Money & Career

This Is Why You Still Buy Makeup During Hard Financial Times

This Is Why You Still Buy Makeup During Hard Financial Times

Photography, @alice_gao, Instagram

Money & Career

This Is Why You Still Buy Makeup During Hard Financial Times

The Lipstick Effect unveils the reason behind consumers' penchant for indulgence during economic downturns.

In times of economic uncertainty, people often tighten their belts, cutting back on non-essential spending and focusing on necessities. However, there's a curious phenomenon that seems to contradict this trend: the Lipstick Effect. 

Coined by Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estée Lauder, during the 2001 recession, the Lipstick Effect refers to the consumer tendency to purchase small indulgences, such as cosmetics, during tough economic times.

But why do we spend on lipstick or other beauty products when money is tight? It all comes down to how our minds work in periods of financial hardship.

Psychological Comfort in Small Luxuries



A post shared by Christina Grasso (@thepouf)

At its core, the Lipstick Effect is driven by the human need for psychological comfort and control in the face of uncertainty. When people feel anxious about their financial security and future prospects, they seek out small indulgences that provide a sense of normalcy and pleasure amidst the chaos.

Cosmetics, for example, offer an affordable way for people to treat themselves without breaking the bank. Unlike larger purchases such as clothing or electronics, lipstick is relatively inexpensive and is a small treat for yourself. The act of applying lipstick can also be empowering, boosting confidence and self-esteem during challenging times.

The Role of Social Perception

Social factors and perceptions may also impact the Lipstick Effect. Maintaining a polished look, even during tough times, can signal resilience and adaptability. By investing in beauty products like lipstick, you may feel better equipped to navigate the challenges you face and maintain a positive image in the eyes of others.


This phenomenon is not solely confined to women. Men participate in this trend by indulging in grooming products or accessories that enhance their appearance. 

Makeup Marketing Strategies

Recognizing the prevalence of the Lipstick Effect, marketers and businesses often adjust their strategies to capitalize on consumer behaviour during economic downturns. Cosmetic companies may launch new product lines featuring affordable options or promote the emotional benefits of their products in advertisements, like Maybelline’s “Colour Sensational” line.

The Lipstick Effect extends beyond the beauty industry, influencing consumer behaviour in various sectors. From affordable indulgences like chocolates and coffee to leisure activities such as movie nights or spa treatments, people gravitate towards small luxuries that provide comfort and escapism during tough times. Ultimately, the Lipstick Effect serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, people seek moments of pleasure and self-care as a means of coping and finding joy amidst the chaos of everyday life.





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Money & Career

This Is Why You Still Buy Makeup During Hard Financial Times