By spending more than 10 percent of their income on cosmetics, Iranian women have become the Middle East's second-largest group of makeup buyers. (Saudi women are the only ones who shop more.)
Only a few decades ago, such a thing would have been unthinkable; after the 1979 revolution, makeup was completely forbidden. Women who wore lipstick risked being fined or even arrested by the moral police. Since laws relaxed in the '80s, and cosmetics were allowed for import again in the '90s, Iran's young-leaning population has flocked to lipstick and mascara. Products are expensive due to a 50 percent duty fee, and a black market of smuggled grooming goods is thriving.
That's not to say that it's all sunshine and Maybelline in Iran, though. Women who are employed by the government are still forbidden to wear makeup at work, and Tehran's police chief says he'll arrest suntanned women who look like "walking mannequins." Have you ever considered makeup to have a subversive side?