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Las Vegas woman creates cosmetics that double as safety device

Joy Hoover smiles at the camera
Mark Vogelzang
Nevada Public Radio

In the recent film “Promising Young Woman," a woman about to be victimized after her drink has been drugged.

Scenes like this have been depicted in movies and television shows for decades.

While sexual assault crimes often go unreported, latest statistics, based on reported cases from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, show an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds.

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RAINN also said police saw a 98% increase in reported rapes in the past 10 years. Women in Nevada face the fifth-highest rape rate in the nation.

While safety apps and test kits are increasingly available, Las Vegas-based Esoes Cosmetics is working on introducing a product which can be used covertly to test if your drink has been spiked.

"And each lipstick has covertly-placed test strips that can test for benzodiazepines, which is a typical drug that's utilized for date rape," said Joy Hoover.

Hoover is the creator of the company, which she describes as a “lipstick revolution.”

"So they can even pull the strip out and kind of turn to the side and just dip it in and put it back in in their purse; they can put liquid from the straw or their finger on to this, and it'll show right here to line safe, one line is not safe."

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Hoover said the lipstick container also an "ecosystem" of solutions. A panic button at the bottom of the lipstick tube can send messages to pre-selected contacts.

"So if I turn it on, and I put it on speakerphone, 'I'm at a [bar] with a guy I just met. I'm feeling a little nervous. Could you just call me back right away.' So that was the push. You can see here at texted, said someone sent an SOS," she explained.

The app is also made to be used covertly.

"So when you first click to our app, it's really cute. ... You put your finger over the logo, it turns into safety mode ... and then in that you can actually click on the location. And it shows a little lipstick and actually shows our location as we're right here at [Nevada Public Radio]. And then you can set a home location. And you can actually set like, a flight plan. So if I was going from here to like, a few other meetings, I could put in the locations of all those meetings. So that one of my pushes could be if I go outside of that plan from home to my four meetings, that it could send an alert to someone saying they're outside of range," Hoover said.

Hoover was inspired to create a safety product like this after 12 years as a social worker. It also hit home, as her mother-in-law was the victim of domestic violence.

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"My mother-in-law's life was taken by violence. So on April 10, 2013, her final words were actually in a 911 phone call. ... Her death ultimately had been a very big catalyst for us and being a safe space for people."

These experiences became the foundation for Esoes Cosmetics.

"The thing is every crime they say happens in a triangle. So it happens with a person, a place and a perpetrator. And we know that we cannot stop every perpetrator, I wish I could. But we know we can help a person in a place be safer."

Despite its serious topic, Hoover is also committed to positivity and empowerment, which is reflected in the names of the lipsticks.

"We have four colors to start. Our red is 'No Means No.' Our purple is 'Hell Yes.' Because our slogan is, 'If it's not a hell yes, it's a no,'" she said. "And then our we have a gloss, that's called 'Shine On.' And then we have a nude that we call, 'It's Not the Dress.'"

Their lipsticks retail for $49.95 and will be released in March.

Yvette Fernandez is the regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau. She joined Nevada Public Radio in September 2021.
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