Have you ever heard of the lipstick index? It’s a term that was coined by Leonard Lauder (son of Estee) to describe the increase of sales in cosmetics—particularly in lipstick—during the 2001 recession. His theory was that during times of economic distress, people were more likely to spend their money on smaller, more affordable luxuries like lipstick.
Sure enough, there have been many times throughout my early 20s (when I was just barely making rent in New York City) that I would find moments of real pleasure through the purchase of a Chanel Rouge Coco Shine lipstick in “Boy,” which was the perfect beige-pink shimmer that made me feel really happy every time I put it on.
I couldn’t afford the bag, but I could have the lipstick.
Fast forward to 2020. We’ve spent the better half of this year working from home. Our social lives made smaller, if non-existent, and like so much else in the world, the pandemic has turned the fabled lipstick index on its head.