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The masks are coming off, the lipstick goes on; sales up 80%

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Posted at 11:21 AM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 11:32:30-04

After a year of wearing masks in public, vaccinated Americans are ready to show their faces again and are apparently celebrating by buying lipstick.

The coronavirus pandemic deeply impacted the cosmetic and make-up industry, as working from home and wearing masks both limited the use or need of make-up.

According to data from the market research firm IRI, which tracks sales data from retailers, lipstick sales hit $34.2 million for the four weeks between mid-March and mid-April. That’s an increase of 80% over the same period last year.

Retailers are seeing a jump in sales.

Walmart told CNN lipstick is their top performing item across all cosmetics and stood out in their first-quarter sales.

Data from department stores and cosmetic stores still show lip products were down 24% in the first quarter of 2021 as mask mandates remained in place, reports Business Insider.

Sales of lipstick are not quite where they were before the pandemic, but they are picking up fast.

"We have been preparing for this renaissance in makeup for the last six months," Sam Cheow, global head of makeup innovation, portfolio and product development with The Estée Lauder Companies, told CNN.

“Lipstick is like an instant gratification, a pick-me-up that we haven't had in the last 12 months and we miss it," Cheow added.

The so-called "lipstick index" became a measure of how Americans were spending extra money during the 2008 recession, as people cut back on most major spending but were still trying to splurge on something small for themselves. During the economic downturn with the pandemic, the lipstick index, or measures of cosmetic sales, was not reliable as masks and facial coverings, plus staying at home for extended periods of time, made make-up less necessary.

So, what’s in style for lips? Vivid shades like orange, pinks, magenta and purple this summer, Cheow says.