Emilia Clarke made headlines around the world earlier this month when she candidly spoke out about a Facialist who told her that she should get dermal filler. Almost immediately, social media feeds were flooded with feminist arguments around a woman’s right to do what she chooses with her body and the incessant pressure they face to meet unrealistic standards of beauty. Clarke was also widely praised for her response in now famously “showing the woman the door”. What was noticeably absent from all of these conversations though was the actual context in which the statement was made. Was the comment completely unsolicited and just insensitively given, or was the Facialist providing an answer to a question that Miss. Clarke had asked? It’s unfair to speculate on what was or wasn’t said, but it is an important piece of the puzzle that is missing and could drastically change the implied narrative.
In the full article, Clarke in fairness did say that she was open to considering cosmetic injectables in the future, but the conversation served as more of a prelude to introducing her as a Clinique Global Ambassador and went on to talk about how the brand and its products have completely “changed her skin”. What we often forget when we are reading news stories or magazine interviews is that there is almost always a specific intent or marketing purpose associated with it. If this sounds kind of familiar its because it was only a month ago that we all learned about the “benefits” of olive oil for your skin, and Jennifer Lopez vehemently denied getting Botox while she simultaneously promoted her new skincare line. The whole thing seemed quite deliberate but the truth is; this kind of marketing strategy has been going on for decades.
Several years ago in an interview for Harper’s Bazaar, Kate Winslet was asked if her glowing skin was attributed to her use of Botox and fillers? “Oh f*ck no! It’s this incredible serum, Lancome’s Visionnaire Cx. You’re going to think I’m just saying this because I’m the face of the brand but honestly you just have to believe me that this stuff is magic”. In a 2015 story for People magazine, Salma Hayek was asked her opinion of Botox. Hayek stated that she “didn’t believe in it” and that her “secret” to beautiful skin was a foundation from her own make-up line, Nuance. In 2016, Amanda Seyfried was asked by The Cut on how she felt about Botox and fillers in Young Hollywood. Her response seemed genuine but there was also that inherent assumption that the use of cosmetic injectables made everyone look the same, and “that look” was just not for her. Then like in every other interview, the conversation quickly turned to a skincare line that she has been aligned with for the past 6 years and how it has become her skin’s holy grail.
No one is minimizing the importance of skincare but just as Botox and fillers are not used to treat sun damage, pigmentation issues or improve one’s skin quality; skincare alone cannot eliminate fine lines or restore facial volume. It’s not one or the other, it never has been and it never will be. Celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Kaley Cuoco, Kelly Ripa, Linda Evangelista and Robin Wright Penn have all spoken out on their use of cosmetic injectables. When you add in professional skin devices to the anti-aging arsenal conversation, the list of celebrity fans grows exponentially: Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Kim and Kourney Kardashian, and Cate Blanchett to name a few. Up until very recently, pharmaceutical companies have not really had celebrity endorsements like skincare brands do, so in 2019 when Gwyneth Paltrow was announced as the new face of the Xeomin, an alternative to Botox, people took notice. It was a surprising choice not only because of Paltrow’s well-known stance on clean beauty, but it was only five years earlier that Paltrow swore she would never do Botox again. People are allowed to change their minds at any point in life, but it also makes you wonder if it was the product or the pay check that shifted that particular belief?
Having a face in front of your product or brand is simply just that. It’s to enhance recognition, increase awareness and hope that it influences buying behaviour. The surge in social media influencers on Instagram and Tik Tok has also created an opportunity for companies to form smaller scale “affiliate” partnerships. Allergan, the parent company of Botox did this years ago with several reality television stars and popular bloggers (think Kyle Richards and weworewhat's Danielle Bernstein). The premise of the campaign was "user engagement". From watching the influencers receive the treatment live to encouraging dialogue in scheduled Q&A's, followers were a part of the lived experience.
Unlike other categories in the beauty industry such as make-up or fragrances, skin care lines and injectables are things that require consistent and often long term use in order for a consumer to form a strong opinion or to be able to decide if it is something they would purchase again. It’s an investment. One that people make based largely on user reviews and professional recommendations, but also because of public figure endorsements. Whatever your reason for trying out a new product, cosmetic injectable or device, just remember that because it works for someone else, doesn’t mean that it will be right for you, and vice versa. Our bodies and our skin is unique and require individualized assessments, personalized treatment plans and often some trial and error. Regardless if a celebrity is willing to admit (or endorse) it or not, looking like one of them; know that it most certainly takes a village.