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Friday, May 10, 2013

My thoughts on beauty and my own skin care regimen (it's not grand, I'll tell you!)

(Happy Saturday, everyone. This is going up a few hours early.)

In the comments the other day, I was asked to share my skin care regimen. Which is really weird, because my regimen is quite minimal. But I thought I'd share my personal thoughts on beauty, aging and skin.

We live in a warped society, where a 20 year-old woman is thought to be beautiful if she looks like a 12 year-old girl. Women have horrible things done to themselves in the name of beauty. They have their faces injected, cut, lifted, chemically abraded -- all in the name of beauty. Real beauty comes from the spirit of a woman, not the skin that she's wrapped in.

The kind of beauty I pursue, is the beauty of a young mother who snuggles her newborn baby right after his first breath. This same beauty is that of a daughter, tear rolling down her cheek, as she holds her dying father's hand when he takes his last breath. This is love. This is joy. This is sorrow. This is life. This is beauty.

I want to have laugh lines, worry lines and tear-stained cheeks. I want my face to say that I've lived a rich and love-filled life. I want children to know that I'm a pleasant old lady, who enjoys the company of their young selves.

My memories of a very beautiful older lady (and she was indeed a lady)

Her name was Mrs. Reaume. And she was my piano teacher. She had lived through joy and sorrow. She was kind. She was patient. She was gentle. And she was 75 years old.

Her lovely white hair was loosely pinned into a bun on the back of her head. She wore elegant dresses with billowy sleeves, often in the same shade of ice blue as her sparkling eyes.

She was a widow. But somewhere along the line she picked up a suitor, Mr. Earl. She called him her gentleman friend. But my sister and I giggled in secret about Mr. Earl being Mrs. Reaume's boyfriend. Mr. Earl would drive Mrs. Reaume's enormous Cadillac convertible each week, ferrying Mrs. Reaume to her lessons with half-pint pupils. Mr. Earl knew that Mrs. Reaume was a beauty.

Mrs. Reaume's face gently held it's share of wrinkles. But there was beauty in these wrinkles, evidence of a life well-lived. That's the kind of beauty that I pursue.

So, I too will have a face filled with wrinkles, Lord willing that I should live a long life. I really don't fight them. My beauty regime is much simpler than that of many American women, but maybe similar to yours.

What I don't do
  • I don't exfoliate
  • I don't use a toner
  • I don't use soap on my face
  • I don't do injections of any kind (ouchy, ouch, ouch!)
  • And I don't have a cabinet of products that I use every day

In fact, I have 1 product for daily use. It's a moisturizing lotion that I use as my cleanser, moisturizer and eye"cream".

I have extremely sensitive skin, prone to eczema. My face can not tolerate many products. Exfoliation would be painful, A toner would chap my skin. Soap burns. I have tried many products which claim to be good for eczema. But so far, I've just found one moisturizer (and I use it as an all-purpose product) which actually helps the feel and condition of my skin. It's called CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion. You buy it in the drugstore.

About 5 years ago, I read a book on dealing with eczema. The doctor recommended a different lotion, which I could not find locally. But the key ingredients were ceramides. If you'd like to read up a bit on ceramides here's a link to more info. It appears that ceramides are indeed helpful for eczematic skin (I found that out personally about 5 years ago). If you suffer from eczema, I'd recommend asking your doctor about products with ceramides. Many dermatologists are recommending CeraVe, as it's affordable and over the counter. And that's my big skin care secret! LOL!

I also use cortisone cream during allergy season. I keep a tube of it with me in my purse.

I told you that I use this one single product for cleansing and moisturizing. I tried the cleanser in this line, but found I got better results just using this one product, the moisturizer. So here's my grand skin care regimen.

  • I apply CeraVe to my face, then splash off with warm water. 
  • I pat my face dry, then immediately put more CeraVe on my face. If I've been out in the wind, I wait for the first coat of CeraVe to soak in, then apply just a bit more. 
  • I dab more CeraVe under my eyes, as an eye "cream". Because of it's water content, I have to wait a minute or two before putting on concealer over my dark circles. 
  • I do the cleansing/moisturizing thing at least once per day, twice if I've been active, worn make-up, or allergies are causing itchies.

I also had a conversation with a dermatologist (who had great skin, by the way, for a woman in her 60s, obviously followed her own advice) several years ago. She told me great skin is mostly genetic, but there were a few things I could do to influence my own outcome.


