How To Look Good On A Budget: The Business of Beauty

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2007-04-2352

For some people, it’s not enough to keep fit and stay in shape through natural methods. But there are ways to look good on a budget!

Not too long ago, I tackled the subject of the price of beauty, and I liked the topic so much that I thought I’d talk about it again, and this time, supplement it with some equal opportunity coverage. Continuing where I left off then, I wanted to check into how far people would go to actually look better. In fact, what’s interesting is how some people have truly invested quite heavily in their appearance, so much so that the amount spent actually reaches six figures.

Ask yourself the question: if you had several hundred thousand dollars, what would you spend it on? For some, they’d spend it on themselves. Literally.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the real life Ken and Barbie couple before, but here’s a bit about them. According to some news coverage:

Cindy Jackson and Miles Kendall have spent about $300,000 transforming themselves into copies of the best-selling dolls, undergoing 89 operations – ranging from jaw implants and chemical peels to liposuction.

Before anything else, I’d like to say that while pursuing this story, I corresponded with Cindy Jackson to ask her permission to capture her amazing photographs here. Unfortunately, my request was declined so a reference to her site should suffice. May I also add that she’s a very nice lady who is doing quite well working in the business of cosmetics and beauty… but of course!

On this note, there was once a show I watched with immense uneasiness, but which I was attracted to nonetheless, mostly out of sheer curiosity. It was called “The Swan” and it was about how regular, even homely women were transformed, through expensive medical procedures, into outwardly stunning knockouts. Following is a tiny sample of what the show offered.

What Money Can Do For Your Physique



The Swan: Marnie       The Swan: Marnie
The Swan: Merline       The Swan: Merline
The Swan: Sarina       The Swan: Sarina

If you participated in the show, you got the benefits of the procedures for free. But to replicate such work in real life, you’d need to fork out some serious dough. Here’s a little cheat sheet of the surgical costs that face aspiring bombshells:

Plastic Surgery Procedures and Fees

2005 STATISTICS (National Average)

Botox injection $382
Breast implant removal $2,086
Breast augmentation saline $3,583
Breast augmentation silicone $4,005
Breast lift $4,258
Breast reduction $5,550
Breast reduction in men $3,305
Buttock lift $4,878
Cellulite massage treatment $223
Cheek implant $2,720
Chemical peel $848
Chin augmentation $2,095
Collagen injection $333
Dermabrasion $1,376
Ear surgery $2,951
Eyelid surgery $2,813
Facelift $6,298
Fat injection $1,053
Fibril injection $440
Forehead lift $3,148
Gynecomastia treatment $3,305
Laser hair removal $347
Laser skin resurfacing $2,484
Laser treatment of leg veins $407
Lip augmentation (surgical) $1,819
Liposuction (suction-assisted) $2,697
Liposuction (ultrasound-assisted) $2,979
Lower body lift $7,810
Microdermabrasion $149
Rhinoplasty $4,188
Sclerotherapy $326
Soft Tissue Fillers – Autologous Fat $1,395
Soft Tissue Fillers – Calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse/Radiance) $911
Soft Tissue Fillers – Collagen $398-488
Soft Tissue Fillers – Hyaluronic acid (Hylaform, Restylane) $527
Thigh lift $4,653
Tummy tuck $5,232
Upper arm lift $3,610

Source: Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Guide

The changes are clearly amazing, though I doubt I’d ever want to go through such alterations myself, for obvious reasons: I’m chicken, it’s painful, it’s expensive and changes in one’s looks don’t really impact me all that much. But these people are probably doing this for other reasons, such as to launch new careers in a media dominant industry or to participate in the beauty business. So in this case, the money they spent is considered a business expense.

However for regular people such as you or me, I prefer other means to help improve our looks without burning a hole in our pockets.

How To Look Good On A Budget: Affordable Ways To Look Great

    1. Look and feel healthy, stay clean and neat.
    A shower a day keeps the cooties away.

    2. Get clothes from discount stores.
    Ross has clothing from great brands that have been discounted heavily. Guess where I get my birthday presents from.

    3. Invest in higher quality goods but buy less frequently.

    4. Develop strong and good relationships.
    Surround yourself with good people. When you do, you’re mood and demeanor will be positive, which will show in your appearance.

    5. Move your focus from yourself and your looks to something else.
    Develop a skill, volunteer, involve yourself with extended family or friends. When you do good work, not only will you feel positively about yourself, therefore reflecting well on your countenance, but you will also actually look good to everyone around you who becomes aware of your accomplishments.

If you have the money, I say do with it what you will. But if you can’t afford a major makeover, then realize that sometimes it’s just the quality of our lives and our relationships that end up dictating how we feel about ourselves and by simply looking outward, by changing the things we can and by doing some simple strategic modifications in your life, you may notice that you’re feeling much better already.

