Skincare staples at almost 40

This post probably feels random for most of you, but bear with me.

One of the things I decided to do when I turned 30 was take better care of my skin. I noticed it was changing, and it was only going to change more as I aged. Drugstore products worked mostly well, so I started using a retinol to counteract the crow’s feet and laugh lines. I used scrubs, foaming washes, whatever was on sale. For most of my teen and adult years, using “whatever was on sale” worked.

However, when I turned 35, my hormones threw a party. As someone who never dealt with acne as a teenager, minus a spot here and there, I was appalled and offended that at 35 years old my face had lost its mind. It wasn’t even regular, run-of-the-mill acne. It was cystic acne, that painful, deep-rooted, takes-a-week-to-surface acne that flanked the sides of my face. It was painful and ugly, and I didn’t know how to fix it.

Fast forward five years and my skin feels normal again. I still get a spot now and again, but not only have I learned how to take care of my skin, I’ve also learned how to prevent more spots (so far).

Part of it, I believe, is diet and general healthcare. I drink a lot of water. I try not to eat a lot of sugar. I don’t touch my face a lot. I exercise, get enough sleep, and so on. Basic healthy things.

The other part of it is skin care. The first thing I did when I switched up my skin care routine was stop exfoliating. No more scrubbing and scratching my face because I needed it to CALM THE HECK DOWN. I also needed an antibacterial component to attack the acne, so I started using Cetaphil and I haven’t looked back.

[Not pictured is the Cetaphil antibacterial bar soap I use in the shower.] I use the foam wash morning and night at the sink, followed by the unscented lotion to moisturize. If I need to use makeup remover, I do that first, but I’m not using anything else to actually wash my face. Cetaphil is amazing and it’s enough.

Each morning after washing my face, I apply Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Eye Cream underneath and around my eyes, even above and between my eyebrows. If I’m going somewhere right away and want to apply makeup, I skip the eye cream and use It Cosmetics Feel the Moment Primer Serum all over my face instead.

At night, I use the Peptide Renewal Serum in the same places, as well as my neck. If I feel an acne spot starting to form, I use the Drying Lotion. If you catch the spot early enough, it will never surface. It’s weird magic.

These products are small but mighty. A little goes a long way, so while I normally wouldn’t spend $45 on a tiny dropper bottle of something, I can tell you honestly that I used the same Peptide Renewal Serum from July 2017 to mid-January 2018.

To help combat the dark scarring (thanks cystic acne!), I’ve used Murad’s Spot Serum with a lot of success. (This is a travel size. I’ve never bought the full size.)

Finally, I recently discovered a makeup product that I love, love, love. NARS tinted moisturizer is the ideal answer for someone who doesn’t want full-coverage foundation but prefers a little “veil of color.” Added bonus – it has sunscreen in it. It works like a BB Cream, but it’s actually a moisturizer.

I recognize that my skin is likely to change even further after I turn 40, but right now, it’s holding up. Minimal fuss with a little attention to trouble spots seems to do the trick. 

Favorite Thing: Yoga with Adriene

My relationship with Yoga is long and sordid. We’ve been on-again, off-again for years. I’ve tried to make it work. I’ve put in extra effort, and I’ve half-assed it. I dabble, then I quit. Yoga and I are just so complicated, so combative. Yoga’s all, “Come on, try me again,” and I’m all, “No. You suck.”

And then I found Adriene.

Yoga with Adriene

Some random day during a random week in 2015, a Yoga with Adriene video popped up in my YouTube feed. She looked warm and friendly, like we could chat in the grocery line and realize we were meant to be friends. I clicked on the video. Her voice was sobering. I watched a few poses, then I tried them.

It’s fair to say that Yoga and I are working steadily on our relationship again. For the first time, I have hope.

Unlike my small collection of yoga DVDs, Adriene takes it down a notch. Not the intensity or creativity of her workouts, but rather the fancy-pants language of the yoga practice. Yes, she occasionally throws Sanskrit here and there, but she talks us through each step. She explains what each body part is supposed to be doing, how it’s supposed to feel, and modifies the poses for those who are less or more experienced. She doesn’t assume you know everything, and yet, even if you do know everything, you don’t feel like you’re in a beginner’s class.

Adriene is just so… easy. Mind you, yoga is NOT easy. It is not just a bunch of stretching. It is a string of positions that pulls your muscles to full tension and opens up joints to their capacity. Not all yoga instructors are easy to follow or even easy to watch, but following Adriene’s instructions are so calming and encouraging. She is constantly praising us, telling us how great we’re doing. For me, that’s huge.

