Sometimes, a painful fact may somehow oddly double as good press. Today, Revlon's (NYSE:REV) own press release headline pretty much said it all: "Revlon Reports First Profitable Quarter in Six Years." The obvious implication here is that things have been bad and are getting better, but at this point, beauty may still be in the eye of the beholder.

Revlon's fourth-quarter earnings came in at $46 million, or $0.12 per diluted share. Net sales grew by 3% to $378 million, with foreign exchange benefiting the growth.

Investors responded by pushing the stock up 8% in recent trading. Of course, a stock that trades at only a couple of bucks may look "cheap" on the face of it, but Fools know that's not the whole story, and a stock like this deserves a lot of homework, given a tough progression of years strung together and a balance sheet that is still burdened with considerable debt.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of competitors in cosmetics, such as EsteeLauder (NYSE:EL) (arguably a crown jewel in the cosmetics industry, since it owns such well-known names as Clinique, MAC, and Prescriptives), Avon Products (NYSE:AVP), L'Oreal, and Mary Kay. Much has been made of Revlon's recent struggles when pitted against such competition, especially the high-end brands.

Although today's long-awaited profitable quarter might feel like vindication to some investors, the glow of well-being may not last too long. After all, Revlon's expected to continue to report losses through the balance of the year, and prospective investors should watch the acceptance of Revlon's new products and its competitive strengths against rivals carefully. Revlon may be in the midst of a makeover, but we're still waiting to see how pretty the "after" picture will be.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.