Addressing Appearance Anxiety: How to Market Beauty Healthily

- 5 minute read
Three women in underwear laughing
Digital Content Specialist​

Gemma Elgar is a Digital Content Specialist at Foundation where she creates and executes content strategies, including site copy, blog content, and more. She also conducts social media campaigns for our clients, and has spoken on a panel about creating sensitive campaigns for niche audiences.

A lot of how consumers perceive beauty comes from how it is marketed.

According to a YouGov study in 2021, 89% of British adults still believe that physical appearance matters in modern society, and 62% believe that the fashion industry is promoting unattainable body image expectations.

A 2022 parliament survey found that 31% of teenagers and 35% of adults feel ashamed or depressed because of their body image, and 61% of women claim to suffer from ‘compare and despair’ syndrome.

Beauty, however, doesn’t have to be thought of as a bar that we need to live up to. Rather, it can instead be an opportunity for routine, self-fulfilment, and a way to tap into our creative sides.

It can be a moment for ‘me time’ at the start of the day. For many, a beauty routine and a full face of makeup can act as a physical layer of confidence when facing the world.

Over recent years, the beauty industry has been shifting away from selling sex appeal and worthy appearances, moving instead towards a focus on self-love and self-confidence. Many brands are also beginning to address the pre-established connotations between self-worth and beauty expectations. For example, Selena Gomez’ brand, Rare Beauty, pledged to raise $100 million for mental health support.

Our white paper about the beauty industry’s changing relationship with inclusivity delves further into how, and why, things are changing. 

But, as a beauty brand, how can you rewire the way you promote beauty healthily in a way that focuses on self-love, rather than encouraging an impossible goal?

Find out below.

Acknowledge History

Shelf of fashion magazines

Although we’ve come a long way in broadening the scope of who gets represented in beauty marketing, there’s still significantly further to go, and this comes from recognising that the young, cisgendered, heterosexual, white and abled person is not the ‘default’ human being in ad campaigns.

Graph depicting how represented Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers feel in advertising

Recognising this, and inciting change, is what makes a brand forward thinking. Don’t just enact the change; acknowledge why it’s needed, too.

We need to acknowledge the damage of the past in order to move forward in our presentation and understanding of beauty. We shouldn’t try to blindly move past the mistakes of history. We instead need to recognise and gently unpick them.

Embrace Inclusivity

Three women laughing

The next step from acknowledging history is to change the way you advertise beauty in response. Having a variety of ages, skin tones, body shapes, and genders represented equally though your brand will remind your customers that ‘beauty’ is not defined by how they look; rather, it’s something that can be felt, with the help of your products.

Using inclusive models and language is a win-win for you and your audience, as customers will flock to a brand in which they see themselves. They’ll then be more receptive to your story and more likely to engage with your brand and products.

Inclusivity is a self-fulfilling prophecy. By having a broader range for your audience to relate to, your audience pool will also be significantly larger as a result. It’s more important than ever that brands acknowledge their social responsibility.

Inclusivity also matters hugely with the content you’re hosting on your website and social channels:

  • Ensure alt text is provided on images
  • Make content easy to understand
  • Ensure buttons have unique and relevant click text
  • Put headings in sequential order so page readers don’t jump between page content
  • Use contrasting colours to help those who are colour blind
  • Generally make user journeys easy to navigate.

Redefine Beauty with Your Language

Woman writing in a notebook

Don’t underestimate the affect your language choices can have on the way that you sell yourself as a brand, and on your audience. With the rise of gender inclusivity, a new awareness of plus-sized fashion, better diversity in models, and more shades of makeup, the world of beauty has become more focused on self-love than seeking to impress.

Rather than phrasing your product as something that will make your customer look beautiful, it’s much more powerful to frame it as something that will make them feel beautiful, or unlock/exaggerate a beauty that they already have.

For many people, ‘beauty’ is now defined by celebrating uniqueness and drawing attention to our differences, rather than conforming to a standardised concept of what’s attractive, as it has done in the past.

Language is a powerful tool for framing beauty as something non-toxic, and something that will help your customers recognise their true self.

Encourage Health with Beauty

If you’re looking for a different angle to take when promoting beauty, ‘health’ and ‘beauty’ are two terms that have often been uttered in the same breath. To lead your brand’s tone of voice away from ‘beauty = attractive’, it could help to instead lean into ‘beauty = healthy’, depending on what it is your brand is all about.

Remember that ‘health’ doesn’t have to be physical, too; encouraging self-defined beauty and connection to the self through a beauty routine can be a huge benefit for mental health, too.

There are, however, strict guidelines laid out by the ASA explaining what beauty and wellness brands can and can’t convey with their messaging. For example, objective claims must be backed by evidence, and marketers mustn’t falsely claim that any product is able to cure ailments it cannot. This is all in place to protect both businesses and consumers. Communicate with your customers correctly about your product and everyone knows what page they’re on.

For more information about how beauty and wellness intersect, check out our white paper on wellness.

Make Sure Your Values All Align

Sustainable beauty products

If you’re encouraging self-love as your message for beauty, you’ll need to make sure that the rest of your brand’s values align with your audience’s, too. A 2022 study found that a staggering 82% of shoppers prefer to buy from brands whose values align with their own. What’s more, three quarters of shoppers surveyed reported they have stopped buying brands that they don’t share values with.

For example, 64% of beauty shoppers state that sustainability is important to them when buying beauty products. In fact, 93% of global consumers claim that the recent pandemic has had an effect on how they view sustainability, with 49% stating they’ve paid more for a product that was branded as more sustainable.

Beauty isn’t about pushing your brand to provide something your customer is lacking. Instead, the focus should be on bettering themselves, bettering their peers, and bettering the planet. Contemporary beauty is all about self-love, and what you can achieve when you’re being the best version of yourself.

Need A Helping Hand?

Need someone to help you fine-tune your brand’s tone of voice? At Foundation, our content experts specialise in beauty. This makes them the best people to go to when it comes to making your brand persona positive, inclusive, and whatever else you need it to be.

Get in touch with us at Foundation today to find out how we could help your brand.

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