Millennials Want Quick Beauty Fixes, Not Antiaging Creams. Is This Smart?

Should millennials worry about preventive skin regimens? (Photo: Getty Images)

I have an easy, streamlined skin care regimen, to which I adhere religiously: I keep my complexion out of the sun. I moisturize and eat whole foods. But I have never purchased a skin care product solely for its antiaging effects — even though my mother believes I should be slathering on a fancy eye cream each night to avoid fine lines and crow’s-feet. (Ummm … nah.)

As it turns out, I’m not alone. Millennials, apparently, aren’t looking for the fountain of youth in a bottle, leaving some beauty companies a little worried. Historically, skin-care products like antiaging creams have been big earners, but the rising wave of 20- and 30-something consumers seems less interested in such buys than previous generations, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Estée Lauder shares fell 4 percent at the close of trading on Tuesday, while Coty (which includes brands like Philosophy) dropped 8.7 percent — and the decline is starting to feel like a trend. Sales of skin care products like those of Estée and Clinique fell 2.5 percent in the third quarter. Makeup sales, on the other hand, are soaring, seeing 7.3 percent gains, with cosmetic companies like MAC, Smashbox, and Tom Ford leading the pack. So what does it all mean?

First off, that consumer product companies are still trying to figure out millennials, a quarter of the United States population, now surpassing baby boomers as the largest generation. Second, in the realm of beauty, we seem to favor natural products and items that cater to our “I want it now” culture.

Concealers, masks, and makeup products are selling, and they definitely provide quick fixes — something beauty brands are noticing. “Millennials are much more about immediate results than saving for the future,” Estée Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda told WSJ. “The 30-year-old today gets more photographs of themselves in a day than their mother did in a year, so they care about what their skin looks like now, not when they are 40.”

According to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, millennials might be onto something. Shelling out $300 on a fancy cream could theoretically give you access to “ingredients that are harder to come by” and “technologies that enhance delivery of an active into the skin,” Zeichner tells Yahoo Beauty, but it’s just not necessary for most millennials.

While you might choose to skip products containing retinol or alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, both of which can irritate the skin, it isn’t a bad idea to pick up an antiaging eye cream or moisturizer from the drugstore. “Many of the high-end products work well, but for the average 20- or 30-something, my recommendation is to stick with a trusted drugstore brand,” says Zeichner. Think Neutrogena, L’Oréal, Olay, RoC, and CeraVe.

If your skin is sensitive or you’re particularly concerned about aging, talk to your derm about prevention, which is about day-to-day healthy practices. “With chronological aging, our skin cells, collagen, and elastin weaken over time,” says Zeichner. “This is sped up significantly when you add in environmental exposures like UV light, pollution, and cigarette smoke.” So avoid, avoid, avoid.

Zeichner says the best way to keep skin young is to “maintain a strong foundation early on, so that the skin can better resist wrinkles” as you age. “Use sunscreen and antioxidants in the morning to prevent free-radical damage, and then use repairing ingredients like retinol, peptides, and growth factors to promote healthy skin function and collagen while you sleep,” Zeichner suggests.

It’s heartening to know that I’m already following most of Zeichner’s advice and that I can easily grab a couple of products from the drugstore — Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer With Retinol ($18.99) or CeraVe Skin Renewing Serum ($16.99), for example — and be well on my way to complexion preservation. So save your dough for that brightening mask at Lush or brand-new shade of NARS lipstick. I know I will. 

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