On National Lipstick Day, are face masks leading us to kiss the cosmetic goodbye?

July 29 , 2020 10:44 AM
YSL lipsticks on display at a Sephora in in Los Angeles in 2018.
 "Lipstick is the best cosmetic there is," Joan Collins once observed, shrewdly. Alas, not so much anymore – not now, when face masks are covering the lower half of our faces.

It could mean the end of lipstick as we know it. And what would we do without it, especially on July 29, National Lipstick Day?

For millennia, lip cosmetics have been one of the ways for women and men to express themselves, to lift their spirits, to make their face stand out in the crowd.

Now we're contemplating another unhappy consequence of coronavirus: the possibility that face masks will wipe away the simple joys of lipstick. 

Perish the thought, say lipstick lovers and cosmetic makers, nervously eyeing sales figures expected to fall this year, maybe as much as 11% according to one market prediction.

Since the pandemic (and mask-wearing) started, there's been a dramatic drop in use of lipstick, according to multiple surveys by Poshly, a marketing research firm that works with cosmetic companies, says CEO Doreen Bloch. 

"Lipstick is out for now," Bloch says. "We have surveyed 1,000 beauty consumers, a fully representative sample, and found that (as of June), 86% said they generally wore lipstick (before the pandemic) and now only 45% say they still wear it – a 40-point drop. This has never happened before."

All is not lost, because consumers are gravitating to other beauty products – including eye makeup and nail polish – to express themselves, she says. 

Lipstick fan Maya Allen, 27, the digital beauty editor for Marie Claire, whose lipstick collection tops 200, says there's no doubt the pandemic in general and face masks in particular have stymied the impulse to buy and adorn ourselves in lip color. But she's not giving up on her favorite product. 

"I don’t want to believe that the idea of lipsticks is fading into the background, not while women are still putting on their lipstick when they're on a Zoom date," Allen says. "Not now, when women are using beauty products as escapism and to resume a sense of normalcy."