Olay is stopping retouching all of its photos by the end of this year

Posted by
Lucy Partington
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The move from the P&G-owned skincare brand is very much welcomed.

For a few years, the tides have been turning in the beauty industry. Numerous brands have suffered a backlash from the public on social media when they don’t choose to use diverse models, when they choose to blur pores and create the illusion of perfect skin, and when their campaigns don’t reflect real women.

Instead, consumers want to see the reality. They want to see themselves reflected back at them in the media, on billboards, in magazines and on the television. The skin positivity movement, which was started by vlogger Em Ford, was arguably one of the biggest turning points for the industry. The power of normalising acne and skin texture is immeasurable. 

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Huge make-up brands like Mac and Urban Decay have posted photos on social media that show ‘real skin’ – which includes things like showing facial hair and acne scars – something that would have been unimaginable ten years ago. Then there are brands like Gucci, who became the first luxury brand to challenge the traditional idea of perfectionism by championing anything-but-perfect teeth in its debut lipstick campaign.

As a brand, Stylist is also making waves with its Love Women initiative, in which we’re pledging to always make sure our readers see themselves on our pages. Recent research conducted by us found a staggering 90% of us have low self-esteem, a number that’s truly shocking, but it’s our responsibility to try and make women feel better about themselves, to lift them up and to give them the confidence to know that just being them is enough.

Now, Olay is making waves in terms of challenging those ideals with the announcement that it will no longer retouch any of its photos in adverts shown in print, digital, TV and out-of-home by the end of this year.

The news was announced yesterday (19 February) in New York, and it comes at the same time of its new campaign, My Olay, starring Lilly Singh, Denise Bidot and Busy Phillipps – who announced that under the terms of her Olay contract isn’t allowed to use Botox or fillers to alter the way she looks.

The brand also announced a ‘real skin promise’ badge which will appear on images that haven’t been retouched in North America. Speaking about the commitment, Olay’s senior communications manager, Kate DiCarlo, said that it’s a “massive undertaking, but if a brand as large as Olay can do this, anyone can do this.”

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The good news, however, is that this is something that is already happening here. In a statement, it said, “The commitment of Olay’s Real Skin Promise is something that, in the UK and Ireland, we are pleased to already have been doing and will continue to do. We want to spread the fearless message more broadly to inspire more women to be unapologetically true to themselves and North America’s team’s work is another step in our global mission.”

Here’s hoping this spurs the change for more huge brands to move forward in the same way. 

Main image: Olay


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Lucy Partington

Freelance beauty editor Lucy Partington is obsessed with all things skincare, collecting eyeshadow palettes that she'll probably never use, and is constantly on the hunt for the ultimate glowy foundation.

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