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Cosmetics buck recession

Foreign holidays, fancy nights out and new cars are among the many things that Britons have sacrificed in the face of the worst recession for decades. But there is one thing that it seems much of the population cannot go without — make-up.

L'Oréal, the French cosmetic company whose brands include Lancôme, Garnier and the Body Shop, have reported higher than expected profits of €1.37bn (£1.2bn) for the first half of the year. Shares jumped 10% on the news.

At Boots, the UK market leader, sales of beauty products have increased in recent months. Peter Bainbridge, commercial director of Boots’ beauty business, which includes No 7, the biggest selling brand, said: “Customers are looking for an inexpensive treat to make them feel good and a small thing, like a lipstick, can make a big difference to someone’s day.”
   “A recession does not change people’s insecurities about the way they look,” says Alexandra Richmond, a beauty analyst at Mintel. “They may have given up their long-haul holiday this year but the reality is make-up is a small indulgence in the scheme of things.”

The link between make-up and recession is not new. When an executive at Estée Lauder noted that sales of expensive lipsticks soared in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, he dubbed it the Lipstick Index, an alternative economic indicator which sees make-up sales rise in a downturn.

The Lipstick Index has been replaced by the ‘Foundation Factor’ after L'Oréal noted a 15% sales jump as women sought the perfect skin tone above a glossy pout.  The overall make-up market is in very strong growth both in the luxury and mass market segment.

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