BEAUTY IS AGELESS… ISN’T IT? THE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO CHANGE HOW IT SPEAKS TO WOMEN

 (AND EAU THERMALE AVENE ARE LEADING THE WAY

Over the last decade the beauty world has become obsessed with the concept of ‘anti-ageing’.
Every product launch sees a new wave of claims that promise to
“rekindle our lost youth” or “turn back the clock,” but when did ageing become such a bad thing? When
did wrinkles and laughter lines become something to be ashamed of? In
other cultures age is associated with wisdom; wrinkles command respect.
In the western world fine lines, grey hair and a somewhat expanding
waistline are met with apprehension and dread; it seems that past the age of 25 we lose our social equity entirely – because if we’re not beautiful in the traditional ‘Victoria Secret model sense’ then what’s our value on this earth? Botox has never been more
mainstream; eye lifts have never been more affordable; the shelves of our local Boots have never been so full of false promises. Women are spoken to in an increasingly patronising and derogatory sense, with brands scaring us into parting with our cash in the hope we’ll wake up tomorrow with the skin of a teenager. However, there’s
a growing section of society that are standing up and saying enough is
enough – something needs to change. 

If you’re a member of my 30 Plus Collective then
you may have seen the conversations that evolved last week when we
teamed up with
Eau Thermale Avène to discuss these very issues. Our objective was to
open up a conversation about ageing with some of the leading experts in
the field (including Jane from British Beauty Blogger, clinical
dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting and psychologist Dr Linda Papadopolous,) as
well as with women who are struggling to navigate their way through
their ever-evolving skincare needs. The discussion was fascinating; the
outcome was unsurprising: women
don’t want to be told that they shouldn’t have
wrinkles, but they do continue to strive for smooth, radiant and glowing
skin. Dr Linda summed up our collective feelings perfectly: “We’re made to feel like we’re ‘works in progress’ – it never ends.”
There’s always something to improve, fix or eradicate; the beauty
industry may want to help us feel good about ourselves, but many brands
are going about it in the wrong way – by scaring us into thinking that
wrinkle is the reason why we’re not reaching our full potential. 

Jane Cunningham from British Beauty Blogger said: “The
beauty industry doesn’t want women to think for themselves; they want
women to copy. They don’t want women to feel confident and feel amazing,
because then they wouldn’t sell anything!”
Dr Linda Papadopolous continued:
“A wrinkle is just a wrinkle; we can only decide to see this as a
negative. Your skin is supposed to be different at 20 to 40.”
It
seems that the industry is encouraging men and women to re-capture
something that is impossible to do; we’re not meant to have the same
baby soft skin in our 30s, 40s and 50s as we did when we were a
teenager, because time moves on and our needs change. But instead of
embracing this and providing products that meet the demands of older
skin, the industry (often run by those much younger – or worse, men –
who can’t relate to their consumers at all) continues to be obsessed
with promising the world and completely under-delivering.

But
why is ageing such a scary concept, and why are we so obsessed with
trying to prevent the inevitable? Dr Linda Papadopolous said:
“In the West we have completely devalued ageing. In other cultures it’s
still very much respected, but ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. From
an evolutionary perspective we’re getting older; women are taught to put
all our eggs in our beauty basket – the most precarious basket we’ve
got!”
So essentially, we don’t have the role models to help empower
us; all we see are photoshopped images of women that are wrinkle free
with not a grey hair in sight. There’s a reason the recent L’Oreal
campaign with Helen Mirren was perceived to be so revolutionary – she’s
the first spokesperson they’ve had over the age of about 40, ever! This
is increasingly a feminist issue and not just a beauty problem; women
are underrepresented in every facet of life, boxed into either the ‘old
hag’ who’s past it, or the ‘bimbo’ that spends too much time worrying
about her appearance. We’re underrepresented in politics; we’re
force-fed images of the Kardashians and told to contour the sh*t out of
our drooping jawlines; we’re made to feel guilty, because mothers who
work will damage the emotional intelligence of their offspring in the
long run. GAH.

Although
we’re by no means going to fix this huge problem in the short term, how
should brands be talking to consumers in 2016 and beyond? Dr
Sam Bunting says “it’s about greater emotional intelligence. It’s about
vitality, it’s about health. It’s about wellness, it’s about feeling
sexy – and conveying that in a way that empowers women.”
It’s not
about telling women that they need to ‘fix’ their face, or making them
feel guilty for having laughter lines; it’s surely about a universal
language of positivity that helps us to feel comfortable and confident
in the skin we’re in. From the conversations we’ve been leading on
Twitter it’s become incredibly clear that women want fabulous skin, no
matter their age – and that doesn’t mean they don’t want to embrace the
odd fine line and wrinkle simultaneously. Texture, tone and radiance are
the key words that pop up over and over again; it’s about maintenance
and looking after our skin in the most effective way, rather than
worrying about creases we genuinely can’t do a lot about.

Avène
wanted to facilitate this conversation because they genuinely want to
lead change in the UK, by talking to women in the way they want to be
spoken to. 
Amanda Miles, Marketing Manager at Eau Thermale Avène, sets the scene: “When
preparing for the launch of our PhysioLift range for sensitive skin, we
began to ask ourselves, ‘When did ageing become such a bad thing?’ and
became aware of the way that society targets women with ageing skin. At
Avène, we aim to provide sensitive-skinned individuals with the cosmetic
effects they want, whilst also caring for their skin’s heightened
needs. When marketing products like this, it seems counter-intuitive to
target a customer’s insecurities about their skin, as a brand could
easily choose to do. Our products are complicated because sensitive skin
has complex needs, so we prefer to take a more subtle, gentle and
altruistic approach. This is where our idea for a ‘positive approach to
ageing’ came from – to provide women with a range of gentle, caring
products and to talk about their skin’s needs rather than their skin’s
flaws. Our message is that ageing skin has a different set of needs to
younger skin, which is a neutral message, one that doesn’t affect the
customer’s self-esteem or image of herself.  We strive to communicate
empathetically with our customers, because we know how distressing both
sensitive skin and the ageing process can be.”

