Do You Believe In ‘The Lipstick Effect’?: A Letter From The Editor
Good morning, dear readers,
At the conclusion of DFW Style Daily’s first-ever Summer Beauty Week, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a thought-provoking, beauty-related news item. It would seem, on paper at least, that our temporary shift in focus to the world of bronzers, blowouts, manicures, and masks has everything to do with catching a man.
Well, that’s what a new study released by a group of researchers from several universities, including TCU and UT San Antonio, reports. I was clued-in to their findings by the Huffington Post, conclusions which reinforce and slightly tweak the familiar notion that women lean toward quick beauty pick-me-ups in times of economic recession.
‘The Lipstick Effect’, as it’s known, is a common notion that beauty spending increases in a down economy, due to the fact that a tube of lipstick is much less expensive than, say, a new pair of shoes or a handbag. Thus, when the going gets tough, the fashionably-inclined and budget-conscious get going to the beauty counter.
Okay, that makes sense. Though often proved otherwise, we have to admit that this ‘Lipstick Effect’ has legs. But, speaking of nice legs, this new study (entitled “Boosting Beauty in an Economic Decline: Mating, Spending, and the Lipstick Effect”) expands on the idea with the addition of a mate-seeking component. As HuffPo writer, Bonnie Kavoussi summarizes:
“The paper’s first study found that during recessions over the past 20 years, women have reallocated their spending from other items to beauty products. The second, third, and fourth studies found that thinking about the recession made young, unmarried women want to buy beauty products (especially luxury beauty products) and made them more concerned with looking attractive. And the fifth study found that when the recession was on women’s minds, advertising for beauty products was more effective when it emphasized attracting men.”
In short, this implies that, seeking stability during times of financial downturn, women boost beauty buying in the hopes of attracting a man with a solid bottom line.
And, as a woman, an owner of many tubes of lipstick, and a good Southern girl, I’m calling bullshit.
None of our many beauty-focused articles this week has mentioned, even briefly or anecdotally, the idea that a product or regimen or trend will catch the eye of the opposite sex. Not a one. Not Abby’s Drugstore Finds, not Les Christianson’s Blow Dry Tips, not Priya’s Make Up For Ever Video Tour, and definitely not Rhonda’s Nail Trends. Ladies, how many (heterosexual) guys do you know that would fawn over an au courant ombré manicure, or the knowledge that you share a beauty secret with Lady Gaga?
This sexist-sounding study, scientific though it was, surprised me if only for the fact that man attraction didn’t occur to any of us in the least as we prepared our Summer Beauty Week plan. What did cross our minds? Looking and feeling better, brushing on a little summer fun, and catching up with another segment of the fashion industry.
The thing is, feeling great about yourself could and should make you more attractive to others, but that feeling isn’t something you can swipe or dab or brush onto your face. We know that, and we know you do, too.
To anyone who looks at my makeup kit and wonders what catch I’m trying to snag, I’d defer to Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.”
My best to you,
Lisa Petty, Editor