Why now is NOT the time to skimp on your skincare (and self-care)
Now is the perfect time to make a #skinvestment.
Oct 25, 2022
Grooming Guru Lee Kynaston is one of the UK’s best-known and most knowledgeable male beauty experts, with over 20 years experience of writing about men's skincare, haircare and fragrance. An award-winning journalist and former magazine editor, his work has appeared in newspapers and magazines and on websites across the world and as an in-demand consultant he has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands. He currently writes for the likes of GQ, Mr. Porter and The Independent – as well as for Humanery.
As I write this, all the news is bad: Inflation is in double figures, there’s talk of energy rationing, co-ordinated strikes and an email just popped into my inbox outlining the support I’ll get paying my too-scary-to-look-at gas bill. And that’s before you factor in domestic political instability and (the mother of all cherries on the cake of grimness) the threat of nuclear Armageddon. Like everyone else in the country, I’m worried – worried about money, worried about the environment, worried about the future, worried about, well, everything.
Meanwhile, in unrelated news, breakfast today was a bowl of Jordan’s luxury Super Nutty Granola. I say unrelated but, actually, maybe it’s not because in in the midst of all this dystopian horror it felt like a real treat – one that wasn’t just good for me (protein, roughage and cholesterol lowering fats don’t ya know) but one that made me feel good (it was a tasty way to start the day). Problem is, it actually cost a lot more than I’d normally spend of breakfast cereal (I’m generally a Weetabix/Rice Krispies kinda guy) but in terms of return on investment it was money well spent – even in these difficult times.
So what does skincare have to do with the economy and tough times?
If you’re wondering what the skincare spin on this is, well, the feelgood factor, whether it be from a bowl of luxury cereal or some great grooming gear, is pretty much the same. And while you’re unlikely to splash out on a £1,000 suit right now you might be tempted to treat yourself to a £30 moisturiser or a £15 face scrub.
In fact, the desire – perhaps need – for small luxuries like these during difficult times is well documented. In the beauty word it’s known as the ‘lipstick effect’ or ‘lipstick index’ – a phenomenon where sales of low-cost luxuries like lipstick receive a dramatic uptick when in times of economic uncertainty.
The reason? The lipstick provides a little emotional uplift that helps counteract the gloom of hard times.
Historical trends reveal that in previous market downturns more people invested in self-care and grooming to get through the tough times
Interestingly, a study entitled Boosting Beauty in an Economic Decline: Mating, Spending, and the Lipstick Effect also showed that in recessionary economy, sales of electronics and hobbies decreased as a result of tightening belts. But, spend on personal care products actually went up. Some researchers have suggested this is partly due to the fact that, as the economy worsens, labour markets become more competitive and thus, looking good becomes even more important. After all, when you’re chasing a job or have someone younger and keener snapping at your heels you need to maintain your appearance to stay competitive in the in the workplace. In a nutshell, there’s higher stock in looking good – especially in times of economic uncertainty.
As someone who’s written about the importance of male grooming for many years this makes perfect sense to me and I know plenty of men react in a similar way – only instead of the lipstick premium they get premium face cream, fragrances or high-performance piece of shaving kit. I’m certainly one of those guys. Like most men, if I look good, I feel good and if I feel good about how I look then my confidence soars. If nothing else, it’s one less thing to worry about. But don’t just take my word for it – a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science showed that investing in your selfcare (in this case wearing fragranced body care products) had psychological benefits for both men and women that went beyond what the study’s authors call a ‘basic hygiene function’. Truth is, it’s at times like now that you most need the comfort and the confidence boost good grooming offers – and that often comes from using your favourite products, rather than ones you consider second best.
When I was a student, many moons ago (and during one of the worst recessions on record) I occasionally went without basics so I could buy a bottle of fragrance. “Priorities!” my mother once scolded me but then, to me, smelling good – and the lift that gave me – was a priority. I could have bought something cheaper but that wouldn’t have hit the spot. And there’s a reason for that because, according to some studies, we value well made, luxury items more than cost-saving ones in times of economic crisis. Besides, anyone who’s ever swapped something of quality for a much cheaper alternative – be it washing up liquid, ready meal or shower gel – will know that sometimes there’s a false economy on downscaling.
If you’re savvy, of course, you can still maintain your self-care routine in difficult times by being a little cleverer with how you use – and buy – your products, making them last longer and getting more bang for your buck. Most men, for example, use way too much of a product thinking, erroneously, that the more they use the better the results. In reality, less is often more – especially when it comes to serums, eye creams and exfoliators. If you’re not sure how much is just right look out for pump action products which are designed to deliver the appropriate amount.
Opting for a ‘Subscribe and Save’ option for your favourite products can also help you save previous pennies (as much as 15% of the one-off purchase price here on Humanery.com) as can making the most of free shipping options.
Handy tip: stock up and beat future price inflation
Given how inflation is rising you might want to think about stocking up on your favourite products now and putting them away them for later too. (The average moisturiser will stay good for at least two years if unopened, especially if kept in a dark, cool cupboard). As a writer who has to regularly check product prices for articles, I’m more aware than most how much the cost of grooming gear has increased in the last year, and as long as you don’t go loo-paper-stockpiler crazy it’s a good way to save some money. Think of it as a sound investment – not just in skincare but in your future self.
Speaking of which, it was also during difficult times – in the midst of lockdown in fact – that the notion of ‘skinvestment’ (investing serious time, money and effort into your grooming routine) really took off. So popular is the notion now that it’s even been a TikTok trend with its own hashtag – a sure sign that it’s a bona fide ‘thing’. I’m very much an advocate of having a #skinvestment strategy because if you have one it’ll continue to deliver for you – not just in the workplace and dating arena, but in terms of your general mental and physical wellbeing too.
Cut your cloth according to your means, by all means, but don’t throw away the entire outfit in the process. Better times are inevitably around the corner – and you’ll want to look your best when they arrive. In the meantime, I’m thinking of reshaping the ‘lipstick index’ in my own image – in my household, it shall now be known as the pricey-but-worth-it Granola Index.
Explore products to make your #skinvestment today
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