Urban Indian women are ready to buy beauty at any price

Beauty is a word that has a powerful impact on women in society. But men too, especially those who enjoy success in their career or on the financial and social fronts, are becoming increasingly conscious of their looks.

A four-metro national survey by AC Nielsen and Kaya Skin Clinic reveals that affluent urban Indian women are ready to buy beauty. The study throws up two interesting findings — the modern, affluent Indian woman feels age is no bar to beauty, and there are a number of adult women who derive confidence from their looks.

Is it possible to categorise urban women as a whole under one label, or just those who fall under ‘Section A' (modern, affluent women) under it? That's the catch in all surveys and polls. That apart, here are some interesting views of affluent, new age, urban Indian women, captured during a survey of 809 women in the age group 18-50, through random house-to-house sampling of Section A households (highly educated, and with a monthly income exceeding Rs. 25,000) in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.

More than 90 per cent of these women co-related beautiful skin with confidence, and this feeling was especially strong in Mumbai and Delhi. These women believed that having beautiful skin made people notice them. Ninety per cent of ‘Section A' women felt every one should have beautiful skin, not just models whose job necessitated that they looked good. And they were willing to pay whatever the price to have glowing skin.

Beauty salons across the country now offer a dizzying range of skin treatments. There are specific services for acne, acne scars, pigmentation, dark circles, skin lightening, hair care and hair removal and anti-aging. Women can choose from peels, lasers, botox, fillers, mesotherapy and radiofrequency.

“The most popular services sought at Kaya are laser hair reduction and various types of peels,” says Sangeeta Amladi (head-medical), Kaya Skin Clinic and editor, Forum for Aesthetic Dermatology.

Moving to a weighty issue… Good for Chennai! A whopping 70.5 per cent of women in the metro felt they were not overweight. In Delhi, the survey found that more than half of the women felt they were overweight and wanted to lose weight.

But few women, on the whole, thought of sports as a way of staying in shape. And less than 9 per cent thought of going to a gym, doing yoga, or aerobics to maintain their figure. Some walked in order to keep fit. Most women believed that by eating smaller meals or skipping meals altogether, they could keep a watch on the calories they consumed.

Does this work? “To reduce weight and maintain your figure, you need to work out besides following a diet,” says Ambika, a fitness therapist.

Then of course, there is a problem that we all face – the effects of aging. Over 80 per cent of women polled confessed to being concerned about ageing and apparently, the concern grew when they were in their late thirties. But 6 out of 10 women polled believed they could prevent aging either by avoiding sun exposure (65 per cent), or through regular skincare (85 per cent) or technology (77 per cent). More trivia… while the chief concern of women in Chennai was pimples/acne, Mumbai and Delhi women were more concerned about blackheads and dark circles.

Diet and beauty treatments can help, but before that comes something more important: Attitude. Says clinical psychiatrist Smith Rajan. “I would like to see women coming up with their own concept of beauty. Young girls especially need to be educated that one's outer image is a reflection of one's inner mindset. A positive attitude will help one exude an air of confidence and radiance that will enhance one's appearance.”