Lipstick effect: Prestige beauty sees sales boom in July

By Alessandro Carrara 24-Aug-2022

Womens perfume sales skyrocketed by 186.8% during the month, as consumers appeared undeterred by the growing cost of living crisis

The lipstick effect is the theory that consumers will still buy luxury products to feel good despite economic challenges

The lipstick effect is the theory that consumers will still buy luxury products to feel good despite economic challenges

Prestige beauty sales across the UK rose by 19.5% in July, despite the worsening impact of the cost of living crisis.

Soaring inflation and energy costs have resulted in a difficult time for the British high street and the global economy, and has affected consumer spending habits.

Despite this, the prestige category saw a 21.5% increase in fragrance sales compared with July 2021, according to market research NPD Group.

Skin care sales were up by 18.4% during the period, with make-up and hair care product sales also increasing by 17.3% and 13.7% respectively.

Rakesh Aggarwal, CEO and founder of online beauty retailer escentual.com, highlighted 'the lipstick effect' as the reason behind the strong category performance.

The 'lipstick effect' is the theory that consumers are still willing to buy less costly luxury goods to make themselves feel good, when they have to make cost savings in other areas.

"We are yet to see signs that consumers are tightening their belts as a result of the cost of living crisis,” added Aggarwal.

“It certainly appears to be the case that the ‘lipstick effect’ is happening for the UK's female consumers and we have seen increases in sales across all categories of luxury cosmetics in July."


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Fragrance sales increased by 54% during the month, as women's perfume skyrocketed by 186.8% year-on-year.

Other strong performing products were setting sprays, which rose by 59.2%. Blush was up 35.9% and bronzer boosted by 19.1%.

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Barclaycard found that consumers were still purchasing luxury beauty products such as self-tan and make-up despite the rising cost of living.

The beauty category saw a 13% increase in spending when compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

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