For The Ladies: Makeup Sales Soar During Recession; How to Get a Bargain

The average British woman spends over £130 every year on cosmetics. That works out at around £8500 on cosmetics over their lifetime, according to an older poll by Debenhams.  This figure excludes cosmetic treatments such as botox and fillers, which have interestingly remained recession proof, along with basic cosmetic items.

In fact, the recent recession is seeing an increase in the sales of 'affordable' cosmetic products, such as foundation and lipsticks. This however is no new phenomenon. 'The Lipstick Effect', was a term coined during the Great Depression, which saw cosmetic sales rose from 1929 to 1933 by 25%, despite a flat economy. The theory behind why the cosmetic market remains somewhat recession-proof is that glum consumers prefer to spend money on small luxuries during times of economic or emotional turmoil. Even after 9/11 in the US, lipstick sales were recorded to have doubled.

So are we looking at history repeating itself with The Lipstick Effect of 2009? Surely, the Ferrarris and designer dresses remain in show rooms and shop racks, so why aren't women feeling the pinch when it comes to looking '10 Years Younger'?

Beauty and youth has been linked to success for decades. As shown in a study by Nicolas Geugen (2008), women wearing make-up were quicker to attract a man, and attracting more men probably provide an economic advantage (unless they are a banker).

But does this still justify for the money spent which perhaps should have been saved for the rainy day? Here are some tips from bargain hunting girlies suggesting how to find good make-up for cheaper in tough times:

  1. Shift to the lower end of the market—good quality products can be found at mass consumption retail outlets at quite cheap prices. Make-up is not only the preserve of the rich.
  2. Watch for sales and BOGOF deals— many stores offer packages such as free gifts which can come to at least £30. For example, buying a perfume can earn you enough free mascara, lipstick or moisturizer to last months.
  3. Check out various websites like HUKD for discounts and freebies. For example, you can get a free Nivea cream sample tin, or Gloves Off Nail Varnish for £2 or £3 off Selected Maybelline Cosmetics

As a side note, for the female BW readers, do you feel that you really get 'what you pay for' when it comes to spending money on anti-aging skin creams, botox, and cosmetic products? How do you justify and rationalise the money spent, especially in current times?

(thanks to olavs, pablo25, and 360 parker for deals above)


  • andy y.
    Make up for men is the next big market opportunity.
  • Elizabeth
    Well, you DO get what you pay for, to some extent. Above a certain quality level, I think the differences are probably negligible, but, for instance, buyin a 17 (Boots brand) eyeliner just isn't worth the less it costs, because it just doesn't work. I think you're better looking out for deals, eBaying it for new items only, etc. Oh, and p.s. Vince? I just realised from looking at your profile that we went to uni together and you were in a certain a cappella group with my ex-bf (initials M K)! Hope you're well.
  • Tony Q.
    With the price of alcohol going up of course those wimmins will try to make themselves look prettier via an alternate route
  • The W.
    My mom had this great makeup thing in high school that was really great at covering up zits. I'm sure it was expensive but there is no way she spends 130£ each year. You women are crazy.
  • Elizabeth
    That's only works out at 2.5 pounds a can barely get one coffee A WEEK for that much. So, really, it's not an insane amount at all, given that a) these products need to be replaced when they run out and b) for health purposes, if you don't use your products that often, you should be replacing things like mascara every six months.
  • -=Mike H.
    £130/year? Bollox, more like £130/month FFS! Most women plaster the shit on with a trowel! Ladies, you don't need to look like you've been 'Tangoed' less is more.
  • Veyron
    Awesome, this means I get to hear the 'Here Come The Girls' song for the 256,786th time.
  • Elizabeth
    Mike Hock, exactly. On that basis, L130 is reasonable! I probably spent around that or less and I'm a lip gloss and mascara only kinda gal.
  • DIY M.
    Hi hun, nice website! I really appreciate this blog post.. I was wondering about this for a while now. This cleared a lot up for me! Do you have a rss feed that I can add?
  • Dorcas M.
    I believe I first discovered your weblog via a link on Twitter.. I truly like the things I've read in your blog and want to keep reading when I get more time. Do you have a Twitter account?

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