Because we’re worth it – Linda Greenwall

on 1st June 2018


Aesthetic Dentistry Today editor-in-chief, Linda Greenwall BEM, examines the uptake of cosmetic procedures as a result of celebrity culture 

The fields of aesthetic dentistry and aesthetic medicine move rapidly. New trends, concepts, and research are continually breaking through to help us as clinicians continue to ensure the enhanced appearance of our patients’ bodies, faces and smiles.

The look that patients aspire to typically falls into one of two distinct categories.

One is the natural look, where the aesthetic treatment is subtle, understated and the patient ends up with a less obviously artificial appearance. The patient looks great and the public is left to guess whether he or she has had aesthetic treatment, or whether it is just their natural beauty shining through.

The other is more enhanced, more exaggerated and ‘out there’.

It’s the look that you can instantly imagine if I describe the end result as being ‘celebrity’ or ‘fake’ – whether that’s the infamous trout pout, an ultra-white gleaming smile, an orange shade of fake tan, or the enhanced boobs.

‘The public can – and will – keep guessing whether men or women in the spotlight have had aesthetic dentistry, a smile makeover, tooth whitening or Botox’

The public doesn’t need to do any guesswork with this one: it’s obvious that the patient’s appearance has been dramatically enhanced, irrespective of whether it’s for the better or worse.

It’s a look favoured by many modern celebrities and so we see many wannabes trying to emulate the same aesthetic achievements.

A history of enhancement

The story first started in the 1950s with the development of hair dye (another form of hydrogen peroxide), used by many women to change or enhance the colour of their hair, that could be used at home.

At that time, it was somewhat uncommon to highlight or change the colour of your hair, and even frowned upon by many of the older generation in the 1950s.

As you can imagine, this left cosmetics companies with a problem. Each of them wanted to sell more hair dye than their rivals, but the way that one in particular – Clairol – tackled the problem still resonates today.

An American advertising executive, Shirley Polykoff, coined a catchphrase for the company’s at-home hair tint: ‘Does she or doesn’t she?’

The advertising campaign using this slogan dramatically increased Clairol’s sales and earned Polykoff a place in the Advertising Hall of Fame.

The product itself was hugely liberating for women: within six years of its launch, 70% of women were colouring their hair.

It was perhaps only natural that the phrase, loaded with other meanings, started a host of new trends in advertising.

Aesthetic endorsement

But ‘does she or doesn’t she’, used initially by Clairol to suggest that only the customer’s hairdresser knew the real answer, could apply equally to aesthetic dentistry.

The public can – and will – keep guessing whether men or women in the spotlight have had aesthetic dentistry, a smile makeover, tooth whitening, or Botox.

The natural look keeps people guessing, which for many people is much more appealing.

Indeed, allure and mystery can form part of the assessment in the pursuit of a whiter, more aesthetic smile.

Many aesthetic dentists have requests for both types of appearances and it is important that the consequences of choosing between two completely different end results are clearly discussed with patients prior to commencing treatment.

Many celebrities are in the habit of endorsing products to help companies market their offerings these days – from beauty products and perfumes, to sportswear.

Celebrity endorsement has even extended to tooth whitening products, porcelain veneers and other areas of aesthetic dentistry.

An article published in The Times on 9 September 2017 highlighted both the massive marketing and increased sales figures based on celebrity endorsement and the dangers that it carries.

Prioritising oneself

There’s another tagline within the world of cosmetic products that’s worth mentioning. Who among us is unfamiliar with the phrase that Ilon Specht coined for L’Oreal?

‘Because I’m worth it’ caught on rapidly from its inception in 1973, eventually becoming the slogan for the whole L’Oreal brand in 1997.

‘Society has continued to change in the intervening decades, and in 2017, the shame of being seen as vain has largely vanished’

The tagline came about because Specht was fed up with the standard adverts of the time showing a traditional helpless female or ‘happy homemaker’ (a stock 1960s phrase).

She wrote a new advert in angry response to what she saw as standard of advertising depicting women as weak and male-dominated, and became part of an era that helped women spend their own hard-earned money rather than relying on a man to pay for their upkeep.

Society has continued to change in the intervening decades, and in 2017 the shame of being seen as vain has largely vanished.

The value of prioritising an investment in your health and beauty is now widely recognised in turn.

Are our patients worth it? Of course they are. And you are too –  dentists who read our articles this month will learn new techniques and keep up to date with the latest trends, all brought together in Aesthetic Dentistry Today. It’s worth it!


This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Aesthetic Dentistry Today. Read more articles like this in Aesthetic Dentistry Today and gain three hours’ verifiable CPD with every issue. Click here to subscribe or call 01923 851 777. Get in touch via Twitter @AesDenToday or facebook.com/AesDenToday


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