Anti-aging. Clean beauty. Sustainable fashion.
So interchangeably used today, these phrases have come to mean more than the words themselves. They hold power. Have emotional resonance. Represent over 50M hashtags in IG alone.
But they aren’t so black and white.
For so many – myself at the forefront – “anti-aging” creates ire as there is nothing greater in life than aging. Bring on the laugh lines; Freely inject the expression lines but never stop expressing yourself. To each her own in beauty regimens, just don’t denounce aging.
When I begin writing about a brand, I scour for any “anti” or “fighting” vernacular – as this is often an insight into the founder, the brand, the vision. But I often find that, even tucked within charged lingo, is optimism for the future. Anti-aging platforms are often an attempt not to pull women down but to give them the confidence of their youth; the intent is empathetic.
But that’s not enough anymore.
Our can-do attitude toward aging, and life in general, reflects the enlightened perspective of our favorite mononyms, Mel, Gabby and Oprah respectively, who preach: “Make a conscious decision today to be positive;” The universe has our back; “If you pull the lever of gratitude every day, you'll be amazed at the results.” Empowered by these women about life, love – and yes, aging – positivity replaces the fight.
And as “The Power of Positive Aging” author David Lereah notes, “"If you’re particularly positive about aging, it takes you to successful aging."
No brand can make that claim. It’s within us, so why fight it?
Clean Beauty & Sustainable Fashion.
While repetition has sharpened our anti-aging stance – and soapbox – with redundancy “clean beauty” and “sustainable fashion” have lost their meaning altogether. Lacking a definition, they become ubiquitous, overused and, frankly, abused. Unregulated, they’ve opened the doors for myths and influencer driven confusion.
With such grey areas, the way through is with curiosity – a trait that science reveals dramatically decreases as we age. Start asking questions, find reputable resources, turn to a community that builds you up and informs – rather than profits – when passing along knowledge. I have turned to derms (Dr. Ellen Gendler for one), beauty consultants who live for science (shout out to Knockout Beauty founder, Cayli Cavaco Reck) and retailers like Violet Grey (which is more discerning, and cares far more about what we slather on our bodies, than the FDA). And I am honored to have written for the launch of the first non-toxic t-shirt, ROTE – a brand so transparent, they feature an ingredient label (in algae ink, natch) revealing the eradicated chemicals.
You learn so much through inquiries, including the ever-evolving lingua franca. The words to use, the questions to ask, the experts to approach. Without FTC reliability (their Green Guides to avoid claims that mislead consumers haven’t been updated since 2012) and while awaiting the passing of the Safer Beauty Bill (four pieces of federal legislation focused on critical areas of cosmetic safety reform), lean into those with transparency. When brands have nothing to hide, details shared (ingredients, formulations, manufacturing processes among them) are far more invaluable than a aspirational social media account with algorithm-loving reels.
Because words matter.
Let’s get informed, not influenced. Only then can we break through the clutter (and the 4,000 to 10,000 ads thwarting us daily) to make the best decisions – and in turn find efficacious beauty that brings us joy, skincare with a rai·son d'ê·tre beyond a glazed pastry glow, and fashion that doesn’t forgo our personal values for a trend. Because if aging affords us one thing, it’s knowing who we are and what we deserve. And curiosity – more than skincare or style – keeps us forever young.
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