Feeling Down? Buy Lipstick

Fact: During the recession or after a tragedy, cosmetic sales tend to increase. There's even an investment term for the phenomenon—the Lipstick Indicator, coined by Leonard Lauder (chairman of Estee Lauder), who realized that during tough economic times, his lipstick sales increased.

The question is, what is it about adding a beauty boost to their routine that makes women feel better about themselves in tough times? In other words, what is the psychology behind looking good?

"We define ourselves by the mirror—the mirror on the wall and the mirror of ourselves with other women," says Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress. "Given that, putting on some makeup and dressing well give women the self confidence to shine. It's like putting on your armor to face the world everyday."

Often, however, the biggest obstacles to piling on the beauty battle gear is a perceived lack of time, motivation, or money. And often, those factors force us into a funk. "In our society, it's about being thin and wearing makeup and we're bombarded with products," says Mandel. It's no wonder we feel overwhelmed, and sometimes give up.

The good news is you can learn how to renew and polish your look with a few easy strategies. And without even knowing it, you'll be giving your mindset a makeover, too.

Step one: Take a good look at yourself. Do any of these sound familiar?


For the Busy Mom

Between diaper changes, grocery runs and cheerleading practice, you haven't gotten out of sweatpants and ponytails for five years. "You wake up one day and realize that you've totally forgotten about yourself," says Scarlett De Bease, a NY-based image consultant and fashion stylist. "It's important for a woman to remember that she has to treat herself well, and not feel guilty about it. If you like the way you look, you feel good and are more productive."


For the Shop-a-Phobe

You know the feeling: You wander aimlessly through the department store racks. Nothing appeals to you, and worse, when you do try something on, it doesn't fit right. "I had one client say she would cry when she went shopping because she couldn't find anything," says De Bease. Instead of putting so much pressure on yourself, go with a goal of getting just one thing that works for you. "Force yourself to try things on that you normally wouldn't pick out on your own," she says. And stop being afraid —shopping is supposed to be fun!


For the Caretaker

"Many of us become colleagues, wives, mothers and we lose how we are and we self soothe with junk food, a sedentary lifestyle and retail therapy," says Mandel. "If you're fatigued and drained and always doing for everyone else, how can you be beautiful?" Sometimes feeling good is as simple as taking a break once in a while. As Mandel reminds us, "There's great productivity in rest."


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