Fine Lines: cosmetic advertising and the perception of ageing female beauty

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Caroline Searing
Hannah Zeilig


Fine Lines is a study investigating the language used in adverts for female facial cosmetics (excluding makeup) in UK Vogue magazine. The study queries whether this has been affected by the introduction and rise in popularity of minimally invasive aesthetic procedures to alleviate the signs of facial ageing. The contemporary cultural landscape is explored: this includes the ubiquitous nature of advertising as well as the growth of the skincare market. Emergent thematic analysis of selected advertisements showed a change in the language used before the introduction of the aesthetic procedures (1992 and 1993) compared with later years (2006 and 2007). We have noted a decline in numbers of advertisements within some themes (nourishing in particular showed a marked fall in number of mentions) while others have shown increases (those offering protection against UV radiation and pollution increased by 50% in the later data set). The remaining thematic categories were relatively constant over the period of study, though the emphasis shifted within the themes over time. This article concludes by asserting that the language has changed, that the vocabulary has become more inventive and that skincare products appear to be marketed as complementary to cosmetic procedures. In addition, some of the products appear to be being marketed as luxury items, something to be bought because owning and using it gives you pleasure and bestows prestige on the owner.


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