Why we need to rethink “anti-aging” in beauty

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When you choose a shampoo because the label claims it’ll give you shiny locks, or a toothpaste because it promises a whiter smile, you expect to get what you paid for. But when you buy a moisturizer that touts its anti-aging effects, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

“Anti-aging” is inherently an impossibility. You can make a weekly appointment with your facialist, slather on retinol, and get those doctor-recommended eight hours of sleep every night, but the truth is, everyone is aging with each passing second. All of the beauty products and Botox in the world can’t prevent that.

In August, Allure editor in chief Michelle Lee announced that the term would be banned from all of the publication’s future stories. By using it, Lee wrote in her editor’s letter, “we’re subtly reinforcing the message that aging is a condition we need to battle—think antianxiety meds, antivirus software, or antifungal spray.” Her move is a positive one, no question, but it won’t be easy to erase the term from the vocabularies of those who have been seeing it on labels and in magazines since they first began paying attention to such things. For me, that was as a preteen.

I’ve been taught that I need to do what it takes to try and stay looking as young as possible forever.

I’ve been told I look younger than my actual age for my entire life—and I’ve always looked up to my mom, who’s regularly mistaken for my sister—but “anti-aging” is still a real concern of mine. On the cusp of 30, I’m admittedly reaching for my at-home microneedling device, layering on stronger serums, and massaging my face more—all to help reduce those fine lines and wrinkles we hear so much about (and which I swear are starting to creep into my forehead and next to my eyes).

I can’t help it—I’ve been taught that I need to do what it takes to try and stay looking as young as possible forever.

“Language matters,” Lee wrote in her…

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