Beauty DIY vs. Pro

Yesterday I was reading this post by Garance Dore, when her post script got me thinking. She mentions that most French women color their own hair, but most women in the United States pay professionals to do it, along with manicures, waxing, etc. I’m wondering if that’s true and what beauty regimes you outsource.

Personally, I’m willing to spend a bit more on my hair. I think a really good hair cut is worth something. (Although I admit to touching up the cowlick that forms at the nape of my neck with embroidery scissors between cuts.) When it comes to hair color, I’ll only let a professional do it. I have a horrendous DIY dye-job story from college. And after a recent bad dye job from my regular stylist, I might only let a “colorist” do it from now on.

I’ve only ever had two professional manicures, but last summer I indulged semi-regularly in professional pedicures. I loved the way my toes looked all cleaned up with cute polish. But that ish is expensive, and I should save my money this summer. I’ve never had a facial, but I’d like to some day.

So what beauty and skin care things do you pay a professional to do? Are there one or two things you’ll pay a little more for on a regular basis and do the rest yourself? Only pay for beauty treatments on special occasions? Or do you outsource it all?


  1. Shaelyn says:

    I get semi-regular professional haircuts (never as often as I should), but will hack away at my bangs in front of my medicine cabinet with glee. I’ve only ever dyed my hair with wash-out natural dye at home (and not for a few years), but if I start to go grey before I’m ready, I’ll let a pro handle it.

    Similarly, I get periodic manicures and pedicures in nail salons, but have gotten pretty good at keeping my fingers and toes polished and pretty in between.

    I do, however, love to get my eyebrows threaded. It feels less harmful than plucking (probably not true), and I never seem to strike the right balance between just cleaning up strays and going too thin.

    • Shaelyn says:

      Also, I really, really miss my old nail salon, where manicures were $8 and pedicures $15. So affordable! A perfect way to reward myself with a tiny bit of pampering without breaking the bank.

  2. Lauren says:

    I made a resolution to start taking care of my skin two years ago, and now I get a facial every other month, at Skoah, and have really noticed a difference in my skin. I love my hairstylist and her talent with blonde highlights (I chased a woman down the street once to ask her where she got her hair done, and haven’t looked back since!) Manis and pedis, though, I do myself (unless it’s a date with a friend.) They don’t last long enough for me to justify paying someone.

  3. Evie says:

    I get haircuts every four months or so and trim my bangs myself, though not very well. I usually trust any coloring to a professional though I can’t afford for this to be a regular upkeep. My one friend dyes her hair herself and gets interesting reactions from people when they hear that – like it’s so déclasse.

    I cut my husband’s hair in the bathroom with clippers. It’s the most fun thing ever and if he decided he wanted to start going to a pro I’d be bummed.

    I’m up for a pedicure and manicure maybe once a year at most. Growing up my mom and sister and I did foot soaks and home pedicures occasionally and I had no idea that anyone who wasn’t super fancy paid for the service. However lots of my totally normal friends have this as a non-negotiable lifestyle expense.

  4. Trillium says:

    Shaelyn said: “if I start to go grey before I’m ready, I’ll let a pro handle it. ”

    I’ve been having my hair dyed for 24 yrs for exactly this reason. I’m still not ready. Have never dyed my hair myself. Am sure it would be the worst disaster on earth if I did.

    I don’t go to professionals for anything else. Only had a manicure once before my daughter was born so now that she says she is no longer young (had a milestone birthday this yr), it obviously was a loooong time ago. Have had 3 pedicures and I really like them but too expensive to have on more than a special occasion basis.

  5. Kristin says:

    Now that I have short hair I do regular professional (well, students-training-to-be-professional) cuts, every 5-6 weeks or so. I also love massages and try to go for at least one a year, and I had a facial done once, but if I’m paying that, I’d rather have the massage. And I have my bikini line waxed regularly in the summer. In the winter, I do it myself.

    Right now I mostly keep my nails unpainted or do them myself, but I sometimes splurge if I go with a friend or have a fancy event. In high school, I went every two weeks with my mother and sister for a manicure and pedicure. It was glorious, but took a LONG time and cost a lot of money, so I’m okay skipping it now.

  6. Liz says:

    The only professional beauty service I pay for is my (roughly quarterly) haircut. Nail services are fun things I do for people’s birthdays or weddings. I do lovelovelove massages but they get spendy! I keep dreaming up ways to convince my doctor to write me an rx for them so I can charge them to my health insurance. Sigh. One day.

  7. Annette says:

    I am almost completely DIY. As a graduate student, I can either afford (n)one of those services done by a professional or a few of them done at home. Over the years I’ve built up quite the arsenal of home mani and pedi equipment, and I nab samples of high-end body products whenever I can.

  8. Maggie says:

    I always pay a professional to cut my hair, and I’m willing to pay more than Supercuts level because my hair can be a wavy/curly/frizzy jungle. I’ve enough mixed experiences with hairdresser school haircuts that I’m wary now. I’ve had maybe 2 manicures in my life and 0 pedicures. A classmate and I treated ourselves to facials when we received our graduate degrees. I’ve dyed my hair blonde (professional), auburn, and dark, dark brown, and none of those colors suited me. I’m glad I’m over that phase. 😉

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