When one approaches the makeup kiosks at department stores or peruses makeup websites online, there’s an emphasis on making women look younger.
Headlines like “Makeup Tricks To Make You Look Younger” and “Beauty Hacks That Will Shave a Decade Off” are smacked across not only beauty magazines, but any magazines with a primarily female audience.
Skincare products aren’t just marketed to help you hydrate your skin, but to give it a more ‘youthful dew’ or to ‘reverse the signs of aging.’
While some of the tips can certainly make eyes appear brighter and more alert – such as the strategic application of white eye-shadow in the inner corner of one’s eyes – there’s a message implicit within the headlines and marketing tactics.
The message is loud, and oftentimes disempowering: Hide all signs of aging. You can only be beautiful if you look young.
The concern with this messaging is that it dovetails into a way that women over a certain age group tend to feel already. An article in Sixty and Me by Susan “Honey” Good shared that in her focus group, a narrative emerged about feeling invisible.
“Many of these women were well traveled and involved in several ‘extracurricular’ activities. And yet, several of these lovely women stated, ‘I feel invisible!’,” she wrote. “Why? All their answers were the same, ‘Because I no longer ‘look’ young.’”
This narrative is dangerous for self-esteem globally, and it appears to be escalating within the last decade. A recent statistic from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that “the number of women between the ages of 19 and 34 having a cosmetic procedure has risen by 41 percent since 2011.”
The concern of aging – or the appearance of aging – is driving consumer behavior in a fear-based way, causing preventative action in women at increasingly lower ages. This means that young women who aren’t even legally old enough to order a glass of Cabernet at a bar are already planning ahead for retaining their physical fountain of youthful beauty.
It’s a money maker, though – for plastic surgery facilities and for makeup and skincare brands who dare to market in the “preserve your youth” or “reverse signs of aging” narrative.
They butter this narrative up further by using models in their twenties to market to women in their thirties and forties. This precisely is the problem. When profit is valued over promoting confidence and empowerment, it creates a culture of the incessant need to improve, improve, improve. Fear sells. We know this from how the media promotes fear-based stories over positive ones. But it’s a narrative that is hurting women globally.
Makeup company Fiera Cosmetics is flipping the script, and was built specifically for aging women — to help them feel visible and beautiful in their skin.
Their efforts go against the grain of everything we see in modern-day makeup and beauty marketing. “Instead of using twenty-something models, we use models who are indicative of our target audience: real, everyday women in the age ranges of 50-80,” explained Kate Duff, Fiera’s brand coordinator.
This simple addition helps customers feel as though the product was truly made for them, rather than making them feel out of place or ‘too old’ for younger-feeling makeup brands.
Because anti-aging is still a concern for women in these age groups, the products are made and marketed in a way that helps women to embrace their age. For example, Fiera’s ‘anti-aging concealer’ was formulated in a way that the product wouldn’t settle into the fine lines and wrinkles. This creates a blurring effect that can add a boost of confidence, without the need to get additional botox or to feel estranged from a customer-base in the way that youth-targeted makeup companies tend to cause.
Additionally, many of these younger makeup brands are made without concern for already-visible fine lines and wrinkles, which means that the products don’t work as well for women who do have these natural signs of maturing skin.
By creating a product for women who have these that actually works and provides results, it’s a form of embracing what makes each woman beautiful, with giving her the option to take the ‘anti-aging’ makeup route if she so pleases.
“Our models are our customers. We’re about aging with grace and dignity, being comfortable in your own skin, not making up some nonsense image of what a woman should aspire to that she can never achieve,” Duff added. This is helping to fight against the societal pressure to invest in cosmetic surgeries such as botox, too.
Helping women to own their beauty at any age is not always about just helping them feel beautiful in their own skin sans makeup or plastic surgery.
It’s helping them to feel visible, important, and included, by making products specifically for them, with models and marketing materials that reflect them. This is what creating a product that’s truly targeted to solving a problem and offering a solution for one customer base is all about.