Why I Won’t Say “Anti-Ageing” From Now On

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“Anti-ageing”. Think about it: It couldn’t be more negative, could it?

Anti-ageing is one of those expressions that’s used so much in the beauty industry and the media that I can imagine most of us are somewhat numb to its literal meaning, would you agree? It’s bandied about so much that we just accept it as the standard way to describe products that [ahem] promise to roll back the years, make us look 10 years younger, give us a youthful glow.

But like that awful term “real women” (ugh! that’s a topic for another time), anti-ageing has severely negative connotations. It’s actually saying “against ageing”. And I’m not AGAINST ageing – I’m FOR it! I’ve got no choice – and neither does any other woman on the planet. Because what’s the alternative…?

It was quite a while ago that I first wrote about my dislike of the term anti-ageing. Since then I’ve written a few posts about skincare and “anti-ageing” products (that I wished were called something else), but I’ve decided that from now on I’ll no describe anything as anti-ageing – and I’ll focus on PRO-ageing as an alternative.


A damning report about “anti-ageing” in the beauty industry

In my monthly unmissable links post for June, I mentioned a report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH): “That Age Old Question | How attitudes to ageing affect our health and wellbeing“. The report describes ageing as “a natural consequence of being alive”… you’d never get the media admitting that, would you?

It says:

“We have seen just how valuable a positive and optimistic outlook on ageing can be to personal health and wellbeing, and yet many everyday conversations, informed by the media, are rife with examples of language that either trivialise, vilify, or catastrophise the ageing process. Chief among these is the persistent use of the term ‘anti-ageing’ within the cosmetics and beauty industry.

All human beings – at all stages of life – are ageing in their own way, as a natural consequence of being alive. Hence, the explicit presumption that ageing is something undesirable and to be battled at every turn is as nonsensical as it is dangerous. To be ‘anti-ageing’ makes no more sense than being ‘anti-life’.

We call on major outlets such as Boots and Superdrug, and beauty industry magazines, to follow the lead of Allure magazine and ban the use of the term ‘anti-ageing’, and to re-focus their ageing narrative on opportunities to be embraced rather than processes to be resisted.”

To call on the UK high street’s two biggest drugstores to ban the term is pretty significant. They also pointed out that Allure magazine banned the use of the term “anti-ageing” last year – something I really welcomed.


What I’ll say instead of anti-ageing

In that first post I wrote a couple of years ago as well as a more recent post about my skincare routine I mentioned that I wanted to use the term “optimum ageing” instead of anti-ageing. It does what it says on the tin: Let’s make ageing the very best it can be! We can’t fight it, it’s going to happen, so why be negative about something that’s inevitable?

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So from now on I’ll be refusing to use the term anti-ageing. I am going to say “optimum ageing” instead.

In fact just this week I was contacted by a skincare brand about working with them: I replied to say that yes, I’ll happily consider collaborating, but please note that I won’t use the term anti-ageing in my blog post or in any social media. They might agree with this, they might not. But integrity is important to me, so if they want to work with me they have to play by my rules, and my rules state that AGEING RULES.

After the incredibly sad loss of one of our own midlife bloggers Kate Sutton of Wit Wit Woo – at the age of just 48 – from a sudden stroke last month, it seems to me that quoting anti-ageing as a good thing (or something to aspire to) is more offensive than ever. I met the truly wonderful Kate at a video shoot and we kept in touch online, and while I didn’t know her very well, I knew her well enough to know that she would have been one of those people who would definitely have been ANTI-anti-ageing.

Soon after her passing a hashtag was created in her honour: #BeMoreWitWitWoo. Kate believed that to hell with it – we should just drink the gin, eat the cake and wear the swimsuit. The hashtag was poignant but incredibly uplifting. Ageing should be celebrated, not fought against.

As the RSPH report says, “Growing older is a wonderful thing because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full, happy life”. Kate didn’t get that chance, so let’s focus on the positives while we age in her honour, I say.



  1. 20 August 2018 / 11:31 pm

    Yes! The term anti-aging has also always bothered me. And, honestly, when I think of “older” women that I admire, it’s not really the ones who look “younger” but the ones who look comfortable in their skin. They clearly take care of themselves, but they are also not trying to fool anyone.

