Middleagemum.com: no, I do not have a PHD in beauty

To buy anything in skin care now you need to have a serious understanding of science. In fact a PHD in dermatology would be a big help in understanding just the packaging, let alone what’s inside. Looking at a shelf  full of anti skin care products in any branch of Boots or on the floor of a department store can be so baffling your skin starts to age prematurely just through the stress of selection. It was a lot easier when it was just the Avon Lady at the door!

Chemical-sounding ingredients with proper science looking equations have moved from being on the back, hidden in tiny writing you can hardly read on the ingredients list, to being the main act on the front of the package.

Now, I appreciate that the beauty industry is doing good things in discovering new ways to make us look better than ever (this year apparently we all want to look ‘radiant’ rather than younger, so watch out for that buzz word being everywhere) but really I just want to buy a reliable skin cream that makes me look and feel good and doesn’t cost the price of a pair of shoes every three months. I also do not want to spend days researching online understanding what hyaluronic acid, astaxanthin, marine enzymes or bio mimicry are. I just don’t care, thanks anyway.

Jane and I have been to a number of anti ageing skin care launches in the last year and at each one we’ve been introduced to a magic ingredient (sciencey sounding) that has been worked upon by which ever company it is we’re having breakfast/lunch/supper which is the NEW MAGIC chemical that will save us from wrinkles. It’s usually very nice ernest people explaining this, and they always sound VERY convincing. And here’s the thing, EVERY beauty launch we go to, they say the same thing, just with different magic ingredients. I feel very sorry for skincare brands currently, how on earth do you get yours to stand out on a shelf full of equally sciency sounding skin creams? Must be a nightmare business to be in.

At least with fashion and clothes you can see the dress/shoes/bag you are thinking of purchasing, you can touch it, try it on, convince yourself that the quality is worth the extra money, or not. But with those creams, all stacked there in cellophane wrapped boxes, you really just have to hope, or find someone who can explain who isn’t attached to a brand and that’s easier said than done.

While many of the products we have tried have been lovely, you can’t help feel that it’s a jolly complicated way to get customers. Going into any beauty store, you are overwhelmed with brand names, product claims, staff (mostly young and gorgeous with just their mums to reference older skin to) with selling agendas, it’s no way to sell us stuff.

Do we perhaps need beauty floors divided into age-areas, so we can at least feel everything we look at is relevant? It’s interesting to see that Harvey Nichols is opening Beauty Mart, a beauty concept boutique that will do the editing for customers and offer just a selection of ‘best of’ items cherry picked from brands. If we could have someone who has our older skin in mind doing this somewhere, and then extend it to make up (how are you all finding defining your eyes with eyeliner now those wrinkles crepe up your eyelids, eh?) that would be cool.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that beauty industry is spending time and money on the 40 plus market trying to make us all look better, yes I know it’s because we’ve got lots of cash, but let’s not knock the enthusiasm. Oh that we were getting so much attention from the fashion world!

But beauty brands, can you  just have a bit of a rethink on how you’re presenting it to us in store please? And can it be a little less complicated too? Remember we didn’t all do physics/biology/chemistry at university. Thankyou.


  • Nicola says:

    I would like department stores to have a skincare and make up personal shopper. Someone independent and knowledgeable who can help you find the products that are right for you. Do they exist in London? I’m not aware of a service like that in North West stores.

  • mary says:

    But has skin care changed that much? Or are we just paying more serious attention to the industry because we are at that age were we are actively seeking help?

  • amanda says:

    Mary, definitely I am looking harder now as I try and find a cream that will make my skin look its best for my age, perhaps it’s always been this way but it still isn’t helpful!
    Nicola, that is a GENIUS idea, does anyone know of that service anywhere? I’d sign up for it for sure A

  • Doesn’t Fenwick still have an independent beauty personal shopper? I remember in the 90s John Gustavson was the man….??!

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