Estee Lauder Says ‘Lipstick Index’ Is Out, Moisturizer Is In

With a global health crisis keeping mouths hidden behind masks, the “Lipstick Index” just doesn’t make much sense these days. That doesn’t mean the idea itself is dead.

“The Lipstick Index has been substituted by the Moisturizer Index,”Estee Lauder Cos. Chief Executive Officer Fabrizio Freda said Thursday. “But the concept of the index is still there.”

The term, coined by former Estee Lauder Chairman Leonard Lauder during the early 2000s recession, refers to the resiliency of cosmetics during times of economic turmoil because women turn to makeup as an affordable indulgence. The trend could be seen last year in China, where cosmetics salesremained strong despite a contraction in luxury spending and a government crackdown on high-end goods.

But the index didn’t account for Covid-19. Lipstick — and makeup broadly — is falling out of favor as consumers wear masks and don’t go out as much to meet friends. Instead, shoppers are immersing themselves in skin-care routines while hunkered down at home.

Estee Lauder’s skin-care sales were already outpacing makeup before the outbreak devastated the global economy. Freda, speaking on a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings, said he expects this to continue at least until an economic recovery takes hold.

“Makeup will come back when consumer sentiment will come back,” he said.

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