David Creel: The cost of beauty

September 12, 2010 12:53:00 AM

David Creel -


My first memory associated with the exchange of currency for beauty was 20 years ago. It was my year in beauty school, and the full price for a shampoo and curl was $2.50. Then upgrade to single process color, highlights and a cut for a whopping, "cha ching," $35.99. Of course, you must consider that it was a beauty school where all services are performed by students, hence the considerable savings on the pocketbook. 


In one of the salons around town in the early ''90s, clients were paying double that price, which my mama always declared "highway robbery!"  


Not every woman looked stylish with a home permanent wave complete with trims by an aunt or neighbor, but Mama was convinced that with the price of groceries going up every day the sacrifice of kitchen "beauticianing" was a penny saved. After a few mishaps, even the most amateur of Toni perms began scheduling appointments with a licensed professional beauty operator. The cost of beauty had a bonus: the expectation that she would never smell like burnt chemicals, require a hair pick or resemble Richard Simmons again. It was money well spent. 


Little beauty parlors, from the country to the most "citified," have always rendered a service in exchange for currency. It didn''t matter if it was a crumpled up counter check or quarters rolled into tiny odd-shaped packages that reminded me of link sausages. Coins accepted, cash was king, and Coca-Colas in a bottle were 35 cents at most beauty establishments. Women brought their own bobby pins to recycle through an "updo" and sometimes even whipped out their grocery-store-bought shampoo and conditioner, all in the spirit of cutting corners, saving pennies.  


It has changed tremendously in 2010, and my granny would probably sit straight up in her grave with one of those famous eye rolls at the very idea of a debit card, gift card or a cappuccino. Modern salons have rolled with the times (pun intended), with so many luxuries added into the price of a visit such as paraffin waxes for hands in the lobby, eyebrow arching specialists or Botox while you wait for color to process. It''s all indulgence and it''s all added up and presented with a receipt, a smile and a cafĂ© au latte to go. Manicures, pedicures, hot stone massages, steam facials, spray tanning, laser hair removal and, yes, even Wifi Internet and gourmet soup to boot are a few more examples. 


It''s more than just a half hour roll-up followed by the gossip, tease, and "See you next week, Miz Creel," that my mama was accustomed to years ago, very much more. Of course, you still get all "done up" and end feeling pretty -- and then there is gossip about Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Obama and friends whispering, "She paid how much for those highlights?" 


I say, beauty is priceless.

Former Columbus resident David Creel owns Beautiful With David salon in Jackson and has 20 years experience in the beauty industry. Contact him at [email protected]