  • alcohol
  • tobacco
  • caffeine
  • soda pop
  • stress
  • sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM
She said "do":
  • use sunscreen 
  • wear sunglasses
  • wear a hat when outdoors
  • eat fish, nuts, avocados and olive oil

Basic stuff that we've all heard, but I do think this common sense approach can benefit both our insides and our outsides.

How have I done over the years with this? Well, I'm great on the tobacco and alcohol. And I gave up soda about 18 years ago.

I'm not always great about avoiding the sun, but I do wear a hat. I live in Seattle -- so I can never find my sunglasses, and that's a problem.

I'm terrible on the stress and eating fish. I really dislike fish, but I am trying very hard to include it. And I can't seem to give up coffee. I'm down to half-caff coffee. I'm trying to get down to 1/4 caffeinated coffee. (Any tips on cutting out coffee would be greatly appreciated. I do okay for a while, then I slip back into drinking a lot of it again.)

And the stress, well, what can I say. Stress is one of the worst things you can do for the outside and inside of your body. Stress causes our bodies to produce cortisol. Cortisol reduces the skin's collagen. Collagen is what gives your skin it's elasticity. Elasticity is what makes our skin look tight and plump. If you pinch the back of your hand, the pinch mark should go away almost immediately in young, pre-menopausal skin. But if your body has been making a lot of cortisol for a while, that elasticity will be diminished. That's a sign that you're aging both on the inside and the outside. I am working on the stress issue, finding better ways to de-stress and taking supplements which help with stress.

I expect my skin will "age" considerably in the next 5 years or so. I haven't gone through menopause yet, but someday will. It's a part of life.

I'm much more concerned, though, with how my insides will age. If someday, I'm old and wrinkly, well at least I'm old, is my attitude. I hope to become a sweet, little old lady, sporting plenty of laugh and worry lines.

How about you? What's your beauty secret?


  1. I love, Love, LOVE this post! Oh, how I wish more people understood what beauty actually is. I've known many "little old ladies" whose wrinkles were more beautiful than any of the made-up, exfoliated, botoxed, lip-enhanced, painted-on faces that are so ubiquitous in this very strange society of ours.

    And I think my "beauty" regimen (if you can call it that) is even simpler than yours. I rinse my face with warm water before I go to bed. The end.

    Of course, I'm WAY too camera shy to post my picture online, so you'll just have to take my word for it that less is more when it comes to your complexion.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Doesn't it just sound painful to do some of that stuff, like injections and some of the dermabrasion techniques?! I quiver when I think of having needles used on my face. Our society has just gone way off the deep end, for us to think that aging is somehow "wrong".

      Your routine is definitely more simple than mine. But just a rinse with water, and maybe some oil applied, is all women ever did for centuries.

  2. I completely agree with you, Lily. Girls don't know what is correct for their skin. They just blindly picking up just any any market product and applying on their face. It is not always that if it works for one girl, it will work for you too. Always keep your eyes open while purchasing the skin care products.

    Thanks for sharing the article.
    Alison Clarke

    1. Hi Alison,
      You're right, what works for one, may not work for someone else. All of our skin need's vary. And our needs change over the years, too. For me, I've found I need less and less products for my skin, as I get older. And I don't know if that will change, until I go through "the change".

      We're fortunate, today, that we do have the availability of information, so that we can research products for our different skin needs. Skin care products are like any other purchase, we should know what we're buying ahead of time.

      Thanks for visiting!

  3. Thanks for delivering so quickly on this one Lili! Pearls of wisdom from someone we trust. You're right, beauty lies within, but as you look so fresh faced and youthful I figured it was worth knowing your secret! I use vitamin E oil and a flannel to wash my face; (only because I'm using up the oil which I found leftover from when we used it post-op on my daughter's big scar - it happens to work really well as facewash/cleanser), then a Dr Organic moisturiser. I've started to come out from behind the blog too a couple of times, as I've been outed locally so the anonymity has been compromised a bit! I've got a frugal haircut post coming up soon where I guess I'm going to have to bare my hair!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      I think I heard on Dr. Oz's show, that products containing Vit. E, A and C are beneficial. And I do remember in the 70s Vit E was a common scar treatment. My mom used to take a Vit. E capsule and pierce it then apply to scars. And I have heard this is the recommendation in hospital, post-surgery.

      I did see a peek at who who are in a couple o your posts, one when hiking, the other in a group of other women. And I suppose you look slightly different from what I had expected, but not too much. Looking forward to your frugal haircut post!

