‘I’d live on baked beans if I had to’

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Write Away: By Rebecca Wilson, Leighton Buzzard Writers...

Yesterday a glossy leaflet plopped through the door advertising the arrival of yet another Leighton Buzzard beauty salon.

LB is already swamped with beauty, nail and hair places. By rights, we should be a town of gorgeous, glamorous people. (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions).

It seems that even in a recession, people still want to look good. Austere times see most of us working harder just to stay afloat – and that’s the lucky ones with jobs.

Celebrity trends such as HD brows, eyelash extensions and the infamous vajazzle are all on offer in town and village salons – even the tiniest hamlet has its own beauty therapist – as well as more traditional manicures, massages and facials.

Even my dentist does Botox (there are a lot of surprised looking people in his village).

So just who has a spare £40 for a set of gel nails? Surely when cash-strapped, our beauty and hair appointments are the first thing to go?

The beauty salon is a fairly recent phenomenon.

Of my mother’s generation, only wealthy ladies of leisure indulged in salon treatments and I am certain neither of my working class grandmothers ever had a pedicure: a shampoo and set was a rare 

I asked the opinion of a successful Leighton beautician who is often fully booked for weeks ahead.

“Women are still having treatments. They’re saving money by staying in more so they have a little to spare.

“Everyone works so hard they feel they deserve a bit of pampering. Also, with programmes like TOWIE, younger women think it’s a necessity to look glam”.

Her most popular treatments are eyelash extensions and non-surgical facelifts... “because no-one wants to look old”.

Since turning 40, for me it’s about getting back up to zero, not looking red-carpet glamorous.

Thanks to my job, a monthly back massage isn’t a luxury but a necessity – and often more painful than relaxing.

Neat eyebrows and nails are important to look groomed and it’s impossible to feel confident with grey roots and split ends.

I’d live on baked beans just to keep up my hairdresser visits.

My husband claims I have a beauty treatment addiction and I admit that in the run-up to my wedding I practically lived at the salon and the hairdressers.

Thanks to the black furry money pit – our rescue dog – and the rising price of everything, facials and pedicures are now for holidays and special occasions.

don’t drink or smoke and my clothes are more Primark than Prada so it’s my treat to myself and I think the same is true of many women.

They’d rather go without other things to have a beauty treat, which serves as a valuable bit of “me time” and a confidence booster.

So it seems the beauty industry is here to stay.

It’s about so much more than vanity: it’s about self esteem and a reward for working so hard.

And if you look good, you feel good.