1,000 Women Shed Light on What Real Beauty Means in 2019

The Editors
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

Photo credit: Getty Images

People tend to throw around the term "real beauty," but as for what it actually means? There's less of a cultural consensus about that. For some, it suggests a holistic lifestyle of Pilates and pressed raw juices. For others, it's as much an attitude as it is an aesthetic—it's about unbridled self-confidence, at any size or age. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, once the preponderance of selfie filters and medical procedures promising to make us look like ourselves—only better—is added in, the question becomes, Can real beauty be real if it's fake or filtered? The plot thickens.

To help shed some light on the subject, BAZAAR asked more than 1,000 women across the U.S. for their take on the topic. It will come as no surprise to learn that results varied, especially by generation. But one sentiment ran consistently throughout: Real beauty is that which makes us look and feel like our best selves. And that can be with out without the help of regular exercise, a great mascara, or even the occasional touch of Botox. How those words are defined is highly personal and continually evolving with age, and the women we surveyed agreed—and that's a very good thing.

More than 9 in 10 BAZAAR women say “Real Beauty…"

Body Positivity Could Be More Positive


Only 20% of women are currently happy with their body

  • 62% wish they were thinner
  • Only 10% are confident in a swimsuit

Millennials are the most self-critical
80% shared negative feelings about body image vs. 68% of Baby Boomers

Across all ages, women are most self-conscious about their stomach
(43%), followed by their legs/thighs (11%)

The majority of women (73%) are most confident about a facial feature versus a body feature (27%)

Women Are Positively Obsessed with Wellness

Diet and exercise are equally important to women, with weight loss still their top goal

60% of women are currently on a diet

  • 75% diet for physical reasons
  • 49% are more focused on achieving a clearer mental state or making a lifestyle change

Millennials are significantly more focused on the mental benefits of dieting
(32%) vs. Gen X (19%) and Baby Boomers (13%)


EXERCISE IS IMPORTANT TO WOMEN OF ALL AGES WITH PHYSICAL BENEFITS OUTWEIGHING MENTAL BENEFITS

70% work out weekly, with women in their 20s and 60s exercising most:

  • 20s: 76%
  • 30s: 69%
  • 40s: 66%
  • 50s: 68%
  • 60s: 73%
  • 70s: 64%

Average Age Women Felt Most Beautiful:

Women said they felt most physically beautiful in their 20s


Photo credit: Getty Images

Most Women Have Not Had Work Done, But They Won't Judge You if You Have

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MORE WOMEN THAN YOU THINK ARE OPEN TO COSMETIC PROCEDURES

  • 80% said a woman's beauty can still be real even if she has had a cosmetic procedure
  • 10% have tried injectables such as Botox or fillers, with the average age they started coming in at 43


WOMEN ARE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE HESITANT ABOUT MAJOR SURGERIES THAT COULD CHANGE THEIR FACE

What's holding women back? Likely money or fear...

  • 61% say procedures are too expensive
  • 59% fear the surgery or not looking like themselves after
  • 35% don’t want to put unnatural things in/on their body

Of those who've had work done:

  • Fewer than 1 in 10 experienced regret
  • Only 6% reported lying about it

Ingredients Matter

Women are willing to invest in a cleaner routine

  • 98% are mindful of ingredients when shopping for beauty
  • 76% agree “Real beauty is using natural products that are good for me”
  • Nearly 50% of women use clean beauty products (46%) and over 60% are willing to spend more on it (62%)

How Does Age Impact A Natural Beauty Routine?

  • 55% of millennials are using natural products
  • 44% of Gen Xers are using natural products
  • 37% of Baby Boomers are using natural products

Hispanic (54%) and Asian (52%) women are more likely to use clean beauty products and are more likely to spend more money on clean beauty

Women are Taking a More Natural Approach to Beauty But Not Without Their Products

THE #1 MAKEUP PRODUCT WOMEN CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IS MASCARA: 47%

  • Millennials say mascara followed by foundation
  • Gen X says mascara followed by lipstick
  • Baby Boomers say lipstick and mascara are equally important




HANDS DOWN, HEALTHY SKIN IS KEY


69% said healthy skin and natural-looking foundation give them the most beauty confidence versus other elements of their overall look

WOMEN REPORT LOOKING AND FEELING TIRED ALL THE TIME

  • 41% of women in their 20s & 30s wish they didn’t look so tired
  • Women in their 50s (26%) and 60s (21%) are significantly less concerned

HAIR IS HIGHLY PERSONAL

  • 42% of women embrace their natural hair
  • Millennials are most likely to at 50% (Gen X reported 34% while Baby Boomers was 39%).
  • African American (56%) and Hispanic (44%) women are most likely to embrace their natural hair

Photo credit: Getty Images


On average, women spend $759 annually on beauty products

  • 30s: $670
  • 40s: $885
  • 50s: $787
  • 60s: $674
  • 70s: $1.138

Social Media Impacts Self-Confidence, But Women See Through The Filter

  • 20% of women feel worse after scrolling through Instagram
  • 78% take selfies, but younger generations filter much more

Of those who post selfies, 46% have used a filter, app or tool to adjust a photo

  • 20s: 84%
  • 30s: 56%
  • 40s: 42%
  • 50s: 28%
  • 60s: 12%

Selfies are popular across all ages—but there is a direct decline with age

  • 20s: Took selfie in the last month (93%), posted selfie in last month (91%)
  • 30s: Took selfie in the last month (89%), posted selfie in last month (84%)
  • 40s: Took selfie in the last month (82%), posted selfie in last month (77%)
  • 50s: Took selfie in the last month (67%), posted selfie in last month (55%)
  • 60s: Took selfie in the last month (58%), posted selfie in last month (55%)

Custom online study conducted by Harper's BAZAAR in April 2019. 1,398 U.S. women age 18+ participated.

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