Lipstick — are face masks leading us to kiss the cosmetic goodbye?

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.

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

Will face masks will wipe away the simple joys of lipstick?

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“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?

Formillennia, 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.

Willpandemic face masks 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 byPoshly, a marketing research firm that works with cosmetic companies, says CEO Doreen Bloch.

“Lipstick is out for now,” Bloch says. “We have surveyed1,000 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 hasneverhappened before.”

Many consumers are foregoing bold color in favor of mere lip gloss under their face masks, and for obvious reasons. Whether you choose a disposable paper mask or a washable mask or a fancy cloth scarf mask to cover your face from nose down, the messy result is the same: smears on the mask, smears all around the mouth and face.

Many consumers are foregoing bold color in favor of mere lip gloss under their face masks, and for obvious reasons. Whether you choose a disposable paper mask or a washable mask or a fancy cloth scarf mask to cover your face from nose down, the messy result is the same: smears on the mask, smears all around the mouth and face.

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

Lipstick fanMaya 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.”

Feelings about lipstick are remarkably intense in some quarters.Anna Murphy, fashion editor of The Times of London, wrotea paean to lipstick in Harper’s Bazaarin November, months before the pandemic began.

“Lipstick is a real joy in my life,” she wrote. “There is no day, no mood, no outfit, that isn’t improved by a superlative slash of the bright stuff. ...We need such small but significant pleasures more than ever at the moment.”

Indeed, lipstick has long been a reliable, legal and cheap mood lifter. Can we survive this new plague era without it?

“A little lipstick can add spark to your life, and especially in these days of the pandemic, we can use a boost anywhere we can get it,” says Victoria Stiles, a Washington, D.C., hair andmakeup artist for TV and special events.

But many consumers are foregoing bold color in favor of mere lip gloss under their face masks, and for obvious reasons.

Whether you choose a disposable paper mask or a washable mask or a fancy cloth scarf mask to cover your face from nose down, the messy result is the same: smears on the mask, smears all around the mouth and face.

People are joking about it on Twitter, naturally. Or they’re posting pictures of novelty masks withlipstick-stained lips covering theoutside.

“six word horror story: red lipstick and a face mask,” tweeted Val Graham succinctly.

“Just put lipstick on under my face mask bc I’m an idiot apparently,” joked tatianasaurus rex.

“It’s a dark lipstick day💋 Too bad no one is gonna see it under my face mask,” tweeted Berniece.

A TV reporter takes off her protective mask to touch up her lipstick at the Shanghai International Film Festival last week in Shanghai, China.

A TV reporter takes off her protective mask to touch up her lipstick at the Shanghai International Film Festival last week in Shanghai, China.

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As her bookings are picking up slowly, Stiles, 41, says she’s hearing frustration from her clients and friends about this less obvious annoyancecourtesy of the pandemic.

“They’re used to having a full face [of makeup] and lipstick brightens the face, but you’re putting on something thatblockshalf the face,” she says. “A majority have been foregoing lipstick under their masksjust because their favorite lipstick ends up staining the inside.”

Allen points to the ways some consumers are adjusting to the new realities of going without.

“Some women are choosing to embrace that and some want to defy it, so they’ll put on lipstick for their Zoom and Facetime meetings because it makes them feel like themselves,” Allen says.

Consumers might take some lessons from the millions of women, especially in the Muslim world but also the U.S., who wear niqabs,hijabs, veils and scarves, some of which cover parts orall of the face.

In Saudi Arabia, where most women continue to cover their face and hair in public despite a recent relaxation in conservative social measures, reports suggest thatSaudi womenspend more on makeup than on food, transport or clothes. Dubai could soon replace Seoul, South Korea,as the next beauty capital of the worldin terms of makeup sales.

Face-mask wearing American consumers, meanwhile, are rushing to learn more about non-smear products already on the market.

“Try transfer-resistant lipsticks,” says Stiles, such asStila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick,Lorac Pro Matte Lip Color, orN.Y.C. New York Color Expert Last Lip Lacquer. “Their purpose is to withstand eating, drinking or kissing.”

Or, she advises, shift to more dramatic eye makeup.

“Smoke your eyes, use wing eye liner, playwith false lashes, go for a bold brow,” she says.

“Skin care is surging massively because of the whole self-care movement — we have more time to ourselves and we’represerving our peace with the rituals that skin care routines provide,” adds Allen, who’s been working in the beauty industry for eight years.

With the whole world “on pause,” now is the time to “lean in to what makes you feel good,” says Allen, whois constantly testing and wearing new colors and brands for her job and for her own sense of well-being.

“That’s the biggest draw for me; (lipstick)makes me feel veryconfident, very put together, very fierce,”Allen says. “I just interviewed a supermodel who told me she is wearing lipstick even when she works out because it makes her feel good. In challenging times, it makes sense people want that.”

Allen’s weekly ”Big Lipstick Energy”column, whichcovers new launches and products she thinks readers should try, suggests her readers agree.

“The continued success of that column even during the pandemic shows the interest (in lipsticks) is still there,” she says.

Still, coronavirus has forced millions of beauty consumers, most of them confined to their homes, possibly jobless or furloughed, to wonder whether it’s worth it to buy lip color now that they only leave the house for the weekly grocery run.

Even if they could go out, there are few places to shopexcept online. Major beauty retailers, such as Sephora, and department store cosmetic counters, have been closed for weeks and are only now beginning to reopen in some places under social distancing protocols.

Thus, the pandemic is affecting sales and is likely to continue to do so for a while since no one knows when “normal life” will return.Online sales of beauty products have increased during the pandemic but probably not enough to offset declines of in-store purchases due to pandemic closures,according to market analysts.

But Kline, a marketresearch firm,predicts that lipsticks will be one of the worst-performing categories in the beauty industry in 2020, according to Carrie Mellage, vice president for consumer products. She says the firm projects that U.S. sales of lipsticks will drop by 11%,to $3.1 billion at the retail level,in 2020, compared with2019.

Even Kylie Jenner’s super successful and influential “lip kits” (now owned byCoty)have taken a pandemic sales hit.

Thanks in part to Jenner, a richly painted mouth has been a top makeup trend recently, and it’s not clear whether a shift to eye makeup and skin-care products will be enough to compensate for the decline in lipstick sales.

But figuring out how to have our lipstick and wear it, too, will be necessary if face masks become a permanent fact of our daily lives for months or years to come.

Consumers also will have to adjust to the new ways makeup will be sold in brick-and-mortar settings, with social distancing, limitedcrowds, and employees required to wear masks. Get used to more disposable brushes andwandsand stainless steel palettes for dispensing products.

How will this work? The details are still being developed as lockdowns are lifted cautiously around the country.

But consumers can probably count on one change they’ll see at the beauty counters at their local mall: No more trying on new lipsticks in stores.

Read more at usatoday.com

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