Consumed by Cosmetics

Sep 24 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew

The enormous amount of money generated by the beauty industry amazes me. How we, as consumers, take the words of producers for granted and try their products that promise us quick makeovers (be it weight loss, clear skin or hair growth) is astounding. Of course, some of the products could produce minor results at times but the changes come at the expense of our health. We are spending obscene money on things that do not add lasting value to our existence. In the process, we are making big companies that are already wealthy wealthier while contributing to inflation.

Women are often taught to do whatever it takes to maintain their beauty. For some, being beautiful is the only way they feel they can get ahead in life.

But what happens when we pursue other things aside from beauty, as we often do? What if somehow all the city women decided to stop wearing makeup, getting fake nails and lashes, wearing human hair and visiting the hair salon every other week? Would that even be possible?

I do not have a problem with wearing makeup or using cosmetics now and then. But spending a fortune on these products and being dependent on them is dangerous. Every time I pass by cosmetics shops, it boggles me how many people are inside buying stuff. The other day I was sitting in a café having tea and an old friend who is now running a cosmetics shop joined me.

From the minute she sat down until she left, her phone was ringing. Customers were inquiring the price of items in her shop and requesting delivery. She showed me a perfume which she said smelt nice, and that one of her customers wanted to buy. The customer was asking her for her bank account so she can transfer the money. The perfume cost 14,000 Br.

"Are you serious? Do people spend that kind of money on perfume?" I asked. She answered in the affirmative: “You'd be surprised. Some spend up to 50,000 Br on beauty products.”

I would never spend that kind of money on perfume. I could spend it on other things like travel but not cosmetics. What if the perfume bottle breaks right after the person who bought it sprayed it a few times?

“That would be unfortunate," answered my friend. "She will probably buy another one again”.

And then she got up to leave and I was left alone with my thoughts. Why do we, myself included, care so much about our looks as if that is the only thing that matters to our existence? Sure, fake nails look good, so do lashes, but it gets tiring. Perhaps we get lots of attention from strangers and compliments because we look beautiful for the moment but eventually we go home to wash off all the makeup. It is an exercise in futility. When I say this, people may think that I am being a hypocrite who does not apply her own advice. This may be true but I still think that excessive consumption of cosmetics material is unhealthy.

Our thirst to purchase cannot be quenched with just a few items. If it is these shoes today, tomorrow it is a bag and the next day it is a dress or an accessory. We are consuming more than we need and the worst part is that we are paying with our health and hard-earned salaries for these materials. Are they worth it? We should only focus on the things we need, and redirect our money and resource to other areas that can make a difference in our lives and those around us.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 24,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1169]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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