This is why women over 40 feel unrepresented in beauty


The beauty industry has come leaps and bounds in the past few years in terms of inclusivity. Foundations are no longer launched without a complete shade spectrum, women of all nationalities, religions and sizes are being used in campaigns and textured hair is finally getting the full attention it deserves. 

So why do women 40+ still feel invisible? “What is represented in the media leaves a large gap between how older women are looking, feeling and living their lives, and how they are represented,” says The Indigo Project Psychologist, Martha Tsakalos.

“Older women are boxed into overly simplistic images and roles by the media, which minimises all they have to offer as a person, and mutes their personality. This narrow stereotyping is in stark contrast to the research which shows that for women over 40, one’s sense of self, positivity and confidence is the highest in our human lifetime! There’s quite a disconnect.”

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Try this: Think of a cosmetic brand, type it into Google and head to the corresponding homepage. What campaign images are you met with?  If it’s not a smooth-skinned, 20-30 something woman smiling back at you, we’ll eat our hats. Even the brands who we applaud for being diverse use youthful, wrinkle-free models to showcase the 50 shades of foundation they worked so hard on. Do people over 40 not wear foundation? Of course they bloody do!

Admittedly, older women aren’t boycotted entirely. There are plenty of brands with ‘faces’ over 40. But have you noticed that they’re always a celebrity (so that we know for sure how old they are) and that they’re always promoting skin care? Serums, retinols and moisturisers are still ‘on theme’ apparently, but since when did lipsticks, blush, mascara and all the other fun stuff have an age limit?

It’s something many of us don’t notice until we reach that age ourselves. After all, if you fall into the 18-35 bracket, you’re well catered for and when something isn’t effecting you directly, it’s hard to sit up and take notice. Well, consider this your notice.

We’re not here to call anyone out, and we’re no angels ourselves (despite this being heaven), but as a community with beauty loving members who span across all ages, it’s something we felt strongly enough about to raise in support of the women in our forums who feel they’re not being respresented.

And when you think about it, why aren’t brands looking past the age of 40? These are the women who have paid their mortagages, raised their kids, climbed the corporate ladder and are very likely to have a more disposable income. Why wouldn’t you want this ready-to-splurge crowd covetting your products? It seems like a missed opportunity to us…

Please don’t consider this a cry for ‘age appropriate’ products, either. The aim is inclusivity, not exclusivity. Frankly we can’t say it better than one of our members who wrote:”There is one aspect of the beauty industry that I find annoying, which is the well-meaning advice for older women about the type of makeup we should wear. We are often told to wear neutral eyeshadow, brown eyeliner, apricot coloured lipstick, and not to wear black eyeliner and shimmery eyeshadows. I am 56 and I love to wear colourful lipsticks. I wear black eyeliner, but not in the same way as when I was younger. I wear cobalt blue, green, violet, navy and aqua eyeliners. I wear shimmery eyeshadows, I wear matte eyeshadows.”

So, how can brands stop the blatant age discrimination?

“Firstly, it is important to include older women in the marketing itself. It is also important to update the notion of what it means to be an older woman in today’s society – showcasing greater diversity and also, more depth into their character and who they are beyond what the media has traditionally cast,” Martha says. “The research shows that with age comes increased acceptance, confidence and positivity – speaking to and highlighting their inner confidence is a step in the right direction.”

Speaking of a step in the right direction, after conducting a study that discovered that only 12 per cent of women over the age of 40 feel accurately or adequately represented in the media and society today, Priceline decided to take action. They’ve since launched a brand new beauty movement that celebrates women of all ages and encourage representation industry-wide: The Festival of YOU. All about understanding different needs and helping women to find the perfect products for them, with age of no matter – because ageing is beautiful, and it’s about time we celebrated it.

The Festival of YOU will run instore until March 26th.

Main image credit: @pricelineau

Image credits: Priceline Pharmacy Festival of YOU

What are your thoughts on ageism in the beauty industry? Do you feel represented within beauty?

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Comments 7

  1. Agreed! Celebrities have all probably been using the top of the line beauty products – their skin isn’t necessarily a good representation of the rest of us in their age bracket!

  2. The silliest part of this thinking is that more mature women, in the main, have more disposable income to use than younger ones hence are able to and usually do spend more on beauty products.

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  4. Any beauty company that doesn’t focus on the over-40’s (which isn’t even that old any more) is missing out on a whole lotta business. The psychology of using younger models as “aspiration inspiration” actually turns me off using their products – I don’t want to look 16, I want to look good for my age!

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