Shake-Out in the Skin Game

Recession squeezes some of the big names in cosmetics

In the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Charles Revson introduced opaque nail polish and created Revlon Inc. Ever since, the cosmetics industry has been regarded as a good business even for bad times. Women, the theory went, could always be counted on to spend at least some of what little disposable income they had to look attractive and feel good about themselves.

So much for that theory. Certain top-of-the-market cosmetics lines have continued to do well in the current slump, including Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden and the Cosmair lines of Lancome,...

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