Copyright © 2007 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

plonkee April 23, 2007 at 9:01 am

Well, it looks to me from the photos that a good proportion of the effect could have just been created with a good haircut, well applied makeup and better clothes. Thats got to be the cheaper side of the effort that went into them.

Moneymonk April 23, 2007 at 10:01 am

Well said ! Most of those TV shows are used to promote the Dr’s practice or business. It’s just a big advertisement for Dr’s to gain more clients

Chris April 23, 2007 at 8:00 pm

89 surgeries! That’s almost more than William Shatner!

Silicon Valley Blogger April 25, 2007 at 8:19 am

In some countries, this is even bigger business where everyone and their brother/mother actually morph their looks in this manner. So it’s no big deal in some parts of the world to go this far. Not only that — their surgeons may not even have licenses or appropriate authorizations to do the work. I’ve seen stories about such “beauty outfits” looking much like dental outpatient clinics where they treat patients in this casual manner.

Michelle May 5, 2007 at 4:22 pm

I must admit that when I was pregnant and unable to work in the later stages I discovered The Swan and was glued for sheer amazement factor. Firstly how could they even want to go through an experience like that and how do they come to terms looking at the mirror when the reflection staring back at them is just another person altogether.

Rebecca May 19, 2007 at 7:44 pm

Now don’t get me wrong, you did a great job with this post, but the whole thing is disgusting. I’m so glad you submitted it to the fabulous festival! *laughing at self*

There are people in the world who are starving. It is stunningly selfish to spend this kind of money on something so wasteful. And honestly? I don’t think Cindy Jackson looks so hot.

Your suggestions are great, as are your first commenter’s.

Gauri May 28, 2007 at 2:15 am

Hi, this was a seriously spooky post. I remember that show ‘The Swan’, I watched part of one episode and it freaked me out entirely. I believe that all of the women in the pictures you showed would have looked amazing with a simple hair and make-up makeover, while still retaining their individuality. I believe the second woman especially did herself a disservice by getting the surgery — she was more beautiful before it. Anyway, I’m totally against cosmetic surgery, so that’s why I’m so freaked 😀 Great post.

Chelich May 28, 2007 at 11:55 am

I wholeheartedly agree with tip #3 – it’s always best to buy a few fabulous pieces that look fantastic than to buy a lot of pieces that only look so-so. It’s all about the quality pieces you purchase! 🙂

Icy May 28, 2007 at 5:56 pm

I agree with plonkee, a good haircut and colour can do wonders. I’d also recommend for ladies 2 and 3 decent glasses. Of course you feel frumpy with frumpy frames (I’ve been there).

Cindy Jackson June 2, 2007 at 8:30 am

I am Cindy Jackson and this is precisely why I do not give images to sites so they may accompany outrageous claims about what I did and did not have done! Once again, as is stated correctly on my web site, in textbooks and in the public domain, I had 9 (NINE) operations and spent less than $50,000 in over 20 years. Even between 2 people you cannot spend over a quarter of a million dollars and have 89 operations! (Let’s see, that’s 30 facelifts, 21 nose jobs, 13 liposuctions, 15 chemical peels and we still need 10 more operations to bring it to 89!) Whatever would possess anyone to make such far-fetched claims when the facts are readily at hand? Also, what exactly is a jaw implant? I’ve never even heard of such an operation and certainly never had one done.

As for the Barbie and Ken thing, that started out as a bit of an ironic joke when we dressed up as Barbie and Ken for a charity event, pictures from which have been reprinted ad infinum. And it is now duly reported here as “fact.”

To quote this site:
“Cindy Jackson and Miles Kendall have spent about $300,000 transforming themselves into copies of the best-selling dolls, undergoing 89 operations – ranging from jaw implants and chemical peels to liposuction.”

Suzann March 1, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Great article. Personally, I can’t imagine spending huge amounts of money on clothes, when you can get basically the same outfits at discount stores. I like to save when I shop, and then give the extra money, if I have it, to my favorite charities.

Janni March 20, 2008 at 4:23 pm

All this girls on the photos look perfect. I believe that everybody can look perfect if you have a good amount of money to spend.

Jen - Cosmetic Surgery Forum April 13, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Excellent post. Cosmetic surgery procedures *are* very expensive and there are often alternative ways to improve you image without “going under the knife” so to speak. One thing that many find helpful is “facial yoga”, which can actually tone and lift the facial muscles — something else you may want to post on. 🙂

Tracey from Rapunzels Hair Extensions April 24, 2008 at 1:54 pm

It is quite bizarre how much people spend on surgery. Me myself would not undergo any surgical procedure. Mainly because I would probably pass out just at the thought of it. It seems that a lot of people though are caught up on beauty and feel they cannot feel happy unless they themselves feel beautiful. I guess some people just cannot accept who they are and how they look. With all the various beauty products available today such as clip on hair extensions, make up, designer clothing and acrylic nails, some people just need that extra change that a style make-over cannot achieve.


