• Carla Biteanu

Is natural skin celebrated enough in the beauty industry?

Skincare brand Blume released a campaign called ‘Celebrate Skin’ in 2019, a series of adverts promoting a normalisation in the conversation around acne and skin ‘imperfections’. These adverts featured models with acne, showing their natural skin texture and celebrating it.

Skincare adverts can tend to feature models with ‘perfect’ skin, often creating a misleading narrative that skin should be blemish free, smooth and ‘flawless’. This only reinforces stigma around natural skin, implying that acne and skin texture is something to be ashamed of.

However, this is simply untrue. Bupa UK found that 9 in 10 teenagers and young adults have had acne at some point in their lives. Skin is naturally textured and the idea of “normal” or “perfect” skin is unrealistic. Most importantly, skin varies from person to person, and it is damaging to imply that it should fit one “image” when there are so many factors that can change the appearance of our skin. Some people may have more oily skin, increased sensitivity or dryer skin. Hormonal changes can lead to acne, as can many other factors, even changes in the weather. Changes in skin are normal, texture in skin is normal, acne is normal and most of all- natural skin is beautiful. So why is textured skin so under-celebrated in the beauty industry?

With words such as ‘poreless’ and ‘flawless’ being used to sell makeup and skin care products, it can be difficult to feel comfortable in your own skin, especially with constant advertisements for products claiming to solve skin ‘problems’ and ‘concerns’ that you might not even have considered, had you not seen the advert.

In January 2021, Cult beauty released a campaign popularized by the hashtag #UpCloseOnSkincare, with the idea in mind to break unrealistic depictions of skin which are normally shown in the media. Their website discussing the campaign states: “Instead of correcting or ‘tackling issues’, we’re eager to normalise spots and remind you that lines are reminders of laughter. It’s time we stopped trying to ‘fix’ and instead, learned to cherish, respect and be kind to our skin”. The hashtag is filled with images of textured skin, people embracing their spots, blemishes, laugh lines, dark circles and other aspects of natural skin that are sometimes airbrushed or photoshopped out of images. Some users also utilized the hashtag in order to open up about the struggles they’ve faced on the path to feeling comfortable and accepting their natural skin. Campaigns such as these are vital for the beauty industry; they reflect real people, real skin and share the experiences of others. When surrounded by unrealistic depictions of skin that are sometimes used, it can be really easy to feel alone and to feel that your skin is “different” to everyone else's.

The beauty industry must carry on this celebration of textured and natural skin. Campaigns encouraging people to speak about their journey with feeling comfortable in their skin and celebrating this is so important.

Another important step towards the celebration of natural and textured skin is the recognition of when photoshop and airbrushing is used in adverts. This digital alteration of appearance only reinforces unrealistic standards of beauty. Some beauty and fashion brands have spoken out and refuse to airbrush their models in order to show more realistic depictions of beauty, including Fenty, Dove, ASOS and H&M. Over the past few years, more celebrities have also started exposing brands who photoshop or airbrush their images without their consent.

Carrying on with campaigns such as “#UpCloseOnSkincare” and speaking out against the use of airbrush and photoshop are important steps towards realistic depictions of skin that allow people to realise that natural skin is normal, accepted and, most of all, beautiful.

Edited by Madeleine Gill

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