Aging sucks, right? Gray hairs, wrinkles, sagging skin, and all the gifts of girlhood gone in the blink of a birthday candle. Certainly according the the beauty business it’s enemy number one. Flip through a magazine and you’ll see just how much money goes into researching—or is that branding?—the latest and greatest anti-aging ingredients. And while few turn up sound science, and others are downright sketchy, women pay out the nose for these products because we seem to have accepted that this is our fate: to fight aging, well, until the death.
Obviously we all want to look our best. But on a recent drive back from Vegas—a strange place indeed—I got to thinking about aging, and why it is that I’m not really buying how bad it is anymore for our looks. And it’s not for lack of vanity: I can obsess over five pounds and that cyst on my chin with the best of them. But in my twenties, it was this idea of aging that really got to me: Every tiny new crease came under the looking glass, every new hair in an unwanted place was bemoaned. And it’s not that any of this has magically stopped, but I definitely don’t dramatize these changes like before.
Then it clicked. The reason I don’t obsess about aging with the same fervor as I once did is because I don’t buy, or buy into, the anti-aging products. My word… Natural beauty, you really are the gift that keeps on giving!
So I slather on the best creams and oils I can find, say a few prayers to the skin gods, try to stress less, eat sardines, and hope for the best knowing that I’m doing my best. And it turns out, if you’re not too worried about wrinkles and gray hair (I’m still a little worried obvs) getting older is kind of awesome. Here are six things I like about it. (Siobhan will do a similar list some time soon!)
And we would love to hear yours! (Note when I say aging, that may mean changes you’ve noticed from 20 to 25 or the things that you’ve learned now that you’re 60.)
1. Your skin is more consistent. Except in more extreme cases like the one I described here, according to our experience and the testimonials of other women, your skin does balance out with time.
2. You’re more comfortable in your body. Putting aside those five pounds or the cellulite on your thigh, living longer in our bodies often helps make us more at ease in them too. We realize sometimes the weird quirks make us interesting, we finally understand that the stuff we’re so unhappy with are things the lovers in our lives rarely notice.
3. You dress your body better too. And luckily these days fashion is all about dressing to the beat of your own drum anyways. Don’t look great in skinny jeans? Me neither! As we get older we’re more inclined to find the uniform that makes us happy, rather than trying to mold our bodies to the latest trends.
4. Unhealthy habits are easier to kick. Personally, my older body is a lot more sensitive than my ten-years-ago one. Case in point: After a few days in Vegas, my lungs nearly collapsed when I exercised, which apparently is what happens when you spend four days in second-hand smoke and scented air. This kind of sensitivity generally makes me less drawn to unhealthy foods, excessive drinking, smoking, and other bad habits I used to relish.
5. You don’t sweat the small stuff as much. With time we realize that even the crappiest of moments do usually shift. People get forgiven, arguments get resolved, bad hair days give way to good hair days. Such is the cycle of life.
6. You’re rewarded for your hard work (on yourself). Siobhan and I talk about this A LOT. If you are willing to put in the work, face your issues, look at what you’re holding onto from the past, you will be rewarded. How? Depends on each person, but maybe you’ll be less reactive, generally more content grateful, and less anxious. Maybe you’ll smile more which, as the photo above exhibits, is a very beautiful thing.
Other reasons getting older isn’t as bad as they claim: Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon and French women. OK, let’s hear what you think!
It’s Monday, and my new job has been ruining my skin. No kidding. Sure, it’s creatively stimulating and all kinds of fun. But as with most startups, it’s been a high-stress scenario, especially during those few months leading up to the launch. And a few weeks ago, the stress was all over my face, pizza styles.
For about a week I had a constellation of no less than 5 cysts—painful, inflamed, and all kinds of impossible-to-cover (because I picked!) ugly. I have not had that kind of breakout since, well, my last fast-paced job.
