06/11/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Stress Talks, Beauty Walks

I connected with a friend from my younger days recently. First seeing my photo, she e-mailed that I "hadn't aged a bit!" Considering she was a bridesmaid at my wedding more than 30 years ago, I'm sure she knew time had to have taken a toll. But I replied that time wasn't really my enemy these days; stress was what was taking chunks out of my soul and my face.

Though realistically I've always known that my brain is my most alluring feature, I'm no vainer about my appearance than most. However, I did have an idea that by the time I reached this stage of my life, I'd be able to afford every dermatological and cosmetic beauty advantage available. But "idea" sounds almost like a "plan," and what happens when we make plans is usually far from pretty.

I typically work seven days a week trying to keep two businesses above water. What doesn't always stay afloat is my sanity, even with decades of multi-tasking under my belt. Sleep is fleeting when pleasant dreams are displaced with to-do lists that swirl around in my head. Growing anxiety translates to a bigger belt, as one hour in the gym cannot offset 14 hours in front of a computer. (Those studies that pinpoint chemical reasons we gain weight when we don't sleep missed two key factors as far as I am concerned: I rarely nod off while I'm chewing, and less time in bed equals more time in the kitchen).

When the choice comes down to paying the mortgage or indulging in the latest and greatest serums, lotions, gels, and ceramide creams, I've opted for shelter over vanity. As discretionary income evaporated, the quest for whether potions containing nano-particles or peptide complexes retained moisture better seems a lot less pressing. I've sadly accepted that lackluster skin will be my fate, as I can no longer slather myself in alpha lipoeic and alpha hydroxy acids.

My hands rarely see the light of day, basking only in the glow of a laptop, so the nature of my nails is no longer important. And though I used to know what color foundation would make me look most radiant in daylight and florescent light, I've not gone back to the cosmetics counter to determine which makes me look vivacious in cyber-light.

Work woes free me from the task of worrying about which mascara gives lashes volume and length. I've let my hair grow longer; a less fashionable style requires lots less products to make it play tricks and then stay put. And I'm so out of touch, I don't know whether matte or glossy lips are the rage this spring, and my eyelids neither smolder nor shimmer anymore.

All in all, less slumbering and infrequent fussing does afford me more time in the office. Too bad there's no beauty advantage gained from interminable toiling. I'd be a bit less bitter if there was a study that showed that unrelenting stress translated into luxurious tresses and luminous skin!