Simply ‘Skin’tillating!!

Veera is a published Author (‘Endured’ and ‘#LoveBitesLifeHacks’) and Columnist; a passionate Educator and Counsellor; Poet and Philosopher… but most of all, a lover of all things literary. 

Oh, to drink from that fountain of youthful vanity’s ever-consuming desire! We are an exhausting generation of giddy consumerism, fads, fashion and fixes. In the age of social media, beauty has become a lucrative, tradable commodity. Plastic surgery and the cosmetics industry is no longer viewed as only a tool to fight against time. Over the past decade, the most cost-effective solution to the ageing process is ‘Maintenance’. Start young!

Our pursuit of age-defying beauty and those picture-perfect selfies have birthed a fun, profitable pastime. While recent beauty trends have moved on from bold make-up to healthy, dewy, youthful skin, it has only increased pressure on women to appear younger. The 20-ti-early-30-somethings now look at transformative forms of self-care. Health-care professionals say there’s a growing number of millennials who keep standing appointments for non-surgical beauty procedures like Botox and hyaluronic acid fillers, to attack faint laugh-lines, wrinkles or the most sought out procedure to plump up lips. It’s part of their ‘skin-care’ and ‘general maintenance’ routines. Older women, in their pursuit to look ‘fabulous at fifty’ or simply ‘ageless’, keep it as their little secret.

There is both – the appeal and the shame of using it. Back in the day when we were 20-somethings, it was a time of carefree fun – basking in untenable camaraderie, under the blaze of that glorious sun without protective SPF cover or caked makeup… fresh-faced, no care, no worry, creating laugh lines and memories alike. We ate greasy fries and chips, sweets and carbs – with little thought to instantly gaining 10 pounds or 10 wrinkles. It’s hard to rein in the judgement now. On the flip side, the present is all about constantly checking in on Snapchat stories or messaging Facebook hotties you have befriended an hour back .With so much image-sharing, it’s hard not to want to be perfect all day, every day!

A couple of decades ago, beauty came packed in small jars, bottles and strange face-masks prepared from ancestral formulas, handed down from grandmothers. Beauty was accessible to all via home-made oatmeal masks with turmeric paste, rose water and saffron. Who could forget those Pond’s and Nivea jars endorsed by celebrities and models alike? And those Lux soaps proclaiming to divulge ‘Khoobsurati ka raaz’ – secret to one’s beauty, with A-listers endorsing them!

As Indians were getting increasingly obsessed with misplaced stereotypes, where fair looks and beauty were unwittingly synonymous, in came ‘Fair and Lovely’ – the magical, iconic tube claiming to brighten and lighten your complexion took India by storm. A tool of sorts for every naïve, dissatisfied, dark-skinned dusky beauty, ‘Fair and Lovely’ became the go-to potion which would make you 50 shades lighter… a native bride’s equivalent to a facial. A runaway success, it soon had a version of its epochal self, serving even the tall, dark and handsome male counterparts. Soon, we saw an inquest of brands – Neutrogena, Olay, Clarins and Clinique-approved cleansers, toners and moisturisers, storming the shelves.

But now we have some Korean routines advocating up to ten steps to reinstate that radiant glow. Now brands simply define this boutique market. Oh yes! Beauty has always been a saleable commodity but come the Millennium, it’s become a billion-dollar industry, globally! Women have been obsessed with beauty and beauty regimes since the beginning of time. Tales of Cleopatra, considered history’s most beautiful seductress, used soot and animal fat to line her eyes. India women have been using this concoction forever – our indigenous kajal. Even as the countess Maria of Coventry died due to the overuse of lead-based rouge, warnings in the beauty industry were less geared towards the need for safety. Now beauty has evolved to a science, employing prescriptive measures to enhance and maintain youth, as opposed to simply covering up flaws and defects.

‘Skin first. Makeup second’ is now a strap-line with a devoted following of women who love products wrapped in Insta-friendly, pale-pink packaging, only growing bigger. Skincare boom tallies with the times now, with wellness, fitness, clean-eating, clean-sleeping and basically radiating a healthy mind, body and soul experience. Nurturing yourself and flaunting a radiant, luminous skin is a vital component of our self-care. While once we were all obsessed with the subtleties of the Kim Kardashian’s contoured look, now the quest for that flawless face is usurped by the quest for perfect skin. The countless #wokeuplikethis selfies – no makeup at all, have become the holy grail of beauty; acids and serums are now created in what the makers call, ‘clinical formulations with integrity’.

Through centuries, women have been aware and largely responsible for the surge in beauty product consumption. We now boast a generation of beauty geeks who know their products and are much more clued in on ingredients too. We have innumerable followers that study, learn and apply recommendations of influencers, pop-up skin experts, and beauty bloggers, all believing and trusting them, much like a tip from a friend. Seeing ‘real people’ using products is the seal of approval they need. It’s now the consumer that is leading brand direction.

Let’s face it, social media is everywhere, it’s here to stay. What rules the world? Sallies and their Selfies do! We live in a world that is image-driven; how you look now is almost as important as who you are. The power of Skincare addiction has given birth to the new ‘Skintellectual’, who proudly proclaim their AHAs (Alpha Hydroxyl Acids) from their UVAs and are deeply invested in buying products that are just right, almost tailor-made for their specific skin-types, in the integral pursuit for better skin. Most times, you are sold hope in a package and a promise in a jar!

Veera Shroff Sanjana
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