    My younger son and I had an interesting conversation a few days ago. He talked about his teacher, who is turning 50 in a few weeks, and he said that she looks great but clearly over 40, “like you mom.” At first I was taken aback, but then I realized that that’s perfectly fine.

  2. 12 August 2018 / 5:45 pm

    Spot on again as with all of your insights.

    Such sad news to hear about Kate. I hadn’t come across her until you told me. She looked like the sort of person I would’ve enjoyed knowing more about. Love her hashtag.


  3. 9 August 2018 / 9:31 am

    Do you know Catherine, I had never even considered this until now. Like many things in life sometimes we just accept without thought. I love the fact that you challenge the status quo and start a discussion to help change perceptions. Great post!

  4. Michelle Springer
    7 August 2018 / 7:42 pm

    As someone who just turned 46 (my birthday was the 4th), I’m loving the phrase optimum aging! I kinda feel like I’m just coming into my own now- after years of trying to please everyone else and not knowing who I was myself, I’m liking this new chapter of my life. And I think that my age has a lot to do with it. So yay aging! 🙂

  5. Kirsten
    6 August 2018 / 5:57 pm

    Well said, thank you.

  6. 6 August 2018 / 3:17 pm

    Well said Catherine! From my perspective: it is a blessing to grow older, that means I am still alive!

  7. 6 August 2018 / 2:00 pm

    I’m in the minority here. The words ‘anti-ageing’ – against ageing are usually applied to a product that tries to do just that, prevent ageing. It isn’t used literally as in ‘we are against people ageing’ but more as ‘we have a product that tries to prevent ageing’. Suncreams can be described as anti ageing as they help protect the skin against ageing. They are just words and I feel ‘optimum ageing’ is just a little bit patronising. Sorry! You did ask for comments!

  8. 6 August 2018 / 12:12 pm

    I have never said “Anti-Aging” as that was always a phrase that bothered me too. I really love your new phrase! That’s a great idea!

  9. 6 August 2018 / 7:50 am

    Fabulously written post. I completely agree that getting old is a privilege and not something to be ‘anti’. Sorry to hear about Kate Sutton, that’s terribly sad. xx

  10. 5 August 2018 / 5:07 pm

    Love this sentiment Catherine, couldn’t agree more! My twenty something massage therapist this week admitted she knew people her age who’d had botox, and I just find that so sad. To be stressing about daring to age in your twenties, when you are meant to be living life to the fullest, what a waste of time. I don’t begrudge anyone to do what they want when it comes to how they treat this stuff, but it is so not on us to “reverse” the ageing process, for too long we have allowed this to be a silly thing we are meant to be somehow holding back, when it is physically impossible, enough! Thank you for taking a stand on this with your brand. I was very sorry to hear of Kate’s passing, I didn’t know her at all but her impact on those she did know in the community seems keenly felt, she sounded like a bright spirit, I’m sorry for your loss. xo

  11. 5 August 2018 / 3:59 pm

    Love Optimum Ageing! As for turning back the clock, no thank you. The women who perpetually chase youth (and some of the lengths to which they will go) scare me. I, too, just want to be the best me I can be right now and prolong the process, not turn it back!

  12. 4 August 2018 / 9:31 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful blogpost Catherine. Ageing is a blessing that indeed not all of us can enjoy equally long or equally fulfilled and when you can do so, it’s something to cherish and to be thankful for. I like your wording: optimum ageing. It’s something worth doing: enjoying your life to the best of your possibilities, for yourself and for the ones you care about, keeping in mind the now and the future. Love, Lieske

  13. 4 August 2018 / 5:26 pm

    This is just my humble view. I think it is an easy term ti throw around to make money. These companies throw these terms around and people buy these products and they make millions. I think your term should be used and it is a better term.

    Thanks for hosting and I hope that you have wonderful weekend.

  14. 4 August 2018 / 4:42 pm

    I love the term optimum ageing because it gives a nod to the fact that aging is a normal and natural part of life and can me optimized and even celebrated for what it is.

