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Women unfazed by new tax on cosmetic products

Women seem to be the biggest causalities in the 2016/2017 budget that was released on Wednesday afternoon National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich.

Beginning next year, an excise duty of 10 percent will be imposed on all cosmetic products. It is the first time in six years that the government is targeting taxes from the cosmetic industry after slashing duty in 2009 in a move interpreted as helping women look beautiful.

However, saloon owner and celebrity stylist Jayne Okoth says a woman’s quest for beauty will not be stopped by taxation.

According Ms Okoth, who is a personal stylist to media personalities such as Sheila Mwanyigha and Caroline Mutoko, says women are more educated on beauty and cosmetic and they know what they want.

She also says in the past she has had clients who have come to her with pictures of international celebrities wanting to replicate their looks without caring how much it would cost.


“A lot of women are getting exposed to quality brands and this is due to the fact that they travel more to countries that beauty and cosmetic is on another level. Most women like themselves so much,” says Ms Okoth who owns Rapunzel Hair Affair Salon in Westlands.

In her high-end salon, women spend Sh15,000 on a simple weaving job, an amount that can go as high as Sh200,000 depending on the weave – human hair – you choose. A facial costs Sh3,000 or more.

“Nairobi women are crazy about weaves,” she said. “They have upgraded to original human hair. They know what they want, they come to me with photos of celebrities like Beyonce and Rihanna and they are willing to pay whatever it takes to achieve that look.”

She continued: “I think women don’t mind the cash, because they want quality. I hear this from the consultations I do with them. They say to me, ‘As long as I look like Beyonce, do it, I don’t care about the money.'”

International brands like MAC’s recent entry into the Kenyan market was well received by most women who confessed that they had to import the brand individually incurring extra cost. An MAC makeup kit may range from Sh5,000-30,000.

“We are now more educated on how to take care of the skin, hair etc, and all these is not cheap. The taxation will mean we will have to dig deep into our pockets, but for me I always believe that for a woman there is no compromise in looking good,” said Janet Wanyonyi, a beauty client.