What Lipstick Index?

Published in: News

The makeup unicorn

I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but an economic indicator known as the Lipstick Index has long held that purchases of color cosmetics were inversely correlated to economic health, and that in bad economic times, women skipped big-ticket luxuries in favor of little treats like lipsticks and gloss.


Well, chalk this up as another example of just how bad the global recession is, but the Lipstick Index no longer applies.

In both 2007 and 2008, sales of premium color cosmetics were down in all major markets worldwide, with the exception of Latin America, where overall makeup and beauty sales have done all right. Moreover, the global rate of decline doubled between 2007 and 2008 (from 2-4%).


What’s it mean?

Probably that this particular recession, now in its 19th month, is worse than the average downturn, something most people already knew. Since 1854, the US has gone through 32 cycles of economic expansion and contraction, with each period of contraction lasting an average of 17 months. And that’s including the 10-12 years of the Great Depression, which kinda throws the whole curve out of whack.

It may also mean more unemployment (and the anxiety that comes with uncertainty in the job market), as businesses continue cutting costs by laying off more workers; more consolidation among companies in the beauty industry; and, hopefully, lower prices.

Do you think makeup and beauty prices are falling? I tried to think of some big lines that have dropped their prices lately and couldn’t come up with a single one.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. Just a reminder, but MAC is holding a much-needed Friends & Family Sale June 16-18. It’s online only, and the coupon code is SUMO, which is good for 25% off purchases made through maccosmetics.com (valid in the US and Canada).


Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 15 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Kate & Zena says:

    :laughs: What price cuts in makeup? I haven’t seen any and I’m a drugstore user! I’ve seen some sales like with L’Oreal’s 50th Anniversary Sale (is it 50 or 100? I can’t remember) and Lime Crime Makeup is having its summer sale (and Max Factor leaving the US :cries:). Other than that, I haven’t seen anything.

  2. Jenna says:

    Stila Indian Summer Charmed Eye shadow palette is $10 at Sephora right now!!!! They haven’t brought it out yet, but if you ask them for it, they’ll go in the back and get it for you. On the Stila site it’s $28!!!

    I’m so excited to have it at such a great price point!

    Maybe it’s a sign that the economic difficulties Stila has been having lately have encouraged them to try lowering the prices of their items now? Instead of simply coming out with a lower end brand?

  3. TUPRNUT says:

    I wish I saw more prices dropping!!! Seriously.

    If anything, my email has been packed with free shipping offers.. maybe one method to entice shoppers? I’m all about MAC’s sale next week!

  4. Kailey says:

    they’re not dropping, as far as i notice lol.
    i still pay freaking insane amounts for my Bobbi Brown foundation.

  5. Glosslizard says:

    I think prices are staying the same, but there are more bargains available if you dig a little! Over the last year or two, I’ve been seeing sales and incentives from stores and brands that I’ve never seen before!

  6. Archelle says:

    I can’t think of anyone lowering prices but I’m noticing a LOT more sales lately.

  7. Briseida says:

    I havent seen any price drops in makeup, but I have noticed more sales. I still cant believe that MAC is going to increase their prices increases as of July 26 in Canada and August 1 in the US.

  8. Rachel says:

    I haven’t seen a difference either.

  9. Lorena says:

    Hahaha…I wish the prices of makeup were dropping!! MAC has definitely increased their prices b/c back in Dec 08, I was thinking of getting this lip conditioner but never ended up getting it until last week and the price (Canadian) of it went up!

  10. Rachel says:

    I just stopped into my Sephora, and they don’t have the Indian Collection from Stila. The girl I talked to said they hadn’t even gotten any paperwork updating them about it. 🙁 I’d love to have the eyeshadow for $10!

  11. pouneh says:

    I agree with all the other ladies…some more sales but no real price drops. IF anything new collections in even drugstores r more expensive than before. For Department stores I guess they have been a little more generous with GWP?

  12. Jenna says:

    Hi Rachel, that’s really weird. Mine didn’t have them out yet but they were in the back. I found out about this from Makeupalley, I know a lot of other people have had success with it. Maybe they just haven’t arrived at your Sephora yet?

  13. Louise Gray says:

    One does not have to spend a lot money to make oneself feel good. That being said, this is my suggestion to the cosmetics industry: Make your product a little smaller and a little cheaper. Then we might buy more often. I get tired of products and like to try new things. If a line would make a smaller lippie and charge a little less, I might buy more frequently. That is my take on things. Waste not, want not is still a good thought in the 21st century. Lousie

  14. penelope says:

    nope not at all

  15. Rachel says:

    Jenna, I hope that is the case. I’d hate to miss out on a good deal! Maybe Wisconsin just doesn’t have the sweet Sephora hook up other states do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge