Small Talk

Is nail polish the new lipstick?

November 21st, 2011

Have you heard of the lipstick index? It's a term coined a decade ago by Estee Lauder chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder, which refers to the increase in lipstick sales in reaction to a recession. In 2001, lipstick sales soared as the economy declined. The theory is that it's a small luxury to consumers who otherwise have to cut back on many expenses.

We're in another rough economic patch (to say the least!) and, according to an October issue of Time magazine, lipstick sales are up 14%. "Nail polish, which more recently has become a bellwether to economic turbulence, has risen an even more disturbing 54%," says the article. It's prompted Lauder to dub nail polish the "heir to lipstick" in this recession.

I myself have been enjoying nail polish for a few years now, since Olivia was old enough to be interested. She is very girly and loves makeup. I did, too, as a child and teen, but then became disinterested as an adult too busy to remove chipped polish every few days.

Mom-daughter mani-pedi

Mom-daughter mani-pedi

Now, however, I have about 20 bottles (yes, my collection's grown since I last blogged about it), and several sheets of nail appliques. I even bought skull design press-on nails for Halloween, but I never used them. Olivia and I put on nail polish frequently. It's fun to do together.

Olivia's manicure

Olivia's manicure

None of my polish purchases have to do with the recession. I also don't buy lipstick when anxious about money. If I had to name a small decadence, it would be buying dessert at a cafe or restaurant rather than buying a whole carton from the grocery store, which is cheaper. Food... I'm so predictable.

Oh, I also enjoy designer toiletries. I really love the scents at Lanikai Bath & Body. I particularly like supporting local businesses, so I go there now and then and buy a $6 bar of soap if I want to have a pick-me-up.

If you're a woman, does the lipstick/nail polish index apply to you? Or for everyone- what small thing do you treat yourself to when stressed about money?

Also reach me via

5 Responses to “Is nail polish the new lipstick?”

  1. Rosette:

    I married my husband so he can worry about money ...SO I CAN I TAKE A NAP...funny!...right now I am too lazy to shop...but if I have to shop...for something..I send my husband to buy me things....if he pester me to go out with him I come home with a huge bill of a dog $ 2,000 for chihuahua........funny! so lesson one don't take me out or I come home with dog number two ... add another 2,000 for that ...SHOPPING DONE!

  2. Rosette:

    with my shopping spree my oldest son had to help pay for the dogs....he help his dad my powder and lipstick mommy is all my husband is plotting to get me out of thouse for vacation...I SHOULD SHOP FOR MORE JUNK..funny!

  3. Rosette:

    recession because people got smart so they buy only lipstick..funny..they have too much junk lipstick easy to carry you don't break your arm...funny! !

  4. Ken Conklin:

    The lipstick index isn't the only way to use women's fashion to measure economic prosperity. Another well-known correlation is that rising women's hemlines predict a rising stock market, while lowering hemlines predict a falling stock market. Looking at those beautiful legs of the woman in the purple dress reminded me of the hemline market index, and lifts my, um, spirits as I imagine prosperity ahead.

  5. Titus:

    Eating out is always a treat. It doesn't have to be expensive, as long as the food is delicious.

Leave a Reply

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email

Recent Posts

Recent Comments