Saturday, December 3, 2022

When the Going Gets Tough, the Ladies Get… Lipstick? 

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After what felt like forever in lockdown loungewear – who even needs a bra anymore?! –  the last thing you’d expect women to be adding to their carts in droves is lipstick. But as Alice O’Connell discovers, a little bit of slap seems to be just the ticket to a little happiness. 

Loves a lipstick, we do - especially in tough times

Loves a lipstick, we do – especially in tough times

When it’s finally time to reflect back on this sadistic washout of a year, who is likely to be fondly remembering 2020 as the year they crushed it? Hand sanitiser brands? Career counsellors? Marriage counsellors?

Lipstick manufacturers, that’s who.

A couple of decades back, economists noticed an interesting little trend occurred when the chips were down, globally. It appeared the more stressed out we got and the more out of work we became, the more likely we were to…. buy a new lipstick.

Yes it’s a strange one, but it makes perfect sense. While disposable incomes become leaner, women turn to small ticket items to give them a pick-me-up. And lipsticks just happen to provide the perfect indulgence. We may no longer be able to afford that expensive skincare routine, personal trainer or new pair of boots for the winter, but we can shell out $20 for a lipstick that can brighten our face – and day.

Leonard Lauder – chairman of beauty juggernaut Estee Lauder – even coined a term for this phenomenon in 2001 after he confirmed the company saw a surge in lipstick sales during every recession the company had weathered. He called it the “lipstick effect”. 

Market research firm Kline gave more insight into the “lipstick effect” the same year, releasing the mind-boggling stat that for every 1% hike in the unemployment rate during a recession, women in the US bought US$25 million more in lipsticks annually.

It stacks up to me. In my normal everyday life pre-Covid, lipstick could provide the ultimate trickery. If I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and got a fright by how tired I looked – or was simply running too late to do my make-up properly in the first place – lipstick was my go-to. It’s an easy sleight of hand: Don’t look at those dark circles, look at this fuschia lip! Don’t look at that pimple, look at this Lady Danger!  Nowadays my budget might mean I’m not buying new clothes, or booking in for a facial – or seeing the hairdresser as often as I should, but if I redirect attention to my new lipstick, who’s to really notice?

And while many businesses – and friend groups – are still relying on video conferencing to come together, we’re rather ironically spending more time looking at each other’s faces, as well as our own. I’ve marvelled at how alive some women look on Zoom calls – “you look amazing!” I’ve said. “I woke up 10 minutes ago, but I put on lipstick!’ they’ve replied.

So, if 2020 is going to become the year of the lipstick, we’ve put a few picks together of our top favourites to try:


Any shade by Karen Murrell

Karen Murrell lipstick nz.jpg

These beautiful lipsticks tick every box for me – they’re made in NZ (#supportlocal), they’re all natural (no parabens or BBP’s to worry about ingesting!), there’s a great selection of colours and they have great staying power! If I had to live on one shade for life, it’d be Violet Mousse ($32), but I keep the handy lip palette in my bag so I have colour choices without having to carry 72 tubes on me. It contains five of the top sellers.

RRP $50


MAC Lady Danger

lady danger.jpg

This is my absolute go-to lippy for any occasion. Happy? Lady Danger. Sad? Lady Danger? Drunk? Smudged Lady Danger. It’s just the perfect shade for me – red with a little orange – that warms my complexion and ups my confidence level tenfold. Plus it doesn’t budge once it’s on (unless on a late night out in the aforementioned state, and that’s not on MAC, that’s on me) and it has a great matte finish. 

RRP $32


Natio Naturally Nude Lip Colour in Chai


While I greatly admire a bright red lip on anyone who is willing to go there, I prefer a more natural look on my own mug. The colour is subtle  – like your actual lips but better – and it’s very moisturising, with ingredients like Shea Butter, Jojoba, Evening Primrose and Avocado. One stick lasts for ages, especially if you keep forgetting to put it on.

RRP $19.95


Antipodes Oriental Bay Plum


When I was reading the official product spiel for this, I thought it was referred to as an “erotic hue with magnificence in any light”, and i thought, “You go, Antipodes. That’s the sex positive vibe I want from my lipstick!” But no, it actually read exotic. Either way, this lipstick is excellent. It’s a perfect, sexy plum and it doesn’t dry your lips, or budge when you eat or drink things (erotically). Also, it’s all natural. I wear this usually when I am bordering on a full stress breakdown and need to look like I have my shit together, quickly. 

RRP $37

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