Gravity will take us all and there is nothing the beauty industry can offer to go back in time, writes Lee Suckling. Photo / Getty Images
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis hates the term “anti-aging”. The 63-year-old is trying to live in acceptance of her appearance and has opened up to reject the idea of ”hiding things” with products like concealers, body shapers, fillers and so on.
I took a thorough look at the supermarket’s personal care department before writing this, and overwhelmingly, skin products market themselves as being able to achieve either of those two things. Or “anti-aging” or “fair skin”.
I’m about 30 years younger than Curtis, so I’ve only been experimenting for a couple of years with products that claim to be “anti-aging”. While I believe that some beauty products have the preventative power to slow aging slightly, anything that claims to reduce “fine lines and wrinkles” will do no such thing. The only tools, honestly, that will reduce the signs of aging that have already occurred are medical procedures, not something you can pick up at the pharmacy for under $ 40.
Now, the reason I’m not on the anti-aging train like Curtis is because I want to slow down the development of lines and creases before they turn into real wrinkles. I’m also in that darn wonderful stage of life where Botox is a consideration (I’ve done it a few times), but sometimes acne is still a part of my life.
Where I agree with Curtis is to remove these terms – anti-aging and fair skin – from our expectations of the beauty industry altogether. Why? Because the constant bombardment of these words on the packaging has trained our brains to think they are the norm.
In fact, few people have blemish-free skin. We all get seats. Besides, we will all age. Some at different rates than others, sure, but it’s inevitable. Gravity will take us all and there is nothing the beauty industry can offer to go back in time.
Yet we continually buy new products every time we see them on the shelves. We have a false sense of optimism that “maybe this will work” when the last five products have done nothing. A month or more goes by, we see zero changes and spend more money to try another product that claims to incorporate the latest science in the fight against aging or acne.
In fact, I can’t tell you the times over the past 20 years I’ve bought skin care products that I’ve bought something with a simple hope: “this is that!”. In fact, the only thing that has ever made any visible changes are the very simple, paired regimens prescribed specifically for me by a dermatologist.
According to Statista, the skin care industry is worth an estimated $ 638.6 billion ($ 923.5 billion) globally in 2022. Furthermore, this industry not only survived Covid, but thrived during it, according to McKinsey. The global market is now worth about $ 100 billion more than it was in the pre-pandemic period, with many experts saying that the blocks and time spent at home with constant access to the mirror, increased self-care and seeing oneself on Zoom all the day they caused the boom.
Flawless skin, without wrinkles and pimples is a worldwide obsession. One driven by a nearly trillion dollar industry. This is unfair to all of us. The face is not a static entity that will not change day by day, month by month, year by year. It is not realistic; it’s not achievable for the most part. This ideal has created a destructive sense of optimism that the impossible can be achieved (and maintained).
Having spent literally thousands of dollars worth of skin care products on my face, I’ll tell you what is possible with these beauty products. “Fair” skin and perhaps a small slowdown in the development of wrinkles on the face. Perfect isn’t possible, at least not for me, and not for more than a week or two when another problem arises. A breakout. A crease or line that I have never noticed before and therefore I am convinced it is brand new. Irritation. Diet-related skin problems. Stress-related skin problems. Time-Related Skin Problems! It is a never-ending battle, which ultimately loses.
Yet I won’t stop buying beauty products, and neither will you. At any given moment, we all face what we believe is best. Also, in my experience, what worked about three months or two years ago might just stop working today and you’ll have to try something new.
So here’s my request. Eliminate the notion that clear, anti-aging skin is possible for you. Do not take seriously what is marketed to you on any skin care packaging. It’s just fluff. Find products that give you clear skin and pray to the gods that anything preventative will work over the years (though you’ll never know what you’d be like otherwise). Don’t expect miracles. Don’t even get a deceptive sense of security with the stats on the back of the boxes saying things like “This percentage of users saw results in 2 weeks.” This stuff isn’t real; it’s all marketing.
We all try to be a little more like Jamie Lee Curtis. Live in acceptance of our appearance. Anything else, I’m afraid, will only lead to disappointment and a much lighter pocket.