Here's the problem: the term 'anti-ageing' first took off in the Eighties, presenting the passing of time as a negative thing and assuming we'd agree; that we are, and should be, against it. But there's a seismic shift going on, rebelling against this outdated way of thinking.
Last year, according to Google, precisely none of the UK's most-searched skincare questions featured the perennial (and depressing) tag-line term 'anti-ageing'. In fact, market-research company Mintel reported that the US market for facial anti-ageing products has been declining for five years.
So what did those Google searches reveal?
That we were, in fact, frantically looking for quick-fix answers to skin issues that impact our here and now. 'How to get rid of acne' topped the list of 15 queries, followed by 'how to get clear skin' and 'how to get rid of bags under your eyes'. We're going to hazard a guess this is to do with a continuing and unwavering social media obsession. As Estée Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda explained in an interview: 'A 30-year-old today has more photographs of themselves taken in a day than their mother did in a year, so they care what their skin looks like now, not when they will be 40.'
No wonder, then, that while sales of facial anti-ageing products are down, market-research firm NPD reported the make-up market was up 13% last year, and sales of face masks – which give gratifyingly speedy results – doubled to $120 million.
There's a demographic shift at work here, too. According to Pew Research Centre, in 2015, Millennials – generally considered to be those aged 20 to 36 – surpassed Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) as the largest living generation in the US. So while they might be ages away from a deep-set wrinkle, they're now the most important demographic for the retail industry; the ones spending the money and paving the way for the future of the entire beauty business.
But here's the thing: because Millennials are having to constantly adapt in a rapidly changing world, they're notoriously tricky to figure out. 'Everything is more temporary for Millennials; they're showing less interest in future-proofing their skin than their mothers did,' explains Alexia Inge, co-founder and CEO of shopping website Cult Beauty. '"Anti-ageing" is less of a trigger term.'
'The anti-ageing message that's been peddled by the beauty industry for years is losing relevance,' suggests Victoria Buchanan, a trends analyst at forecasting and consumer-insight company The Future Laboratory: 'Women are growing more self-assured in general and are becoming less anxious about the signs of ageing.'
This is something Inge agrees with: 'Traditional ways of marketing – specifically around age, gender and ethnicity – are becoming less relevant. There has been a slow move in focus away from eternal, youthful perfection to a spirit of positivity, confidence and psychological and emotional health. Millennial consumers' skincare regimes are seeing shifts from correction to preparation.'
Unlike erasing deep-set wrinkles, prepping our skin is something we can all take control of. Skincare innovation is responding in kind, and the offerings of vitamin-rich, hyaluronic-acid-heavy, antioxidant-packed formulations, which make for softer, smoother complexions, are booming, alongside the most important preventative measure of all – UVA/UVB sun protection (more on that later).
We're also becoming savvier shoppers, as Selfridges' beauty buyer Emily Saunders explains: 'Customers are now educated in beauty language; they understand what retinol is and they know what antioxidants can do for them. That's why we've introduced cult brands such as Peter Thomas Roth, which apply no-nonsense attitudes to packaging and messaging.'
Knowledge is power, and brands are having to work harder and more transparently to gain our loyalty and trust.
So what does this mean for you?
It's good news: the changing desires of Millennials are redefining the term 'anti-ageing', which means we're creating a demand for more positive messaging from beauty brands (we're formidable shoppers, remember). Now, if there's one thing we resolutely are 'anti', it's being told how to think, especially about the future of our faces. In fact, we are pro-ageing. We know it's inevitable, and we're embracing it. But while we are more content than ever with owning our age, we also want our skin to look as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Hence the shift to preparation – something many of the big brands is already hot on.
Enter one of the most exciting skin innovations of 2017, Chanel's Blue Serum.
Its aim is to deliver all-round healthier, happier skin for the long run by boosting the skin's defence system with hard-working ingredients from areas of the world where people live the longest (otherwise known as 'blue zones'). Rather than working as a 'corrective', it equips your skin for the daily fight against damaging aggressors (such as free radicals) by keeping your skin active. This approach is shared by bareMinerals with its SkinLongevity Infusion, which – as the name suggests – is all about endurance. Its ethos? To maintain a healthy body, you aim for prevention rather than cure – the same should go for your skin.
Think of this as the mindfulness age of skincare, and (pat on the back) you're probably already doing all the right things.
In 2016, the Google search for facial SPF – the single most important skincare step for prevention – was the highest on record. It was also the year we clued up on the face-damaging effects of pollution and, according to Mintel reports, 38% of us noticed how stress also took its toll on our skin.
It seems language is what it comes down to. It's not the contents of the 'anti-ageing' products that are the problem (because, for the most part, they do work in the short term to nourish, refine and refresh your skin), but rather those two little words strung together that are causing the issue. If you need more convincing of the pro-ageing movement, look at (and admire) Charlotte Rampling's campaign for NARS at age 71, or Lauren Hutton, 73, for Bottega Venetta SS17, and you'll understand why.
With age comes confidence, and that's the type of positive messaging we can get on board with.