Recently, I was asked to take part in a discussion about trends in the beauty business over the past 10 years. The following is an excerpt from the interview:
How long have you worked in the beauty industry?A very long-seeming 2 years.
From the time that you have worked in the industry has it changed at all, and if so how?Because I have been in the industry for a short time (as a beauty editor) I haven't noticed any changes in particular during my tenure. However, in studying the beauty industry and in the process of becoming somewhat of an expert, I have noticed the following:
- There is a lot of money to be made in beauty, now more than ever. Every month, there seems to be a new product on the market promising youth for older women and glamour for younger women. Every magazine has a huge beauty section because the advertisers are willing to pay big bucks for huge glossy ads about eye shadow or lipstick. And it's no wonder beauty is a big business: it doesn't cost a lot of money to produce a small tub of cream (Creme de La Mer costs upwards of $100) but women will dole out their cash to buy it.
- The anti-aging industry is growing at a furious rate. Ten years ago you had only Oil of Olay promising to erase fine lines and wrinkles. Now you have microdermabrasion products, Retinoids (think Retin-A, which isn't just for acne anymore), antioxidants and peels. On top of this, you have a whole host of new minor cosmetic procedures that women are trying as early as age 25. These fillers (think Botox and Restylane) offer women a simpler, less costly option to look younger (facelifts are so 1980). They are becoming so mainstream, women in Dallas are getting them done in the mall of all places.
- On a lighter note, recently I've noticed a 'less is more' trend that I hope takes off.
It started with an article in a magazine about how the French are so much more casual than Americans with their makeup and we all know French women are so very sophisticated. This unleashed a few 'Beauty secrets from the French articles'. Then the New York Times writer Alex Kuczynski wrote a book that got a ton of recent buzz about how she became obsessed with cosmetic surgery and has opted to now go au naturel. Perhaps this new trend is a result of the number 1 and 2 trends I outlined above. We'll see if it has any sort of affect. I'm somewhat doubtful it will. But on the streets of New York, you don't see a lot of bright lipstick and heavily lined eyes. I can't speak for anywhere else, however. But since New York is the trendsetter of American beauty and culture, we'll see where that takes us.
- The celebrity factor...in advertising. Over the past five years or so, celebrities have become spokesmodels for beauty products, unseating the 'Supermodels' of the late 80's, early 90's. This reflects a general trend in advertising, I think, where celebrities have pitched all sorts of products from watches to foundation. They don't wear a ton of makeup when stalked by paparazzi, I've noticed, but they sure make a ton off pitching it for ad agencies.
Do you believe that the beauty industry has had an influence on the way people view beauty now?Absolutely. By spending billions of dollars exhorting anti-aging products and using super-skinny, airbrushed models and celebrities to pitch them, the beauty industry has created An Ideal Woman in the minds of anyone who watches TV or picks up a magazine. The Ideal Woman is thin with flawless skin, no matter her age. And she has drawerfuls of products that miraculously make her that way.
What are your thoughts on how beauty is viewed today and do you think that it is has become a distorted image for women?In this day and age, beauty goes hand in hand with youth, so yes, I believe it's a distorted image for women. So many people are obsessing more than ever about their jowls falling or lines appearing. It's turning people to cosmetic surgery.
At the same time, you have young people trying to look older and piling on makeup at places like Sephora, which has whole lines of makeup geared for teens and preteens. More and more younger girls are making themselves up in an effort to appear older.