When I was younger I remember my mum saying in Luo, pesa loso ji. It loosely translates into “money makes people attractive.” In the bloom of collagen-plumping chubby cheeks, it made no sense to me. My mother, then in her 40s, now 65, is still stunning. Then one day I realised I was an adult engulfed in the cloud of “40 is the new 30”.
That I was now in this strange land where women in their 40s looked far more exciting, interesting, attractive and sexier than the 20 somethings. Women celebrated for taut, toned, lean, bikini bodies that blessedly seemed way better than women in their 30s or even 20s.
Sightings of black don’t crack celebrities has made for endless conversations with my peers, followed by a sinking sensation that we would not be aging like Hollywood stars.
Because either they had really great genes, or there was something we were missing.
Turns out it was the latter. And that, was money and time. Despite all the talk about how money cannot buy you happiness, it can, apparently, buy you beauty and time. Famous faces are famous because they have a team of skin care professionals on speed dial.
From the moment a woman decides to be in the entertainment industry, their first stop is as much to the aesthetician and/or dermatologist as it is the stylist. It is recommended by their representation. These women begin to care for their skin as early as age nine.
A recent piece in W Magazine outlines how these flawless women make hefty financial investments that average anything from Sh300,000 to Sh3 million a year on skin care alone.
By the time they get to 40, they can take #nofilter selfies. Women in their 40s as a demographic are a neglected market, which is rather odd when you consider the sheer spending power. The older a woman becomes, the more her income, status and influence in society grows whether or not she is a celebrity. There are no style bloggers speaking to them.
Their spending habits are lumped together with Millennials as ‘women,’ their needs untapped and unexploited, their shopping presumed to be done in stores with everyone else. They are a target that generically falls under the bracket 28-48 in advertising and marketing.
Yet the present day 40-year-old woman is incredibly sophisticated, has cultivated and curated her own style and had her fair share of style and beauty mistakes. She is not looking for the excessively arched Instagram brow or the exaggerated bronzed contouring.
She wants skin that looks dewy, healthy with a youthful even-tone and a body that keeps up with her schedule, a lifestyle that is likely supported by hired help or a support system and skin care products and services that validate her sense of femininity.
They are far more likely to respond to bespoke products and from my admittedly unverified poll, they rarely, if ever, find clothes they actually want, skin care needs that specifically target anti-aging concerns and platforms that speak to them. The 40 somethings are as unique as they are varied. They are also not the 40-year-old your mother was.
The W Magazine encapsulates this generation beautifully as the first lot of women to use sunscreen and Retin-A religiously. As for the famed faces, their prescription is exercise, no dairy, no salt, no sugar, no gluten diets as these are some of the things affecting metabolism, digestion and consequently, the surface of the skin, energy levels and sleep.
Help from experts
Microdermabrasion, ultrasound or radio frequency, oxygen and LED facials, injectables and a range of treatments are designed to be built upon gradually such that over time, the changes are incredibly subtle. This has eliminated the need to go under the knife. Women age naturally but with a lot of help.
Ridiculously good looking celebrities in their 40s have access to fashion professionals as they do aestheticians and dermatologists who have access to the latest treatment, research, equipment, products and technology. Skin care is a collaborative process that happens both at home and in the doctor’s office.
It works in tandem with nutrition and lifestyle, creating a holistic approach. So generic things like drinking lots of water, eating fruit and veg and sleeping well are great, but they will not make you look like Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, Halle Berry, Naomi, or Taraji P. Henson in your 40s. It is going to take a certified, skilled medical spa with skin care gurus and a substantial purse before you can truthfully say 40 is the new 20. And I don’t just say this because I turn 40 this year.