D2D California Dreaming Series

California Beautiful

You can't write about the California Dream (as we did in today's California Dreamin' segment) without mentioning beauty. And in Southern California, it's imperative that you look HOT. The gyms here are filled with hard-bodied men and sinewy women. A full pout, dewy skin, and very little body hair are requirements for being on the celebrity A-list. (And protruding cheekbones don't hurt, either. Check out this New York Magazine feature on the new, new face of Hollywood.)

Elham Jazab (below) is a wax technician trying to take advantage of that quest for a "new face" in order to fulfill her own California Dream of becoming a successful actor and comedian. Her comedy is influenced by her Iranian background, her work as a wax technician and her experiences living in beauty obsessed Los Angeles.

Video by Shereen Meraji/NPR

According to Jazab, your average beauty conscious American doesn't seem to be spending the same amount on upkeep as they were a year ago. In fact, it looks like the recession is having an effect on salons near you.

"People aren't tipping as much," Jazab explains.

The National Cosmetology Association agrees. In a recent survey conducted by the organization, 74% of cosmetologists report lower spending on services, and over 60% report a reduction in tips from a year ago.

Have you cut your beauty budget? What got the ax and why? Do you think Americans spend entirely too much time obsessing over looking good? Let us know by commenting below.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Monday, Aug. 11. How sad that brows, nails, and roots are more important to some than putting food on the table. No sympathy here, in the Land of Enchantment (New Mexico), where it's a struggle to feed, clothe, and house so many of us. I'm sure there are others across our hurting nation who are in the same circumstance. It was "amusing" to listen to, but wish it had been a joke.

Sent by Laura Markley | 2:12 PM | 8-11-2008

I had to remove my acrylic nails yesterday because I can no longer afford the $50 a month they cost me. It was either that or not get my toes done. I decided my feet are more important.

Sent by Susie | 5:07 PM | 8-11-2008

One thing I thought I would never do -which I am now dependent on is: hair dye. I have few beauty needs, but coloring my hair has become a "necessity," one that I cannot now afford to have done every three weeks at a salon. Unless I really mess up and need to have the color stripped, I save more than half the money by keeping it to the bathtub.

Sent by Rani | 6:20 PM | 8-11-2008

I found this piece interesting because it reminded me of my grandmother. During the Depression she and her sisters ran a beauty shop. They were able to support themselves throughout that time because whatever they and their neighbors were sacrificing and going without, they tried to treat themselves to a hair-do now and again. It was a time to be with their girlfriends and feel pampered a little bit.

Sent by jennifer | 3:38 PM | 8-12-2008

Nothing enlightening here, but I wonder how many disposal "techncians" (trash collectors) would jump at the chance of trading places with a wax "technician" for a day? Both are in the business of removing the unwanted, both seem to have a never ending source of employment...right?

Blogs are exhausting, think I'll go back to barking at nothing...

Sent by livebald | 6:23 PM | 8-16-2008

I am a cosmetology instructor and as I taught my students about facials the other night, I told them; "This is a luxury service. When times are tough, this is the first thing people give up: the facials and the nails. Keep up your hair skills because that's recession proof." After 20 years and two recessions in my career, I have found this to be the case.
I noticed how the spa business just boomed in the ten years prior to now and now wonder if all these new spas will survive this most recent economic downturn. What used to be an indulgence for the wealthy became maintenance for the middle class.

Sent by Lia Trageser | 1:25 PM | 8-19-2008

I'm a salon owner & aesthetician in Arizona. The economy has affected my business and each time I think things are about to recover a little then something new comes up. In the beginning it was the housing market, that was real and we felt the effect of it last year when the the rock was thrown into the pond and the ripple hadn't yet begun. Then we get pounded with the cost of oil and the gas prices going up. Now I think it's a matter of "worry" we're all worried about what the next big thing is going to be and this worry is keeping people from spending the money to enjoy the simple things they enjoyed in the past. I opened my salon right after 911 and this is the first time since then that I've not seen an increase in our growth. Two years ago I almost had to give up my first born to get a qualified stylist and now I see a couple of applications a week. I can't wait for a President to be elected so we get someone that can focus on the issues that are affecting so many of us.

Sent by Karen | 9:16 PM | 8-22-2008

Well, cutting hair may not be recession proof (as per another comment), but it's recession resistant. What people are skipping are the blow drys. Add a few more days in between cuts and in between colors, too. But they are still coming, thank goodness!!

Sent by Keith | 8:33 AM | 8-24-2008

I have been a salon owner for 29 years, so I've seen a lot. I have stayed very busy in spite of the economic climate. My key? Keep your skills fresh, keep your prices in line, keep a smile on your face - make sure you are the person that one wants to see when they are feeling down, and do your best to inspire and uplift, regardless of how you might feel inside. It's magical!

Sent by Donna Strachan | 9:55 PM | 8-24-2008

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