Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Why Spending on Beauty Products Increases During a Downturn, and What You Can Do About It (editorial)

The thing about online banking is that it is far too clever. My online banking service, for example, charts my spending and breaks it down into categories: household goods, bills, transport costs, and more. And it made me realise something: Despite the economic downturn, I’m spending less on just about everything. Everything, that is, except beauty products. My list of treats has many things crossed off: Meals with Cameron at Bread Street Kitchen, trips to cocktail bars, shopping in Selfridges for lovely but not-so-necessary chocolate, and countless other things, now resigned to stay memories until the economy improves, a pay rise is authorised, and I have the spare cash for frivolities. But ditch Clinique? Oh, no. They're staying firmly on my must-haves list.

I’m not alone in this, according to a new study by Hill et al. Their study is informed by life history theory, models of human mating, and biological models of mating pool quality. And these frameworks suggest that when resources become scarce, such as during an economic downturn, individuals increase their efforts to attract mates. This is thought to be the case because their chances of finding highly resourceful partners are slimmer as there are fewer of them around (Hill et al., 2013). Of course, that’s not to say that this is a conscious decision, and it’s more likely to be built into our ancestral psychology. 

Journalists have labelled this the ‘lipstick effect’, as a nod how to the importance of a splurge on a lipstick is just as (or even more) justifiable now than before the downturn. For me, it rings true, at least based on my own behaviour. However, psychological studies aren't prescriptive and don't aim to second-guess the behaviour of everybody, since we are all unique. It might be totally untrue for you. 

My thoughts? Whether this study applies to us or not, let’s try to make our money go farther. Click here to see our top, five-star rated product reviews across both the value and premium categories. Beauty needn't come at a staggering cost. If there's one thing I'm sure of, it is that a higher price tag doesn't necessarily equate to a more effective product. 

If you have any favourite budget beauty buys, or even premium buys which you can’t live without during an economic downturn, comment below to let us know. 


Hill, S.E., Rodeheffer, C.D., Griskevicius, V., Durante, K., White, A.E., 2013, Boosting beauty in an economic decline: mating, spending, and the lipstick effect, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 103, pp. 275-91. 

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