News story after news story keeps citing the "lipstick index" as a sign of the economy's health or sickness. Leonard Lauder, Chairman of the Board of Estée Lauder, coined the term to describe the connection between lipstick sales and economic trouble. The idea is that when the economy sags, women stop buying expensive clothing and treat themselves to lipstick instead. It's not a true economic model, but it makes for a good story.
But lo! Not to be overshadowed, L'Oréal has come up with its own study to show that foundation, not lipstick, is what women buy during bad times. More than 30 percent said that foundation was their most important beauty product, and only eight percent chose lipstick. Furthermore, Nielsen research finds that foundation sales are up 15 percent in the UK, while lipstick sales are up only 2.5 percent. Burn!