It’s kind of funny (not haha) to think that during the time when we were writing the book, and I was between jobs, I came to convince myself that I was actually a low-stress individual. Uh, hello delusion. It’s easy to be low stress when the only person you deal with is your bestie, and you get to spend your days pampering with natural products while researching and writing about something you love. (And if we’re really being truly honest, even then my monkey brain often had its way with me.)
We talked a lot about stress in the book, and the fact that it also comes with benefits: It makes people more thoughtful, more productive, and generally more successful.
But when it comes to my skin, stress—above food and alcohol, and even sleep—is the number one indicator of how mine looks. And it doesn’t just manifest as acne. The entire quality of my skin sallows with it too.
I saw this breakout as a warning siren: Something in me was out of whack, big time. And since then I’ve been on a mission to rebalance. With so much stress and stimulation in the world, at the end of the day the only thing we can control is our reactions—so that’s where I’ve been looking. Do I have boundaries? Do I ever turn off? What happens to my body when something stressful happens? (Clenching, neck pain, stomach upset?) I’m paying attention and my skin is on the road to recovery, but it’s a work in progress (a new cream from Tammy Fender is also helping!).
S and I think this is such an important topic: 1) because it impacts our health, 2) because it impacts our looks, and 3) because with the endless distractions of modern life we’re only getting more anxious. As such, we’re planning to tackle it more regularly in a new series around managing stress.
What happens to your body when stress hits?
OK maybe that’s not exactly what happened but hear me out: On Tuesday, I did a TV interview for work. It was super fun! But if there’s one thing I don’t love about these things, it’s the makeup. Not really because it isn’t “clean”—I do this infrequently, so that’s not really a concern. It’s just that there’s so much of it.
I’ve tried to do my own makeup for TV before, and guess what? It sort of looks like crap. In TV land, everyone—including the dudes—is pancaked, so when you’re not, it just looks bizarre. Plus, these things are always rushed, I don’t like being too fussy, and I can’t afford to hire my own all-naturals makeup artist.
But here’s the rub: conventional makeup really, really irritates my skin. So does the stress of work and, yes, being on the tube—I love doing it in the moment, but beforehand, I get nervous! I have written before about how my complexion is far less temperamental than it used to be, and a big reason for that is the fact that I’m super strict about what I’ll put on it. I also try to be very consistent with my stress-busting strategies: Yoga a bunch of times a week, regular bedtimes, daily meditation, some nondenominational prayer. These things make a big difference in how I feel (and look), and when they get thrown off—and they all have lately—well, you know what happens.
So by the time Tuesday night rolled around, I was fending off a freakout that I would wake up the next day with monsters on my face. I could feel them coming on. Now, as fate would have it, I also had tickets to see my favorite musician perform for just the second time in my life—despite the fact I’ve been a rap fan since I was in elementary school. So off I go to the show. I knew from the first song that this would be the best concert I’ve ever been to—and it was!
I had SUCH a ball. I danced and sang along like an unbridled dork for two hours, fell asleep peaceful and happy, woke up peaceful and happy and…way clearer. Yup. Monsters averted!
Here’s the thing: Anyone who has broken out a bunch knows that the anxiety that comes with a breakout is way worse than the breakout itself. Even worse, in my opinion, is that sinking dread you feel when you know a breakout is coming! Of course you never look as bad as you think you look, but the crazy psychological tricks you’ll play on yourself when your skin is cranky can be miserable.
Thankfully, because I had such a packed day—and a day packed with things I was giddy about—I had no time to indulge in those crappy feelings. Instead, I had more fun than I’d had in ages. And just like that, my skin bounced back. It isn’t perfect, but it’s calm, and it’s healing.
Was it the cascade of feel-good hormones? A fluky monthly hormonal shift that happened at just the right time? Was it…Jay-Z? I’m not sure. But it was a good reminder that happiness, good old fashioned fun, and not taking yourself (or your skin) too seriously can produce miraculous results.
So the next time you feel a bad one coming on, maybe do something super fun? That would be my advice from here on in. (That and green tea clay, naturally.)
Has anyone else noticed anything like this? And do you have any feel-better strategies to beat off a bad skin day (or week, or year)?