  4. I agree that skincare is greatly about what not to do - I think smoking is the #1 ager, and next would be sun damage. There is so much awareness of both of those things that we should see a lot more youthful-looking people in the future :) For myself, I have found over the years (especially the last 10) that my skin is getting paler all the time - hence why older women are encouraged to lighten their hair colour! I also think that decades of using sunscreen has something to do with it!

    1. Hi anexacting,
      Yes, smoking ages you both inside and out. It's scary how much damage it can do to your insides, not even counting cancer. I should hope that the next generation will look younger. At least with our children's generation, many of us were fairly vigilant about sunscreen, and discouraging smoking with them. I can remember when a "good" sunscreen was SPF 6!

      You're right about the skin color changing, and no longer looking "right" with the hair color. I've known older women who continued to dye their hair a dark color, when it just did not go with their skin, any longer. I think that lips begin to pale, as well.

  5. My advice to everyone is to use sun screen. As a person with very pale skin, who didn't have sun screen when they were a kid, I can tell you that the effects of the sun definitely do catch up with you.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I know what you mean. We used to use baby oil and bake in the sun for hours. Especially when I was very little, none of us knew the damage it could do. It's only been a relatively recent era of tanned skin being a sign of beauty. For centuries, women, especially, protected their skin from sun and wind.

  6. Thanks for the timely reminder - I'd been getting a bit lax on the sunscreen, which is even more important in this part of the world.

    My "beauty" routine is just to wash my face with natural soap in the shower. I try to apply zinc-based sunscreen every morning and very very occasionally I rub some coconut oil into my face. I imagine as I get older, I will probably need to use coconut oil more often.

    1. Hi Economies,
      That is what I understand, that the people in the Southern Hemisphere are especially vulnerable to skin cancer from sun exposure. I've heard about clothing with a sun protection factor in the fabric. Is this at all popular there? I've meant to look into shirts for my family. Seattle actually has a high rate of skin cancer. Probably because we get caught off guard with the sun, coupled with the fact so many younger women use tanning beds here.

      Good for you, though, to use sunscreen. It will go a long way in protecting you from skin damage and cancer. You could always put a small vial in your backpack, for mornings when you just don't have time, or you forget. I've started doing that, as I so often find myself regretting not having put some on, because the morning was gloomy. Then the afternoon turns sunny, and I'm out of the house, and in the sun.

    2. We do have clothes with a protection fsctor here, but they are mostly just T-shirts for wearing at the beach, especially for kids. One thing I have noticed when comparing our beaches to ones in Europe is that people cover up a lot more here, with T-shirts, hats and beach shelters. It's changed a lot since I was a kid, for the better.

    3. I've seen shirts with a collar, long sleeves and button up the front with the SPF built in. I've thought about them for myself, as I could wear it out when gardening, and just flip up the collar to protect the back of my neck. Interesting about the differences in beaches and dress. You must have a great deal of awareness about skin cancer in your part of the world. Awareness is always a good thing!

  7. I agree totally -- my philosophy is life's too short to waste time fussing and staring at yourself in a mirror. No makeup, one skin care product for washing my face and a similar type lotion for moisturizer. Living in Alberta with very cold winter temperatures requires me to use more lotion in the winter especially.

    Similar philosophy with my hair. Au naturelle!

    1. Hi Jayne,
      I imagine winters are brutal on your skin. You definitely need a layer of protection all winter long. Have you seen any products with time-released moisturizing ingredients? That is one aspect that I really appreciate about the moisturizer I use, it has a time-released delivery system for its ingredients. If I moisturize twice a day, I seem to have a barrier on my skin round the clock.

      I do wear a bit of make-up, but no where near what I wore when I was younger and working in a department store (of course that was the 80s, and the dark, smokey, heavily-lined eyes were "in").

      And I'm not sure what I'll do with my hair. I've added and subtracted color in my hair since I was young. My hair has been something of a fashion accessory over the years. I've been brunette, blond, red, and streaked (although, again, most of that was when I was younger -- I kept my boyfriend guessing from week to week, as to just "who" he'd be taking out!).

  8. Great post! Good tips for eczema which is not a problem for me but for my daughter. I think we've tried just about everything now!

