WARNING: extreme navel gazing ahead. Here are some OOTD photos to soften the blow… feel free to skip the novel that follows.
I took off the first three days of this week to burn through my last non-rollover PTO days for the year. I went to the dermatologist’s office and saw an aesthetician twice: for light therapy on Monday, then again for a laser treatment on Tuesday. I decided to squeeze it all in this week because it’s easy for me to stay out of the sun this time of year, which is part of the 7-10 days healing process (and, of course, I verified it’s perfectly okay to do them in tandem vs. spacing out the treatments between different weeks).
From my middle teens until about age 33 or 34, I battled with minor but Extremely Persistent acne. I never looked like a “before” picture, but I always had 3-4 of those deep-beneath-the-surface-of-the-skin (painful!) cystic acne spots… and then there was always a smattering of maybe 5 or 6 “surface” pimples in the T-zone, the kind you can’t help but squeeze. After years and years of spending (first my parents’, then my own) money on unsuccessful medical treatments, I eliminated gluten from my diet and my skin cleared up – permanently – within a few weeks. If I decide to forego my gluten free diet and eat a handful of sugar cookies, I’ll break out the next week. Once I’m back to gluten free, my skin clears up in days. I know that won’t work for everyone, we all have different body chemistry, but for me it was a magic bullet.
So I guess what I’m trying to express is: I have spent all of my adult life scrutinizing the tiniest details of my skin – on a daily basis. Especially the skin on my face. I haven’t been able to let go of that, even after successfully dealing with the acne problem.
My skin is holding up pretty well overall, even with a lot of sun exposure over the years (I’ve aways used SPF) – but I absolutely HATE the way my neck is aging.
I started to notice a loss of elasticity a few years ago, well before age 40 – much earlier than I would have expected. I’ve tried every neck/decolletage cream on the market, and I’ve come to the conclusion they’re all the same. The primary benefit is hydration, and the $10 Gold Bond lotion from Target works just as well as any boutique product. (Plus, with a $10 tube of Gold Bold, I am free to apply as much as I want throughout the day, vs. the expensive products I would measure out with utmost caution).
I’ll be 41 soon so I really want to nip this in the bud before it gets completely out of hand. Otherwise, I’ll be stuck figuring out how to incorporate a scarf with my outfit every day of the year. Who knows, I could change my mind in 10 years or 20 years, but I don’t think I will ever be willing to undergo a general anesthesia for an elective medical procedure. So, a Future-Me neck lift is off the table. Present Day-Me needs to be proactive.
I wish that my crepe-y neck didn’t bother me, but when I look in a mirror it’s the FIRST thing I notice. (It’s especially bad when I crane my neck to look at something while driving, then catch a glimpse of it in the rearview mirror – that is the worst possible angle!!) I’d like to be above fretting over my appearance, and the aging process in particular, but I’m not. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s not a habit I think I will ever be able to break. And it’s a double whammy. First, I feel a stab of “ohmygod I’m hideous and should never leave the house again” every time I see my veiny, slack-skinned neck in the mirror. Then, that’s followed up by chastising myself for being so shallow while there are actual millions of people in the world without enough to eat. Instead of spending money on anti-aging treatments, I should send a hefty donation to Feeding America, or Harvesters, or any other charity organization. It sounds like a good resolution for 2018. I should tax myself a charitable donation every time I have an elective skincare procedure.
So that’s kind of where I’m at, at the end of 2017. There are many, many things I can improve upon next year. It seems easy to make a commitment to spend only X amount of money on clothes, or cut my wardrobe down to X many items, etc… but within that realm of image/appearance, I’d really like to figure out a way to spend less time scrutinizing my face. That’s tough to quantify, though, so I’m not really sure how to go about achieving this goal. Obviously, I’m always going to care about how I look, and I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong about taking pride in one’s appearance. But I don’t need to mentally map the progress of fine lines and wrinkles and other imperfections on a daily basis. That’s a little extreme.