Mendoza School of Business

Why Women Reach for Lipstick During Harsh Economic Times

Published: July 25, 2016 / Author: Jenna Birch

Whenever there’s an economic downturn, most women aim to tighten their budgets, with one notable exception — cosmetics. While researchers have previously explained this “lipstick effect” as women attempting to attract romantic partners, a new study says they might actually be trying to get ahead at the office.

Makeup sales have seen strange spikes during major economic stumbles, including post-9/11 and the 2008 recession. McKenzie Rees, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate at Mendoza College of Business, and study co-author Ekaterina Netchaeva were “fascinated” by prior research on this “lipstick effect” but found the explanation of women buying more makeup to lure in a partner a bit limiting.

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“We were certain that there were other reasons that women wanted to use makeup during recessionary times, including professional motivations, and so we started the project to examine those alternative reasons,” Rees tells Yahoo Beauty.

To make sure they were capturing women’s “real economic concerns” and attributing the uptick in cosmetic sales to the right sources, the researchers surveyed 1,070 women across the United States using a dual-methods approach. This involved multiple questionnaires examining how women felt about the state of the economy, as well as their desires to buy beauty products like lipstick, nail polish, and perfume. “In those studies, we found that as women’s economic concern increased, so did their desire for these beauty products,” Rees says.

Read the entire story on the Yahoo Beauty website