Jul 12, 2012 02:40 PM EDT

A Bad Economy Has Women Looking Their Best

The more the economy worsens, the more women purchase beauty enhancing products, shows a new study. Oftentimes done unconsciously, women seek to make themselves more physically appealing as the amount of men with good jobs start to decrease, researchers say.

Study co-author Sarah E. Hill suggests that with this attitude and a suffering economy, companies within the beauty enhancing market should mostly advertise their products as things that could help women get a man.

"We may not consciously think we're buying them to make ourselves more desirable to men," Hill said to MSNBC.  "But our lizard brains go after these things even when we think we're too smart to be lured in by manipulative advertising claims like,  'these jeans will help get you a man."

Hill's inspiration for research on the subject came in an article she read that talked about the success of Mary Kay, Inc. in 2010, while the economy ruined many other businesses.

In order to measure if the association between the suffering economy and purchases of beauty products spans beyond just the Mary Kay brand, Hill and her colleagues analyzed 20 years of data. They studied the relationship between beauty product sales and unemployment rates. The data was consistent with what Hill had found, of an increase in product sales as the unemployment rate rose.

Data from market research company NPD Group showed that sales increased by nine percent between 2009 and 2010 and once again at 11 percent between 2010 and 2011.

To further explore the association between unemployment and increased purchases of beauty products, the researchers tested to see whether there was an increase in men and women's buying when a fear of high unemployment existed. One of the studies observed 154 college students who read either an architecture or economy article initially titled "Worst Economic Crisis since the '30s With No End in Sight."

Women who read the story were more apt to have a higher level of desire to purchase appearance enhancing products than those who read the architecture article.



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