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Tue 1 Jun 2010 03:20 PM

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Iranian women splurge on cosmetics despite official ban

$2bn a year spent on make-up, making it second largest Mideast market behind Saudi.

Iranian women splurge on cosmetics despite official ban
MAKE UP: Iranian women spend about $2bn a year on cosmetics, a recent survey found. (Getty Images)

Iran’s beauty products market is now the second largest in the Middle East despite a 1979 ban on cosmetics, it was reported on Tuesday.

Iranian women spend about $2bn a year on cosmetics, accounting for 29 percent of the Middle East market, which is dominated by Saudi Arabia, AFP reports, citing a recent survey.

Since the 1990s, when officials began to relax the import of cosmetics into the country, their use especially among younger women has grown considerably. However, officially the make-up ban is still in force and women in government jobs are prevented from wearing cosmetics, like lipstick and nail polish.

Most products – including major brands like L’Oreal and Bourjois – are imported or smuggled into Iran because the country does not manufacture much make up products, the news agency reports.

"Most specialists estimate that about $700-750 million worth of products are imported to Iran illegally," Abbas Najafi, the head of Iran's counter-trafficking bureau, told the news agency.

Chinese products account for about 30 percent of illegal imports, a major trader, who declined to be named, told the agency.

About 14 million urban Iranian women aged between 15 and 45 spend an average of $7 a month on cosmetics, the survey, conducted by TMBA, a private economic research institute, found.

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Stan 10 years ago

It is interesting where there is a lot of suppression of women and human nature that make up is popular. When the concentration camps were discovered at the end of the second World War, part of the relief packs contained lipstick. One soldier commenting on the scenes said the person who put makeup in with the food and clothing parcels was a genius. He said the women, who were close to death, put on the makeup instantly. It was there way of making themselves feel human again following being made to feel like an animal. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying they are the same situation, just thought there were parallels to be drawn.

Improvement 10 years ago

Iranians like to groom and dress well - the chador or Monto they wear in cities like Tehran are expensive too... make up - coloring hair is part of looking young in a man dominated society... woman do drive in Iran and are educated....