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Why is it ‘tragic’ for women over 50 to love makeup?

Updated: Jan 11

Women over 50 - feeling isolated in the beauty community

There is something gut-wrenchingly tragic about being a woman of a certain age and having a passion for makeup. It’s not that a new lip gloss has less shine because of the wearer’s years or that women over 50 can’t convincingly carry off the latest catwalk-inspired looks (because we can). It’s the feeling of being irrelevant and not having a voice. Well, not one that many people want to listen to.

And yet… We spend more on beauty products than 18 to 24-year-olds. That is a fact, by the way. And we don’t part with cash as part of a never-ending vanity project that, like a guided missile, seeks to inhibit the sun’s ability to devour our youth. A huge amount of spending just isn’t about dealing with the blight of wrinkles or hyperpigmentation. The effort - and it is often a big effort - is all about boosting self-confidence. Yes, it is akin to a self-curated wellness regimen but more expensive than yoga classes.

When you think about it, isn't that what make-up is all about? Doesn’t it exist to make us feel better?

The 'buzz' of something new isn't only felt by the young

The excitement of trying a new product for the first time isn’t exclusive to the young. We get a buzz from new launches and innovative products too.

So, why is it that women of my age are disregarded at almost every stage of a new product’s journey?

From design and packaging to marketing, we are ignored by exciting, up-and-coming brands. Yet 48% of all beauty product sales in 2023 can be attributed to the over-45s.

women over 50 are a bigger demographic for makeup than new brands think

The majority of cosmetic companies’ customers are not invested in the likes of TikTok - and yet that’s where the effort goes, because it’s a quick route to audiences and it’s cheap. Never mind that a percentage of ‘engaged’ followers are only there for freebies or to just look at what they can’t afford. It begs the question: just how good are sales when hefty discounts aren’t in the offing?

Where is the effort to reach a wider demographic, i.e. the women with ready hard cash to snap up something that takes their fancy there and then?

I am tired of Disney themed packaging, boring black plastic and palettes that all look the same. Of course, I know that this isn’t all that’s out there. I just have a hard time finding it or, when I do, conveying my excitement directly to other women over 50 on certain channels.

I want the latest formulas and packaging designed for grown-ups. I don’t want it shaped like a melon or with a bubblegum scent. I want something that keeps me on trend and adds a touch of elegance to my dressing table. A cream faux leather palette with tasteful gold detailing and secret small drawers filled with additional products is a dream.

Yes, we have the classic brands, like Elizabeth Arden, but, to me, that’s all old hat.

The few gems I have found, I’ve written about and shared with other beauty lovers. I’m on a bit of a quest, you see.

In the 'grumpy women over 50 club'

A grumpy old woman

Why am I getting grumpy? Because it is not just hard to find products I want to write about, it is even harder to reach people just like me on social media. (I’ve got Google to thank for most of my readers.) The real nightmare is trying to engage people from a mature woman’s perspective without being ignored or being told your opinion doesn’t matter or is being expressed in the wrong way, on the wrong platform.

As some of you will know, I had to start this blog from scratch after my original content went AWOL in cyberspace. It was hosted on a private server that got unceremoniously shut down without warning when the hosting provider died.

As well as losing tens of thousands of words and hundreds of images, I also lost my search engine rankings. It was a bitter blow but, in recognition of the blog’s contribution to my recovery from cancer, I decided to revive it - even if I had to start all over again.

I knew what it meant. Zero readers (apart from a few Twitter referrals) for the foreseeable and hours and hours and hours of hard graft. Luckily (and it took well over 18 months), things are now looking very good. It’s comforting to know I’m not just talking to myself here!

But… There was a time when I didn’t think it would recover. Enter YouTube.

My granddaughter has a channel on YouTube (with rather a lot of followers) and, seeing as I was always on there watching her videos, I decided to make a few of my own. It goes without saying, they were horrific.

I was a bag of nerves in most of them, had no ‘presence’ and the camera angles and focus were all over the place. But, it was fun. I shared some skincare tips, like Caring for Your Skin After a Mastectomy, as well as my thoughts on new makeup products. The entire family had a hoot helping me to make them.

It didn’t take me long to realise they were beyond awful. So, instead of trying to replicate an influencer-style video, I switched to doing Shorts. I kept them brief and myself completely out of the picture, with links to relevant posts on this website. I didn’t think they were quite as bad as the longer videos, but… It appears they were worse.

An email message put me into a tailspin

Earlier today, I was just finishing an editing job for a business magazine when my email pinged. It was a message from a disgruntled YouTube account holder who took offence at a year-old Short suggesting they visit my website to ‘read the full product review’ for a pro eyeshadow palette. It isn’t what YouTube is for, they implied, and told me to get myself off the channel.

It was probably the only comment posted on that video (other than pitiful congrats from my granddaughter) - and it appeared to be shouting at me. I’m a 50-odd-year-old woman being bullied by a stranger in my own living room. And all because I wrote a review about a beauty product I liked and dared to reveal that on YouTube!

Because I actually like YouTube and follow several channels, I am not closing my account. But I did remove all my videos, except the mastectomy tips one.

So, there you have it. I’m in the ‘grumpy women over 50 club’ tonight.

And, yes, I feel quite tragic. Picture Sue Ellen in a whimpering mess with mascara half-way down her face. Or just me realising that, maybe, what I’ve got to say doesn’t matter because I’m not young and trendy. I bet if a 15-year-old did what I did they wouldn’t have received the same reaction.

I feel sad because makeup has the power to lift us up. It can change our perspective on the world and help us reinvent ourselves whenever we want.

It’s funny how throw-away comments from strangers can negatively impact us.

I guess I’m going to have to try a new look tomorrow. It’s what I call putting on a brave face.

* References: ‘Beauty Industry Revenue and Usage Statistics 2023’ via HelpLama.


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