Lifestyle Asia


It has been six months since the world, as we had known it, shifted on its axis. With the advent of COVID-19, rules were imposed to enforce lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus. This meant work from home for non-essential workers, and non-essential businesses were shut down. This included the retail sphere: going to the mall, an important place of gathering for Filipinos, suddenly became a forbidden activity.

In the first three months of the year, there was a 0.7% contraction of the economy, followed by 16.5% in the second quarter, as the economic effects of the stay home order became known. We are now officially in a recession, the first in three decades. Ayala Land posted a 70% income decrease with the dearth of construction and foot traffic in malls, while SM Investments saw a dramatic nosedive of 69% net income as all the malls in the country were shut down.

Beauty retail stores face a specific conundrum: In times of crisis, sales for beauty products traditionally increase or at least remain relatively steady. This is known as the Lipstick Effect, so-called after Leonard Lauder of the Estée Lauder Companies had noticed that his brands had sold more lipstick in the aftermath of 9/11 than before. It then became an acknowledged economic theory: during a worldwide economic downturn, consumers are still willing to spend, albeit for small-ticket items like lipstick as a special treat for themselves (instead of an extravagant purchase like a luxury vacation or a car).

But who buys lipstick (or makeup, in general) during a pandemic? There are sanitation issues to think of, and then more importantly, where are you going to wear that lipstick? As described in Juliet Shor’s The Overspent American, a Chanel lipstick is “perfect for preening in public.” Who is going to see you preen in public, and what is the point of wearing lipstick under a mask?


“One of the simplest survival instincts that we have when faced with a

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