In The Eye Of The Bewildered

A report out today suggests that the average woman will spend £133,000 on beauty products in her lifetime. Now, before we launch into the inevitable SB tirade, we should perhaps bear in mind that the report was commissioned by QVC (purveyors of such beauty gems as the 3 Piece Melatogenine Force Radiance Collection – no, search me, I don’t either), and thus may not be quite the objective measure a more rigorous analyst would require, but it makes a good headline, and if it’s good enough for the Daily Mail… actually, that may not be the point I wanted to make, but let’s bash on anyway.

£133,000. Assuming that a woman lives for 80 years, and probably buys very few haircuts or beauty products before the age of ten or after the age of 70 (unless she’s Jane Fonda, which she probably isn’t), that’s an average of over £2200 per year. Every year.

The UK beauty industry is worth £4bn per year. It has a vested interest in making us believe that ten percent of our average income is an appropriate amount of money to spend in pursuit of plump, youthful skin, glossy tossy hair, and immaculate shiny fingernails that shriek, “Look at me! I’ve never had to clean a toilet or sew a button on in my life!”

And so it is that the beauty industry uses ever-more-ridiculous claims to drag us into Boots by our gullible, shiny heads to part with more of our hard-earned cash.

My current favourite is L’Oreal’s Youth Code skincare range, which it says is backed by something called ‘Gene Science’. Just so we’re clear, that’s like calling geology ‘stone science’. Patronising, much? Anyway, a press release claims that smearing this stuff on your skin has been shown to ‘energise the repair gene expression’, a phrase which no molecular geneticist would recognise as English. Youth Code also contains ‘Adenosine, a molecule that is naturally found in skin cells’ DNA, [and] acts as an anti-wrinkle ingredient’ – and which, in terms of reversing the ageing process, is probably about as effective as repointing a brick wall by throwing sand at it.

Hot on the heels of L’Oreal’s ludicrous pseudo-molecular biology comes Olay with AquaPhysics which, it assures us, is ‘Inspired By The Power Of The Ocean’. That’s, presumably, the same powerful ocean that sank the Titanic and busted the Deepwater Horizon, although I imagine we’re intended to think not of oil slicks and icebergs, but of waves crashing majestically on deserted beaches and the fresh salt spray on our face. Quite what any of that has to do with face cream isn’t clear, unless it actually is meant to be the oil slick reference.

What’s most depressing of all, of course, is the fact that women everywhere fall for this crap, because we want to believe in it. Call it ‘snake oil’ and nobody will buy it. Call it ‘rehydrating Plumpitex biospheres with added hexapeptidols’ and we’ll pay fifty quid for a thimbleful. Even my own bathroom cabinet is not completely empty of expensive elixirs. But, girls, we all need to be clear about this: the only actual science being used in any of these products is psychology. That’s ‘brain science’ to you and me.

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~ by somethingblonde on February 21, 2011.

2 Responses to “In The Eye Of The Bewildered”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Girvin and Alison Birch, somethingblonde. somethingblonde said: In The Eye Of The Bewildered: http://t.co/4H5S5OK […]

  2. I once told the story about standing in a drugstore aisle looking at moisturizer, then realizing I was standing next to a woman, at least 70, looking at the same stuff. I realized two things: Women never stop trying to look young, and no cream in a jar can prevent the ravages of age. Saved me a ton of money over the years. I still use moisturizer, but I don’t spend more than $10 for it. And no more separate eye cream for me! Now I close my eyes and slather it everywhere. Great post!

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