Most mornings glancing at my reflection in the mirror, I feel something akin to the surprise experienced by Drew Barrymore’s character in the film “Fifty First Dates”. For those who haven’t seen this Adam Sandler classic (probably not too many of you), a young woman named Lucy is injured in a car accident losing her ability to create new memories. Each day, Lucy awakes and has to become reacquainted with what has transpired in her life since the date of the accident. And so, like Lucy, each morning, I begin shocked anew by what has transpired to my poor face, seemingly overnight.
Skin is a remarkable organ. Yes, it’s an organ. In fact, skin is our largest organ and accounts for 12-15 % of a human’s weight which may explain a lot about why it’s so hard to lose those extra 10 pounds. I’ve read that the skin renews itself every 28 days. Now, that’s just a bold-faced lie. The skin I am looking at today bears no resemblance whatsoever to the uninterrupted epidermis of my youth. If my skin is supposedly regenerating on a monthly basis, then somehow I’m getting the wrinkled end of the stick.
It wasn’t always this way. My skin and I began our life’s journey on friendly enough terms. I was fortunate. No moles or birthmarks. No rashes or eczema. My half Italian DNA provided me with adequate melanin to tan, a very good thing during the 50s and 60s when the only alternative for my fair and freckled friends was the ole “T-shirt over the bathing suit” ensemble. If you’re too young to remember this pre sunblock trend, be glad. It wasn’t pretty. See photo of poor sample kid at left. Anyway, the amiability between my inner self and my outer veneer proceeded harmoniously throughout the first quarter of my life. I remember smugly reflecting upon the fact that I didn’t burn. Once, I sat out for 6 straight hours on a Fort Lauderdale beach during spring break using nothing save baby oil mixed with iodine for a bronze-like glow. Of sure, there was the occasional spat between my skin and my psyche, in the form of a zit (we called them pimples back then). Of course such small eruptions are inherent in any long-term relationship. There was no blemish, however, that was not easily admonished with a ready supply of Clearasil, rubbing alcohol and Stridex medicated pads. Yes, I was good to go in the skin department. I sailed into my thirties comfortably confident in my skin, deftly dodging the potential stretch marks of two pregnancies and surviving a brief and unrequited interlude with poison ivy. You, could say I was on a dermatological roll.
Like many relationships that fail to withstand the test of time, the veneer of mutual respect began with a tiny crack in my late thirties. Let me be very clear. My skin started it. There it was, that first barely perceptible crease between my eyebrows. I wasn’t too concerned at first. If I relaxed my face and jiggled my forehead muscles around enough, it disappeared like a bad dream. This cat and mouse game played itself out over the next decade. One day, the wrinkle returned bringing along a friend (together they’re called the #11 wrinkle and, yes, someone has actually given these destroyers of subtlety and youth a name). See posted youtube video discussing #11s at the bottom of the post if you are interested. It’s kind of hysterical.
Anyway after establishing permanent residence, #11 began inviting all sordid sorts of family and friends to take up occupancy on my upper frontage. Some of these uninvited guests didn’t bother me that much. I always thought smile lines rather cute, deep under eye circles and puffiness, not so much. When my face began to get crowded, the battle lines expanded downward in a sort of manifest destiny, settling sometimes in the most unlikely of places like the curious sect forming concentric crevices in the skin atop my knees quite reminiscent of water ripples expanding outward across the surface. It was right about that same time, say forty something, that the elasticity of my skin decided to take a permanent vacation. It’s probably enjoying the sites of Prague as you read this. As a result, when I cross my legs now for as little as 2-3 seconds, I am left with a crater like indentation lasting for the next 48 hours. Most recently, my skin has welcomed a new group of securely entrenched phenomena progressing outward in all directions from the draping fold that was once the quite taut intersection of my elbow and bicep. Really, elbow wrinkles!! Come on!
Lest you think me a pushover, please know this. I have tried to fight back against the encroaching lines crisscrossing what was once my body’s smooth plane. Throughout my third and fourth decades, I used a standard over the counter nighttime attack deploying the popular Oil of Olay defensive strategy (which my husband lovingly referred to as the “oil of no sex option”). When that proved insufficient in my fifties, I had no choice other than to escalate to the more expensive and specialized medium range applications such as Retin A. My current cream of choice is Strivectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles and Stretchmarks, 4.5 ounces available for the low, low price of $139. I’m even thinking of bringing in 1.7 ounces of the Tightening Neck Cream for $95 as back up. All options are on the table: BOTOX, injectable collagens and if push comes to shove, upper and lower lid blepharoplasty. There I’ve said it.
The years do take their toll and lately, I’ve starting losing my taste for battle. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m actually thinking of declaring a truce of sorts with my skin. I certainly don’t begrudge my other compatriots who continue to fight the good fight. It’s a war out there. Our celebrity, youth driven culture makes each line, each new imperfection something to anguish over and attempt to erase. And there’s no question that the burden falls disproportionately on the shoulders or should I say the faces of women. That’s fair. When was the last time you heard someone say something like the “ Boy the lines on Amanda’s forehead really add character to her natural beauty” or “Doesn’t Sarah just keeps getting better and better looking with age”?
Despite the pressure to go to our graves smooth and wrinkle free, I keep thinking that maybe the battle with my skin has been mostly a one sided one. After all, it’s stuck with me through many a scrape and scratch. It bears the scars of some of my poorer decisions and my natural talent for clumsiness. It still sweats when I‘m hot to cool me off. When I’m in need of a scab, somehow one just magically appears. That’s pretty cool. Yes, there’s a real possibility that my skin and I may continue to coexist without extreme intervention. For the current time, I’m thinking a wait and see strategy may be best. Of course, I will continue to use sunblock, wear stupid hats and engage in other moderate means to delay the progressive mapping of my entire body. For the time being, I think I’m pretty comfortable with that.
How to Get Rid of Number ’11’ Lines Between Your Brows Naturally
Photo of young boy in t-shirt courtesy of The Onion