Beyond skin deep: Documentaries on beauty and its consumers | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Official movie poster for “Toxic Beauty”
Official movie poster for “Toxic Beauty”


A lot of people are giving in to various online beauty deals. Skin care, hair masks, beauty tools, name it, and it will probably be in shoppers’ virtual carts.

As a beauty editor, I believe it’s not just about the products we use. Each beauty item we delight in, treat others with, or just deem as a necessity represents underlying issues and beliefs.

Since most of us are still holed up at home due to the quarantine, I’m recommending some beauty documentaries and movies to watch. Their value is beyond skin deep.

“Toxic Beauty” should be first on your list. Earlier this year, buzz was strong over this exposé on how unregulated chemicals are often used in beauty products. Don’t think this is just fear-mongering; it helps us understand more of what we should buy and why. Beware!

My next pick is “Vidal Sassoon: The Movie.” It’s the inspiring story of Sassoon, who was orphaned in England during World War II and went on to become a ubiquitous name in hair care. It shows how the brand derived from Sassoon’s renown as a trendsetting hairstylist: “His cuts weren’t just pretty—they were a symbol of women’s liberation in the 1960s, and a foreshadowing of hair trends for decades to come.”

“Chasing Beauty,” about the modeling world

“Chasing Beauty” focuses on models and the modeling world. Its depiction may be shocking and dark, but it triggers relevant discussion. It compiles interviews with supermodels, photographers, agents, designers, magazine editors, advertising executives, beauty contest winners, plastic surgeons, makeup artists and psychologists to make the viewer understand our obsession with beauty and the costs it demands.

Netflix has the investigative series, “Broken,” which documents “how negligence and deceit in the production and marketing of popular consumer items can result in dire outcomes.” The first installment, “Makeup Mayhem,” is about how fake makeup thrives out in the open. It’s certainly the fault of businesses that want to make a quick buck. But why do people still knowingly give in to these questionable products? And what can the legitimate beauty industry do about it?

If you want to learn the philosophical dimensions of beauty, there is “Why Beauty Matters,” a British documentary presented by the philosopher Roger Scruton, who explores the definitions of beauty and how beauty transcends the material and the surface level.


More than just a hair brand: Learn more about the story of the man who revolutionized women’s haircuts.
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