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Do You Buy Into the Lipstick Theory?

This morning's New York Times examines the long-held theory that when the economy tanks, lipstick sales go up. The idea is that since women don't have the money to splurge on, say, designer clothing, we're more likely to indulge in a lipstick as an affordable way to treat ourselves. After all, a $10 lipstick is far easier to buy than a $100 pair of jeans.

This theory has anecdotal support, but the numbers tell another story. Sales of lipstick aren't going up; they're actually down 13 percent in department stores compared to the same time last year. So perhaps the theory doesn't have much meat to it, or — this is the Chicken Little in me — maybe people just aren't shopping at all, and the economy is worse than we thought. (I should also point out that the current trend of shorter hairstyles does not bode well.) If only the dreamboat economist Paul Krugman would weigh in!

What about you? Do you think this theory holds up? Are you choosing lipstick instead of splurges lately, or are you not even splurging on lipstick these days?


Join The Conversation
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 9 years
i dont buy lipstick, but do buy lots of balms and glosses
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
The numbers don't back it up so I don't believe it. I haven't bought myself anything lately because of the economy. I can't even afford lipstick. I'll just use up what I have and save some money so I can splurge later.
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 9 years
i rarely buy lipstick, but did splurge on a cheap one today--at the drugstore, no less. so i think there's a little something to it.
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
I just think sales are declining because people like lip gloss and chapstick more than lipstick.
Blackwidowchick Blackwidowchick 9 years
and yes allawallaballa I agree with you about the short hair ; )
Blackwidowchick Blackwidowchick 9 years
I dont think too many people wear lipstick anymore. Gloss is so much sexier. There is never a point where I stop shopping and whenever my friends criticize my spendthrift ways I just tell them I am doing my american duty to help boost the economy. Weekly pedicures and manicures, monthly root touch ups, a passion for coach purses. etc
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
I guess it sort-of true, although I would buy a lip gloss or eye shadow.
kppontrucking kppontrucking 9 years
Yes, women do buy lipstick and other makeup, but not very often during hard economic times. However, lip gloss is probably more popular than lipstick considering lipstick is more formal and dressy. Personally, I'll sacrifice vanity for having food on the table.
AllaWallaBalla AllaWallaBalla 9 years
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the correlation between a failing economy and short hair. If anything, shorter hair is higher maintenance and requires more frequent visits to the salon which, in turn, means more money spent. Short hair is less maintenance in terms of time spent styling but it's definitely not financially advantageous. Someone help me out?
tigerfire21 tigerfire21 9 years
Yeah, lipstick sales are going down because most women are into gloss now. Personally, makeup IS a splurge for me, so I can't buy it too often.
juliarose23 juliarose23 9 years
I think trends can be drawn for pretty much anything you wanted...and i could see how this could make sense...but if it doesn't have the facts to prove it....
emalove emalove 9 years
I think it's true that more women are probably treating themselves to just little things these days, so yeah, I kind of believe this. New makeup is fairly inexpensive and is a nice little treat.
WiCkeD_LaDy WiCkeD_LaDy 9 years
i haven't thought about it, but after reading this, is so true..... who woulds like a 800 purse, but we rather economize with makeup, well in my case its true.....
ssfl2000 ssfl2000 9 years
I 100% agree. Lipgloss has flooded the market costing the same and more than lipstick. I would like to see lipgloss sales info for the past 3 years.
Skinny1 Skinny1 9 years
Maybe lip gloss has replaced lipstick?
brittanyk brittanyk 9 years
I think that a lot of people don't have money to splurge on anything right now. $100 jeans or $10 lipstick, it's all a splurge and if it's not necessary then some people won't buy it.
piggles piggles 9 years
Actually, I'm buying nail polish instead. Painting your toes is lower maintenance then applying and then reapplying lipstick. Plus, its summer, so it isn't lipstick season.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I don't buy into this, sorry.
Dana18 Dana18 9 years
I just bought somelip stick yesterday but think sporty11 is right also.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
I'm with sporty as well - I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there's lots of other options now than plain lipstick. There's gloss, balm, and stains, which all eat into the same market.
missgnav missgnav 9 years
I agree with sporty. Lip gloss and colored lip balms are the big rage, not lipstick. But, if times were hard, makeup would be one of the last things I get, because when I do have money, I stock up on it or get items I don't really need.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
Lipstick is my favorite makeup item, so I'm likely to buying it anytime. I don't know how much I believe that but I heard of that a couple of years ago.
esweet esweet 9 years
I think the reason lipstick sales are down isn't due to the economy, but because of the natural look trend. Less people are buying true "lipsticks" and instead are buying lip gloss, colored chapsticks, etc.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
i haven't worn lipstick in years. i'd rather have clothes but i would never buy a $100 pair of jeans.
fortheloveofrock fortheloveofrock 9 years
I definitely agree, I find myself in splurging on make-up lately and H&m stuff rather than clothes.
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