In the “good old days,” I didn’t give much thought to my skin. Sure, I worried about pimples (before they became zits). I had my fair share of pimples, and I tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to stay away from French fries and pizza under the misconception that it was the greasy foods that were creating the pimples. Actually, they were just making me fat.
Back in the day, my cleansing routine was simple: every morning and evening I scrubbed with Phisohex. Do you remember the pretty, baby blue bottle? Do you remember the smell? Phisohex smelled like nothing else in the world–that was the hexachlorophene. Sometimes, as I lathered my face, a little would seep into my mouth–it was gross, but it was the cost of clean. Kids no longer clean with Phisohex. The side effects just might be the reason why.
In the Phisohex days, a “little color” gave you a healthy glow; it dried up the pimples. I was told, “go out and get some sun on your face!” Whenever possible, I sat my tuchus in a chaise and burned the crap out of my body using a homemade reflector made from cardboard and tin foil. I used “suntan lotion” made from baby oil and iodine. I had never heard about melanoma, didn’t give a thought to wrinkles. Or unwanted hair or exfoliants, or Botox, for that matter.
Fast forward forty years. I’m lucky, no skin cancer thus far. But about a week ago, a little kid looked at me intently for about 20 seconds, then asked in all earnestness, “What’s wrong with your face?”
“The beginnings of a joke?” I thought hopefully.
“One eyelid droops,” he said innocently, as only kids can do.
“I’m just tired.” I replied, “It does that. Has for a few years.”
It’s true. No, I hadn’t had a stroke (I’ve checked it out) but my left eyelid does droop. I didn’t think anyone–other than my physician–had noticed. Damn. When my husband notices, I may have to do something about it.
These days of our mid-life, we are a bit skin obsessed. If it isn’t about our droopy eyelids, it might be about sagging jowls. Or someone we love may have skin cancer. Or someone we know just had something “done.” Or someone we know just got Botoxed or lipoed or pierced or tattooed or lifted. And still, we have to decide whether to use the zit cream or the wrinkle cream first.
While sunscreen has long replaced suntan lotion, we recently learned that it has an expiration date. Even my prescription medicines are said not to expire, but I just threw out all eight bottles of sunscreen that I have been rotating for the past four years–all of which expired years ago. And wouldn’t you know it, the sunscreen that I bought to replace the eight bottles I threw out turned out not to be “broad spectrum.” My trash runneth over.
These days I can’t read the information on the back of my skin cleanser (or my shampoo) because the print is too small (luckily, I am experienced enough to know what to do.) I need a 10x magnifier to tweeze my eyebrows or examine the imperfections, and when I do, I find white hairs that need to be plucked, and a two-inch hair coming out of my chin that I swear was not there eight hours before. Arghhh!
These days I have to worry about the fungus under my big toe that was diagnosed as not a fungus, but still won’t go away. I worry about the pock marks on my tushy. I know that my moles are no longer beauty marks. I worry about the overuse of hand sanitizer, and I know that my arms, hands, feet, and other body parts are right now colonized by upwards of 200 different types of fungi and that kind of grosses me out. And I am not even a germaphobe.
These days, my “pulkes” (thighs) need baby powder in the summer when I wear a skirt so I don’t chafe when the “excess skin” rubs together. After thousands of tricep lifts, my skin still hangs down from my underarms. I have spent hundreds (I am sure that is being conservative) on lotions and potions promising to make my skin softer and more subtle and younger looking. I have bought salts from the Dead Sea, and lotions from Paris, and none seems to make me any younger than the generic brand from CVS.
This morning, my mom told me my makeup looked terrible, but it turns out I had just come from the gym. I wasn’t wearing any.
Skin is no longer easy. But would I go back to the days when it was only about the pimples and the Phisohex? Not for the most radiant, tightest, best looking skin in the world.