Your time to shine

It’s the beauty buzzword, slapped on ev­ery­thing from body oil to blusher. But is ‘glow’ more than a mar­ket­ing term, asks

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Mor­wenna Fer­rier

to use the word “con­tour­ing”, pre­fer­ring “bronz­ing”. “For a long time, swoosh­ing layer af­ter layer of bronzer was the so­lu­tion to be­ing tired, ill, spotty or what­ever,” she says. But then we reached crit­i­cal mass. “I think it’s in part a back­lash against that over­done makeup look.” Beer has em­braced “glow­ing” by switch­ing from Ar­mani Mae­stro Fu­sion foun­da­tion (which is mat­ti­fy­ing) to Ar­mani Mae­stro

Glow. And, it seems, so­cial me­dia is in agree­ment. At last search, the word “con­tour” had been hash­tagged more than 4m times on In­sta­gram, while the word “glow” was at more than 5m. “Health and beauty brands know this – ‘glow’ is a word that sells,” she says.

How­ever, un­less we’re treat­ing the skin from within, we’re not im­ple­ment­ing any struc­tural change. En­ter nu­tri­cos­met­ics, an­other move­ment in the beauty in­dus­try that has been vi­tal to the suc­cess of glow, and which views skin­care as an oral sup­ple­ment. An early adopter of the term was the Beauty Chef, an Aus­tralian nu­tri­tion­ist. Its best­selling sup­ple­ment is called Glow, and con­tains var­i­ous nu­tri­ents and pro­bi­otics that “syn­the­sise col­la­gen in the skin and help con­trib­ute to nor­mal skin func­tion as well as sup­port di­ges­tive health”. Sel­fridges also has a large range of ingestible beauty sup­ple­ments at its Beauty Work­shop. Ac­cord­ing to a re­tail as­sis­tant at Space NK in Covent Gar­den, London, col­la­gen-build­ing pills are among their best­sellers.

Glow is, then, one of the few words that strad­dles the in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal, what we eat and what we slather on our skin. Theresa Yee, se­nior beauty edi­tor at trend fore­cast­ers WGSN, reck­ons that this is “per­haps why it’s taken off ”. It is about look­ing like you feel, or want to feel, the epit­ome of as­pi­ra­tional beauty, and go­ing as far as you can to make that hap­pen. This may seem harm­less, but does in fact take us back to so­cial me­dia, where truth and re­al­ity are com­pro­mised. If the elu­sive glow is about ob­tain­ing a look of health, rather than youth­ful­ness – of ap­pear­ing fresh, gym-fresh or even preg­nant – what are the ethics of fak­ing it?

The beauty in­dus­try is un­der duress to come up with new ways to sell stuff. It prom­ises a lot of things and re­lies on an arse­nal of buzz­words to do it. Pre­vi­ous words – con­tour­ing, strob­ing, bak­ing – are big, but most tend to ap­ply to a prod­uct or method of ap­pli­ca­tion. Few have the mul­ti­task­ing prop­er­ties of “glow”, which is as much about how you feel as how you look. Glow may be an­other con­fec­tion of a multi­bil­lion pound in­dus­try, but it comes from some­thing deeper than that. And no serum will make you look preg­nant.

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