Michael May 29, 2008 at 10:31 pm

It is sometimes good to have a few investment of your own whenever you feel you want to be more beautiful than ever before! That is why, many men and women would go for things like plastic surgery and all that stuff. No, it’s not bad to “adjust” some little things but what is bad is you still tend to waste a lot of money even though you know you’re on a tight budget. It’s best that you have to know your financial standings first before moving on.

cannedguds June 11, 2008 at 8:16 pm

This is a very interesting topic because the fact of the matter is, people will really invest, not only money, but valuable time for themselves,and as you’ve said it, literally, and you’ve said it well. I knew someone who spent around $6,000 for a man breast reduction and he has regrets today why he went through it, the surgery, I mean, which really cost too much. Tsk tsk tsk…if only he had done more research, he might have found a better way to get rid of his man boobs the natural, risk-free & affordable way. what a waste….

Silicon Valley Blogger June 11, 2008 at 8:27 pm

All the man boob talk reminded me of what they say about Simon Cowell! LOL. I am a huge huge fan of American Idol, and for all his money, I’m surprised Simon hasn’t done more to fix his supposed problem, enough to quell the rumors about his chest. He can probably improve his look, whether it involves better training, exercise or nutrition to achieve improved results for his physique (although I’ve seen pictures of him at the beach and he looks fine I believe!).

Then again, I can also say kudos to Simon Cowell for not caring one way or another about what people think!

I guess breast reductions are equal opportunity surgical procedures, and there’s also a market for pectoral implants! Wild.

kent harper September 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Found your post while doing a liposuction search. The comments you have made are very insightful and our company deals with these issues all the time… thanks!

Mark Gains October 1, 2008 at 8:27 am

A great read and much of it is very true. The before and after shots get me especially. Can’t believe people still use them. I think people should be moving towards more sustainable and realistic products. I have myself gone into the beauty business and sell various products online. I also provide information on related problems which i feel is important.

Paul October 29, 2008 at 8:30 am

I’d like to talk a little about how clothes are making our presidential candidates…

With just less than one week left until we find out who will be our Commander in Chief for the next four years, there are new controversies surrounding both the Democrat and Republican camps.

News sources are excited to report that the Republican National Committee spent upwards of $150,000 on new clothes for Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. While this story has been circulating, inspiring an avalanche of negative publicity, anti-Republican attacks, and the like, I am not rolling with this tide. As a matter of fact, considering that both Palin and Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama have spent large sums of money on clothing, it doesn’t make me disrespect or respect one more than the other. After all, we live in a society where looks, more than anything else, are the prime things that we judge people on.

If you have one candidate in designer duds, but somebody else who looks as if they’ve gotten their entire wardrobe from the Wal-Mart clearance rack, the latter won’t be taken seriously. And, besides, look at the attention Sarah Palin is getting with her wardrobe. It doesn’t seem like such a bad political move.

They spent a lot less on Sarah’s wardrobe than Obama spends on TV commercials. In the end, I really hope that the American people will judge the candidates on the issues, and vote for the candidate that supports Americans’ right to freedom for personal financial responsibility rather than vote for the more attractive candidate.

Fred February 27, 2009 at 9:28 am

wow what a fabulous spending. If I have a millions of dollars I would have invest it in buying a house, car, and put up a business like shopping mall. Because I don’t like injections and etc. ahh! A person can be hot and beautiful without this surgeries. Our body is the greatest gift that God has given to us… Love yourself.

CourtneyUmenyiora April 9, 2009 at 10:49 am

Kudos to you for this website!! Living in the tough economy we are in, it is great to learn more and more ways to make your dollar go farther. I agree with Fred, we dont need to put ourselves under dangerous procedures in order to make ourselves look good. beauty is on the inside and how you feel portrays to the outside world.

Cristina May 18, 2009 at 2:32 pm

It’s amazing what you can do with your body if you have enough money! I guess every woman’s dream is too look perfect, but unfortunately not everyone can afford it!

GMNightmare June 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm

For each one of those photos, personally, I don’t find the after photos near as beautiful and attractive as the before.

sunshine August 7, 2009 at 8:57 am

I would have to agree with most of the other posts that all these women just need a new haircut and make-up makeover. You don’t need to spend an insane amount of money to be beautiful.

Eastbourne August 19, 2009 at 5:34 am

I can’t believe a woman would go through 89 operations to make herself look as a doll!
Where’s their pride.

Brandy September 3, 2009 at 2:50 pm

89 operations. That is incredible.

Anyway, there are things we can do to look better without breaking the bank (or going under the knife.)

