Why I don’t mind looking my age

I am 31 years old when my 27 year old co-worker says to me,

“I swear, you just do not look like you are over thirty.”

I smile.

At the time of this conversation I was pregnant and two years into my residency, pale from living inside a hospital, gaunt and greasy from cafeteria food.  If anyone, looked their age  I certainly did.

Yet I would have said the same thing four years prior, feeling sure that reaching your third decade meant  immediately becoming arthritic and shriveled, breasts drooping to your ankles. I too was surprised, I remember turning 30 and unexpectedly I still looked a lot like I did when I was a youthful 29.

.    .    .

I am  16 years old, when after spending the first part of my teen years dripping with baby oil and baking in the sun  (whenever we saw the sun in Ohio) I’m told I must spend the rest of them slathered in sunscreen. I wonder how I can still mange to get a tan, but I heed the warnings, not of cancer, but of wrinkles, or worse, sun spots.

 

I am 35, I have a daughter in preschool. Everyday we marvel about how big she is getting. “Soon you will be 4,” we say and giggle.

 

I am 14 and hear my grandmother say to my mother, “it’s really time to start dying your hair” (early gray runs in the family), soon after she did.  Prior to that moment I had never noticed a gray hair on her head.

 

.    .    .

 

One of the gifts of childhood is that you always find your own mother beautiful. Or perhaps I should put it, one of the gifts of motherhood is that your child always finds you beautiful.

.    .    .

 

Yet somewhere along the way we start to doubt. We look around for reassurance and instead find impossible images of endless youth crammed into every nook and cranny of our lives.

 

Of course if the Beauty Industry let us think that we were actually beautiful they would quickly put themselves out of business.  Instead they set the unachievable before us and we become their perpetual consumers.  Make up, hair dye then micro-derm abrasion or Botox and finally we can go under the knife risking sedation and infection, spending our savings to get a  lift and tuck.

 

And after all this do we feel any better about how we look?

 

To be clear I am not against all things cosmetic.  There is power in beauty and it can be a joy to look our best, to primp or wear a new dress.  But it should be “our best”.  Not a made up ever evasive youthful version of ourselves or worse of someone else.

 

Beauty is God given, it need not be a burden of time, money or energy. If it is, we are doing something wrong.

 

When I was younger I always assumed I would go to whatever extent to look as much like a Barbie Doll as humanly possible.  If I put on an extra pound I swore I’d be at the gym working it off and would give up eating pie entirely.  The way I looked felt more important than almost anything else.  I couldn’t imagine having any intrinsic value if my appearance wasn’t all that it could be.  Still today when I feel sad I could just as easily describe it as feeling ugly.

 

Now twenty years later those dreaded fine lines are starting to appear around my eyes, my hair is going gray, I have acne scars (and new acne at the same time), and every now and then I pluck a wiry whisker from my chin. I no longer own a tube of mascara or lipstick (though I do wax my eyebrows and use hair gel). All my fears about being a little soft or saggy  don’t matter any more.  In letting go of an impossible standard I’ve embraced a reality, that we are all beautiful expressions of God’s love for the world. And that doesn’t change if we are 85 or 35.

 

I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.                      I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.                        I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.

I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.          I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.            I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.

 

I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.      I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.    I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life. I don't mind looking my age. Liturgy of Life.

Portraits by Courtney.

 

 

 

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Do it Yourself Face Oil

I have always been the girl with bad skin. My pre-dermatology pictures from high school are almost too painful to look at. My skin was always red and pimpled and now approaching 35 years old my skin is scarred and still pimpled.

Over the years I have tried many skin care regimens, some that work and many that don’t. I hate wasting money on trials of new products. Plus I would rather not use chemicals.

I had a friend who was selling a line of natural beauty products. Looking through their catalog I was intrigued with the section on face oils. They claimed that often our oily skin is a reaction to over drying with harsh cleansers (I am totally guilty of this). They said that face oils can be used as moisturizers and even for cleansing. Of course the little bottles of face oil sold for about $60. I’m sure the products are wonderful but it was outside of what I could spend so I decided to make my own.

Now before we go on I’ll add that I am no expert in this.  I’ve just done some basic experiments to figure out something simple that works for me. I refer often to Wellnessmama.com and Crunchybetty.com both sites which are dedicated to natural living.