  15. 4 August 2018 / 4:12 pm

    Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph. Thank you Catherine. I’ve written blog posts about this. I only use the term “pro-aging” on my IG account and I’ve done a YouTube video about this. So happy you are no longer using that terribly filthy curse word!!!! XOXOXOXO

  16. jodie filogomo
    4 August 2018 / 1:42 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Catherine. It becomes so meaningful that we are blessed to get older once you lose someone close to you that is younger.
    I love your new term, and will use it too!! Because we are so much better the older we get!!

  17. Heide V
    4 August 2018 / 12:59 pm

    This makes so much sense!! I’ve said for years I have no intentions of ageing gracefully, but will fight it every step of the way…. what I really meant is that I will excel and embrace it, and cherish the fact that I’m allowed to age 🙂 Thanks for the shift in thinking, this is how it ought to be!

  18. 4 August 2018 / 12:43 pm

    I think you’re spot on with your attitude. Anti-ageing is just another way to make women feel guilty about laughter lines and not being in their twenties anymore. Optimum ageing sounds so much better.

    I intend to live a long long time and I’m realistic that I won’t look like I did when I was 20 or 30, but I want to still be around doing what I love and with the people I love too.

  19. 4 August 2018 / 12:35 pm

    Totally agree with you, also with you on the “real women” thing, it make me cross whenever I read/hear it a woman is a woman is a woman, whatever age – celebrate it

  20. 4 August 2018 / 10:16 am

    It really does put things in perspective when you lose someone you knew who was beautiful and full of vim and vigor; it’s heartbreaking actually. I used to be a family therapist at a cancer center and being so close to death and dying each day really inspired me to live more fully and I realized in some ways I couldn’t afford the luxury of a negative thought, life is precious. So yes, let’s live our best lives and let’s forget the term ant-ageing and choose optimumageing instead. I’m proud of my 50 years and I’ve joyfully earned every wrinkle and age spot!

  21. 4 August 2018 / 6:23 am

    I’m a lot older than you, Catherine. And I, too, dislike the term anti-ageing, because we do, in fact, age. Pro ageing is great. I refuse to be defined by my age. I dislike hearing someone saying: “you look great… for your age”, as I find that patronising. I do find that people treat older women as being invisible, and I do fight against it.

  22. Sue Dunlop
    4 August 2018 / 2:30 am

    Great post! I also fully believe in embracing every day with the good and the bad. I may be 55 with some age spots and wrinkles, but I’m waaaaay smarter than I was even at 40.

  23. 3 August 2018 / 11:45 pm


    I TOTALLY agree with your perspective on the aging “thing”. It beats the alternative, right? And your rules are perfect. I will be using your targeted term, optimized aging, from now on!

    Thanks for another thoughtful post.

  24. 3 August 2018 / 11:05 pm

    I never really thought about Anti-ageing like that. I refuse to grow old either Anti-ageing or Optimumageing! Love the idea of the # xx

  25. 3 August 2018 / 10:44 pm

    Great idea! I’m all up for that as a,, middle aged,, woman. Pfff, what the hack, I was middle aged at 27! What does it mean?

  26. 3 August 2018 / 10:13 pm

    This is exactly why I love you Woman!
    Count me in & while we’re at it can we stop saying middle-aged? Actually I stopped a while ago, hmmm I think it was when I became aware that I am what is referred to as middle aged. Hate it. There I said it 😉

    • catherine
      3 August 2018 / 10:30 pm

      Oh lord you’re right MT – middle aged just SOUNDS horrible, doesn’t it?!!

  27. 3 August 2018 / 8:33 pm

    A lovely post, Catherine. “Optimum aging” is a great alternative to … that other term. You’d better get a patent on that phrase or some cosmetics company will steal it. Unless you want them to steal it. Maybe you should create a hashtag using it… get everyone to start using it too. Start a movement, girl.

    • catherine
      3 August 2018 / 10:28 pm

      Thanks Sue – you know what I looked up #optimumageing on Insta… there are only three posts, and two of them were mine!! 😀

      So yes, I think it’s a fantastic idea to get everyone to start using it – watch this space x

    • 4 August 2018 / 6:24 am

      that is a great idea!!!!!

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