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6 Interesting Focus Group Findings and How They Relate to the Ageism in the Beauty Industry

By Elise Marquam-Jahns September 22, 2018 Makeup and Fashion

My husband will never understand how I can sit in front of the computer for hours at a time watching YouTube makeup videos. But as a makeup artist who specializes in working with women over 55, I find the product reviews offered by YouTubers to be helpful.

Let’s face it, there’s no way I’ll ever have time to try or purchase the hundreds of products launched daily, and the thoughts of these YouTubers help me ‘narrow the field’ of products to check out.

Moreover, the makeup tutorials can be riveting – especially if you’re a sucker for the eye candy of gorgeous eye shadow makeup colors as I am.

Though many of the demonstrated dramatic eye makeup techniques work far better for 20-somethings than those of us who are 60-somethings, I often pick up an application, product or makeup tool tip that can be helpful.

Who knew, for instance, that you can get the best curl for your eyelashes from an eyelash curler by lifting up your arm as you apply the tool? Yes, it really makes a difference.

The Ageism in the Beauty Industry

But the subject of a recent YouTube video by a makeup artist I admire, totally caught me off guard.

She hesitated to broach the subject, but finally admitted she was feeling quite uncomfortable about the ageism in the beauty industry which she recently experienced firsthand at a makeup brand event in Las Vegas.

Now, understand that this makeup artist is only in her 40s… and I’m embarrassed to admit that my first reaction was: “You’re kidding… you think you’ve experienced beauty industry ageism? Just talk to one of us over 55 if you really want to know about ageism in the beauty industry. (E.g., have you ever tried to find a grey eyebrow pencil? They are few and far between.)”

But after recovering from my very visceral first reaction, I had to admit that I definitely understood where she was coming from – especially as she discussed the details of her experience at this major cosmetic brand event at a posh Las Vegas location.

At her table sat a handful of invited beauty ‘influencers’ who ranged in age from 22-23. And as she looked around the room, she realized she was by far the oldest invited guest.

So yes, she’s absolutely right. Her age group is being ignored by the beauty industry just as our age group is.

In fact, recent research among women over 55, which was conducted by a major cosmetic brand, revealed that 87% of the participants felt unrepresented in advertising – after all, how old are the models used on the anti-aging skin care commercials?

According to the same study, 81% of the surveyed women reported that they go unacknowledged by retailers. In addition, 70% of these women say they feel “invisible in society.”

What Our Focus Group Research Revealed

These results confirm what an associate and I learned this past spring when we conducted our own focus group research with women 60+. We were interested in learning more about the needs of women our age in regard to makeup application skills and products.

Here are just some of our focus group findings:

#1: The Importance of Appearance

Most of these women cared about their appearance and were very cognizant of being almost totally ignored by the beauty industry.

#2: Desire to Look Natural

These women did not necessarily want to look younger, but they did want to look and feel beautiful and natural. There was also a strong desire to still “look like yourself” when wearing makeup.

#3: Dislike Toward False Advertising and Push Sales

The women who participated in these focus group sessions were painfully aware of false advertising claims and greatly disliked when salespeople tried to push them to buy products that may not be right for them.

#4: Smart Purchasing Habits

About half of the women purchased at least some makeup products from a drugstore or Target/Walmart type of store.

Slightly over half of them purchased some cosmetics from department store makeup counters. About a quarter purchased makeup from Ulta or from major online cosmetic-line websites.

#5: Inclination Toward Beauty and Healthy Living

Beauty topics of greatest interest included makeup tips for women our age, finding colors that flattered, best nutrition plan for beautiful skin and breakthrough skincare products.

#6: The Value of Personal Experience

In regard to receiving advice about makeup for women our age, nearly all agreed that they would prefer a personal face-to-face experience first. However, they would be very willing to purchase special products online after that, if convinced about the effectiveness of these products.

What makeup topics are of greatest interest to you? What makeup products or services would you most like to have? Where do you prefer to purchase your makeup products and why? Do you feel ignored by the beauty industry? And if so, how would you like to see the beauty industry change? Please share in the comments below.

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The Author

Elise Marquam-Jahns is a professional makeup artist who is passionate about helping women 50+ get their glow back. She is the founder of Boomer and Beyond Beauty and runs the “Boomer and Beyond Beauty with Elise” YouTube channel. Elise has authored the free guide The Top Four Research-Proven Makeup Techniques That Help Us Look Our Best Now.

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