I’ve worked in the beauty industry for over 15 years now and seen first-hand – as a consumer and behind the scenes – how much the approach to beauty has changed for the better. The rigid notions of beauty of the last few decades have hindered individuality and acceptance of our looks. Thankfully many brands have responded to demand for more realistic and diverse representation, including minimalist and sustainable beauty company JUNOCO. Their #ToBeHuman inclusive campaign reflects our need for skin positivity, so that we stop beating ourselves up about what are deemed ‘skin imperfections’ and instead celebrate healthy skin in all its forms.
Looking back: a distorted world
I remember the first cosmetic campaign I worked on, and how the A list celebrity modelling the look was airbrushed to within an inch of her life. That was the industry standard at the time: big name model or actress, photoshopped to look unattainably perfect. The thing is, it didn’t bother me, because it was so unrealistic that it was like getting a glimpse of a fantasy world. Flicking through a fashion magazine was no different to watching a Disney film or growing playing with Barbies: it was a pretend world.
Do you remember the mascara ads sporting models wearing 3 sets of fake lashes? In 2007 L’Oréal got called out on their Telescopic mascara featuring Penélope Cruz and some seriously fake lashes, claiming she was only wearing a few individual fake lashes. Mmmmmh. The ad was banned in the UK and it set a new precedent in the beauty industry for less exaggerated looks. And there was the time when I worked for a colour cosmetic brand and a beauty journalist called looking for products suitable for dark skin tones, and I had to embarrassingly admit that we didn’t have the range to support that. We only stocked 6 shades of one of our foundation ranges – 6!
But it was really the explosion of social media that instigated a noticeable shift in skin diversity: finally we started to see real people sharing their experiences and shattering the preconceived notion of beauty. Then in 2017 along came Rihanna and her Fenty Beauty range offering an incredible 40 foundation shades. It was unheard of, but so so needed, and the success of this brand has been driven in big part by its drive to make all beauty enthusiasts finally heard and seen.
Beauty today: skin positivity
Beauty photoshoots are no longer what they used to be: gone are the photoshopped lashes and airbrushed skin. Vegan and cruelty-free skincare brand JUNOCO went a step further by inviting a diverse community of skin advocates to be the stars of the #ToBeHuman skin positive campaign. With different skin tones, backgrounds, and personalities on show, there was no need for stylists, makeup artists, professional lighting or photoshop, just clean skin and the Californian sun to highlight real skin in a natural way. And that means skin in all its skin tones, textures, bumps, scars and patches.
Pores are the new freckles
At JUNOCO’s #ToBeHuman campaign launch attendees were asked “What’s one of your insecurities that you’re most proud of?” Dove really paved the way for this way of thinking with their 2004 Campaign for Real Beauty, a worldwide campaign aimed at building self confidence in women. It’s refreshing to see the next generation of beauty brands pushing for a more accepting, kind and inclusive approach.
It took me a little while to come up with an answer to that question, because I no longer have the skin of a twenty-year-old: it has become a reflection of how I have lived my life to date. From pores to acne scars and pigmentation, I can trace my life through my skin, learning what it needs and how to keep it looking healthy without having to fake it through makeup or filters.
So what if we moved past the uncomfortable stages of finding what society has deemed as our “flaws”, and turned them into a positive story:
- Large pores: combination skin has meant that I’ve had large pores on my nose and cheeks since puberty. I’ve learned to take great pleasure in keeping them clean and unblocked with JUNOCO’s Clarifying Cleansing Powder: it provides deep cleansing exfoliation but is gentle enough for everyday use. If my pores are clear it’s a sign that my skin is healthy and uncongested. Pores are the new freckles!
- Acne scars: even in my thirties I still get breakouts, so I always have a few acne scars on the go, some old, some new, but it’s the old ones in particular that I like to use as a reminder how far my skin has come since my teens. And for the more recent ones I like adding rosehip oil to my evening routine to help fade them over time.
- Eczema: this skin condition resulting in dry, red and flaky skin can drive you to insanity, but I’ve learned to use it as an indication that my skin is unbalanced. Stress, hayfever and harsh products can all drive my skin to react, and eczema is the red flag telling me to address the situation, which is when I focus on very gentle and nurturing products, including JUNOCO’s Clean 10 Cleansing Balm which cleanses without stripping the skin of its oils.
- Pigmentation: this is probably the one I’ve noticed develop the most in the last 5 years. Yes I do work to lessen the appearance of sun damage with French pharmacy favourite Caudalie Vinoperfect Serum, and prevent future damage with daily suncare, but this pigmentation is also a reminder of all the amazing sunny holidays I’ve been on over the years, from childhood summers in the South of France to exploring south east Asia in more recent years. If I could have a do over, I wouldn’t forfeit those travels for even skin tone – but I would tell my younger self to reapply SPF.
This is not perfect skin, it’s happy skin.
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