BE PROUD, NOT PERFECT: Ban photoshopping in skincare adverts

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Blemishes, moles, freckles, scars, lines, dryness, and pigmentation. These and more form part of real skin and we want beauty brands to show real skin. Be proud, not perfect.

Recent research found that 53% of those questioned in the UK wished they were more confident in their natural skin. The research also found that nearly one in two of those sampled edited their own photos to make themselves feel more confident. This is a dangerous combination, with people feeling less confident than ever before, and more tools to avoid dealing with their insecurities and feelings of inadequacy, such as editing tools like FaceTune, and face altering filters on social media apps. 

We at Skin Proud want to change this and ensure no-one feels insecure or inadequate by something on their skin, and to feel proud of who they are by not chasing perfection. Inspired by the skin and body positivity movement, we therefore call on the Advertising Standards Authority, otherwise known as the ASA, to ban photoshopping in skin advertisements. As a brand, we are passionate about portraying real skin, and feel that other skincare brands have a responsibility to do the same. When the norm is real skin, rather than the computer-altered, smoothed-to-perfection skin we’re all used to seeing, we create a kinder and more inclusive society where people can be truly proud of the skin they’re in. 

Here’s why we think it’s so damaging for skincare brands to use retouched and edited images in their advertising:

It encourages an unrealistic standard of beauty

Constant reinforcement of these digitally altered photos creates an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in our own skin. Rankin’s photography series, ‘Selfie Harm’ illustrated this perfectly when 15 teens drastically altered images of themselves beyond recognition, all in the quest to make the images ‘social media ready’. Unedited photos normalise what real faces and real skin look like, meaning we aren’t comparing ourselves to, and aiming to look like something that isn’t obtainable. 

It can affect the confidence you feel in your own skin, in turn causing mental strain and trauma

According to leading dermatologist and expert in psychodermatology (the study of the skin and mind as a whole when looking at skin concerns), Dr. Alia Ahmed, “Psychological stress and skin are closely linked”. She continues, “I see several patients who have unrealistic expectations of their skin. People are more than ever feeling pressured to conform to what is being perceived as the ‘norm’. Almost everyone gets a spot or has a bad hair day or a day when they feel unattractive, social media allows one to add a filter to hide these things, real life usually does not”. Whilst rates of suicide as a result of skin conditions is unknown, studies have found that girls and boys with acne had significantly more depressive symptoms, lower self-esteem, more feelings of uselessness, fewer feelings of pride, lower self-worth, and lower body satisfaction than those without acne.

To combat this, Dr. Ahmed says brands should consider inclusive advertising, working with people with a variety of skin conditions to minimise these feelings of inadequacy. 

It creates misleading claims about products and their benefits

Finally, in a world where we’re all trying to separate truth from lies, photoshopping in skincare adverts can often be a form of deceptive advertising. Removal of perceived ‘flaws’ such as lines, blemishes, pigmentation, freckles, moles and more allude that the use of the product in question will resolve these issues, creating a false perception of the results of skincare. 

Be proud, not perfect.

Join the movement by sharing your support by sharing the petition on your social media with the hashtag #iamskinproud