The term ‘anti-ageing’ has been around for as long as I can remember. Ever since I kick started my journalism career in the wonderful world of cosmetics, I’ve been writing about the rise and rise of anti-ageing products. I attended weekly launches for the next-big-skincare product promising to turn back the hands of time, and writing endless articles about the thirst for all things that offer up the guarantee of eternal youth, or near enough. The baby boomer generation was the main consumer group for these products, with any women – or man – over the age of 30 being targeted by companies making products that tune in to any insecurities of ageing past the bracket of ‘youth’. But are the tides turning?
Michelle Lee, Editor-in-chief of America’s loved beauty magazine Allure, has made a call to end the term ‘anti-ageing’, stating in her editor’s letter, “Whether we know it or not, we’re subtly reinforcing the message that ageing is a condition we need to battle. Changing the way we think about ageing starts with changing the way we talk about ageing.” But has the shift in consumer attitude towards the term ‘anti-ageing’ already begun? Has embracing oneself, a few wrinkles et all, become trendy? While the tech-savvy millennials are keen to portray a presentation of ‘perfect’ lives/bodies/skin on Instagram, there also seems to be a movement towards ‘Insta-reality’, with more and more users allowing an insight into their real lives, versus the ones often projected on the popular social media site. And this is transcending in reality too. There’s little doubt the booming wellness market has slowly but surely been chipping away in the background, silently abolishing the perception that ageing is anything less than a blessing. Sure, we all like to look the best we can, but the growing market for holistic living, healthy eating and the rise and rise of mindfulness has been, without a doubt, helping eradicate the mindset that older is ugly, in turn working towards the demise of the biggest skin care marketing term in a generation.
But does this new, healthier, perception of ageing have legs? And will the beauty industry catch on? The Advertising Standard Agency (ASA) banned the use of the term ‘anti-ageing’ on actual products a decade ago, but it’s still widely used on adverts for skin care products that promise a reversal on the, let’s face it, irreversible ageing process – indeed, Avon has recently amassed a 30,000-strong wait list for its new anti-ageing ANEW Reversalist Infinite Effects Night Treatment Cream – not bad going. But with the backlash well and truly taking hold within the industry – beauty Blogger Jane Cunningham of britishbeautyblogger.com putting it bluntly, “Treating age as something that needs ‘curing’ is pointlessly demoralising for anyone over 30” – should savvy skin care marketers listen up and begin heeding the movement towards inclusivity, acceptance and diversity and outlaw the ideology of anti-ageing for good? It’s a move that would allow brands to no doubt successfully ride the wellness wave, and capitalize on the cultural shift towards a more accepting industry – boosting sales while also having a clear social conscience in promoting self love. As Cunningham states, “I’d like to see brands celebrating beauty at all ages. Beauty is not one thing, it’s many things.” I couldn’t put it better myself.