I’m sure if you asked a hundred, 50-something women if they would like their 21-year-old skin back, they’d all say yes in a heartbeat. But would they actually want to be 21 again? Unlikely.
Growing old is a privilege that should be celebrated, even if it brings with it complexion bugbears like frown lines and age spots. These are signs of a life well lived, but can make us feel less confident in our skin.
For too long, the beauty industry has been allowed to unfairly manipulate these insecurities, and has a responsibility to change the narrative with positive beauty goals that balance aspiration, inspiration, and reality.
On average, women over the age of 50 in the US spend a staggering $22 billion annually on beauty and personal care products, and account for more than 50% of the market. But, they’re not being communicated with in the right way. Instead of driving messaging around looking younger, and using models barely a day over 25 in their campaigns, brands should be focusing their attention on educating their customers on the importance of preventative skincare routines and active ingredients. Skincare is complicated enough, and using a 20-something model to advertise an anti-aging serum only muddies the waters further. Sadly, despite an industry-wide push for more diversity over recent years, the average age for a beauty and fashion model is still just 23.
Thankfully, more and more people are joining an “anti anti-aging” revolution, recognizing that while we can’t revert back to our younger selves, we can make our skin feel its very best for the stage in life we’re at now.
In with the Old, Out with the New
Instead of telling and showing women that they need to look younger, it’s time for the industry to forge a new path around the concept of beauty in society. “Aging well,” not “looking younger,” should be the goal.
Women today battle with the pressure of the many roles they have to combine, which leaves them little time for themselves. What they need is not a wonder serum that promises miracles, but the tools to help them make intelligent investments in themselves in order to build their confidence.
A key way to approach this is to focus on the impact stress has on our skin. We all lead full lives—the signs of which can show in our complexions. Busy diaries aside, there are external stressors to contend with too, like UV rays and pollution, as well as hormonal changes surrounding menopause. All of these accelerate the rate at which our skin ages, leading to loss of elasticity, unevenness of skin tone, and more prominent lines.
While cosmetics don’t have the power to turn back the clock, they can help to minimize the visible impact of stress by slowing down and minimizing the damage. We still want our skin to show those laughter lines earnt by nights spent with friends, so it’s about having realistic expectations about how our skin should, and can, look at different stages of our lives.
This is something that should be at the heart of a brand from the start. First, with skincare formulations which are focused on bringing down inflammation in order to protect the skin from stress. And secondly, with the imagery you use. We work with a cast of 130 nonprofessional models, aged 17 to 83, with varying skin types, hair colors, and skin tones to promote a real, honest face of beauty. All imagery is unretouched too, for full transparency.
Not only does this attract customers—people of all ages who align with core values of authenticity and inclusivity—it also builds trust. When people can see how the products work on women who actually look like them and reflect where they are in life, they’re more likely to give it a try themselves.
Transparency is Key
Of course, a beauty brand is still a business—we need to make sales and drive revenue, but we should never do so at the expense of customers.
Your New Product Development team should ensure that every ingredient that’s added to the product serves a purpose, even if that role is not initially clear to the consumer. That’s where storytelling comes in to decide how to communicate this.
Raw, authentic communication lies at the heart of a good brand strategy, and can be one of the biggest drivers of customer loyalty. It is crucial to clearly communicate to your customers what’s in the product you’re asking them to buy, and the effect it’s actually going to have on them, without overselling the benefits.
If you’re finding it hard to compellingly explain how a product or ingredient works, I find that analogies land particularly well, whether that be comparing free radicals to a bull in a china shop or peptides to cheerleaders for your skin’s collagen and elastin production. Anything that’s relatable will stick in the customer’s mind.
The goal? In five years' time, customers will feel empowered and inspired to choose the beauty products that actually work for them and their skin, and most importantly, make them feel great, at any age.
As we approach 2023, I’d love more brands to join the “anti anti-aging revolution” and employ full transparency when marketing their products in recognition of their responsibility to redefine today’s unrealistic standard of beauty.
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