This week, beauty magazine Allure announced it was to ban the term anti-ageing. Almost a decade after the ASA started banning adverts containing the word, is this lip service or have we really stopped worrying about looking older?
This week, Allure the USs best-known beauty magazine announced it was to stop using the expression anti-ageing. Whether we know it or not, were subtly reinforcing the message that ageing is a condition we need to battle explained Michelle Lee in her editors letter. Changing the way we think about ageing starts with changing the way we talk about ageing.
Anti-ageing has been a beauty byword since the 1980s, when it was dreamed up by an advertising exec to sell products to older women. It makes sense that this category would have its own term the global skincare market has become a lucrative one expected to exceed $131bn by 2019 and the 50-plus consumer has a huge influence and spending power. While its use on actual products from RoC and Nivea was banned by the ASA around 10 years ago because nothing can claim to stop the passage of time it is still used on websites, in magazines, and in everyday parlance. And now theres a backlash: an anti-anti-ageing movement of consumers and bloggers who are refusing to accept this insidious and sexist terminology. A movement that brands and now publishers are finding impossible to ignore.
Jane Cunningham, founder of the site britishbeautyblogger.com, stopped using the term anti-ageing long ago. When talking about products she would recommend for women over 50 she prefers to use the terms age inclusive and for older skin because thats just fact. She regularly makes a stand against an industry that consistently champions youth by promoting a more inclusive approach. Treating age as something that needs curing is pointlessly demoralising for anyone over 30, Cunningham points out, Id like to see brands celebrating beauty at all ages. Beauty is not one thing, its many things.
Weve actually grown old with the term anti-ageing, says veteran beauty writer Vicci Bentley, 66, who has worked in the industry for 45 years, its a catchy phrase, [it used to indicate] that youve got the gold standard ingredients like retinol in there but its redundant now.
It is of course brilliant to see elements of the beauty industry, including Allure (which is heavily reliant on advertising from beauty manufacturers), take a stand on the use of the term. It is also reflective of a broader cultural shift away from a long-standing obsession with youth to something more accepting of the ageing process. The rise in inclusivity and increased visibility of older models and celebrities within an industry that once shunned anyone over the age of 40 is a welcome change. Women including Helen Mirren (72) Allure magazines September issue cover star, Lauren Hutton (73) and Sylviane Degunst (59) all feature in campaigns, this year.
Womens expectations of how they want to look as they age have changed, says global scientific director for Vichy, Elisa Simonpietri. We are no longer fixated with wrinkles radiant skin is the new measure of youth. The trend is to take more of a long-term view with a self-care attitude. To consider environmental and lifestyle factors like climate, sun, pollution, diet and stress. This change may also reflect the holistic approach people are now taking towards health and wellness with more consideration given to mind, body and soul than our physical appearance.
So is it that were less hung up about ageing? Or is it simply a case of marketing and semantics? The renaming and repackaging of products has already begun as one look at my bathroom cabinet reveals: Pro Age (Dove), Age-Defying (Olay), Age Perfect (LOreal) and Slow Age (Vichy) are all new phrases being used on a selection of moisturisers in lieu of anti-ageing. According to Bentley, thats the branding challenge What to call it? Companies have to include the word age you dont want another euphemism you cant understand. Still, says Bentley, using more positive alternatives to the phrase anti-ageing is a start. All of a sudden the revolution doesnt look so dramatic after all.