Age ain’t nothing but a number – how the beauty market is waking up to age inclusivity

Age ain’t nothing but a number – how the beauty market is waking up to age inclusivity

Inclusivity! Diversity! Authenticity! We’ve all heard it, and if you haven’t you may need your ears checked, as every brand under the sun has been shouting their ‘we don’t discriminate’ credentials from the rooftops for what seems like forever. And quite right too. Having been a conversation for some time now, ticking the right boxes and foregoing the cliché beauty standard of a size zero, blemish/disability/colour-free model is now (nearly) a thing of the past. Or we’re getting there at least. However, what has often been overlooked in this movement? You guessed it – age. While practically every beauty and personal brand out there has been launching campaigns featuring women and men of every ethnicity, shape and size, older models have been, for the most part, left out in the cold.

Indeed, the industry, as a whole, has previously lacked any authenticity when promoting products for the baby boomer market. As stated by Tracey McAlpine, Founder and Editor of, on our perfectly titled Global Cosmetics News podcast Age is the new diversity’, hosted by my colleague Georgina in February, “There is still so much really poor advertising targeting middle aged women.” Indeed, McAlpine goes on to recall a marketing campaign by Dior from some years ago that promoted an anti-wrinkle cream using, wait for it, fresh faced Cara Delevigne as the campaign model. She retorted, “There is no lotions or potions that will get rid of your wrinkles to look like Cara Delevigne.”

So, imagine my delight when upon analysing the market, I noticed that 2019 thus far has been a year where the beauty industry has started to widen its repertoire to include age diversity. It seems that brands are starting to realise that, shock horror, older consumers would quite like to see women their age modelling the products they intend to buy (of course that L’Oréal lipstick will look Insta-worthy on the 18-year old, but what about her mother/aunty/friend in her fifties?). When you actually write it out in black and white, it seems ludicrous that, bar the likes of Dove and The Body Shop, brands have historically all but eradicated women, and men, over the age of around 30 from their advertising campaigns? Of course, where the fashion world leads, the beauty market follows, and Elle magazine recently highlighted quite nicely the amount of older models walking the runways this year. Christy Turlington, 50, closed Marc Jacobs show while Stella Tennant, 48, walked for Burberry. Models Christie Brinkley, Patti Hansen, and Pat Cleveland, 65, 63, and 69 respectively, all also appeared on the SS19 catwalks. And as an indication of just how well received this movement had been, models over the age of 50 were up 33 percent between the SS19 and AW19 shows – a sure sign of the positive impression the older models had on the notoriously hard-to-please fashpack this year.

So the question remains, will this signal further change that will filter through industry wide? Well, if Iris Apfel can sign a modelling contract with IMG aged 97, and heritage brands such as L’Oréal continue giving it the go ahead by using the likes of Helen Mirren & Celine Dion in campaigns, we say the beauty advertising game is certainly on the road to change. In the words of Pat Cleveland to the Post earlier this year, “People like to know that fashion is for everyone.”