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Is It Time We Ban Anti-Ageing Samples?

Even with the best intentions, we all have internalised biases. We need to be aware of them so we can address them. This was my experience the other day, fuelled by the dangers of anti-wrinkle samples.... 

I was in a chemist buying some makeup. After a pleasant chat with the lady at the counter, and purchasing a few products she said: “oh let me get you some samples!”

“oooh free samples" I thought. I always love a free sample.

And then the lady handed them to me. Anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle creams.

Thud. My excitement turned to complete dejection, which quickly manifested into a series of worrying. 
“Do I have wrinkles I havn’t spotted? Am I looking older that I thought? Well guess I am 30, now, so maybe it’s just that I’m their target customer?”
But then I caught myself and stopped. I reflected and realised the following things:

1.     The fact I was worrying was an indicator of my internalised ageist bias. There is nothing wrong with wrinkles or looking older. And whilst I might be an anti-ageism activist, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been affected by society’s ageist conditioning. This was a perfect example of that, and it’s important for me to recognise and acknowledge that.

2.     To know that I’m the target customer of anti-ageing products at 30 really is ridiculous. Ever since I turned 25, I started to see more and more targeted anti-ageing ads, and noticed how increasingly my peers have felt the need to get work done to ‘reverse the signs of ageing’. According to a leading global skincare brand's website:

“Turning 25 is a good time to start thinking about anti-ageing products.”

It’s bad enough they exist in the first place, let alone to be pushing them and sewing the seeds of ageing paranoia at such a young age. (and women even younger than 25 are increasingly feeling the pressure – as evidenced by Dove’s 2023 campaign in Toronto highlighting that over 50,000 cosmetic injectables were performed on teens last year.”)

3.     Beauty brands need to stop handing out anti-ageing product samples. To give them out without a request is dangerous. It could trigger or reinforce a woman’s insecurities and worries, and serves as a perpetual ‘reminder’ that ageing is bad. 

Who knows why the shopping assistant actually gave me these samples. It might have been for any one or more of the reasons I wondered. It might have been purely because they were the only samples she had. Or she might have been instructed that it was the product to push that day.

Whatever the reason, it’s somewhat irrelevant. The act alone was problematic; small, simple, but illustrative of the depth of the issue and need for change in the beauty industry.


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