But I will give you a quick overview of what I know about mixing oils and about using them as a moisturizer or cleanser.

For most face oils, especially anything you are going to use as a cleanser, you need Castor Oil. Castor Oil is available in any pharmacy and is both nourishing and cleansing. It is an oil but it has an astringent-like property. It will make your oil mix less oily. If you only use your oil for moisturizer than you can go without the Castor Oil, but I find that I really like the texture with it.

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Then you can choose another oil or two based on what you have in your pantry and the different properties of the oils.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil- very moisturizing and universally available
Sunflower Seed Oil- good for all skin types
Jojoba Oil- good for all skin types
Argan Oil- good for all skin types
Grapeseed Oil- best for oily or acne prone skin
Almond Oil- good for all skin types, takes longer to absorb
Coconut Oil- better for oily skin (for me it is too drying)
Apricot Kernal Oil- good for dry skin

The simplest of oil mixes would be to combine Castor Oil with one or two of the above oils in the ratios listed below.
Oily Skin- 30% Castor Oil
Balanced Skin- 20% Castor Oil
Dry Skin- 10% Castor Oil

You can experiment in small quantities to see which oil you like and in what quantities. I usually just mix about equal parts of Grapeseed, Olive and Castor Oils (I’m not much for measuring).  Today I added some Sunflower Seed Oil because I had recently purchased it for cooking.

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Now there are lots of other bonus oils that are great for your skin but pricy. You could buy these at a health food. Neem, Borage, and Tamanu are good for acne prone skin. Sea Buckthorn, Rosehip, Evening Primrose and Emu are better for dry skin.

If you use essential oils you can add these too. They aren’t necessary but they do add fragrance and also have their own nourishing properties.  I add about 10 drops of Frankincense because I love the smell and 5 drops of Lavender.  Again, you can experiment to see what you like.

Then shake.

Now your oil is done.

I will add, you can see I have mine in a metal spray bottle. This has worked well for me. My hands are usually oily after I use this so screw top bottles are difficult. I had a glass one for a few weeks. You can guess how that ended. I would not recommend glass in the bathtub especially with oily hands. It took me quite a while to get it cleaned up when it broke.

Now on to how to use your oil.  I mainly use mine as a moisturizer. I wash my face with my normal facewash and then spray a bit in my hand (somewhere between dime to nickel size depending on how dry  my skin is), then just massage gently onto my face.

At first it will seem a bit oily, but spend a few seconds massaging it into your skin (this is good for your skin and relaxing anyway), you will be surprised at how quickly it absorbs. I use this mainly at night, but if I wash my face in the morning (it has to be a pretty special occasion for me to do this but it does happen) I’ll use it then too or whenever my skin is dry. If you plan to apply make up, you probably want to let the oil absorb for 20 minutes or so before applying.

This moisturizer is multi-purpose. You can use it anywhere on your body, and is great for after shaving. It is also gentle and safe for kids.

You can also use your oil as a cleanser.

To do this apply a small amount (about the size of a quarter) onto dry skin, massage well. It takes a minute or so to get the oil distributed. You want it to have time to saturate into all your pores, try to relax and massage well until skin feels well oiled.

Once skin is saturated with oil take a soft wash cloth and wet it with warm water. Don’t burn yourself but make the water fairly hot. It is the warmth of the water that will lift the oil off your skin taking the dirt with it. Lay the washcloth over your face and allow it to sit there and cool. Then wipe gently. Repeat until all oil is removed. No need to scrub. Once oil is removed, pat dry. Then reapply a few drops of face oil as a moisturizer if necessary.

I have heard of many friends having great results with this method. Some initially report that their skin gets worse for a week or so as the oil levels change on their skin but then becomes amazing.

I have to admit this method hasn’t worked well for me.  Though it was better than not washing my face at all which had been the method I tried before this (I know, you may not want to take beauty advice from the girl who doesn’t even wash her face).

My problem was that I wasn’t patient enough to really work the oil in and then to get it rinsed off well.  Over all it is a very relaxing method and feels very pampering. So now I just use this as a treat and for a deep clean every now on then.

Enjoy.