Ladies Are Helpless In The Face Of Groupon Beauty Deals

Thanks to coupon sites like Gilt Groupe, Lifebooker, Groupon and Living Social, beauty treatments are making women offers they can't refuse — and they're trying things they otherwise might have given a second thought.

We've all been there: you're at work, minding your own business, and suddenly your inbox is offering you a massage. A cheap massage! Okay, maybe not cheap — especially when it's not an expense that would have occurred to you otherwise — but cheaper. And with PayPal, everything's so easy! Sure, maybe eyelash extensions sound a little dodgy, and Brazilian blowouts are bad for hairstylists and other living things, but this is a sale we're talking about! And a limited-time sale! And the clock is ticking!

The incentives for the companies are obvious: get 'em hooked. Or, at the very least, still make a profit, albeit with a slimmer margin. And it's a booming phenomenon. Says the New York Times,


According to Yipit, an aggregator of online daily deals, the number of sites offering health- and beauty-related services has nearly quintupled in the last year, to 341, while sales of these services (including spa treatments, dental whitening and hair salon services) reached $78 million for January to March of this year and are on track to reach $312 million for 2011, representing 31 percent of total daily deal sales.

Is there a catch? Well, beyond the inevitable fine-print snafus — and spend a little time looking at salon reviews on Yelp if you want a sampling of the, ahem, misunderstandings that can arise from these deals — there's the fact that you end up spending a lot. What might once have been a special treat reserved for an occasion becomes something very different, psychologically. And it's easy to get hooked on services. Sure there are plenty of people who might be getting all these services anyway, but given that you're at the mercy of sales and special offers, it's easier to be spontaneous than plan. Because you're worth it? That's the mindset they're counting on. Only you can decide whether it's true, for you.

At What Price Beauty? Check Today's Deal [NY Times]