Yes there was a barrage of waffle, loads of buzz-words and some ‘miracle’ treatments on offer – but good advice on offer too
Do you remember a time before anyone coined the term “anti-ageing”; a time when the most a beauty regime consisted of was slapping on some Pond’s and a couple of cucumber slices? I don’t like “anti-ageing”. It’s a wrong-headed term that manages to be both negative and misleading – as though the act of ageing represents some kind of personal failure. I appreciate it’s catchy from a marketing point of view but can we not be a bit more honest, please? I love a new beauty treatment as much as the next person but to suggest it’s going to stop me looking older is just cobblers, frankly. I’m not unhappy with the Invisible face. Admittedly, I wouldn’t mind losing the slightly droopy jawline but y’know, that’s what happens, in real life, when you’re 57. I’m basically a pretty typical middle-ager with slightly complicated feelings about getting older and a healthy scepticism about the more extravagant claims beaming in from the Final Frontier of the age and beauty industry.
To continue the topical Star Trek analogy, I “boldly went” to the Anti-Ageing, Health and Beauty Show and survived to bring you the news that snail slime is your path to a wrinkle-free future, allegedly. You call it “secretions” if you like but I’ll stick with what it is – slime. Give snail slime a posh pot, a vaguely scientific name and a hefty price tag and Bob’s your uncle: a new chemical-free all-natural “anti-ageing” wonder product. Hah! As if. Do you detect a degree of snook cocking here? Don’t you think somebody needs to?
There were quite a few three-figure products in the National Hall at Olympia and yet when you start to ask questions about research and testing and, you know, how the stuff actually works you’re likely to get waffle – waffle and buzz-words. Take bee venom “botox” serum. “Poor bees,” I thought, “are any harmed in the bee-milking process, or whatever indignity is forced upon them?” It’s only what we’re all thinking and bees are a finite resource after all. The response was vague, unsatisfactory and not particularly convincing. The mouthpiece for bee venom lost interest in me as a potential customer, probably because I didn’t buy the miracle wholesale. I asked about the de-slimed snails too (don’t laugh – we need to know these things) and you’ll be pleased to know they’re all fine as well, allegedly.
Elsewhere in the hall, I was worried and depressed by a Botox and filler “special offer” stand. Why anyone would think it’s a good idea to have an injectable treatment there and then, publicly, and without knowing anything about the person providing the treatment (or what it is) I cannot imagine, and yet the queue was round the block. Regulation? What regulation? It can’t come soon enough. Thankfully, the majority of stands represented those clinics and companies that specialise in the sort of non-invasive improving treatments that I think most of us prefer and help us to look our best, rather than as though we’ve been badly embalmed. But enough of the negative – there was, surprisingly (to me anyway) a lot that was good and useful. There were yoga classes, brow bars, cosmetics companies and an interesting schedule of mini-talks on stages at either end of the hall and I enjoyed trying out new stuff, gadgets and gizmos. There was a champagne bar and a chocolate shop (someone’s done their research) and there were collagen shots coming at you from all directions.
In the end I stayed three hours longer than I meant to and spent most of my time discussing diet and supplements and taking good care of our whole selves with a number of very good people who were knowledgeable on their subject and didn’t try to bluff their way through with a load of flannel, and I plan to come back to some of those in future columns. The atmosphere at this first “anti-ageing” exhibition (there is another planned) was of lively curiosity and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to the women, and men, who had come along because they were interested in making the best of themselves as they are, not least because they had their BS detectors switched on and in magnificent working order.