Revlon (NYSE:REV) continued to disappoint investors today. The cosmetic provider's second-quarter loss widened, and overall sales dipped. Investors might be wondering whether Revlon's products have been missing in appeal lately, though part of the flagging sales may have to do with current trends.

Revlon's loss widened to $38.9 million, or $0.11 per share, while sales fell 2% -- or 5%, if you exclude growth-plan charges that impacted the same quarter last year. It looks even more disappointing when considering past performance from rivals. For example, both Avon (NYSE:AVP) and Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL) delivered some pretty results in recent months.

However, today's earnings word comes as little surprise; Revlon's woes have been well publicized. In June, we learned that the company was cutting its forecast in the midst of its struggle with a heavy burden of debt.

It seems that going forward, it's possible all the cosmetics manufacturers might face a little bit of pressure, considering today's news that consumer spending suffered a huge dip in June. (That news mirrors the fact that retailers such as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT), both of which feature Revlon's wares, said they suffered slower sales in June.)

On the bright side, perhaps, is knowledge that going forward, Revlon plans an advertising campaign, which it described as "elegant" and "upscale" in its conference call (transcript courtesy of Thomson StreetEvents). In addition, Revlon talked about the addition of "beauty advisors" in some retailers, in a nod to what has worked for department stores' cosmetics counters, where shoppers can get coaching on shades and products (not to mention upselling of complementary products). Such advisors would provide samples and educational information about new products, for example.

If consumers' confidence is further dampened by high gas prices, interest rate hikes, and worries over things such as savings and credit card debt, it could of course put a damper on the current trend toward upscale goods. The ad campaign sounds like a good idea if it does emphasize luxury feel at a lower price.

Regardless of the outlook for anti-age creams, lipsticks, eyeliners, concealers, and all the other trappings of cosmetics providers, Revlon's got a lot of work ahead, given its flagging sales and ongoing struggle to strengthen its balance sheet. The company talked up its product lineup for 2005, so it may continue to be difficult to find clarity this year. Investors -- who bid the stock down 5% in recent trading -- will likely want to wait for signs of a surge in demand before feeling that it's more than just a pretty face.

Does the thought of spending so much more for cosmetics and skin treatments from higher end companies such as Estee Lauder rub you the wrong way? If you're always on the lookout for ways to save pennies, share tips with other Fools on our Living Below Your Means discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She's a big fan of Estee Lauder's Prescriptives line of cosmetics.