Botox soothes women's economic fears

As the economy goes south, cosmetics sales are going up.

Published October 6, 2008 5:00PM (EDT)

According to Brandweek, sales of high-end cosmetics are up, despite the economic downturn. Says brand communications expert Julia Beardwood of Beardwood & Co., "It's like men and booze. The economy is not going to stop men drinking because that's how they relax. For women, cosmetic skin treatments are their counterpart to booze."

Hoo boy, those are some big old stereotypes, but it's worth noting that cosmetic sales also went up after Sept. 11, 2001. Apparently, national crises make some women take their mothers' advice to heart: Put on a little lipstick, and you'll feel better. Or, you know, blow $350-$600 injecting crap into your wrinkles, and you'll feel better; ad spending on Botox, Restylane, and Juvederm is up 18 percent over last year, suggesting the pharmaceutical companies behind them aren't worried that belt-tightening will be accompanied by skin-loosening. Meanwhile, in sales of "prestige" skincare cosmetics, "products costing more than $70 were up 8%; those above $150 gained 21%. Similar increases were seen in fragrances and makeup."

As someone who thinks indulging in high-end skincare products means buying Neutrogena instead of St. Ives, I'm boggling a little over here, but commenters at Jezebel, where I first saw this, seem to believe it makes sense. Says one, "I will basically give up all forms of protein in my diet, but spend just as much if not more on ten thisclose to the same, but slightly different shades of red lipstick." I guess it's like a friend of mine said about her arguably risky decision to open a clothing boutique a few years ago: "Even if it all goes to hell, at least I'll look fabulous walking into bankruptcy court."

By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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