Last week I attended the High 50 (pronounced high five oh) Anti Ageing Debate. It was held at The Royal College of Surgeons in Lincolns Inns Fields.
The evening was introduced by Tim Willis who edits the High 50 website and who was gently teased throughout the evening for the motion… being a question rather than a motion.
Are the needle and the scalpel (and the laser) a step too far.
So, in the beauty corner, was Jo Fairley, beauty journalist and editor, famed for her work on the Anti Ageing and Green Beauty Bibles, and all round knowledgeable lady.
In the needle (and laser) corner was Dr Daniel Sister, hormone and ageing expert, developer of supplements and treatments at Beauty Works West and probably most famous for being the man who brought ‘Dracula’ (take blood from your arm, remove the plasma and use it in facial treatments – yes really!) therapy to the UK .
Jo spoke first, and started with her personal decision to age gracefully. She joked that in the world of beauty editors she is one of the few not the many. So her oratory unfolded to explain how she felt that women were being used as guinea pigs by doctors and beauty salons and that’ let the buyer beware’ should be emblazoned across salons where invasive procedures were carried out. She spoke about beauty and drug companies only publicising the most complimentary statistics for their products and the need for consumers to do research.
Jo’s assertion was that some women who go for treatments are often quite desperate at that point of attending the salon or surgery. Many suffer with low self-esteem and are experiencing depression so they are trying to fix something that has gone wrong in their lives, with a cosmetic treatment. As a result, they fail to ask the questions that they should… like how many times have you done this work?, can I see some photos of some recent before and afters? and what will happen in five years? Jo asserts that salons need regulation regardless of where they are and the treatments that they provide. Some women have become serial consumers of cosmetic surgery and rather than going for a surgery consultation, a makeover would give the desired effect.
It is not possible to change your appearance with zero risk and while there is a distinction between permanent procedure and make up the benefit of having skincare and make up makeover should not be overlooked. Through her work over the past 18 years on the Anti Ageing Beauty Bible, Jo has seen what excellent skincare can do and she argued skincare, healthy diet, regular exercise, can make a huge difference not only to women’s confidence but also their appearance.
Daniel has been a medical practitioner for 40 years outlined the four tenants that medical practitioners utilise – innovation (supported by medical evidence), safe (first do no harm) efficient and ethical. He talked about the wealth of evidence behind the invasive procedures, and the face that doctors and nurses are trained and checked. and the importance to consider the difference between biological (the rate at which your body is ageing eg collagen depletion) and chronological age, ie date from birth.
Daniel then discussed societal pressure, air brushed supermodels in magazine, competing with younger people in the work place and the high divorce rate which means that people are looking for partners at an older age. The reality is for the majority of people is there is not a makeup artist in their house and needle procedures provide an alternative. Needle and knife are 2 different beasts, however tha there has been a 700% increase in surgical procedures since 1997.
He also spoke about the difference in research and marketing budgets for large companies reminding us that top models salary far outweighs through of the cosmetic scientists behind the products and also citing L’Oreal’s research budget as 700 million and their marketing budget as 1.34 billion. In his own words, ‘medicine is about proof not marketing, cosmetics are about marketing not evidence and that many of the large cosmetics companies have been fined for false advertising. He ended with the point that cosmetic interventions do not work on the muscle, and until they do there will always be a benefit to the needle, knife and laser.
The event was very well organised, both speakers were passionate and knowledgeable and Mariella Frostrup was a great chair. Sadly, just as the question and answer session started to develop, it was time to wrap up and general consensus was that more time was needed to explore the issues further. A vote at the end of the evening showed that the room was balanced in terms of for and against the motion It was a great event, and we were supplied with a very generous goody bag with products endorse by Jo and Daniel.
It was interesting to see that Jo and Daniel agreed on the need for companies to be honest and transparent about their products and services and for me, the real eye opener was the fact that far less money is spent on research then marketing. As consumers we really do need to research products and procedures. I really look forward to High 50’s future debates and hopefully there will be more type to explore the issues in more depth.
So what do you think? Are the needle, knife and laser a step too far?