Written by Marla Boehr
Browsing through an array of glossy beauty magazines, strolling the main floor of the local department store, or simply taking a quick scroll through Instagram is a window into our culture’s obsession with youthful beauty ideals. Youthful skin is indeed beautiful – smooth, plump, and supple, it can almost have an otherworldly glow at times. I often caress my young children’s cheeks and simply marvel at their perfect pores. Although it seems like lightyears have passed, it was only a couple of decades ago, when I was the young, idealistic model in my twenties, posing in several international beauty campaigns which were oftentimes targeted towards women twice my age. Even at the time, I remember thinking it odd that my youthful, smooth-skinned, and unlined face was used as an attainable beauty standard for a much older demographic.
Seeing older women positively portrayed in media, magazines and advertising is still relatively uncommon. While more and more campaigns are embracing beauty in diversity, the modern-day woman is often subtly prompted to ‘age gracefully’ and in the same breath, sold potions promising to ‘reverse aging’ using the ever popular ‘anti-aging’ slogan. Now that I’ve crossed the threshold of forty, gazing at my aging reflection in the mirror can be challenging especially when many of the images of women that I see are almost always filtered, airbrushed, or of very young women. Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope on the beauty horizon – a space is being created where advancing on the aging continuum is normalized, celebrated, and (gasp!) even seen as something beautiful – through images and campaigns that offer up ‘odes to the maturing woman’. Keep reading to learn more about three Canadian-based beauty brands that are each challenging the current narrative around conventional beauty ideals and aging in their own unique ways…
When PURA’s founder, Lane Edwards, became pregnant with her first child several years ago, she developed a sensitivity to many of her mainstream beauty products. This led her on a quest for a luxury beauty and skincare brand that was both natural and effective. When she didn’t find the sophisticated, plant-based skincare she was looking for, she founded PURA Botanicals in Edmonton, Alberta and quickly found that her beauty and wellness potions resonated with the community of women around her. From its inception, PURA has been about “protecting women’s health” as well as “elevating a woman’s appreciation for her natural, individual beauty”. PURA has since evolved into a thriving business with a pristine, in-house lab, creative headquarters, flagship boutique, a strong online presence, and stockists around the world. PURA has always shied away from using the popular ‘anti-aging’ slogan as they consciously work to “take the fear and negative dialogue about aging out of our brand language”. In the upcoming months, watch for PURA to lean into “aging with power” while simultaneously creating a “soft and empowering place to land” for women as they embrace the inevitable process of growing older.
Across the country in Halifax is Bend Beauty - a supplement and wellness brand focused on supporting beauty from the inside out. Their offerings include an array of marine collagen powders in various flavors (strawberry, coconut, and unflavored) and their foundational Renew + Protect product, with more to come in 2022. Renew + Protect is clinically proven to increase skin resistance to UV-induced sunburn, hydrate the skin, improve skin elasticity, and defend against inflammation. Their Marine Collagen + Co-Factors is sustainably sourced and fortified with Vitamin C (to help with absorption) and silicon (a natural substance found in the body that strengthens nails, prevents hair loss, and is found in the epidermis layer of the skin). At Bend, they believe that, “aging is a magical part of life and it’s never too late to take better care of yourself, and your skin.” Bend’s website features numerous testimonials and before and after photos that give credence to their claims. Last year, Bend made a decisive move by taking the ‘anti’ out of aging and renamed their foundational product (originally called Anti-Aging Formula), Renew + Protect. In this way, Bend says they have “made a conscious effort to change the language we use - we focus on skin health and longevity rather than achieving ‘youthful’ skin”.
Bend ships to both the US and Canada via bendbeauty.com, and our products are available at various spas, med-spas and practitioner clinics across the US, Canada, and Belgium. Follow on Instagram @bendbeauty.
19/99 Beauty’s tagline is: “Narrowing the Generational Beauty Gap”. The minimalist make-up brand earned its legs developing and marketing highly pigmented, multi-functional pencils (to be used as liners, blended into shadows, rubbed into cheekbones) and has since branched into a mascara and lip shine. At 19/99, they believe that, “our age should not define our idea of beauty” which clearly shines through in their colorful and aspirational campaign portraits of women spanning the aging continuum. In 19/99’s vivid campaigns, wrinkles become fascinating shadows of lived experience and unconventional beauty ideals are heralded as captivating and unique. Their website features interviews with many esteemed women in the beauty and fashion world today including Millie (CEO of the British Beauty Council), Denise (photographer and founder of @andbloom), and Diti (Chief Creative Officer of award winning Concrete Design in Toronto). In essence, 19/99 is make-up for the enlightened, modern woman as they endeavor to release themselves from the societal confines of age and the treadmill of conventional beauty standards.
19/99 ships to Canada and the US through their website: https://1999beauty.com/, Cult Beauty, and SSENSE. Follow on Instagram @1999.beauty