This article was originally published on Better After 50.
Yesterday morning, I woke up ridiculously late, like 10 am, feeling like a prizefighter who had taken in the full 15 rounds. It felt great to sleep in -- "this must be what the kids feel like -- late nights -- deep long sleeps -- delish." Splashing refreshing cold water on my face -- I looked up and I caught a glimpse of -- someone else?
"Whoa, my eyes", I gasped. Heavy, thickly settled lids blinked back at me -- I moved in to examine more closely and it wasn't pretty. Puffy yet flimsy under-eye skin didn't even have the decency to push out the creases. Like a well-inked block print, the mascara stuck to my crow's feet and grooves.
No, I wasn't sick and I wasn't hung over. I had been up until 2 am with my son and his friends -- just hanging out. It was so much fun. I felt like one of them. This morning I am reminded I am not one of them -- I'm 25 years older.
I heard Kate Hepburn's beauty secret was to get in bed by 9 pm as often as possible -- plenty of rest, plenty of sleep and a good facial scrub.
Recipes for the facial scrub informed me to "squeeze half a lemon and add water and a tablespoon of sugar to the mixture." Hepburn mixed lemon juice and sugar and scrubbed her face with it every night to keep her complexion clear, according to Glamour.
It certainly worked for her. Beauty regimens all talk about rest and cleansing. But, hey, I had my 8 hours of sleep. I guess I had the wrong 8 hours. Or maybe the Ponds Cold Cream wipe down and my any old night cream applications aren't enough.
My morning face required another cottoning off with trusty ole Ponds Cold Cream, yet again. I dressed in Lulu's "short" running shorts ready for a morning jog -- and starting to feel my youth re-emerge.
Tip toeing out of the house -- kids still in full sleep mode -- I headed out to run the 3-miler. Happily singing and jogging along, I approached the coffee shop in town where I was to meet a friend and her husband. Glancing down at my legs I gasped. I had forgotten to put on dry skin cream. Scaly legs hungry for moisture and a good feeding lay all too bare. Dried snakeskin fish legs! I needed a louffah treatment -- like now -- and wished I'd had some oil or cream in my fanny pack.
Brutal reality set in -- I was witness to the skin on my legs in full decay. My thoughts drifted to the stories of leper colonies -- islands where people were condemned to live in isolation watching while their bodies flaked away. Ok -- time to refocus. Enough!
My friends greeted me with big hugs -- they showed no sign of shock as they looked into my smiling eyes and seemed not to notice my fish legs. Instantly, I was transported to a happier place -- listening, sharing and laughing and not talking about SKIN!
As I left them I was thinking about my Nana's approach to her aging skin and obsession with routine. Surprise and shock about my daily skin health could certainly be softened if I had a plan -- some preparation.
Hey I could cover up -- almost everything. That would be one approach. At the age of 70 my nana wore a full body-leotard to the beach and sat under an umbrella -- she seem pleased with her solution.
My dear friend who has what I consider the "perfect" figure told me she won't even wear shorts any more that are 2 or 3 inches above the knees -- she hates her knees -- her skin is saggy she says. It made me a bit sad that she said that -- she is so beautiful. Her knees look fine to me -- I love wearing short shorts.
Many of my biking girlfriends over 50 wear capris instead of biking shorts -- their aging skin embarrasses them. Really?
I put my foot down -- nope I'm not giving up the short shorts, I'm still wearing a bikini not a wet suit to the beach and I am not biking in a hot long spandex leggings unless it's below 50 degrees. And more importantly, I'm not going to bed before 2 a.m. if my there's an opportunity to hang on the couch with the kids.
So for now -- I've got a new skin strategy. I'm putting together a cocktail of a good dose of denial and a dollop of self-kindness. Once ingested, I plan to bypass the mirror until days end. My runs will be focused on the road ahead and not the legs that carry me there. I know I can get some comfort around the changes my skin is undergoing All I need is a lot of acceptance, a good sense of humor and a of course, a good exfoliant and night cream.