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04-27-09 | Posted by


2009 may just mark an end to the highly touted ‘Lipstick Index.” For those unfamiliar with this old marketing adage, it goes something like this; “when times are tough, the tough buy lipstick,” indicating that women tend to spend money on perks that will make them feel beautiful or happy even when they are in dire straits. However, lipstick sales dropped 5.8 percent during 2008, according to Kline & Co, while liquid foundation sales grew 2.5 percent.

What does all this mean? Well, for starters, when the economy is in the toilet, people start counting their pennies and doing without. For women, that means fashion and food. Shelter is off the table. But we do shop less, bring our shoes to the shoemaker to extend their lifespan, refresh a tired suit jacket to update it, and hunt for bargains. We also eat less, dine out less often, brown bag lunch, and cook more.

Has lipstick fallen into the realm of just another frivolity? Perhaps to some women its importance has drifted along the lines of how many shoes and black pants does any woman need – one is left to ponder on how many lipsticks does she need? After all, one woman’s Rose Beige looks surprising similar to another’s Desert Rose shade. Lipstick may find itself being relegated to another indulgence, something to be downsized or downgraded when belts get tightened. 

But lipsticks have that indescribable WOW factor of instant gratification, and more of a ‘feel good’ purchase than foundation could ever be.  So if lipstick sales are down and foundation sales are up, in the mind of the consumer, the greater shift may be towards long term investment strategies rather than quick fixes.  It would appear that SKIN IS IN, at least among cosmetics buyers.  Perhaps this is also because expensive lasers and peel treatments are down, so more women feel the need to cover up and protect their youthful glow to stay looking good for longer. Maintaining a flawfless finish can also help camouflage imperfections and pump up your self confidence which you will need to stay employed and thriving. Great skin is a commodity – akin to fabulous legs or perky breasts.  It goes with anything and makes a statement about your health and vitality, rather than just a fashion statement. 

The times they are a changin’…

3 Responses to “A VIEW FROM A BROAD”

  1. wewritealot Says:

    Foundation could never replace lipstick for me – no contest. Maybe mascara, but not foundation.

  2. MIC Says:

    Hmmmm Lipstick or Foundation? No contest. I would still go for the lipstick any day.

  3. emmababe Says:

    forget lipstick and foundation – go for the vodka!

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