Starting around 14, I entered into numerous hot-and-heavy, yet unreliable, relationships with skincare products. It started with a love quadrangle with the dashing suitors Clean & Clear, Noxema, and Bioré, then progressed to a discount-driven romance with whichever drugstore brand offered the best BOGO deal. When money was flush, I’d sometimes even dabble in enthusiastic and hopeful, but typically short-lived, relationships with higher-end department-store brands.
Over the years, I experimented with countless products from a lot of different brands, and don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun. But ultimately, this approach led to a lot of confusion – wait, so how does the serum from brand A work with the moisturizer from brand B? – and a scattershot approach to skincare.
And if I’m honest, I wasn’t doing all that experimenting just for the fun of it. There was a decent amount of magical thinking in my product meanderings: a sense that, if I just found the right ingredient – in the right formulation, used in the right sequence – I might stop aging entirely in its tracks. I wanted to believe that there was some elixir out there that I had not yet stumbled upon that, when discovered, would allow me to forever “pass” for my early 30s.
Now that I’m in my mid-40s, I find that I’m looking for a different kind of relationship with my skincare products. Sure, I still find myself checking out new serums and I can’t help reading the beauty section in every women’s magazine I browse. But at 45, I’m realizing that while there are some ingredients that can help my skin look its realistic best, the “magic” is really in the consistency – and a predictable, enjoyable skincare routine using products I love makes that consistency a lot easier to pull off.
What feels good to me now is a comforting ritual using cleansers, creams, serums and oils that are pleasurable to the senses and provide solid, safe, reliable results. Right now, 90% of my facial-care products come from the same brand, and at some point, it may well become 100%.
You might say that in midlife, I’m finally embracing skincare monogamy.
I like that “settling down” helps me to streamline my skincare routine and really understand how the products all work together. I love that the bottles and jars look beautiful on my counter. Mostly I just like having one less thing to think about. So now, instead of thinking of my skincare routine as a way to coerce my cells into looking ten years younger, I’m looking at it as a pleasurable self-care practice that’s just as much about how I feel as how I look.
Zoom in close on this photo and you’ll see age spots, creases, freckles and dark pigmentation, fine lines, not-so-fine-lines, and more evidence of my having lived four and a half decades on this earth. It’s all part of my life story, and deserving of care – not just eradication through experimentation.
I do realize that I’m “only” 45, and that at some point, I may find myself gravitating toward a more aggressive dermatological approach (I suspect that, when the little wobbly web of skin under my chin becomes more pendulous, I will struggle hard with maintaining a philosophical attitude toward the visible signs of aging.)
But for where I am at this moment, my skincare routine – centered around quality products I enjoy using – feels right. I guess you could say that after decades of chasing ingredients and formulations to perfect to my skin, I’ve settled down with products that are always there for me and make me feel good. The other ingredient, of course, is me: my effort, my consistency, and attitude.
And really, isn’t that how it goes with all relationships?
I’ll be sharing my skincare routine, and the specific products I use, in an upcoming post. I truly believe that a big factor in having great skin at any age is in the consistency and commitment (how many of us know a youthful grandma who swears by nothing but cold cream?) but it helps to have quality ingredients on your side – so if you’re looking for a clean, botanic-derived skincare line that’s a pleasure to use and looks great gracing your countertop, check out my favorite brand, OSEA – and use the code TEASMADE for 10% off your first order. More soon!