A long distance girlfriend of mine, Asma, and I were on Skype earlier today. We’re developing a business together and were going through samples. We were also discussing her wedding in January in the UAE and her desire for me to attend and then come back to Pakistan for a couple of months – to visit, to explore, to immerse and get her life pulled together for making the UAE her permanent home come March. I know her well enough to know she wouldn’t flatter for the sake of it, at 29 she’s clearly young enough to (technically anyway) be my daughter, but she said she thinks of me as her older sister and asked (given the upcoming wedding ceremonies) about my skin – specifically how I look so young, and with some issues related to her own she’d like to correct. And since I just had a similar conversation last weekend with my girlfriends Jennifer (45, at right) and Nancy (60, at left) – below – it seems that I should share secrets. Maybe they are useful to a bunch of you – or your lovers.
First, much as I hate to admit this, there are times when I have done without other ‘more practical’ concerns to ensure I have my heavily ladened collection of potions, lotions and masks; I do not regret one penny spent over the years on such. A male friend (who once helped me move house) tells a riotous version of such. Thinking that the contents of the vanity was all that needed to be transported he discovered that it would take two more trips with a laundry basket to move all my “girl stuff”. I am unabashed. That one of my girlfriends just went on a date with a man who possessed 7 different kinds of facial masques might be equality manifest but for the record I don’t dig metro-sexual men and one that has more toiletries than I do wouldn’t last 12 hours with me.
As the expression goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, that expressed I have avoiding the sun like the plague since my teen years. (And no, I have never put sunscreens on, no, not ever.) It’s not to say that I don’t go out in the sun, I do, but if I can avoid it not between 10-3 and if then always with Ray-Ban’s on.
Second, understand that caring for yourself – tenderly, passionately – is not an indulgence or frivolous. Self care is paramount in a world that takes too much, is too polluted, assaults every fibre of our being. If you don’t do this how can you possibly cope with the wear and tear and stress to your body from the environment around us – as the expression goes, #JustDoIt ! My current arsenal is not what I started with as an 11 year old – for one thing I drink a lot more water and herbal teas (iced) loaded with potent antioxidants – but the mud masque (in some variation) once a week remains. When I am fortunate enough to find myself swimming in salt water I will sit in the surf and rub the sand over my legs and arms. If kelp is nearby then I will mash this up my hands with sand and rub it all over me as well.
Unlike the old Ivory commercials of my youth, I am not a soap and water girl; if I use ‘soap’ it is vegetable glycerin infused with organic botanicals from the oldest soaperie in the Celtic world. I had read a couple years back a tantalizing preview to a new skincare line developed from a 200 year old book of Geisha beauty secrets – the Miyakofuzoku Kewaisden - painstakingly translated and then applied to the initial product launch of Tatcha. Needless to say the rice enzyme polishing powder is a godsend! The texture of my skin has never been better and any age spots that I might have faded like bad memories.
As someone who has oily skin (I inherited my father’s complexion) from pre-puberty life (age 11) forward to today (age 53) if anyone would ever suggest that I would be putting oil on my face (or the rest of my body) I would have told them they were out of their mind. BUT! About three years ago I started suffering from winter dry skin and normal moisturizers (no matter how expensive) weren’t doing anything beyond smelling nice. As contrary as it might seem various ‘dry oils’ are fabulous for protection, rejuvenation and healing (try a few of these).
Post bathing or face washing I have been using Evening Primrose oil around my eyes – morning and night – dot, then pat inward; never rub the tissue around your eyes (I learned that at 19 and have used some kind of an eye cream ever since). Sometimes I use Tatcha’s Camilla Oil (not as intended) as a moisturizer after the rice powder and generally slather it on my arms and legs while still damp after bathing. The eponymous French firm L’Occitane used to offer this incredible grape and grapeseed oil body spray that I used to use the same way – sadly it has been discontinued.
A friend knowing my affinity for ‘girl stuff’ just sent me a bottle of Tom Ford’s glorious Neroli Portofino Body Oil and the matching body lotion. This intoxicating blend (check out the benefits of each of the following from both an aroma therapy perspective as well as for topical use) of bergamot, lemon, mandarin, lavender, myrtle, rosemary, Bitter orange, Egyptian jasmine, neroli, orange blossom water, pittosporum, woody amber accord, ambrette seeds, angelica root is marketed as a masculine scent but with my body chemistry (tracing back to my dad?) I am swooning over the way my skin smells right now (and I guarantee that I would not be the least bit interested in a man that smelled this way).
You should be drawn and quartered for using ANYTHING with micro-beads in it for exfoliating! PLEASE DO NOT F*CK UP OUR WATER SUPPLY by using these products. If you must exfoliate use something with crushed walnut shells or apricot kernels.
One final point – ice water rinses. Sometime around 14 I read an article about maintaining the elasticity in skin (like the Scandinavians and Icelanders) of hot, cold, hot, cold. Ice Ice Baby, called “avantouinti” by the Finns, for far ranging health benefits – yes, it does take some stamina to embrace the regime.
Ultimately I think that self care is also about comfort with our sensuality. There is absolutely nothing wrong in taking time and doing for ourselves (even in the absence of a partner) because we value who we are and recognise that if we don’t do these things for ourselves no one else will.
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