Cynthia September 9, 2009 at 10:58 pm

This were great enhancements of beauties I’ve ever seen. It was been a great change to have undergone beauty operations. Beauty operations are the most effective way to see a great change of the physical look, but this needs a huge budget because of the expensive procedures. Even though this is an expensive thing, satisfaction always matters.

liz December 4, 2009 at 12:01 am

Great post! I never had any idea about this kind of body makeover will cost us until I read this post. I guess people can buy anything with their money but sometimes they fail to realise there are some other alternatives around. There are many healthier and cheaper way to improve our body. People like shortcuts.

mikaere January 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Great before and after pictures, it really amazes me how someone can go from nothing to looking glamorous and beautiful.

Destination Beauty February 13, 2010 at 9:10 am

I noticed that your 2005 listing shows Breast Augmentations with silicone running around $4,005. Like everything else in medicine in America, the costs just keep going up and our clients have reported that these days their costs tend to be closer to $6,500 – $8,000.

One of the reasons we get so many clients for our free service from places like America, Australia and The UK is because of the huge price differential. Breast Augmentation (silicone) in Thailand starts at around $2,600 and doesn’t go up much from there. Anyhow, I thought I’d drop a note since I saw your post 🙂 There are a lot of options and America’s a perfectly good place to have work done, but it’s definitely quite expensive and as long as you go with experienced hospitals and surgeons in Thailand it’s just as safe here while saving you enough money to pay for a vacation to go along with the surgery!

Joan March 24, 2010 at 1:21 am

That’s what we call the power of makeup and the madness of wealth :).

Silicon Valley Blogger March 24, 2010 at 7:13 am

Clever saying…. I like that! Your site seems highly interesting! Have been thinking I wanted to try out a K-Pop look on myself. Say lighter highlights and anime eyes. I saw a “Sailor Moon” makeover once just using makeup and accessories. I was stunned by the transformation! I was quite inspired by the effects. Would love to try to do something so interesting in the future (when I have time to have some crazy fun)!

Pam S April 1, 2010 at 8:19 am

Yes the cost can be a bit high, but well worth it. I am quite happy with my results. The key is finding the right doctor. Someone you can have confidence in.

Saad Hafez April 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm

With the economy being as it is the plastic surgery market has taken a real hit over the last year. If you have the disposable income and are looking to do any kind of cosmetic surgery now is the time to get out there and shop some prices, you may just be surprised at how inexpensively you can get work done.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Buyer beware! Cheap plastic surgery just doesn’t seem like something I’d be comfortable pursuing.

Miss Platnum April 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

I think they did a great job with the ladies, they are gorgeous. Still, I think that the real beauty comes from inside 😉

Clarissa May 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Wow… those “before and after” photos are pretty amazing! I always struggle with balancing my budget, since I love high quality makeup. I once thought that the only way for me to be “pretty” was to get plastic surgery, but I guess being healthy can go a long way. 🙂

Alysha June 12, 2010 at 5:01 am

In today’s busy world people do not have time for themselves fit and to be in shape by natural ways. But for that people nowadays if they have money and budget they can be fit and in a shape with the help of cosmetic surgery. By this they can change their face, breast, make skin glow etc.

jennet June 16, 2010 at 7:11 am

OMG i got to change my look now…Thanks for showing these women… This makes me get the inspiration to change myself a bit.

Judith Summers July 5, 2010 at 2:08 am

These do-it-yourself remedies are more useful than those tips that come straight from the top beauticians. And i like your view that it is what we do that matters more than how we look. You got it bang on there.

Emily August 20, 2010 at 9:19 pm

The plastic surgery statistic regarding average pricing for specific procedures has gone down, due to the slow economy. Also, when I had my consultation regarding my eyelid procedure, I was coming out of the surgeons office and behold I ran into my church preacher. Never know who you’re going to run into the plastic surgeon’s office.

Barry March 20, 2011 at 10:05 am

I would never decide using cheap surgery. It’s clear this may be dangerous and risk is to high.

Kate Martin April 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I think plastic surgery can do miracles for self esteem. However, I think it can also be addictive and dangerous in certain personalities.

OnlyEssentials May 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I don’t know where I heard this but someone said that if the top (head) and the bottom (feet) look good, everything else sort of just falls into place. For the most part I’ve found that to be true in my case anyway….! BTW…that statement was in the context of without surgery!

Jenny August 8, 2012 at 1:14 am

All they needed was a new makeover – some nice natural makeup, a nice new outfit, and maybe a better hairstyle. The before pics don’t mean much. It’s what they do with themselves naturally. All these procedures can hurt in the end and probably the public has seen when procedures go wrong….instead of always complaining about our looks we can find good things about ourselves! And we shouldn’t compare ourselves to stars because behind closed doors they have their insecurities and problems as well….The first pics of these women show them almost as hicks lol…all they needed was a new makeover really. Some people are blind, deaf, etc. We should appreciate what God has given us. Just my two cents opinion!

Leave a Comment