It’s so important for us to have brands like Avène leading the way and attempting to make change in an industry so obsessed with chasing beauty ideals. Jane Cunningham said during our discussion that “the
fact that a brand like Avene is having these discussions is great.
Unfortunately the packaging hasn’t caught up with their attitudes, but I
think that’s going to be a consistent issue over the next few years as
the people working internally struggle with the packaging they’re
giving. This is a real positive step forward and exciting for me.”
She continued: “I think we’re ahead of the curve in the UK when it comes to
anti-ageing; the UK has a body of women, largely lead by bloggers, who
are powering the way and will become a role model for other countries.”
We’re in a very fortunate position in the UK where we can stand up, voice our opinions and help brands facilitate change. Bloggers are collectively illustrating that it’s ok to embrace your imperfections, as well as being far more relatable than most of the brand ambassadors we see on the high street. This is hopefully the first step of many – and I’m excited to see where it takes us.
 

I started working withAvène because I have a long history with their products.
They’ve genuinely saved my best friend and
boyfriend’s skin from acne and eczema respectively, but their new
Physiolift range brings their expertise to the masses in a whole new way. All five
PhysioLift products contain clinically proven active ingredients that
are gentle on the skin, so those with sensitive and ageing skin no longer
have to compromise. A trio of powerful actives are designed to penetrate
the skin to the layers where they’re needed, to leave the skin radiant,
replumped, soft and smooth. Firstly Retinaldehyde is as effective as retinoic
acid but less irritating on the skin; it efficiently replenishes the
skin’s level of vitamin A, which helps boost the skin’s radiance.
Secondly, Hyaluronic Acid fragments act as a cushioning agent and space filler in
the skin, holding on to water; Eau Thermale Avène has identified the
optimum size fragment to mirror the physiology of the skin and
synthesise with the skin’s own HA. Finally, Ascofilline is a
collagen-boosting active that helps to replump skin and help it look
fresh. Together they provide a truly effective, pleasant and easy-to-use routine that’s not at all intimidating; the focus is on helping your skin look its very best, without promising to eradicate fine lines. 

There’s no better way to end this post than with a quote from Jane. She voices the opinions of many perfectly: “I’m
still learning about ageing and I’m 50; you have to ease yourself into
it. We have lots of choices and I think we should manage those. It’s
your face, do what you want with it… I’m not anti the beauty industry,
I’m anti the bits that make you feel sh*t – but I love the bits that
make you feel awesome! Take advantage of the beauty industry, but don’t
let the beauty industry take advantage of you.”
Here’s hoping that in 2016 we’ll start to see a new way of talking to (men and) women. Here’s hoping that language will be more positive, imagery will be more relatable and embracing our own imperfections will be the overarching message.

What do you think about the way in which we’re spoken to by the beauty industry right now? What would you like to see change in 2016 and beyond?

Eau Thermale Avène’s new Physiolift range is available now, priced from £22.00. 

Thank you to Avène for sponsoring the 30 Plus Collective’s discussion and event.






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8 Comments

  1. Pam Scalfi
    December 10, 2015 / 8:45 am

    this is so true. Ageing is beautiful and so natural, not a bad thing at all! Nothing is less sexy than a face full of botox and lifts…good that this brand thinks differently!Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

    • Sarah
      December 12, 2015 / 1:08 am

      I so agree, I usually think the people who get all that cosmetic surgery done to look younger just end up looking worse… I don't understand it at all.

  2. Joanna White
    December 10, 2015 / 9:08 am

    What a great article. I am an artisan skincare producer with a mature skin range, specifically not anti-aging, but to help each persons skin look it's best. I really hope the anti anti-aging trend catches on. It is so much more liberating. Joanna, http://www.mallowandwhite.co.uk

  3. The Bookish Reader
    December 10, 2015 / 9:59 am

    Great article Hayley, so nice to hear that brands are starting to be aware of the impact they have on the average (30+) woman.

  4. rajib saudagar
    December 11, 2015 / 10:52 am

    I love this….

  5. Holly Lou
    December 11, 2015 / 5:02 pm

    interesting read! i've never even thought about it until now, great post xxxhttp://hollouwebb.blogspot.co.uk/

  6. Jackie
    December 14, 2015 / 12:56 am

    What we see in advertising is a reflection of society. I don't think it is the beauty industry's responsibility to change it; nothing wrong with having your objective as making money. What drives it is the fact that most older men disregard women on their age and prefer to marry a woman 10 years younger. It is unfair but you cannot force change on people; people are entitled to their beliefs even if we don't agree.

  7. Elle And Mimi
    December 21, 2015 / 4:08 pm

    Well said Hayley! Having lost close friends at a young age (under 40) it has never been more clear to me that growing old is a privilege. Its a shame that instead of being celebrated ageing is seen as an awful thing! That being said I certainly want to look after myself and my skin well into old age! Why not focus on looking and feeling happy rather that 'young'! I have no desire to turn the clock back 20 years as at the age of 46 I very happy with my place in life as many women my age are! http://www.elleandmimi.com

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