While many women have cut back on other fashion and beauty treats amid the global economic crisis, sales of cosmetics have increased.
Research shows that cosmetics enjoyed the highest growth in the expanding British beauty market with a 7.4 per cent rise to £1,200 million between 2007 and 2008.
Face and body skincare were up 6.7 per cent to £1,000 million and women's perfume rose 4.6 per cent to £667 million over the same period, according to market research specialists Mintel.
Experts claim that the phenomenon, dubbed the Lipstick factor, is a repeat of that seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s when tougher competition for jobs made women eager to look their best.
Selfridges director Anne Pitcher said that women particularly favour bright red shades during periods of economic hardship because it brings them more confidence.
She told the Daily Mail: "Anecdotal evidence shows that lipsticks are up for the first time in years.
"Red is especially popular, as Scarlet Johansson and Monica Bellucci promote the classic Hollywood make-up look."
Research also suggests that rather than saving money by choosing cheaper products, women are treating themselves to top quality brands.
George Wallace, chief executive of shopping consultants MHE Retail, said: "A 25 to 34-year-old woman in the UK is carrying £71 worth of make-up in her handbag and there is no sign of her giving this up in the downturn.
"If anything she is buying more to cheer herself up."
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