Lipstick on your collar told a tale on you… That evergreen song of love and betrayal may no longer ring true with lipsticks going from makeup staple to just-so-unnecessary in a pandemic that has forced women to wear masks hiding pretty much the entire face except the eyes. Now that the country is slowly waking up from an unprecedented lockdown, which began on March 25, clothes tucked away in the depths of the wardrobe and unused makeup are getting an airing as the dressing up process begins anew – all except the lipstick that is.
Fatiha Tayyeba did reach out for her lipstick when she stepped out the first time after lockdown restrictions were relaxed. But wearing lip colour under the mandatory mask initially seemed too much of a bother and it was not a pleasant feeling either. “Masks have fibres which are quite irritating. There is constant touch and friction, and the fibres stick to your lips,” the 25-year-old stylist based in Gurgaon told PTI. Determined to not let the lockdown change her dressing up ways, she began to look for ways out. And found her answer in matte lip colours.
“Wearing a matte lip colour underneath the mask is not so much of a problem,” the 25-year-old said. With faces hidden behind not-so-sheer, sometimes even multiple layers of masks, sales of the twisting sticks of creamy colours have dipped, say several cosmetic companies and shopping portals.
“Sales of lipsticks have been lower than usual in the last two months,” a spokesperson for online shopping portal Snapdeal told PTI.
Most makeup manufacturers don’t have precise numbers but the trend is evident.
Stafford Braganza, makeup artist and trainer with L’Oréal Paris, India, said “clear or see-through masks” will be the way to go. “Until then, the eyes are going to do most of the talking,” he said.
“Since the upper half of the face is the only visible part when wearing a mask, people will explore a lot more trends in the eyes and brow category, where something bold and previously unexplored is going to shine through — whether it’s a mascara heavy look, pop eyeshadows, or a dramatic wing,” he said. Nykaa, an Indian retailer of beauty, wellness and fashion products, noted that eyeshadow had moved from their ‘Top 5’ to ‘Top 3’ category during the lockdown period.
“Eye makeup will definitely grow as a category. It will be essential for all beauty brands to concentrate their R&D more on eye makeup business,” added Umashan Naidoo, head of cosmetics at the Westside chain of stores.
Much of the makeup industry also believes the decrease in lipstick sales is nothing more than a “temporary blip”, and is confident that coloured lips will never go out of fashion. “The desire for beauty is eternal and has been with mankind for 100,000 years. L’Oréal’s experience in other countries has shown that the current situation does not call into question consumers’ strong appetite for beauty products, which remains intact. What we are seeing currently is more of a supply crisis than a demand crisis,” said Kavita Angre of L’Oreal India.
“With malls, cosmetics shops closed and e-commerce being restricted to essential goods only, access to beauty products has been a problem during the lockdown,” said the brand’s director of consumer & market insights & media. In the short term, colour cosmetics categories like lipsticks will have a temporary blip driven by the lack of out of home occasions but once people start socialising again, there will be a celebration with a pop of colour, she added. A Nykaa spokesperson agreed, saying lipsticks will eventually retain their status as makeup leader.
Some in the makeup fraternity said the mask has not stolen the lipstick’s thunder but instead opened opportunities for the industry to be more creative.
“Lipstick has seen many wars and histories, yet survived. It keeps on evolving itself to suit the needs of the current times. It will be worn, be it a zoom call, office online meetings or virtual dates. Brands will introduce new formulas in the market which will help a mask and a lipstick to coexist happily,” Naidoo said.
Go matte, said experts. “While wearing lipstick and a mask, you can end up with a smudgy and messed up mouth. If your makeup transfers to the mask, it can be unhygienic.
“Lipstick trends will go on with slight changes in texture and colour selection. Women would opt more for nude coloured lipsticks preferably matte liquids,” said Avleen, head of makeup training from Make-Up Studio, India. Radhika Sharma from the Lucullan Studios is in consensus. “Matte lipsticks will gain more momentum since they are dry and can be well paired with masks whereas the glossy lipsticks will be less in demand,” she said. Makeup brands believe women like Delhi-based Soumita Mazumder will keep the lipstick going, notwithstanding the pandemic.
“There is no way I will stop wearing lipstick. They give me positive vibes. I wear the liquid matte ones, which dry out pretty fast, and whatever little smudging happens on the mask, I wash it off. There is no conflict between my mask and my lipsticks,” the 29-year-old, a Phd scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said.
And if nothing else, the “versatile” lipstick can take the form of an eyeshadow, or a blush.
“Makeup is about how you use the products in creative ways and lipstick is one staple product in every woman’s bag which can be used in multiple ways,” Avleen said. So while some experiment with the lipstick, many others will probably just wait for the mask times to get over. Given the uncertain days, lipsticks might not tell any tales for some more time.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)