These trends were shared by Michael Nolte, creative director of Openstreams Foundation. The non-profit aims to foster global collaboration, awareness of key issues on beauty and support education.
“Age is not a problem to be solved, but a natural part of life that should be embraced. People of all ages and appearances are beautiful. Age is part of our diverse society; the same way other aspects, such as colour, shape, size, gender and individual beliefs, are.
“We can go beyond finding ways to make people appear younger to finding new ways to make people feel comfortable at all ages by accompanying them through their lives. Areas such as psychological and physical well-being are open avenues to explore instead of trying to find solutions to the symptoms of ageing anxiety created by society.
“We believe that the beauty industry can contribute to evolving beauty standards in order to release unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations,” said Nolte, who has 20 years’ worth of industry experience under his belt.
He spoke about the trend in a webinar during the Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week (#CADW) titled “Stop Age Anxiety: Challenging the Youth-Dictate”.
Anxious about age
Age anxiety is defined as constant pressure on physical appearance built around concepts of youth, creating unrealistic desires to appear and stay young at all costs.
Globally, the United Nations estimated that 2 bn individuals will be aged 60 and above by 2050, up from 1 bn in 2020. It has declared 2020 to 2030 as the “Decade of Healthy Ageing”, with strategies and action plans in place like efforts to change mindsets and foster capabilities of older people.
Moreover, the world anti-ageing cosmetics market will be worth US$422bn by 2030. But, add on disturbing new realities, such as climate emergencies, pandemics and wars, and the beauty industry could get the chance to re-evaluate its perspectives and practices, Nolte added.
“Today, teenagers, or even younger preteens, feel the pressure to prevent early signs of ageing, exacerbated by social media. Adults believe that youthful appearance equates to dynamism in the workspace. Seniors feel anxiety because they feel disconnected from the active society. It is striking to see that all societies are ageing, but on the other hand, we cultivate a certain youth dictate when it comes to beauty.
“It is not the beauty industry that is to blame, of course. The problem is much deeper than that. But with the ongoing crises, people worldwide are affected psychologically, and we believe it is important to nurture a positive self-image and alleviate unnecessary pressure. In today’s world, it is a privilege to get the chance to grow old,” he said.
Hence, Nolte and his team organised a campaign, “Stop Age Anxiety”, designed to challenge the youth dictate and promote an inclusive approach to ageing. The idea was not to condemn anti-ageing or preventive ageing methods but to explore alternatives to approach ageing.
A total of 28 beauty and cosmetics organisations have joined the movement, including Australia’s Aesthetics Practitioners Advisory Network (APAN), Italy’s Italian Beauty Community and Paris’s fair trade organisation PCD.
“What if we evolved the mere definition of beauty? What if the first wrinkle was the beginning of a new chapter? What if every wrinkle was considered to be a milestone? What if stretch marks represent memories of achievements? What if health was more important than appearance? What if we focused on enjoying the ride instead of fearing the future? What if white hair was just one of the many beautiful marks of inclusivity? What is the thought experience and wisdom?” said Nolte.
He gave examples such as the Kind Science skincare line, which promotes embracing life; La Maria products that celebrate natural hormonal changes in a woman’s life; and the Better Not Younger hair care line, which empowers women to celebrate and feel good about age.