Cosmetics brands and magazines are celebrating the older woman even as sales of anti-aging products surge
Coveting youth has never been more popular—or controversial.
Beauty magazine Allure made a (SPF-covered) splash this past summer when it announced it would be banning the term “anti-aging” within its pages. The phrase is “subtly reinforcing the message that aging is a condition we need to battle — think antianxiety meds, antivirus software, or antifungal spray,” Allure’s editor-in-chief Michelle Lee wrote. “Growing older is a wonderful thing because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full, happy life.” Its Condé Nast sibling Vogue Italia also chimed in by putting septuagenarian actress Lauren Hutton on the cover of its October issue, dedicated to women above 60.
In some ways, the two influential fashion rags are merely chasing trends. 26.1% of America’s population will be sexagenarian in 2030, up from 20.7% in 2015, and it makes business sense to not label the affluent, mature crowd passé. Fashion brands are using older women as ambassadors—Hutton reps Calvin Klein lingerie—and even Hollywood producers, long the bête noire of women above 30, are accommodating older actresses.
Sneak peek to our October issue 🔥 È sempre oggi 🔥 on Newsstands tomorrow October 5th🔥 The legendary Lauren Hutton 🔥🔥 in Valentino @maisonvalentino by Steven Klein @stevenkleinstudio styled by Patti Wilson @patti_wilson 🔥 #TheTimelessIssue #TimelessVogueItalia 🔥 Exclusively today on @WWD Editor in chief @efarneti Creative director @gb65 ✨✨ Casting @pg_dmcasting @samuel_ellis Models Lauren Hutton and Diego Villarreal @ddiegovillarreal @ Soul Artist Management Hair Ward @ward_hair @ The Wall Group. Hair pieces Helena Collection Wigs @helenawigs Make-up Kabuki @kabukinyc @ (www.kabukimagic.com) Manicure Yuko Tsuchihashi @yukotsuchihashi @ Susan Price NYC Set designer Stefan Beckman @stefanbeckman @ Exposure NY on set Viewfinders✨✨✨
But Americans aren’t putting their money where their mouth is. Even as they laud growing old, beauty cabinets are being filled with products that espouse anti-aging properties. Research consultancy Euromonitor predicts that $4.2 billion worth of wrinkle-warding products will be sold in the U.S. in 2021, an increase of over 30% from 2011. Prestige skincare products touting anti-aging quantities made up 40% of all skincare sales in the U.S. last year, data from NPD show.
The sales are driven not just by baby boomers and Gen X-ers, but also millennials who claim to like their kale au naturel. “We’re seeing a change among millennials who are taking on preventative products rather than waiting for cures,” says Kayla Villena, Euromonitor research analyst. “We see it with diet, exercise and lifestyle trends so it makes sense that the leap is happening to skincare. It’s top of the mind for millennials.”
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) October 6, 2017
Among the steps undertaken by young people secretly terrified of aging include getting preventative Botox in their 20s, which some experts say fixes habits like reflexive brow pursing that promotes wrinkles later on. They’re also making heavy use of products with SPF and properties like retinols—a vitamin that combats visible aging—and hyaluronic acid with peptides, which maintain the skin’s moisture level. (Dryer skin is a common dermatological condition as one ages.)
And beauty brands are increasingly promoting the technology they pour into their serums and creams. “The industry is harnessing its focus on high-tech new ingredients because millennials are interested in the technology,” says Villena. “It really resonates with the group.”
BITING THE HAND THAT MOISTURISES
Dame Helen Mirren, The Face Of Brand L'Oréal Has Said That The Product "Probably Does F*** ALL " ! (AP) pic.twitter.com/FV0XBlkBtc
— TONYINBHAM (@TT0121) August 3, 2017
As cosmetics conglomerates pour billions into research and development though, their marketing departments are working overtime to sell anti-agers in a more subtle fashion. To avoid the loaded qualifier “anti,” LVMH-owned beauty chain Sephora occasionally uses the term “de-aging” instead. Olay calls its products age defyers rather than anti-agers, while Dove stresses goods that promote “youthful vitality.” In 2014, L’Oréal signed Helen Mirren up for her first-ever beauty campaign at the age of 69.
All this is occurring though the basic promise remains one more grasp at the elixir of youth. “Many of the top-selling products that claim anti-aging benefits ingredients will not necessarily call out the term ‘anti-aging’ in the product name or description,” says Larissa Jensen, beauty industry analyst at NPD. “There is an underlying negativity associated with the term. I believe this will affect future marketing efforts as we have already begun to see the changes taking place.”
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