As I was strolling through the makeup section at the drugstore, I noticed a pattern. So many products were covered in phrases such as “anti-aging,” “age rewind,” and “age defying.” What is it about aging that’s advertised as so undesirable? 

Over the past few years, the beauty industry has definitely made some advancements at being more inclusive, including expanding their shade ranges in their products, and including more diverse groups of models in their advertisements. One aspect of the industry that still hasn’t made much progress is the way that older consumers are treated. With the way that many beauty products are advertised today, it’s clear that the beauty industry is trying to instill a fear of aging onto their consumers. Whether it’s through claims that their products will repair wrinkles or fix their grey hair, it’s clear that the industry is attempting to make these natural signs of aging into something negative. They scare their customers into purchasing these products. 

These anti-aging products illustrate the ageism present within the beauty industry. Ageism in the beauty and skincare industry is mostly a gendered issue. While these products can be used by anyone, they are very clearly targeted towards aging women. For women, beauty has become associated with youthfulness. It’s unsettling to think that the beauty industry believes that women’s beauty has an expiration date. 

The messages being spread in these vintage ads were so clearly problematic, so why is the beauty industry still spreading this idea that women would be more desirable if they were to remain looking young? While today the ads may not be as explicit with the ageist ideas they are spreading, the message is still there. Some of the most popular brands today have lines of makeup dedicated to the concept of anti-aging. While it is just a natural part of aging, there is nothing wrong with wanting to use these products that claim to slow down the aging process. The main issue with these products is the way that they are advertised. The phrases “anti-aging” and “wrinkle repair” immediately turn these things into something undesirable, which doesn’t help the fact that women are already victims when it comes to how they are treated during the aging process. The phrase “anti-aging” turns aging into something that everyone should be against. These words may seem simple, but they can have so much power over the consumers. 

Claiming that something is “anti-aging” is simply not possible. By advertising their products like this they are setting their customers up for failure. Aging is inevitable. It’s time that everyone accepts this rather than continuing to shame those who are aging. A way that the beauty industry can attempt to make progressive strides is by changing the way that they advertise these products. Words like “anti” and “repair” could be switched for words with a more positive connotation that don’t make aging seem like something that needs to be fixed. I know that these companies use these phrases in order to increase sales, but these phrases make their products look so negative. A rebrand could be good for business, but also good for consumer satisfaction. 

About the Author

Hi! I'm Megan and I'm a fourth year English major. This is my first year writing for WEW and I'm really excited about it! Some of my favourite things to do in my free time are watching movies, reading, and baking. My favourite movies are La La Land (2016) and Little Women (2019) and my favourite book is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I'm looking forward to sharing my ideas with everyone and also learning about new topics from the other writers!