Image of purse and lipstick

The lipstick effect and you

The question that is percolating in the air, the one everyone has an opinion on but has no definite answer: will there be a recession?

Will the economists and strategists attempt to answer and hypothesize on this question, we pose a different one: how will the lipstick effect impact the professional beauty industry? And more importantly, how can you strategically use it to your advantage?

The lipstick effect, coined by Estee Lauder in 2001, is the rise of spending on small luxury goods (like lipstick) during times of economic downturn. Studies have found that when the economy is unsteady, consumers spend less on large ticket items and more on small luxury goods as “pick-me-ups.”

This phenomenon can present itself in different ways, depending on the state of the world. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, when masks made lipstick obsolete, nail polish and fragrance sales rose. Experts propose that consumers are not looking for specific items during these times, but rather a specific feeling of comfort that comes from small indulgences.

So how can you use this to your advantage?

Retail products in salons were up 6.5% in Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2021, according to Kline. We’ve seen an increased demand for prestige haircare products and consumer preference to buy them from a salon. By increasing your retail game and offering products that are both good for a client’s hair (or skin or nails) and soul, you can bend the lipstick effect to your advantage.


Education can play a big part in whether clients purchase a product or not – educating your clients on the benefits products can bring, as well as demonstrating it, can help to persuade them to buy.


Social media has a huge impact on consumer behavior. The makeup and hair communities are booming on TikTok -whether amateur or professional. Staying tuned into what people are doing and asking for means that you can stay ahead of the game and offer your clients the products that they want.

Research is also important to follow trends. While volumizing products may not be going viral, research from Kline shows that volumizing services are up 36% in US salons, which led to an increase in the sale of volumizing products, as clients try to replicate looks at home.

Being in tune with consumer needs means that you can be there when your clients want it.


Ensure that your digital presence is top-notch. As noted, social media has an impact on consumer behavior with trends, but also on how they make decisions. Showcase your salon, educate followers on products, and demonstrate your team’s talents to turn your followers into clients.

We know that the mention of a recession can bring on a feeling of uncertainty. And while the beauty industry at large is not recession-proof, it has shown to be recession-resilient. Educating yourself on best business practices will go a long way in helping you move through a recession with ease and grace.