles ($158)
Yoga – 5,000 rubles ($79)
Hair styling and extensions – 30,000 rubles ($475)
Epilation – 10,000 rubles ($158)
Anti-cellulite massage – 15,000 rubles ($237)
Ekaterina cannot do without a single one of the above. It’s all necessary, she says, not only for work, but to preserve her husband's love and financial support.
“It’s worth the constant investment in yourself, not only financial, but time and effort. I often hear young women these days saying that guys want to split the cost of housing 50/50, or don’t want to pay for home food deliveries, taxis, etc., yet they want to live with beautiful well-groomed girls. That’s unfair. Men should appreciate and compensate our efforts.”
Anastasia Kovaleva, a 20-year-old English teacher, spends most of her “beauty budget” on shampoo (4,700 rubles ($75)) and massages (6,300 rubles ($100)). She believes that she has to stay beautiful exclusively for her man, otherwise his eye would start to wander.
For Lesia Sito, a 23-year-old fashion model from St Petersburg, beauty is achieved not through massages and cosmetology, but sport and proper nutrition. Therefore, she spends 15,000 rubles ($237) a year on a fitness club membership, 4,000 rubles ($63) on dental hygiene every four months, and a further 5,000 ($79) a month on hair styling and coloring.
That said, she doesn’t do it to attract men, but for work and self-love.
“I get pleasure from looking at my colored nails, touching my soft skin, and seeing a beautiful, not fat or pimpled body. I love myself, so I love taking care of my body. Men would love me even if I was overweight,” Lesia is sure.
The beauty industry, including beauty bloggers and media, sets certain standards for women to live up to, which always involve new costly services, says conflict resolution manager Alexander Yuranov.
“The modern woman is constantly asking herself questions: what should my eyebrows, eyelashes, and lips look like? What should the skin on my face and body feel like? She succumbs to these standards and spends more and more money on self-care, believing it to be a basic need,” he explains.
Women will always take care of themselves because of their instinctive desire to find a man and procreate with him, believes psychologist Irina Ryzhkova. However, that is not the reason behind excessive spending on personal care. In her opinion, Russian women have long been instilled with an inferiority complex, which they are trying to shake off with the help of cosmetics.
“Soviet women were valued not for their beauty, but hard work. Modesty in everything was elevated to a virtue. Girls were told to study and work diligently, and not to be beautiful. Few people mollycoddled them with the words ‘You're beautiful, you're a princess,’ although that is very important. All this gives rise to self-doubt,” argues Ryzhkova.
On top of that, there are more women than men in Russia — 1,154 women per thousand men, reports RT, citing data from Rosstat. This lack of male attention women make up for (literally) through self-care.
“Today, many Russian women use makeup and self-care to cultivate love for themselves, and become better and more confident. No one should blame them for this — they need time and encouragement,” Ryzhkova is sure.
With age, Russian women continue to groom themselves — some devote all their energy to skin care, others use cosmetics even more than before. At the same time, almost all women over the age of 35 do self-care procedures at home to avoid the high prices of beauty salons.
Inessa Filatova, a 35-year-old doctor at a diagnostics clinic, has long swapped the gym for outdoor running, and manicure studios for home care. Her main expense item is makeup — up to 10,000 rubles ($158) a month, as recommended by beauty bloggers.
Alena Tishchenko, a 45-year-old housewife and mother of two, gave up using makeup over five years ago. Basic personal care products (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face/body cream) set her back no more than 1,000 rubles ($16) a month.
“I don’t need self-care. I’m sure of myself and my husband. Over the years, it’s better to save money so that your children and grandchildren have everything,” says Tishchenko.
Olga Chernetsova, a 55-year-old boiler-house worker, prefers to have a friend dye and cut her hair for 1,500 rubles ($24) every few months. For more than 15 years, she has been buying makeup products from Avon. Her daily makeup consists of bright blue eyeshadow, thin string-like eyebrows, and red lipstick.
“If I don’t do it, my face just disappears behind the wrinkles. And going out without makeup is unseemly. Who knows, I might bump into my prince charming while taking out the trash,” reasons Chernetsova.
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