Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FIRST PERSON - WORDS LAUREN VO­GES

Rose­lynne McCon­nell, like many South African women, feels that look­ing good means feel­ing suc­cess­ful. ‘I re­li­giously go to the hair­dresser ev­ery six weeks, I go for a fa­cial ev­ery eight weeks, I have my nails done ev­ery sec­ond week. I think those things are im­por­tant when it comes to look­ing your best and they count the same as go­ing to the den­tist or keep­ing up to date with ac­counts or go­ing for check­ups with a doc­tor. They en­sure you feel con­fi­dent about life. I treat my beauty rou­tine as a non-ne­go­tiable.’

David Gil­son, of Carl­ton Hair in Hyde Park Cor­ner, Jo­han­nes­burg, says that women are spend­ing far more on beauty treat­ments than they used to. ‘Es­pe­cially with the job mar­ket be­ing so dif­fi­cult, lots of women feel it’s im­por­tant to look the part when go­ing to job in­ter­views… Hav­ing your hair and nails done is also far cheaper than buy­ing a whole new out­fit. So if you can’t af­ford a new jacket or new shoes, it’s cheaper to get your hair done for a job in­ter­view.’

Gil­son echoes the 2013 Pro­sumer Re­port, which showed that 55 per cent of women feel con­fi­dent when they look good.

Lindi Low, owner of Vanil­lia Health and Beauty Sa­lon in Cape Town, says that de­spite the re­cent dip in the econ­omy, women have main­tained a beauty rou­tine and con­tinue to spend on prod­ucts and treat­ments. ‘Women might come for fewer treat­ments, but they will then buy more ex­pen­sive prod­ucts and fo­cus on home care to make up for it. Some women do things the other way around: they’ll buy cheaper prod­ucts and come more fre­quently for treat­ments.’

Sev­eral re­ports and sur­veys con­cern­ing South African women and their re­la­tion­ship with the beauty busi­ness cor­rob­o­rate what both Gil­son and Low say: women are spend­ing more on per­sonal groom­ing. The Fe­male Na­tion Sur­vey re­vealed that 47 per cent of women spend be­tween R100 and R500 on beauty prod­ucts per month, seven per cent of women spend be­tween R500 and R1 000, and one per cent spend over a R1 000 per month on preen­ing them­selves.

Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional re­leased a study on the beauty in­dus­try in South Africa last year. The re­sults showed a 10 per cent ex­pan­sion in the beauty in­dus­try coun­try wide, de­spite a gen­eral de­cline in em­ploy­ment and con­tin­ued in­come in­equal­ity. You’d think that hair care and nail care would be the first lux­ury to go dur­ing a re­ces­sion, but South African women have re­mained loyal to their beauty rou­tines re­gard­less of eco­nomic de­cline.

Jade Kirkel, mar­ket­ing man­ager of Sor­bet, said, ‘We’ve opened 38 sa­lons coun­try wide over the past year. We haven’t felt any pinch from the econ­omy. Women will al­ways make a plan to keep com­ing for their treat­ments or to keep af­ford­ing the prod­ucts they’ve been us­ing.’

And Sor­bet’s clien­tele is grow­ing more di­verse. ‘We do have a lot more white women who are loyal to Sor­bet, but the mar­ket for black women is grow­ing as well. And the black women who do fre­quent Sor­bet spend the same amount as white women do.’

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