Welcome to Beauty Diaries, where we're tracking how much money people actually spend on their beauty routines. Whether it's rooted in self-care or self-expression, they explain, in their own words, why it's worth every damn penny.
Today: A transgender college student with cystic acne and an affinity for Lush products.
Occupation: Lush Sales Associate
Rent: $2,500/semester, which comes out to $500 a month. My grandparents help with the costs of housing and tuition.
Six months ago, I moved from my hometown in the Bay Area to start college. My last year of high school, I worked at a coffee shop, a grocery store, and a movie theater to build up savings for tuition and gas. With past jobs, I've received some prejudice and backlash for being transgender, specifically for using my preferred name. The truth is, as many anti-discrimination laws California has to protect transgender rights, we're still not 100% there. So when I started working at Lush, I was worried about coworkers seeing me as different or less than, just because of past experiences. But I've only received positivity. I've been really lucky.
I've always loved Lush's all-natural products and what the company stands for, and as a trans guy, that's hard to come by. I've been on a relatively low dose of testosterone ("T") for the last three months, and it's given me the worst acne. I actually had acne for a decade, and nothing worked until I tried Lush. My skin was clear there for a while, but T brought it all back. As it turned out, there was a Lush store 10 to 15 minutes away from campus, so I figured I'd drop by and apply for a job. Now I spend more money on their products than I do on gas.
Lush employees get a very generous discount of 50% off, so most of my budget goes to buying skin-care products. I like the face soap Fresh Farmacy ($11.95; lasts two weeks), which has calamine powder and tea tree oil, so I use a lot of that. There's also a great cleanser called Herbalism ($16.95; lasts one month). I’m using that guy all over, every time I shower, every day. Whenever I get a breakout, I'll spot treat with Grease Lightening ($15.95; lasts three months). It's super lightweight, and has aloe, tea tree, and rosemary. I love the Lush bath products, but my school housing doesn't have a bathtub. So I'll just buy the bath bomb called Rocket Science ($5.95) and send it home to my 3-year-old brother.
Total: $62.75 ($31.38 with Lush discount)
I really like the Not Your Mother's Sea Salt Spray ($3.76). I bought one two years ago, and I use it for texture — just something nice and easy. The bottle has lasted me forever, but I do have short hair, so that helps.
I was in the eighth grade the first time I cut my hair, so five or six years ago. I had long hair for a while, but I was just tired of it. This was right before I came out as trans to my friends, and I was sick of feeling weighed down, quite literally. It didn't feel like who I was or how I wanted to present myself. Right now, I have a bit of an undercut going on, but I get the top part touched-up once every two months ($25 + tip). I have my own clippers at home so I can buzz the sides myself, so I save a little that way.
From day one, I wanted facial hair really bad. I know that exfoliating is really great for hair growth, so I exfoliate every day and then once a week, I shave my hair into blunt edges so my stubble looks coarser. I use a shaving cream Lush has called Dirty ($13.95; lasts three months) — I love the smell of it, and it's very soft-feeling on my skin. Even though I spend a lot of money on Lush, I'm still a college kid, so I'm on a budget. For my razor, I'll just pick up a Gillette interchangeable shaving head from Target ($10.99) every month or so — nothing too fancy.
Total: $24.94 ($17.96 with discount)
With testosterone, my sense of smell and the scents that I like have completely changed. Before, I liked lavender — I had the scent everywhere, even on the dashboard of my car. After, I've been more drawn to citrus, patchouli, frankincense scents. I started to enjoy clean and earthy scents as opposed to sweet ones. There's actually this natural deodorant from Schmidt's called Lavender + Sage ($8.99; lasts three months) that brings in a lot of those herb smells to complement the floral.
Something that I like to do is buy myself different solid perfumes and apply them depending on how I'm feeling or the outfit I'm wearing. Lush has one called Rentless ($11.95); it's a little more spicy. Then I have one that I love called Karma ($11.95), which has patchouli and citrus; another called Cardamom Coffee ($15.95) is really warm; and Breath of God ($11.95) is clean-smelling. It's just a really nice way to pick myself up.
Total: $60.79 ($34.89 with discount)
I had a consultation for top surgery in early December — I thought I was going to be on the road to getting it. But something I've learned is that health insurance companies really want your money. The doctor was very nice, and he told me he'd be in touch with pricing options. That 20-minute consultation ended up costing me $800. Of course I want the surgery to feel like myself, but I'm terrified of finding out the price tag. One step at a time, I guess.
Yearly Total: $2,582 ($1,866 with Lush discount)