Gendered Ageism in the Beauty Industry: Why don’t some women like to reveal their age?

The global anti-aging market is predicted to grow from $191.5 billion in 2019 to $421.4 billion by 2030, according to P&S Intelligence. The global anti-aging market was valued at $194.4 billion in 2020 (PR, Newswire 2021). Gen X (1965 - 1980) is the largest user of anti-aging products, but despite Gen X women outspending both Millennials and Baby Boomers, few publications and brands market to these women (Smart Asset, 2020). Actually, this age group is very ignored by the beauty industry.

Moreover, consumers ages 30 - 45 are increasingly interested in using these products to limit the natural occurrence of aging (Grandview Research, 2019). While natural aging leads to changes in facial appearance such as collagen, loss of skin elasticity, melanin production, decrease in dermal collagen, and hair follicles, these consumers face a deep anxiety over extrinsic signs of aging. Also, “concerns over facial appearance and aging are mostly observed among the women population, which is driving them to opt for various cosmetic procedures such as dermal fillers, Botox, facelift, and chemical peels (Grandview Research, 2019). 

Thus, why do many women fear aging, and how does the beauty industry enforce and exploit this fear? Have you ever experienced price gouging when it comes to anti-aging products? Anti-aging products are known to be some of the most expensive on the skincare market. In a 2010 investigation by the Daily Mail, it was found that recreating a 3.4-ounce pot of Crème de la Mer from readily available ingredients is estimated to have a roughly $35 cost of production. However, Le Mer markets their products at $510.”


Many consumers ages 40 - 65 are willing to pay more than they normally would for anti-aging products, so companies are able to utilize that for profit. We see women who are 30-65 years of age worried about looking old, but what about women beyond 65? Could it be that women over 65 aren’t buying these products as much because they that know aging is inevitable and because the media is completely excluding them from social ideals around beauty?


Given this, there is definitely an overlap between ageism and sexism within society. Gendered ageism denotes “the cultural focus on beauty and youth.” It describes how “perceptions of age discrimination may be associated with lower body esteem and poor psychological well-being in women.”


The picture states that 1 in 5 women under the age 35 regularly use anti-aging products. This statistic is provided by the New York Post.


Sociology provides that “there is consensual, cultural agreement about who is considered attractive or unattractive. There are also expectations about those who are deemed attractive or unattractive (i.e., stereotypes). People behave differently toward those who are considered attractive and unattractive. This behavior informs the self-concept of the individual who is on the receiving end (Jackson, 2004).

“Older women are culturally devalued, and older women’s bodies are judged harshly for showing signs of age” (Garner, 1999). With that being said, older women go through greater age discrimination, and because of that, they may experience poorer health and lower body esteem.

Consequently, the natural process of aging is weaponized against women, and many companies within the beauty industry literally make them pay the price.

Therefore, when it comes to conversations around skin positivity and body positivity, we need to start integrating and making space for women 40+. Beauty is not an age-driven concept. There is beauty in many of things that cause fine lines and wrinkles over time like laughing, eating outside in the sun with friends, smiling, raising children, and healing from trauma. So, aging is not beauty leaving the body, it is beauty swelling within