UGLY ECONOMY, BEAUTIFUL YOU

When the economy slows, expect a woman to revise her beauty regime, but don’t expect her to eliminate it.

At least that’s the philosophy Maria Castro has adopted. The 40-year-old mother of two moved to Las Vegas a month ago from New Jersey. While she searches for a job, her family relies solely on her husband’s income.

The financial transition has made for a complete overhaul of Castro’s bathroom vanity.

For instance, Clarins Bright Plus HP ($58) has taken over the spot her Creme de la Mer ($130) and Chanel Precision Ultra Correction Creme ($100) used to occupy. A bottle of Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple ($20) elbowed her Jurlique cleanser ($40) out of its position. And her DiorShow mascara ($24), which was first replaced with a MAC stand-in ($12), has now been upstaged by the Walgreens-sold Rimmel brand ($7).

“I was with that routine for six years. Wow, if I’d done this the whole time I could’ve had an extra pair of shoes or purse every couple months,” says Castro, who’s actually seen an improvement in her skin since the vanity restructuring.

The real savings Castro has seen comes with her biweekly manicure-pedicures. Instead of going to a salon, she and her daughter perform their own at home. The cost of her pedicure kit was the same price of one visit to the salon: $35. Now, her only expense is polish (approximately $9) and she saves on gratuity, too.

According to Ruben Fisher, owner of Tonic Salon and Tonic II Salon, a woman’s beauty maintenance is a good way of gauging her financial situation. “The first to go are the facials and massages,” he says. “Then the mani-pedi’s. Hair is always last.”

According to that calculation, a slew of his clients have come upon hard times. Fisher says his salons’ number of no-show’s have gone through the roof. In addition, clients are scaling back on high-maintenance hairdos. He’s had clients who’ve been committed to all-over highlights ($145) for years reverting to their natural hair color to avoid the extra expense.

But it’s not necessary to go from high glam to plain Jane, Fisher insists. Just as Castro found a way to maintain her look with a few minor adjustments, he has done the same for his clients. He calls them the “Get By’s” — they get the client by without going all the way. The first of which is framing highlights, or mohawk highlights (start at $55). Rather than go all over with them, these will highlight just the parts of the hair people can see.

If that’s still too much, request a toner, which will blend the highlights with the roots. At Tonic Salons it costs $25 and buys the client another five weeks of time. Whatever you do, don’t take on an ambitious task like highlights yourself. According to Fisher, you may be able to get color in a box for $5 but it’s $500 to fix it.

As for cuts, if you have one that requires frequent visits, consider the bob. It’s the style that keeps on styling. If you start with a short, graduated version, you eventually will get about four looks out of it during the growing out process.

You may not have as much to spend on your beauty routine but no one will be the wiser.

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