Table of Contents:

This chapter has extended the discussion of the developments in the beauty advertising landscape presented in Chapter 4 as it explored the changes in the nature of the cosmetic procedures marketed in the lifestyle magazines. The adverts for cosmetic procedures in the women’s magazines in particular display a clear shift away from marketing invasive procedures to promoting non-invasive, non-surgical procedures.

Building on previous literature, this chapter has considered themes that are generally prevalent in (beauty) advertising and has analysed these with regard to my corpus data. Although all of the themes - i.e. look good, feel good; technology and science; and the problem!solution format - are clearly present in the data, I have also presented discrepancies and have highlighted instances that appear to contradict findings from previous research.

Chapter 6 continues the discussion of themes present in the adverts for cosmetic procedures and (other) beauty products as it focuses on both the medical aspects and the commercial features present in the adverts. Moreover, the chapter introduces the discussion on the increasingly blurred boundary between medical interventions and (other) beauty products and services which will be explored in Chapter 7.


1 The notion of ‘self’ is problematic, as the idea of a unified, essential self has often been challenged. A full discussion of ideas of the ‘self’ falls outside of the scope of this book; see Allan (1997) and Seigel’s (2005) overview of ideas of the self in Western Europe since the 17th century.

  • 2 5% (N=19) of all adverts for cosmetic procedures include an explicit textual link between looking and feeling good.
  • 3 Of all adverts for cosmetic procedures in 2001, 9% (N=16) referred to increased confidence, feeling good/secure etc. This number rose to 20% (N=32) in 2006 and 30% (N=11) in 2010 before falling to 7% (N=1) in 2015.
  • 4 2% (N=10) of the (other) beauty adverts refer to the theme of looking and feeling good.
  • 5 2% (N=4) of the adverts for cosmetic procedures in Marie Claire and 3% (N=4) of those in Cosmo explicitly mention ‘problem(s)’. This percentage is much higher for the men’s magazines; 14% (N=5) of the adverts for cosmetic procedures in FHM and 9% (N=4) of those in the Gay Times include a reference to ‘problem(s)’.
  • 6 Although hair loss could be argued to be a sign of ageing in men, male pattern baldness - the most common type of hair loss in men which “usually follows a pattern of receding hairline and hair thinning on the crown’’ (https:// medlineplus.gOv/ency/article/001177.htm) - affects around 67% of men by the age of 35 and can have an early onset (American Hair Loss Association, see
  • 7 Whereas 11% (N=4) of the beauty adverts in FHM and 18% (N=4) of those in the Gay Times refer to ‘energy’ or ‘awake’, only 2% (N=4) of the beauty adverts in Cosmo and 4% (N=10) of those in Marie Claire refer to this theme.
  • 8 15% (N=24) of the adverts for cosmetic procedures in Cosmo and 10% (N=14) of those in Marie Claire refer to the themes of empowerment, agency, choice, control, or freedom. This figure is slightly lower for the (other) beauty adverts, namely 10% (N=21) in Cosmo and 8% (N=19) in Marie Claire.
  • 9 Only 3% (N=1) of the adverts for cosmetic procedures in FHM refer to the theme and the theme is absent in the adverts for cosmetic procedures in the Gay Times. In the (other) beauty adverts, 23% (N=5) of those in the Gay Times refer to the themes, compared to 11 % (N=4) of those in FHM.
  • 10 This is the strapline of popular skincare brand Clearasil.
  • 11 As will become clear, the percentages within the technology and science theme do not add up to 100%, as many of the adverts include references to several subcategories within the overarching category.
  • 12 Of all references to the technology and science theme in the adverts for cosmetic procedures in the women’s magazines, 94% (Cosmo N=33; Marie Claire N=29) referred to innovation and newness (compared to 86% (N=6) of the adverts for cosmetic procedures in FHM and 56% (N=9) of those in the Gay Times).
  • 13 In 2001, 23% (N=24) of the technology and science theme within beauty adverts consisted of explicit references to technology and/or science, which increased to 31% (N=22) in 2015.
  • 14 E.g. see Cosmo February 2006: 181 (BUPA- “your natural beauty”); Cosmo June 2006: 294 (Linia - “enhancing the real you”); Marie Claire February 2010: 32 (Max Factor - “perfectly you”); Marie Claire June 2010: 114 (Juvederm - “reveal your natural beauty potential”); Marie Claire October 2010: 29 (Restylane - “natural beauty from within”); Cosmo June 2015: 166 (Barry M - “define your natural bone structure”); Marie Claire October 2015: 130-131 (Gamier - “bring out your natural beauty”).

15 In 2001, 10% (N=13) adverts promoted ‘natural ingredients or products’; this relative frequency remained the same in 2006 - i.e. also 10% (N=15) - before decreasingly slightly in 2010 (7%, N=8). In 2015, 10% (N=9) of the adverts referred to the theme.


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