How our definition of beauty has changed in the last century

Just like fashion, music and politics, beauty trends come and go. Some crystallise as longstanding social norms, while others fizzle out and are quickly replaced by new definitions. Intrigued? Join us as we take a walk down memory lane and explore some of the ways perceptions of beauty have changed over the past 100 years.


From banishing greys to embracing silver strands

Gone are the days when grey hair was considered a taboo. Today, brands like Dove and Oprah Magazine are reimagining the definition of ageing gracefully and this includes embracing silver strands. In fact, grey hair is so in vogue that you’ll even see young women spending hours, not to mention hundreds of dollars, at the salon in search of the perfect ashy hue. We love products that make it easy to transition to grey or maintain luscious silver locks (hello purple shampoo).


From creamy complexions to golden glows

A hundred years ago, creamy complexions were a sign of beauty, not to mention wealth. Basically, pale skin was considered a status symbol indicating that you didn’t have to work outdoors and were therefore upper class. Then commercial flights and luxury travel arrived on the scene. Golden tans quickly emerged as the new complexion of choice, serving as a physical proof of a jet-setting lifestyle. While tans are becoming, there’s no denying that skin cancer will never be in vogue. On the other hand, silk kaftans, floppy straw hats and tinted sunscreen will give you that holiday glow, without damaging your skin.


From plump to slender, and back again

Wandering around an art museum, you may notice that curvy, plump physiques were definitively in vogue several hundred years ago. Once again, this was a status symbol of beauty and wealth. Fast forward and slim figures are now coveted by catwalks, magazines and fashion ateliers across the globe. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On the upside, the shift towards a healthier diet and plenty of physical exercise is a fantastic lifestyle movement. On the other hand, the relentless glamorisation of stick-thin models can cause deep-rooted issues and plummeting self-esteem for generations of all ages. Weight remains an incredibly multifaceted subject and at the end of the day finding your own unique balance between happy and healthy is really all that matters.


Gents jump onboard

A decade or so ago, the men’s “beauty” industry was limited to aftershave, deodorant and soap. Today, the global men’s grooming product market is set to hit a cool US$60 billion by 2020. Words like “handsome” and “masculine” are quickly hitting the scene to forge new definitions of beauty. From beard oils and tinted moisturisers to hair products and grooming accessories, gents are now spoiled for choice when it comes to keeping themselves dapper.


These are just a few of the ways beauty definitions have changed over the past century. If you have any thoughts, opinions or even predictions we’d love to hear from you.