‘Grey’ pound buys an ageless look

With a change in attitude to ageing, Alice Hart-Davis asks could it soon be cool to be old? 

When trend-forecasting guru Antoinette van den Berg first began talking, two years ago, about “the end of anti-ageing”, few in the beauty industry could grasp what she meant. Anti-ageing is huge. It’s big business. Market research company Mintel predicts that by 2017 we will be spending £1.2 billion in the UK on anti-ageing.

But for Ms van den Berg, founder of the Dutch forecasting group Future-Touch, which specialises in the cosmetics industry, it now looks very much as if her prediction that “there will come a time when a woman of 55 will have no problem with looking her age” is starting to kick in.

“Just as we had become used to “anti-ageing’ being part of the vernacular, the phrase is beginning to sound negative and out of date.  The trend to aspire to ten years younger is gradually being eclipsed by the desire for a healthy, natural, youthful glow.

Indeed research by Allergan, makers of the injectable filler brand Juvederm, shows that 41 per cent of British women would prefer their faces to look “fresher and radiant” as opposed to “younger”.

“All my clients are looking to age well rather than turn the clock back by a decade,” says Dr Tapan Patel, medical director at the PHI Clinic in London’s Harley Street. “People are much more keyed in and clued up about treatments these days. What we do now is subtle enhancement which allows people to age well.”

DEMOGRAPHIC MARKETING

For beauty companies, ageing is a minefield. They know the numbers of older women are growing and they know these women are the biggest buyers of premium beauty products. According to beauty market expert Imogen Matthews, author of the annual Premium Market Beauty Report, women aged over 50 spent £2 billion in 2012 on cosmetics and toiletries, accounting for 41 per cent of total spending.

All my clients are looking to age well rather than turn the clock back by a decade

Beauty companies also know that older women appreciate the latest developments in skincare technology that can lift, firm and smooth the skin, and these women are maddened by the constant use of dewy-faced youngsters to sell them products for their desiccated menopausal faces. Yet it is hard to replace them with age-appropriate models. Sharon Stone (Dior) and Jane Fonda (L’Oréal) don’t really count because they are made to look so super-youthful in advertising.

Sanctuary Spa picked up early on the new mood. “We decided to move away from the negative connotations relating to age in 2012,’ says Nichola Joss, Sanctuary Spa global skincare expert. “So we called our new skincare Active Reverse rather than ‘anti-ageing’ and the language on the packaging focuses on the positive effects the range has on the skin.”

Estée Lauder is moving in the same direction. This year, the brand’s key focus has been to move from “ageing” to “ageless”, trying to change people’s mindsets towards looking good for their age rather than fighting the ageing process.

Clarins has teamed up with Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, whose “age with attitude” battle-cry suits the positive-ageing benefits of their latest Super Restorative creams. Shiseido is now focusing on the role played by the skin’s immune system in skin health as it ages with its latest product designed to boost the resilience of cells and help keep skin looking its best.

So what’s next in this positive-ageing market? Cosmeceutical skincare brands, such as Neostrata, Skinceuticals and ZO Skincare, are creating new products to stimulate the skin’s own repair processes to keep the complexion clear and glowing. Yes, this has an anti-wrinkle effect, too, but the key focus is on skin health.

Then there is the relentless growth of the “beauty nutriceuticals” market; nutritional supplements that promise a fresher, brighter, less-wrinkled complexion by improving the skin from the inside. In oral care, Unilever has achieved a first with a toothpaste-and-serum kit that can counteract enamel erosion that occurs with age and bad dental hygiene by rebuilding 82 per cent of the tooth’s enamel after three days’ use.

For trend-caster Ms van den Berg this cannot happen fast enough. Along with the “end of anti-ageing”, she now predicts it will be soon be “cool to be old”. That may seem a stretch, but given the way attitudes are beginning to shift and the increasing popularity of mature female models in youth-dominated areas such as fashion, it might just be starting to happen. Bring it on.