The Z factor
VOGUE India|July 2021
If millennials are all about the wellstaged, curated aesthetic, Gen Z has eschewed avocado toasts and pastel pink for showing off its zit stickers and middle-partings, playing with bold colours, and championing individuality and acceptance, reports Avanti Dalal
Avanti Dalal

In the millennial favourite 2004 cult comedy Mean Girls, the popular girls didn’t get zits. And if they did, they’d cover them up with layers of concealer and never let them be photographed. In today’s Gen-Z-dominated world, this doesn’t have to be the case. “In our burn book, spottie hotties sit at the Plastics’ table,” writes Olamide Olowe on the Instagram handle for her skincare brand Topicals, taking the film’s version of the spiteful burn book and flipping it on its head. The brand aims to reframe the discussion around skincare, moving away from the idea that having acne, eczema or flare-ups is embarrassing and must be covered up at all costs. Instead, @mytopicals is chock-full of moody selfies by real people that aren’t trying to hide their breakouts, redness or skin texture. “When you have a visible skin condition, you grow up using prescription products that are usually kept under your bathroom sink. We wanted to design products that you could showcase right alongside all of your favourite brands on your shelf,” confirms Olowe, a Gen Z’er herself, who founded the company when she was 23. “Social media plays a huge role in how we feel about ourselves, which is why we created a brand that doesn’t focus on perfection or unattainable beauty standards.”

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