When, exactly, did blowouts and eyelash extensions become part of our daily beauty routine?
Something alarming is happening, and as with most things I find alarming or annoying, I blame Kim Kardashian. Lately, women?otherwise sane, relatively grounded women?have stopped washing their own hair.
It started out innocently enough with blowout bars, which nipped at the heels of our beauty scene in 2010. Women, quickly realizing that having someone wash and dry your hair for you is actually quite nice, began showing up more frequently.
Date night? Sure!
Big meeting? Why not?
Yoga class? Okay!
Now women parade around Whole Foods with glorious Beyonc? hair. In fact, according to Avi Shenkar, founder of Blo/Out blow-dry bar, women who get blowouts at least once a week now make up 75 percent of his client base.
And that was only the beginning. Now eyelash extension bars are angling for space in our primping routines. (In Center City, two opened within blocks of each other in the past five months.) Spas are plumping up their menus, too, tempting basic mani-pedi-massage types with shiny new things like anti-aging lip treatments ($15 at David Witchell in Newtown) and TruSculpt fat lasers (from $299 at About Face in Washington Square West). Rescue in Rittenhouse just added pubic hair softening oil ($39) to its roster of beauty products. Put that on your list of things to worry about. Suddenly, normal, non-celebrity women are contouring their features to unrecognizable alien angles, stuffing themselves into punishing Antebellum-style corsets to ?waist train,? having spray tanners make house calls for weekly bronzing.
But while it may be overwhelming, it?s not surprising. Over-the-top beauty treatments were once exclusively available to the very rich or the very famous. The rest of us had to make do with Sephora and the occasional facial. Not anymore. Now, thanks to Instagram, Snapchat and basically the entire E! network, we have a front-row seat to the glamification of celebrities?once strictly a behind-closed-doors affair. (Who knew how long it took Rita Hayworth to pencil in her brows?) And savvy entrepreneurs have begun to capitalize on the ever-growing gray area that lies between Sephora and plastic surgery, so that innovations like freckle lasers, eyebrow extensions and other beauty technologies that make the moon landing look like a seventh-grade science project are accessible?even?expected?for us mere mortals.
Take my one friend, who for her upcoming wedding subjected herself to enough fat-shrinking, vein-zapping lasers to blow up the Death Star.
Or Michelle, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom who gets weekly $40 blowouts at Ame in Wayne. ?I haven?t washed my own hair in about nine months,? she admitted to me without an ounce of shame. ?I don?t actually even own shampoo or conditioner.?
And then there?s my colleague Marina, who finally caved to the lure of Lash Bee, one of Philly?s new eyelash extension bars, which provide semi-permanent fringe for around $200. ?I don?t even need to wear mascara anymore!? she squealed in delight afterward, batting her Disney-princess eyes at me. She conveniently omitted the fact that she needs to go back every two weeks for $40 refills.
I suppose those of us feeling overwhelmed by the mounting pressure of our rising beauty bar can take solace in the fact that it will eventually notch back downward. After all, beauty?like fashion and food trends and Congress?is cyclical. For now, I?ll be waiting patiently, relishing the previously foreign possibility that I might in fact be low-maintenance. Though I may require brow waxes, highlights, massages and quarterly facials, at least?at least?I don?t get daily blowouts.
Well, I mean, not yet.
Illustration by Michele Melcher