The Great Depression in the 1930s gave rise to the term "lipstick effect," referring to burgeoning sales of cheap products in an economic slump. But in the current recession the cosmetics industry is experiencing a nail polish boom.
With soaring prices, lipstick sales rose only 12 percent this year, but sales of nail polish grew over 2.5 times.
One leading U.S. nail polish brand saw a two-fold increase in the number of outlets here this year, and sales grew from W600 million to W1.5 billion (US$1=W1.083).
"Nail polish only used to sell well in the summer, but amid the prolonged recession it now sells better than lipstick," a spokesperson for the company said.
Another U.S. cosmetics firm said it released 31 new nail products in Korea this year after learning that major Korean cosmetics brands posted over 70 percent growth on-year in nail-related business alone.
"Women are reluctant to spend a lot of money in this recession and are choosing nail polish as a cheap and effective beauty item," a Shinsegae Department Store staffer said.