Whoa whoa whoa. So this might not be news to anyone but me, but I feel like I cracked a mystery of the beautyverse last week. I was blessed enough to spend 8 days at Rancho LaPuerta in Tecate, Mexico, just a few miles from the U.S. border, in the desert. You should click that link and then you should feel free to hate me for getting to go there, but know that it was a loooong overdue and much needed holiday and besides, I went in the name of…research!
Anyway, I’m going to write more about the Ranch, because I had a life-changing, holy-cow kind of a week (literally! Cow story to come!) and I want to share what I learned there. But in the mean time, there is a much more important topic at hand:
I want to tell you what the dry-heat desert did to my skin and hair.
First of all, I was smart this time and packed all my skin and hair products for the week, so there was no cheating with other products or anything. Second, Alexandra and I often talk about how whenever she comes here to New York, she feels dirty and her hair is unpredictable, whereas at home she can not wash her face and her hair looks the same every day (in a good way—just look at her!). That’s because New York has seasons. It’s also frequently very humid here, the water is different, and the pollution is of the particulates-in-the-air-that-stick-to-you-and-make-you-feel-gross variety. Simply put, it’s a tough place to be among the great unwashed.
I grew up in Montreal where the weather, punishing winters aside, is similar to New York’s.
I’ve always just assumed I’m the type who has to shower, wash hair, wash face daily or… well, or else I’d be a gross person. Turns out that’s not really the case.
I should restate that I love washing my hair, and I like feeling clean. Rituals of personal care and maintenance are important to me, and I perform them every single day. Except at summer camp, apparently.
Yes, the Ranch is basically summer camp for grownups, but unlike kids’ summer camp, where you bum around in old sweats and wifebeaters, the Ranch is populated by people who look presentable every day—even on 7 mile hikes. I say that just to explain that looking like a shlub wasn’t really an option. And yet…washing my hair was. Also, my face.
On day one I washed my hair and face as usual. The next day, I woke to find my skin felt balanced and ungreasy, and my hair looked…like it did the day before. The same thing happened the next day, and the next—even after hikes, yoga, pilates, dance classes. My skin was just clear and balanced, and my hair simply never got gross. I celebrated the feat by washing my hair on the morning I left.
The only explanation I have is that the climate really makes a huge difference.
Has anyone else traveled somewhere else and noticed dramatic changes in their hair and skin?
This morning as I was getting ready for work I got an email from a very close friend who is in the throes of a full-blown skin emergency. The last few times I’ve seen her she’s told me that the skin on her face has gotten so dry that when she wakes up in the morning she’s slightly horrified at the peely action happening on her hairline and around her nose and mouth.
It’s one of those things you can’t see when you look at her, but it drives her bonkers, understandably, and is beginning to interfere with her day-to-day. Here’s what she said today:
Hi! Not to be a drama queen, but I think, by most women’s standards, I’ve got a skin emergency on my hands. It’s definitely spreading, scaly, tough and red/inflamed. I have to go the bathroom before every meeting at work to reapply oil and make sure I don’t look like a reptile. I feel like I’m in high school.
Some more details:
1. The rashy thing did NOT start after a product change.
2. She tends toward very dry skin (she’s definitely vata, for you ayurveda people out there).
3. She’s been to regular dermatologists and an ayurvedic doctor. This might be eczema, but she’s not going to put cortisone on her face (obviously).
4. She eats very clean, allergen-free food.
5. Her house is unscented Seventh Generation-everything.
6. Her current moisturizers are avocado oil and argan oil, which she uses all day.
7. She cleanses her face once a day with whatever I give her—always super clean, super gentle, and usually plant-oil based and nonfoaming, natch. Currently it’s this Spiezia Organic oil cleanser, which she loves.
8. We love her and want to help!
Let’s not overwhelm her with suggestions, but if you’ve been there yourself, or you’re a skincare expert of some kind (we know there are a bunch of you out there!), or you have a suggestion for a superrich topical she can use, please let us (and her) know in the comments.