“Every day workers take time to shower, style their hair, select clothes and get dressed. Others spend additional time to shave, trim nails, apply makeup, polish shoes and iron clothes.”

Should they bother?

For, until recently, it was “…unclear whether such time-consuming activities are valuable in the labor market.” – explains Steve DeLoach, PhD., professor of economics at the The Love School of Business, Elon University, who has investigated the subject, and has published a paper entitled : ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall: The effect of time spent grooming on earnings’ (in the Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 40, Issue 1, February 2011, Pages 26-34.)

Data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) questionnaire for 2003-2007. (Personal Care Activities) were cross-correlated with the earnings figures of 32,642 individuals.

The results of the analysis were complex, with the effect of grooming on earnings differing significantly according to gender and race.

But nonetheless, professor DeLoach was able to show that : “…grooming appears contribute positively to earnings”. Though adding: “In the end, this paper presents more questions than it answers.”


) The author identifies the negative effects of what he calls ‘Over-grooming’: “If a non-minority woman doubles her grooming time (approximately another 45 minutes), her earnings decrease an average of 3.4 percent.”

2) He also draws attention to possible anomalies within the data: “There is strong evidence that measurement error exists in the grooming variable. There are a relatively large number of respondents who report zero minutes grooming on their diary day.”