I’ve always been addicted to looking the mirror, and not just because I’m a narcissist—but because I’m obsessed with fixating on my flaws (both real and imagined). That being said, it didn’t take long for me to notice that my face was changing when I entered my late 20s.
At first, I didn’t know what was different. All I knew was I looked less like the fresh-faced 20-year-old that kept appearing on Facebook’s ‘On This Day’ and more like my 50-something year old mother (which, you know, is fine, but I’m in my 20s, not my 50s). For weeks (okay months), I scanned every inch of my face in the mirror and in ‘selfie view’ on my iPhone looking for new red spots, bumps, and hairs (yes, hairs). My face just wasn’t as shiny or clear in real life or in photos as it used to be. It was changing. For reference, take a look at pictures of ~my face through time~ AKA my face from age 20 to 22 to 26 to 29:
Over time, I began to notice something else, too. Something that seemed to become more prominent every time I looked in the mirror or saw a photo of myself: Wrinkles.
Whenever I raised my eyebrows, I would watch my forehead transition into a (very wide) WiFi symbol, and whenever I smiled, multiple lines would form under my eyes and off to the sides of them. Even when I wasn’t smiling, I could still see the remnants of the WiFi symbol ingrained in my forehead, as well as the lines around my eyes, which became especially worse when I was tired. And that wasn’t all. The lines from my dimples were becoming permanent too. It was like I had fallen into a deep sleep for 29 years and woke up with indents on my face. Had I finally woken up from my youth? Did the serious indented lines on my face represent the fact my youth is over? Was this the start of adulthood?
Looking back on old pictures, I realized my forehead wrinkles and “eye wrinkles,” which I later learned are called crow’s feet, have been around for a while. I didn’t notice them before, so why was I bothered by them now? Were they getting worse? Were the indented lines new? What was happening?
I spent nights endlessly searching Google for things like “how to get rid of wrinkles,” “wrinkles at 29,” “how to save your skin in your 30s,” and “what is botox.” I also started panicking that other people were noticing my older-looking face so every time I was around people, I would point out my flaws. Literally, I would say ‘hey guys look at my crow’s feet, it’s getting so much worse.’ I would then smile and point, making sure people saw the wrinkles in all their glory. If I could make fun of it, other people couldn’t fun of me about it, right?
When I brought up the wrinkles to my mom, her advice was to stop smiling so much. But how would I do that? I was a cheerleader for years. My smile is permanently glued to my face in times of weakness, happiness, and sadness. Unless I am alone or around family, I will smile. It’s a habit I can’t kick. A good habit in most situations. A bad habit in places like funerals.
Occasionally not smiling wasn’t going to change how I looked now anyway. And although I had joked about (or was very serious about) Botox for a while, I knew I didn’t really need it. At least not yet. The wrinkles party had just begun. I knew it was only going to get worse—but what could I do now to stop it?
I thought about using products on my face, but I was scared. I should probably fill you in on why: I had never really washed my face with products before. Okay, that’s not 100% true. I had tried using facial cleansing and makeup removing wipes before, and there was a week long stint where I tried Clinique face wash, but the results were always the same: my skin would break out with acne and redness. My face was basically sensitive to everything , so I decided to let it be. I didn’t get acne until my mid-20s, and people had always told me in the past how great my skin was anyway. Why ruin a good thing?
But now, things were different. I couldn’t recover as quickly from a drunken night of letting my makeup soak into my skin, and I was breaking out just because. I decided to stop wearing makeup to see if that would make a difference. But although I LOVED not putting on makeup every day and because of this STOPPED wearing makeup every day (life is so much easier now you guys), my skin was still the same. My new no-makeup-look made no difference.
Something had to be done… but what? There was only one place that could answer this question for me: Sephora, the place where bank account balances and credit card limits go to die.
Instead of wandering the makeup aisles, I went right over to the face wash stuff. This was maybe my second or third time in this section, and I had absolutely no idea what to look for. A woman came over to help me and suggested I look at First Aid Beauty’s makeup.
She said it was great for people with sensitive skin (hi) and people with young skin. When she told me I had ‘young skin,’ I left my body, bought a Prada bag to celebrate, and then came back to my body to continue face wash shopping. I was sure she was going to suggest one of the expensive, intense wrinkles creams I had read about online. But she didn’t—because my skin is still young (even if I’m not).
I started my very first skincare routine after this, which included doing the following in the morning and at night with the products the Sephora person told me to buy:
- Wash face with facial cleanser (Buy First Aid Beauty’s Face Cleanser for $15.06 here)
- Use exfoliating wipes (Buy First Aid Beauty’s Facial Radiance Pads for $30 here)
- Put eye cream around eyes (Buy First Aid Beauty’s 5-in-1 eye cream for $21.25 here)
- Finish with moisturizer (Buy First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration for $30 here)
A few days in, I was already seeing improvement. My face was smoother and my eyes didn’t look as tired. I wasn’t getting acne, and if the occasional pimple felt like it was going to pop up, my skin routine kept that from fully happening—even when on my period, and I ALWAYS break out on my period (starting in my mid-late 20s!). Months later, I’m still doing this routine, and it’s working.
See me without makeup on a few months apart:
Have my wrinkles gone away? No. Have the indented lines gone away? Maybe. Do I care? Not sure. I’m 29, soon-to-be 30, and I’ve come to terms with the fact I look my age. I’m getting older, and it only makes sense that I will LOOK older as that happens. Sure I could get botox, but I can also embrace my age and do everything I can to keep my skin healthy and clean. Maybe one day if I’m drowning in money, I’ll say fuck it and go get a procedure that will make me not look my age (being a celebrity must be fun as fuck, right?). But until then I’ma do me. I’m going to look 29, and I’m totally fine with that.
After all, if your brows look good, people won’t notice your skin.