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Vain Brits turn to credit to keep up appearances

A couple having a massageWaxing, eyebrow shaping and Botox are some of the treatments Brits are splashing their cash – or rather credit - on this year. And that’s just the men.

Meanwhile, more than a third - 37 per cent - of adults admit turning to their credit cards due to a lack of cash in the bank, the most popular reason for credit card use.

Around 40 per cent of Brits aged between 18 and 37 use their credit cards to make themselves look good by buying beauty and grooming products, according to new research from

It’s not just women who see image-enhancing purchases as a need, not a want.  Up and down the country men are slapping on the bronzer and getting out the tweezers.

Male grooming

One in 10 London males say botox injections to smooth out wrinkles are a vital part of looking good.

In the West Midlands, more men use fake tan than any other region - 22 per cent. 

And in Wales, almost a quarter - 23 per cent - of men say eyebrow shaping is part of their grooming regime.

Facials are the treatment of choice for 10 per cent of males in the north west of England.

And a fifth of men in the south west of England say hair removal, such as back waxing, is essential, according to the poll of 2,000 Brits.

Celebrity style

When it comes to influences on young Brits, almost a fifth – 18 per cent - say celebrities affect their style.

Around 12 per cent say reality TV personalities from programmes like Made in Chelsea or The Only Way is Essex influence their appearance.

When it comes to celebrity style, Kate Middleton is the most popular icon for women - 21 per cent of females say they would like to look like her.

Although her famous rear-end is the focus of much attention, Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton received just 5 per cent of the female vote.

Aspirational lifestyle warning

As well as using a credit card to obtain the perfect look, 28 per cent - of Brits use their credit cards to treat themselves.

Clothing is the most popular credit card purchase for 60 per cent of young Brits, while jewellery is another common expenditure at 28 per cent.

More than one in 10 believe spending on a credit card is easy money.

Nerys Lewis, head of credit cards at, says: “Our survey suggests many young adults are using their credit cards to power an aspirational lifestyle fuelled by celebrity culture.

“The average amount of debt a person adds to their credit each month is almost £170, and it seems many are turning to credit if they haven’t got the cash or just fancy indulging themselves.

“All this spending has got to come at a price however.

“We would urge people to think carefully about what’s essential versus what’s desirable and ask themselves if something is really necessary before putting it on credit.

“People should have a solid plan in place for paying back any debt and if anyone is struggling, they can speak to a free debt advice service  such as Citizens Advice.”

Who uses plastic more?

  • Londoners are the biggest spenders on their credit cards – 10 per cent spend up to £1,000 each month
  • People in the north west of England are most likely to make smaller purchases on their credit cards – 15 per cent spend £10 or less each month
  • More than one in four - 44 per cent - of Londoners have been spending more than they can afford so far this year, compared to the national average of 35 per cent
  • Women are more likely to spend on their credit cards because they haven’t got the cash  – 41 per cent compared with 31 per cent of men
  • Men are marginally better at paying off their debts than women – only 11 per cent failed to pay anything off their credit card last month, compared with 14 per cent of women

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Adam Jolley

Adam Jolley

Adam Jolley is a content producer at He joined us in May 2012 from the world of financial services PR.

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