I'm Totally Over "Rich Girl" Beauty Trends Because Beauty Isn't Just For The Wealthy
2015 is being hailed as the year of "rich girl hair," a trend first spotted at New York Fashion Week and repeated on runways across the globe. There's now a complementary term, "rich girl skin," coined by Refinery 29 just last week. As someone who considers it a truly banner day if I manage to put on mascara, I'm a big fan of this move toward minimally styled makeup and hair. What I'm less on board with is the elitist vocabulary used to describe this trend, because all-natural beauty isn't just for women with a lot of money.
As far as runway or red carpet hairstyles go, rich girl hair is simple. It's long, with loose waves, similar to beach curls but even more laid-back, paired with a straight middle part. The same all-natural principle guides the philosophy of rich girl skin, which is essentially "no-makeup makeup" to its extreme. To have rich girl skin is to be so impeccably fresh-faced at all times, with dewy, glowing, blemish-free skin, that there's no point in using makeup. It's the ultimate #WokeUpLikeThis, and the perceived natural simplicity of the look is what makes it so desirable.
That simplicity is, of course, an illusion. As implied by the name, "rich girl" hair and skin require a lot of upkeep, and it's expensive to get the tools, the products, and the team required. Even these louche curls are part of a carefully crafted look that needs a lot of attention to get right. In an interview with The Cut, a hairstylist from Bumble & Bumble explained how to get rich girl hair: "It's really about how long you keep it on the curling iron. If you leave it on too long you'll get that precise curl. Leave it on one second." Any longer, and the look won't work.
The same is true for rich girl skin, for which you need a perfectly matching foundation, a buffing brush, and a lot of time spent blending so it looks seamless. As Refinery 29 pointed out, "Professional makeup also comes with a high price tag — anywhere from $500 to $15,000, depending on the event."
Having the right tools helps, but "rich girl" beauty is more than putting on the right foundation or using the proper curling iron. For the style to truly work, there needs to be an already solid foundation. Long, silky, shiny, and straight hair is the best base for these polished, yet low-key waves. Acne and blemish-free skin makes it easier to create that dewy glow. There's, of course, a high cost to maintaining skin and hair, ensuring no zits emerge and those shiny locks stay strong. It's about having a healthy diet, drinking a lot of water, going to the gym regularly, getting regular haircuts to keep split ends at a minimum, even getting Botox to prevent wrinkles.
A huge amount of resources are needed, financial and otherwise, to keep these lifestyle choices going in order to maintain the "natural" beauty for this seemingly simple look. But the costs associated with creating and maintaining a hair and makeup trend that literally references wealth in the name aren't all too surprising. And, as someone who has done some crazy things to get smooth skin (like put placenta on my face), I can sympathize with the lengths that women will go to to create a natural look, as well as the expenses involved with maintaining a beauty routine.
Where I see the biggest problem with this trend is with the name itself. Associating these minimalist hairstyles and "natural" makeup with being a "rich girl" makes wealth a prerequisite to fitting the mold of what is considered to be conventionally beautiful. The name suggests these desirable and trendy looks, easy as they seem, cannot be achieved without a huge investment of time, energy, and, maybe most nefariously, money. (This, of course, is not true.) The converse of this is also implied, that being rich and successful requires a woman to fit this singular beauty mold: long hair with loose curls and smooth skin. (This, of course, is also not true. You don't have to look like Kendall Jenner or Gigi Hadid to be a successful woman.) "Rich girl" beauty doesn't leave much room for those whose natural look doesn't conform to the standard foundation. There's no room for curly or frizzy hair when trying to look like a rich girl. Ditto acne, dark spots, and pockmarks.
There's something worrisome when bodies — specifically one type of hairdo and one kind of skin complexion — become associated with wealth. It turns an individual's body and ability to shape that body into the ultimate sign of material success, and an inability get the proper foundation becomes a character flaw, a lack of discipline and drive. As Véronique Hyland pointed out on The Cut (which, for the record, is the same publication that coined the original term "rich girl hair"), there's now been discussion about a "couture body" as "the ultimate status symbol, conveying class and cultural currency." Hyland wrote, "Regular people can't afford red-carpet gowns, but the cost of a red-carpet body is almost more prohibitive, between the trainers, nutritionists, diets, and assorted tweaking involved."
I do really dig the "rich girl" look, in no small part because I love that it's now trendy to wear simple makeup, because it's what I do anyway. Enjoy the looks as much as you want. (I know I will.) What I don't love about this trend is the name, because calling it "rich girl hair" or "rich girl skin" is fundamentally undemocratic and elitist. So call the look minimalist, even though there's nothing minimalist about it at its core. Call it low-key high maintenance. Even call it all-natural. Just don't say it's for rich girls only.