    I agree with Live and Learn about the sunscreen. I grew up in Florida & we were slathered with baby oil as soon as we got to the beach! {Shudder} Not only does sun damage lead to wrinkles and spots but more importantly, various forms of skin cancer. I have a couple spots on my watch list, my mother-in-law has had reconstructive surgery on her face & my sister has had multiple spots removed.

    I'm like Jayne as well, my hair has no color. I went gray early & colored often for many years. The past few years I decided to just let it go & I love it!

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Oh I feel for your daughter! Treating my eczema has been so frustrating, and expensive. In addition to treating the outsides, I'm also now taking a closer look at what's going on with my insides. Taking supplements, doing elimination diets to see if I have a mild allergy that causes flares, trying to eat more foods with the right essential fatty acids, those sorts of things.

      The other thing I've discovered with eczema is what products work for one person don't always work for me. My niece also has eczema and she uses a petroleum-based product, as a barrier. Well, I tried that for a few months, and it actually made my case worse.

      I wish that my parents' generation had known something about sunscreen when we were all young. I lost my dad to malignant melanoma a little over 10 years ago. People just didn't know. I was much more careful about sunscreen (and still am) with my kids. I've taken to handing them a tube of sunscreen, as they head out the door, on days when I know they'll be outdoors later (like yesterday's wiffleball game after school). I think putting on sunscreen is just something we have to raise our kids to think of as a basic part of their daily routines.

  9. My skin care routine is very similar, I was my face with warm water using a piece of jersey knit fabric and apply a little coconut oil. Done.

    I enjoyed you memories of your past teacher and what lesson you took from knowing her. I for one want to look like a healthy 75 year old when I reach that point, not a 75 year old with the face of a 20 year old.

    About the sunscreen I have a different opinion. I tend to believe our bodies were born with everything they need to protect us. I know our skin will absorb anything on it and don't want to use sunscreen because of the ingredients in it. I am if the opinion that with care to not overdue the exposure being in the sun is healthy for me.

    1. Hi Lois,
      Someday, I hope we are a community of healthy looking (and feeling) 70 somethings! Taking care of our current selves should go a long ways towards that goal.

      Hope you are having a wonderful Mother's Day!

  10. Well said, Lili! I have worked with many older women in my life and the ones with a pleasant disposition always strike me as beautiful. A smile and a sparkle in the eye are priceless. I hope to develop more smiling lines on my face than frownie lines. :)

    I also use CeraVe and find it to be very helpful. My eczema is more on my hands than my face but I use it in both places.

    I recently heard a news report that plastic surgery to make upper arms look toned is now the new big thing (because of Michelle Obama's toned arms). I can see going that route if you have lost a lot of weight and have loose skin, but for everyone else? Um, no.

    1. Hi Kris,
      You are right, a smile and sparkling eyes really make a great beauty, of any age! My mom always told that a smile was a woman's best accessory. You know how it is, you see someone in a crowded room with a smile on their face, and you just want to go up and talk to them. Smiling people are magnets.

      Have you tried the CeraVe cream formulation? I use that on my hands. It's too heavy for my face, but great on hands and legs, especially in winter.

      Hmm, plastic surgery for upper arms. Now there's a short cut! I'll stick to push-ups. I'm just not one for needles or knives! Sounds too painful.
      But I agree, there are some circumstances where surgery can restore a person's self-esteem, like extreme weight loss, or burn victims, or cancer patients.

      Hope today has been a special Mother's Day for you!

  11. I use facial moisturizer with sunblock. Maybe a little vitamin E oil at night or before I step into the shower. That's pretty much it.

    1. Hi Pamela,
      It sounds like a fairly simple routine. Good that your moisturizer has sunblock in it. When I'm going out I put on a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen built-in. It sure does make putting on sunscreen easy to have a two in one product.

  12. Lili,
    So many factors impact the way we age, some we can control and others we cannot. We all must wear sunblock(I am sorry you lost your Father to melanoma) We must moisturizer and it doesn't have to be an expensive moisturizer, my dermatologist recommends cetaphil. Drink plenty of water it helps us to stay hydrated, no smoking, limited amounts of alcohol, daily exercise, healthy diet with leafy veggies and a positive outlook! Informative post and your skin looks great!
    Hope you are having a lovely week!

    1. Hi Jemma,
      You're absolutely right. There are some factors we can't change, but there is so much that we can! Knowing that I could be vulnerable to skin cancer makes me even more vigilant about sunscreen for myself and my children. And a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward slowing aging both inside and out.
      Thank you, and I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!


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