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Pexels

Introducing “non-aging,” the disguise du jour for anti-aging ideology.

The groundbreaking term recently replaced “slow aging,” “preservaging,” “aging gracefully,” and “addressing mature skin” as the way to capitalize on women’s fear of living long-but-wrinkly lives while conveniently avoiding the ire of anti-anti-agers!

Well, almost avoiding.

When I read the words “Non-Aging Skincare Tips’’ in a headline earlier this week, coupled with a lovely photo of 54-year-old Halle Berry looking more like a 24-year-old, it made me ARGHHH and ugh and also :weary face emoji: cry.

Not because I’m opposed to “non-aging.” (Although, of course, I am. Synonyms include “dead,” “cryogenically frozen,” and “Dorian Gray’d,” none of which really appeal to me, personally.) But because I’m opposed to the industry patting itself on the back as it pretends that “non-aging” and “preservaging” don’t send the exact same message as “anti-aging.” Because I’m opposed to the industry celebrating biologically “old” but aesthetically young stars like Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani as if it isn’t an equal-but-opposite glorification of youth. They do!! It is!! Stop with the semantic gymnastics and just say you fear death/hate old people/will do anything to avoid confronting your own mortality already!! …


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Wired

Honestly, fuck Goop.

Fuck its appropriation of ancient, bone-deep wisdom.

Fuck the way it positions holistic health as a high-end luxury.

Fuck it for milking easy, accessible, affordable practices for profit.

Fuck how it offers free healing tools — Breathwork! Meditation! Yoga! — next to $800 serums, making the former seem as privileged and useless as the latter.

Fuck the way it bleaches the beliefs of Indigenous cultures again and again, over and over, until they’re as stiff and white as the collar of a G. Label button down.

Fuck how it turned the primordial relationship between human beings and our habitat into a punch line.


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At the end of 2019, I wrote a retrospective of the… best? worst? just kind of there? celebrity beauty brands of the year for Fashionista. I guess it wasn’t so much a retrospective as a critique of all the ways in which celebrity culture has infiltrated our lives. It started:

In 2019, Americans ceded all control to celebrities. “Dress me,” we screamed, and Rihanna gave us Fenty. “Make me smell good,” we demanded, and Michelle Pfeiffer, Lionel Richie, and J.Lo heeded the call. “Wait, would you… register me to vote?” we asked, and Ariana Grande actually did it. “Run for president!” we begged Oprah and Kanye and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. …


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Every beauty reporter has a beat, a type of story they like to tell. I cover the end of things. The end of shelfies. The end of sheet masks. The end of products and practices that put an unnecessary burden on the environment, that feed us false ideas of empowerment, that reinforce societal beauty standards.

This sometimes gets interpreted as negativity, which I guess it is, but I’ve always seen the positive in it: The end of the shelfie stops the glorification of overconsumption. The end of single-use skincare means a more sustainable industry. …


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Neutrogena

The “fat-free” fad of the 1990s was born in the 1960s. That’s when the sugar industry paid scientists to “find” data that sugar didn’t lead to heart disease or weight gain, but fats did. The findings fueled America’s first dietary guidelines in the 1970s, the creation of the carb-heavy food pyramid in 1992 and, Harvard researchers say, maybe even obesity. Today we know that healthy fats actually prevent heart disease and weight gain, and sugar does the opposite. …


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La Prairie / Instagram

I’m a modern woman; I think I deserve the right to control my own body. What goes in it, what goes on it, what goes on inside it — you know, the basics. Part of this pesky, unrelenting need for total autonomy over my physical being includes obsessively researching the ingredients in my beauty products. Or trying to, at least.

It is impossible to identify a single substance in perfume — any perfume, from Marc Jacobs to Jennifer Lopez. Comprehensive ingredient lists are missing from the sites of luxury skin-care brands (La Prairie) and indie sun-care brands (Solid & Striped) alike. Sephora and Ulta Beauty both have ingredient sections for a selection of beauty products, which gets hidden or left blank for others; the former faced scrutiny earlier this year for adjusting the order of ingredients for Summer Fridays Super Amino Gel Cleanser to reflect higher concentrations of the headlining amino acids. …


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Pexels

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If a person applies makeup while quarantining from the novel coronavirus and no one is around to see it, does it reinforce societal beauty standards?

I’ve been contemplating the latter in isolation and the answer, I’m convinced, is yes. Wearing makeup at home alone does not prove we do it “for ourselves.” It proves we’ve been brainwashed into believing patriarchal beauty ideals are our own.

I am aware that this is an unpopular opinion, one rendered even more unpopular by the fact that I work in the beauty industry, and when you work in the beauty industry, there is a hidden clause in your contract that states: Everything Is Empowering. Everything! Bronzer, Botox, breast implants. Lip filler, facials, foundation. Everything Is Empowering because everything is a choice, and feminism is all about women getting to choose stuff, right? You see, “concealing your flaws” because you choose to conceal your flaws is very, very different from “concealing your flaws” because the media tells you to. Now it is Empowering. (Pro tip: For extra empowerment, reframe “concealing your flaws” as “highlighting your features.”) …


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Instagram / Essie

Once a month, I find myself asking the same question: Where are all the brown hands?

It shouldn’t be that hard to answer; they shouldn’t be this hard to find. There are more than 13 billion individual, non-Caucasian hands on the planet at any given moment (give or take a couple hundred million). Still, every time I comb through the Instagram content of the biggest nail care brands in the business, attempting to find images for a monthly nail art column, I wonder. Where are they?

They’re not on social media, not really. Just look to the feeds of Deborah Lippmann, O.P.I., Essie — overwhelmingly white, all posts considered. One needs to scroll through 16 rows, or 48 pictures, on China Glaze’s Instagram to find a hand of color at the time of writing (February 2020). It takes six rows for JINsoon and Orly. In the case of AILA Cosmetics, I lost count. The last irrefutably-brown fingers on the brand’s Instagram page are from 2017, three years and hundreds of posts ago. …


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@patmcgrathreal

While Greta Thunberg was asking “How dare you?” and Extinction Rebellion was protesting in London and Gucci was pledging carbon neutrality, Pat McGrath was elbow-deep in microplastic particles.

It makes sense. It was Fashion Week, she’s a makeup artist, and those microplastic particles were — or rather are, since microplastic lasts forever — glitter. Thousands upon thousands of trendy flecks of glitter, of all shapes and sizes: Light-catching polyethylene at Tomo Koizumi, from the artists’ own Pat McGrath Labs Mothership VI Palette. Under-eye sequins at Anna Sui. Spangled lips and shimmering shadow at Marc Jacobs. …


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Energy healer. The all-encompassing, almost vague title gave me hope. As soon as my cousin suggested I see his energy healer, Alicia, something inside me whispered, “This! This is what will help me.”

I’d tried specific things like Ayurveda and acupuncture and antibiotics to heal whatever was wrong with me, without really knowing what was wrong with me. My skin was inflamed, my stomach was constantly cramped and bloated, and I felt tired all the time despite a fairly healthy diet and sleep schedule. …

About

Jessica DeFino

Jessica DeFino is a beauty reporter covering natural, holistic, sustainable skincare. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Vogue, Allure, & more.

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