By Paryn Neer
Now that I’m solidly in my 40s, I find myself struggling to embrace my age and to love the skin I’m in. I really want to rock my 40s. I want to look back and compare my 40s with my 30s and see that my 40s clearly wrested the “grab life and run” baton out of my 30’s hands and smoked it! So, as part of trying to love my own skin, I have actually been paying more attention to it. I am motivated by love, because I do love my skin the way that you have to love anything that holds you together, but I am also motivated by horror. Sometimes when I look at my hands, I see Susan Sarandon’s hands in the Witches of Eastwick when she grows old for a lightning-fast but also a long-and-terrible minute.
I should admit right now that I have not paid much attention to my skin for much of my life. I read an article sometime in my 20s about all the chemicals we rub into our skin from lotion, so I promptly gave it up. I moved over into using things on my skin that I could also eat (not necessarily should; but could!) I used things like shea butter, coconut oil, etc. I was happy, my skin seemed happy, so Bob’s your uncle… Until! Sometime in my 30s I looked in the mirror and noticed the skin around my eyes was rough and peeling (to be fair, it was January in Vermont) and I realized I needed to up my game. So, I started dabbling into the expensive face lotions that we, as women, are told we need in order to keep our faces looking young. Because, that’s the goal, right? I settled into my routine of dabbing my expensive, organic, SPF, face-protecting moisturizer on every morning, and went about my life.
Then I had 2 babies in under 2 years, so for the past 4 years my skin, like every other body part, has simply been hanging on for dear life while we run through the days. But lately, the skin on my face caught my attention again. I know—because I have gotten extremely close to some of my girlfriend’s faces to compare—that my face skin seems to be aging faster than other women my same age—or older!! Oh, the humanity! The research on this says it’s just genes. What can you do? As I say to my toddlers, “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” But… I recently discovered these Korean honey masks that make the skin under my eyes look less wrinkly for a whole day. And I have been experimenting in my kitchen with edible-moisturizing-exfoliating goo. I haven’t hit on a perfect recipe yet, but I can say that it is super fun to be able to smear home-made moisturizer on my face and then lick my fingers.
There are many rabbit holes to go down here: my desire to be beautiful, my desire not to grow old and die, my desire to stay relevant. I have not gone very far down any of these holes. So far, I’ve really only explored my desire not to have the skin under my eyes look like crinkled tissue paper. I recently dove into eczema-skin-lotion-research to see what I could put on my baby girl’s eczema because it causes her so much discomfort once the cold weather sets in. In my research, I discovered that eczema often subsides when you apply a long-lasting substance that helps the skin retain its moisture barrier. Huh. Who knew? Maybe people who pay attention to these things, so not me. I ordered a few different brands and tried them out. They worked great on my baby, so that’s good.
Just for fun, I started using one of the lotions I’d bought for baby eczema on my face: Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid. I don’t even know how to say Hya-lur-onic, but I do know that whatever it is, it has made a dent (or an un-dent?) in my eye wrinkles. How did I get here? How did I go from only using moisturizers on my body that I could eat to being excited that some kind of acid I have thus-far refused to research seems to make me look less tired and wrinkly? I read an article the other day by a septuagenarian on aging. He questioned the accepted theory that the wisdom gained through aging makes us grateful and is more rewarding than being young. He was pretty cranky. He said flat out that while old age may complete us, it also defeats us. Bummer dude. Can I be grateful, wise, old, undefeated, and still try to plump up the skin under my eyes??
So, here I stand: I’m no longer young, I’m not yet an elder, and my goal at the moment is to look less tired and have my face and hand skin look happier. I don’t necessarily want to grow old, but it’s not really up to me so I would like to work on the following:
- Being grateful
- Being the opposite of defeated
- Taking care of/loving the skin I’m in
… and perfecting my edible-moisturizing-goo that I can then package and sell to make millions. Obviously!
Paryn lives in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by her husband, children, and a menagerie of animals. When she is not working one of her two full-time jobs, she hides in the bathroom to write.