There are a number of ways to determine the state of the economy, many of them highly technical.

And then there's the "Lipstick Index," a term coined by cosmetic company titan Leonard Lauder back in 2001 as a way to explain why so many tubes of lipstick were selling during that recession.

The thinking is that in tough times (like what we're in right now), women turn to small luxuries such as lipstick to splurge on instead of big ticket items like, say, a designer handbag. But a recent article in Time magazine ("What Lipstick Tells Us About the Economy") revealed that in the past few years lipstick sales have in fact taken a nosedive and are, therefore, no longer a good barometer of what's happening with the economy.

According to Lauder, nail polish is the new lipstick.

And, boy, I could not agree more.

In my makeup bag, I have exactly zero tubes of lipstick. Instead I have a tin of L'Occitane Tinted Shea Butter Balm in Redcurrant that I wear on special occasions, a Smashbox nude lip pencil and some discontinued Delux Beauty lipgloss that I can't bring myself to toss out.

But I have six bottles of nail polish, which is actually a lot for the beauty minimalist I dream of being. All but my Chanel Vamp were purchased in the past three years, a time of great economic uncertainty.

My go-to nail polish for years has been some version of a sheer milky white that looks absolutely stunning with a tan. The one I've been using lately is Sheer Me Now by Sally Hansen.

Lately though, I've been wanting something crazier, which puts me squarely in line with what the article indicated. Women may be playing it safe with their finances, but when it comes to their nail color, the wilder the better. Some are following Lady Gaga's lead by painting the half-moon a different color than the rest of the nail or rushing to buy the latest "it" shade, such as Deborah Lippmann's Billionaire (an army green).

As for myself, recently I decided to try the ombre trend, which is wearing different shades in the same color family. Only, in typical fashion, I messed up a couple of nails and swapped in some Chanel Midnight Red, so I'm wearing a hodgepodge of pinks and reds. The thing is, I kind of like it.

Picking up my Starbucks the other morning, I paused to admire my friend, Jessica's, houndstooth nail stickers.

"Buy one, get one half-off," she said.

Now that's a bargain in any economy.

Rebekah Bradford is a freelance writer based in Charleston. Reach her at