I Asked 5 Women: What’s the Meaning of Beauty?

I’ve loved all things fashion and beauty for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would raid my mom’s vanity (sometimes I still do!), apply red lipstick and heavy eye shadow, put on my sparkly red Dorothy shoes, and parade around the house. This happened most weekends. Fast-forward 20-something years, and now I work in beauty. I know what many people think about the industry. They say it’s superficial, that it’s all glamour and no truth. Sure, there is some glamour. There are expensive treatments, fancy products, and everything in between. But there’s so much more to it than that.

I have always metabolized beauty as a form of self-care. It gives me the freedom to tap into other parts of myself without making permanent changes (for the most part, at least). It lets me express myself in ways that words can’t articulate. It’s about the feeling it gives me—the same one I had as a child—and the confidence it arms me with. It’s about the community: speaking to people with different points of view, getting advice, and sharing tips and product recommendations. For the people who let beauty in, it’s so much more than just the products.

Below, five women share their definitions of beauty, from how they view it and approach it to how thankful they are for products that help them feel confident in their skin. Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique Face Serum ($105) ranks high for each of them, strengthening the skin barrier with just one drop and promising healthy, radiant-looking skin in a week.