Is the term anti-aging out for good?
Monday, June 25, 2018
Some people in the beauty industry want "anti-aging" to go the way of the dodo. In light of Allure magazine announcing in last year's September issue that it would no longer publish the term anti-aging, it makes me wonder if this will become the new normal for the industry.
The magazine stated that aging is a "celebration of growing into your own skin," so we shouldn't see it as a "battle" and something that needs a remedy like antiviral medications or antifungal creams.
But does the term really stand for something negative, or is it just a way to clearly state which skin care goals you're after?
According to The Huffington Post, this month, the U.K.'s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) reported that negative attitudes towards aging can affect individuals' "health and well-being" because images in the media are "rife with examples of language that either trivialize, vilify, or catastrophize the aging process."
The beauty industry is known for throwing around the term anti-aging as commonly as acne and sensitive skin, however. But the RSPH argues that ageism is "prejudicial" and "discriminatory" just like racism and sexism.
Thus, ageism is being called the new "-ism" of our time that we must challenge and fight against for a free society. Is this a valid point, or are we taking a common beauty goal to a dark and much-too-political place?
Obviously, how we speak to our clients and spa staff truly matter. Words that we choose to describe people, places and things should be done with discretion and respect in the workplace. However, as many skin care professionals know, anti-aging isn't a judgment or an insult, it's simply a category of beauty products and services that serve a specific purpose.
By definition, if a client is interested in anti-aging solutions, they are looking to diminish wrinkles, revive their skin's elasticity and erase age and sun spots. In most cases, it's really just that simple.
In fact, most clients enter a spa or medical spa with the sincere hope that their aging will be slowed down and improved.
Yes, services like facials feel great. But most clients are not just interested in how good they feel — they want visible and measurable results!
Why else would they suffer through itchy chemical peels, laser skin tightening and countless microdermabrasions? Why are medical spas becoming more popular than traditional day spas? Why are dermal fillers and neuromodulators as common as haircuts these days? Well, because clients have ways to freeze time, so they are going to do it!
Clients happily choose Botox over groceries and save up all year for their lip and midface enhancing fillers. These are not the actions of shameful, marginalized people — these are the proud preventers of crow's feet and naso-labial folds that want to feel sexy at every stage of life.
In fact, many clients say after their skin is rejuvenated from a clinical treatment or their filler has settled in that they "feel like themselves again."
So couldn't we agree that looking and feeling younger makes us feel more natural and healthy? Maybe we aren't so scared of aging in 2018 because we know that there are so many options to soften the blow — namely: anti-aging products and procedures!
In terms of your spa or medical spa, make your own choices about how you would like to communicate anti-aging terminology to clients. Maybe it will fit your company culture to devise new phrases in lieu of "anti-aging."
Spa menus, your website and social media presences can create new language that reflects your unique perspective on reversing the clock. However, keep in mind that some clients will want to discuss their goals in terms of anti-wrinkle, anti-sagging and anti-sun spot — it's only natural and good customer service for you and your staff to go with the flow.
It's inappropriate to correct a client or persuade them to use other words — it's their body and they can refer to it however they please. At the end of the day, in my view, many clients will not be offended by the term anti-aging and will readily use it to describe their treatment goals.
It is up to us, as skin care professionals, to cater to them using meaningful words and phrases that they will understand.
In my 20 years in the beauty industry, I have never felt a twinge of shame or disgrace when discussing anti-aging modalities and products with clients — in fact, their eyes light-up and sometimes I even get a hug when I tell them that we can remedy their concerns.
In most cases, the anti-aging term is not an insult — it's a viable category of care! How else will we know which shelf to look at or which aisle to walk down at our favorite store?
We must not live in a world of denial — aging is a fact! Anti-aging is an inevitable request in the beauty ecosystem because aging is an unavoidable side effect of being alive!
Do we, as a beauty industry, need honest product labels? Yes. Do we need unretouched images that show real skin textures and not enhanced ones? Yes. Do we need transparency and safety in ingredients? Absolutely.
So, sure, replace anti-aging with age-reversing, stopping the clock, rejuvenation, prejuvenation, freezing time, replenishing, invigorating or correction — but when we boil it down, it all means the same thing: stop the aging process now!
Maybe we should de-politicize anti-aging and come to terms with the fact that this category isn't going anywhere even if we stop saying the words. If you don't believe in anti-aging, then don't participate, but let others decide for themselves.
If aging is a "celebration of growing into my own skin," then I want to do it with less UV damage and risk of skin cancer, more hydration, less wrinkles and better elasticity. As a licensed esthetician, skin expert and consumer, healthy, glowing skin as I age will be something to celebrate.
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