Growing old gracefully is unthinkable in 2021. More women than ever want to hold onto youthful-looking skin, and I am one of them.
But why? Is nature taking its course simply unfashionable, or are ageing women under increasing pressure to hold back the years?
Advertising, celebrities and factors like low-self esteem can all play a part in compelling women to want younger-looking skin. There is also the issue of visible ageing being a cruel reminder that life is short. If you are anything like me, every new fine line or wrinkle can provoke a tangible sense that ‘time is running out’.
Of course, those aren’t the only reasons. Simply wanting to look good to boost the mood, to keep a partner interested or out-perform peers in the beauty stakes are all quite natural.
In this feature, I am going to explore why mature women want to stay looking younger for longer. I will focus on science and psychology, and how brands use both to sell us the promise of ever-lasting youth.
Why Some Women Simply Don’t Age
Researchers at Harvard University* have identified unique parallels in women who never seem to age. Using bioinformatics, a study looked at approximately 2,000 genes which are known to influence ageing, such as cellular energy and anti-oxidant production, along with moisture barrier formation and DNA repair. Findings suggest those who look younger than their years have better-performing genes.
We all have these genes but it is how they function, and especially their strength, that dictates how long we cling onto youthful skin. Interestingly, the study found declines can be noticed in women as young as their 20s. That’s why a lot of TV adverts for skin care brands feature fresh-faced teenagers or women applying products over a full face of natural-looking make-up. We really shouldn’t fall for it.
By the time a woman reaches her 60s, negative processes can accelerate in all of the following:
- Reduced antioxidant response
- Reduced bioengery
- Increased cellular senescence
- Poorer skin barrier performance
Despite these findings, the research also pointed to lifestyle choices and environmental influences as having a bearing on how young the skin looks. So, if we are born with poor genes, our lifestyle and skin care choices are important. Get them right and we can play ‘catch up’. Get them wrong and we can end up looking older than we actually are.
Knowing that the basics are the luck of the draw is depressing, because it means most of us have to work harder to look great for our age.
Why The Promise Of Younger Skin ‘Sells’
Media messages, including product imagery and branding, can impact how we feel about ourselves and influence our spending. But what really cracks it for brands is the use of consumer psychology. Studies of distinct groups of consumers help marketeers and companies better target their audience. They don’t just target by age either. Annual income and how many dependants we have are among other factors that can be taken into consideration.
For mature women, messaging is designed to play on our emotions and weaknesses. I mean, what’s more depressing than looking old? And what is most likely to remedy that? Something that promises to reverse the signs of ageing!
The motivation to actually part with cash will depend on the call to action. Have a look at shopping channels on TV and see how they attempt to hook us in. Notice how there is always a sense of urgency to prompt us to buy something. ‘Limited time deal’, ‘pay in installments’, ‘exclusive to us’, ‘selling fast’…. Phrases all used to compel us to act.
Take note how, especially in the case of skin care products, ‘science’ is banded about quite often in the same breath as complex product ingredients. Do you honestly know what all these ingredients are and how beneficial they can be for the skin? Me neither! Unless words like retinol or collagen are thrown into the mix, I’m lost.
The sales pitch is deliberately intimate, appealing to us, personally, to make us feel like an extended part of a team or a community. A sisterhood. In reality, we are the ‘end product’. The buyer; the person who makes the brand, the channel and everyone involved money. But will their sales really make us look younger?
New Ways To Hook Us In
I am an avid reader of reviews. They tell me a lot more about a product or brand than advertising. That’s why I am not a sucker for subscription schemes. Yesterday, I headed over to Trustpilot to see what consumers are saying about varying brands of beauty boxes – a relatively new phenomenon. These retail at anything from around a tenner upwards a month.
Horror stories abound. These were just some of the complaints that will ensure I am never tempted to sign up:
- Not getting what was promised
- Getting too much of the same type of product
- Being unable to easily cancel a subscription
- Money still being taken after a subscription has been cancelled
- Poor customer service
When I spy advertising material that promises £95-worth of products for not much more than a tenner, I’m suspicious. Surely, if that was the case, a business would go bankrupt? Unless they are shifting stock brands can’t sell. Of course, these types of messages are designed to motivate us to sign up.
Another new ‘hook’ is a website that requires a subscription for ‘cheaper’ products. It strikes me that customers are probably paying the going rate, by the time you factor in what you are forking out each month to be a ‘member’ of the site.
Before writing this feature, I hopped over to the website of a well-known television shopping channel. You know, the type of platform where a professional saleswoman will rub a product on the back of her hand and tilt it towards the studio lights to show the ‘effect’. I have always been a fan of this particular channel. In fact, I bought something while I was there. Yes, a true sucker!
However, after my purchase, I had a look at some of the reviews. I was shocked. Many products had no reviews at all (and I thought this was one of the top go-to places for skin care). Quite a lot of products, more than I had expected, had poor reviews – even some for the biggest and most expensive, not to mention trusted, brands in the business.
How To Look Younger Without Being A Sucker
Hands up, I am a sucker for a good deal. However, the rule of thumb is to only buy the products you need – at the time that you require them. A good cleanser, serum and moisturiser is all you really need. Sticking to a routine will almost guarantee at least some benefits.
Paying top dollar for skin care doesn’t mean that a product will perform better than a cheaper brand. Consumer groups have demonstrated this time and time again.
Having a change once in a while, a new product, a treat or different regime, can pep us up. At the end of the day, it is the same as maintaining youthful skin – it makes us feel better.
*Research by Harvard University, Olay and 23andMe
Further reading on this website: REVIEW: I Could Not Resist This Elizabeth Arden Gift Set – Regime Skin Care
Today’s note to readers: I am afraid, you can tell Valentine’s Day is approaching. Prices have increased for a number of skin care kits which are popular gifts. The Beverly Hills Skin Care Set, recently featured in a review, has gone up by a fiver – from £34.99 to £39.99. The L’Oreal Beauty Like A Boss set, recently featured on our Facebook page for £9.99, has gone up by a whopping ten quid and is now £19.99. Don’t fall for it, Ladies. Wait a month and prices may come back down.