Brands are democratizing beauty, one word at a time.
A new lexicon—one that is inclusive, thoughtful and affirmative—is redefining the beauty industry.
On March 9, 2021, Unilever announced that the company is committing to removing the word “normal” across its beauty and personal care brands in a dedicated move to become more inclusive. The move is an acknowledgment of Unilever’s global influence and a reflection of evolving consumer values.
“With one billion people using our beauty and personal care products every day, and even more seeing our advertising, our brands have the power to make a real difference to people’s lives,” says Sunny Jain, president of beauty and personal care at Unilever. “We are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty.” In addition to removing the word “normal,” the company will ban excessive editing of models used in its advertisements.
Wellness brand Bend Beauty announced in September 2020 via an Instagram post that its mission is to “create a beautiful life” and that embracing aging is part of this process. To fully communicate this, the brand will drop the term anti-aging from its products. Its Anti-Aging Formula product has been renamed Renew + Protect. The nuanced choice in language is an important shift towards a new representation of beauty products.
Australian haircare brand Bread is taking a firm stand against the term anti-frizz. In fact, founder Maeva Heim wants to make frizz cool. “I think frizz and big hair, and ‘unruly’ hair is beautiful and cool,” Heim told Vogue in July 2020. “I want us to help redefine what aspirational means for textured and curly hair, and that includes normalizing frizz.”
This follows a similarly inclusive movement among period care brands, which are changing the language of periods be more inclusive of transgender and nonbinary consumers. Phrases like “period care” and “people who menstruate” are replacing the gendered “femcare” and “women” terminology traditionally favored by period brands.
More attention is being paid to brand language. According to a September 2020 survey by Phrasee, 71% of senior marketers expect to invest more focus and budget when it comes to content and language. Language’s power to create more equitable, inclusive and transparent brands that reflect consumer values is taking root in the beauty industry—re-expressing the very definition of beautiful.
Main image courtesy of Bread Beauty Supply