It doesn’t take a cosmetics expert to guess that wearing face masks to fend off the coronavirus might be the kiss of death for the lipstick business.
One might assume fears of smears would virtually eliminate lipstick wearing where masks are required full-time or get yanked on and off given changing social distancing requirements as the wearer moves through the day.
Unmasked kissy-face selfies also lose their social media sizzle when they must be shot without socializing, or when the wearer ends up with a scary “Joker” smile after sliding a mask off.
The numbers back up the thesis, according to Klaviyo Inc., a Boston-based email marketing company that provides consumer data on ecommerce sales.
Company figures indicate that when masks went into effect, consumers began to focus on eye makeup and nail polish instead.
Klaviyo said average daily orders for lipstick have decreased by 5% since masks became a fixture for the out-of-home wardrobe. Meanwhile, daily average orders for nail polish have increased by 55%, and eyeshadow is up 64%.
Klaviyo’s numbers also indicate lip gloss has seen some increase; daily average orders are up 9%. The company has no data on why consumers might perceive glossy lips as a less sticky situation than matte lipstick color during Covid-19.
Eye products surge
“We’ve seen an uptick in sales around our eye products during quarantine where our eyeshadow sticks are actually selling 12 times more than our lip products,” said Leila Kashani, founder and chief executive of Alleyoop Inc., a West Hollywood-based beauty and body products company.
“Prior to quarantine, their sales were pretty comparable,” she said. “I think the uptick in eyeshadows is because it’s a fun way to brighten up your look when you have to wear a mask.”
Conor Riley, chief executive of Luxie Inc., a makeup brush company based in San Jose, said brush sets designed for eye looks have seen a 40% increase in orders since the pandemic took hold, with a similar increase in the purchases of brush holders for those sets.
In terms of website searches, “the nose is barely looked for, nose brushes for any kind of nose contouring,” Riley said. “The lips come in squarely last place, with our poor little lip brush not getting any interest.”
Industrywide, Riley said, false eyelashes experienced a renaissance in 2019 with a 90% increase over the previous year. He said the industry expected the bottom to drop out of the trend fairly quickly, but in the Covid-19 era, interest in fake lashes is remaining strong.
In addition, Riley said, eye shadows and liners are moving toward the extreme, and he observes more people searching YouTube tutorials on how to create the smoky eye and other dramatic effects.
“You are seeing smoky eyes and glammed-out eye looks coming back,” he said. “People are starting to buy a broader array of eye makeup tools, so they can get the look.”
Riley said mask-wearing and the general health angst caused by the pandemic has fueled an interest in light, natural moisturizing products, but eyes are headed in another direction.
“What people don’t understand is, masks are huge,” he said. “It digs right into the cheekbones at the base of the nose, it completely covers the mouth. It literally takes off all the makeup that you are wearing. I think eye looks are what’s on trend going forward into the holidays and even into next year.”
Ilinca Sipos, founder and chief executive of Rara Club, a new cosmetic company based in Century City, did not anticipate the coronavirus when she conceived the self-described “mission first” company, which seeks to create a “club” of buyers that espouse kindness, compassion, and love for self and others.
Rara Club, which launched March 23, donated its profits to various charities through the end of May.
Sipos conceived the company’s first and so far only product, You Grow Girl CBD Eyelash and Brow Boost, back in late 2019 because she was not finding a lash and brow product that she felt served her needs.
Sipos said future Rara Club products will not necessarily contain CBD, but she believes the ingredient helps to lengthen and thicken hair.
“Initially people were trying the product who might have more typically (gotten) lash extensions. … They had specifically shifted to products that were a little more sustainable … more of an at-home fix,” Sipos said.
“I guess kind of given everything I’m glad we didn’t do a lip plumper” as the first product, Sipos added. “I’m also happy that we didn’t immediately launch a full set of other products. That was something we initially wanted to do.
“Instead, we have taken a step back. We have started looking to our customers to say ‘Hey, what are you using now in your beauty routine, and what are products that you are actually going be using more of right now that you hadn’t expected?’”
Sipos added that customers were particularly interested in the lash and brow product when many beauty salons were closed.
Sipos added that Covid-19 has not stopped the company from pushing toward a wider variety of cosmetics in the future.
“We have a pretty large domestic reach. We are based in L.A., and a good part of our consumer base is in L.A., but we still have people buying our product from Dallas, Texas, or Nashville, Tennessee, or Central Florida, and the restrictions are significantly different than they are here,” she said. “We do have to be really careful not to give in to a trend (and create) really, really true-to-good products that will be good for your skin in a post-Covid environment.”