It would be easier to stop trying yoga and stick to running and lifting at the gym, but the practice is always worth it in the end. My joints feel looser, more flexible. My posture gets a little straighter and my core gets a little tighter. It’s the sort of strength training you cannot achieve with weights. I push myself a little harder each time, and sure enough, it pays off afterward.

Adriene in namaste

If you’ve tried and failed at a regular relationship with Yoga, consider Adriene. Here’s three things I love:

  1. Her YouTube channel makes it easy peasy. All you need is WiFi and some floor space. No gym membership, no equipment needed. I don’t even have a yoga mat. (However, I do encourage you to wear tight-fitting clothes – tank tops and leggings or something similar. Loose clothing and yoga are not companions.)
  2. Her video variety is wide. Beginners to experts, 20 minutes to an hour, yoga for weight loss, yoga for relaxation, yoga for certain times of the month, etc. If you can’t find a video to suit your needs, you’re too needy.
  3. Adriene provides exactly what you need, nothing more, nothing less. In the beginning I used to skip the warm up/cool down breathing, but then I realized I was short-changing myself. The prep work really is necessary for an effective workout, and the cool down is a peaceful way to wind down. Unlike my yoga DVDs and other online yogis I’ve tried, the warm up/cool down time isn’t lengthy. It’s just enough to get you started and get you finished.

Wherein I was ridiculed at Bath and Body Works

My sister gave me a Bath & Body Works gift card in December, a sweet gesture that read Thank You For Hosting Christmas and Buy Yourself Some Decent Hand Soap. I buy cheapo 99¢ soap at Kroger because I can’t afford Sweet Apple Pie with Cinnamon and Vanilla for $10 an ounce when my boys refuse to pump fewer than 20 times per hand wash.

Still, I was thankful for the card and finally wandered into the store yesterday to buy myself something.

Even though the overall look of Bath & Body Works is just as I remembered it from the late 90s, all the scents were unfamiliar. No Country Apple, no Sun-Ripen Raspberry.  I stopped shopping there when I decided I didn’t want to smell like fruit anymore. When I got married I upgraded to perfume, and now I’m so fancy that I wear parfum.

I outed myself – and my age – in the first five seconds.

“Hi there! Welcome to Bath and Body!” A cheerful 17-year-old employee bounced in front of me. “Can I help you find something?”

“I dunno,” I said. “I haven’t been in here since I was in college.”

“HA!” she roared. “Yeah, it’s been a long time then and we’ve got lots of new stuff.”

“Yeah, it’s been a while.”  I gave her a half-grin.

“What scent did you used to wear?” she smiled with her perfect teeth and size zero waist.

“I don’t remember. Limeade, I think.”

“Yeah, that must have been a long time ago ’cause I’ve never heard of that.”

Then I snatched her up by her long, blonde ponytail and put her in a headlock.

(Not really, but almost.)

“Well look around and if you need help, let me know.”  She turned on her heel and bounced off to another customer.

She might as well have said I’ll go around with you, Me-maw, and read all the labels to you real slow like.

I took gentle whiffs of everything and quickly became overwhelmed. B&BW doesn’t smell exclusively like fruit anymore, but I am so far out of the body lotion circle that choosing one thing was going to be hard. I finally wandered to the corner of the store, and it was there by the stress relief products that the girl revisited me.

“OMG, that stuff is sooooo good. We have soooooo many women who swear by our stress relief line,” she smiled and tilted her head to a 45-degree angle.

“Yeah, we get stressed as we get older.”

“Haha! You’re soooo funny!” she laughed. “You’ll totally like this then. I swear to God it’s soooooo good. I always get it for my mom.

Then I drop-kicked her right there in front of the Eucalyptus Spearmint Body Lotion.

(Not really, but almost.)


“No problem!” She flung her ponytail around and bounced away.

I ended up buying a bottle of Lavender Vanilla Aromatherapy Lotion because suddenly I was feeling very stressed. At the register, she made small talk, which I ignored, and handed me the receipt with my bag.

“I’ve included a coupon for your next trip in,” she smiled, “but you’ll have to come back sooner than 20 years.

Then I punched her in the teeth and gave her the finger.

(Not really, but almost.)

So here it is, the first Bath & Body Works product I’ve purchased since Y2K.

Lavender Vanilla

I am looking forward to calm feelings and better sleep. God knows at my age I need it.