Many years ago, cosmetics tycoon and Estee Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder observed that when the economy stalled, lipstick sales tended to spike and accordingly coined the phrase “lipstick index."
During the Depression and in the time following 9/11, there were 25% increases in lipstick sales. “The lipstick index is a way to judge a recession,” wrote NY Times op-ed columnnist Maureen Dowd in 2001. “When the economy goes down, lipstick sales go up. Women indulge in smaller luxuries and skip bigger ones.”