People may know it as an important business index. It is a theory proposed by Leonard Lauder: in a capitalist world, where the mantra “I shop therefore I am” (Barbara Kruger), consumers are more willing to buy beauty products instead of luxury goods during periods of wars or economical crisis (i.e. the one of 2008). That’s because in general, even if sometimes a scrub could cost as a Tiffany’s diamond, beauty products are considered less expensive than other fashion items. Moreover, speaking of the volatility of desires, beauty products tire less their buyers and last longer.
Although there is no clear evidence of this correlation, there are some traces that, maybe, nowadays, it is true the opposite, instead. McKinsey & Co’s researches reported that in the last year the sells of lipsticks are decreased 30% globally in favour of body, hairs or eye products such as argan oils, moisturizers or eyeliners. We witness, we could say to stay in the metaphor, a “Mascara Effect”. . That it is obvious since our new habit to wear a surgical mask to try to prevent the spread of covid-19. This behaviour is rooted in the same ancestral psychological reason of the lipstick effect and has been seen as an evolutionary human factor: “The effect is driven by the desire to attract and depends on the perceived mate attraction function served by make up”. Humans perceive that the species is in danger and try to reproduce it.
A different example of “lipstick effect” could be dated back in time when buying a red lipstick meant also to declare a political anti-racist position or as sign of protest.
Elizabeth Nicholas wrote in an interesting article titled “The Little-Known Lipstick Battle of World War II” Germany was an anti-lipstick reign. “German women were discouraged from using other modes of feminine adornment—such as perfume, fur, and the new fashion of trousers—that displeased the dictator. Although Hitler said that “Berlin women must become the best dressed in Europe,” he did not give them much encouragement or many tools with which to accomplish this goal […]”
Symbols of fight even in 1912, tubes of red lipstick were used by the suffragettes movement to represent “not just strength, but female strength” as said in Rachel Felder, “Red Lipstick: An Ode to a Beauty Icon”. In general “red lipstick is truly a way to trace cultural history and society zeitgeist” and also a good idea to face sadness and difficulties as Elizabeth Taylor used to remind us: “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together”.
By Alessandra Busacca