Nurturing Wholeness | Aging with Grace

LIFESTYLE

Wisdom comes with winters. ––Oscar Wilde

I wonder if we are not too eager to erase or avoid the parts of our bodies that reveal we are human, whether stretch marks, surgery scars, or smile lines around the mouth. At forty-one, I notice more swaths of silver strands in my hair, the softer form of my body, the fine lines developing around my eyes and mouth. I would love to tell you that I’ve welcomed the holiness of it all, but more honestly, I am conflicted. I feel aware of social norms and the privilege held for what is young and beautiful. I feel aware of the ways my physical body is expended in the daily work of motherhood, homeschooling, and work. I sense the greater effects of sleepless nights and poor nutrition on my emotional and physical well-being. Still, I am eager to learn how to take care of myself while also welcoming the woman I am becoming with grace and gentleness.

A few years ago, my daughters and I were sitting in a waiting room, when one noticed an ad on the back of a magazine. A beautiful woman was reclined with her eyes closed with a slight, relaxed smile on her face. A gloved hand with a needle loomed just inches from her face. Blythe and Olive were horrified. What is happening? Why is she smiling? Why is she getting a shot in her face? The straight-forwardness of children can sometimes blow back the curtain of normalcy. I briefly explained fillers and injections as one modern treatment for signs of aging, and I will never forget how Blythe commented, “Why? Wrinkles are beautiful!”

When I see women a generation or two older than I am, with skin or hair weathered by life, the last thing I wish for them is that they looked younger. I know there are stories embedded in every fold of their skin, wisdom gleaned through every life storm. I wonder about the holiness of lines birthed from too much laughter or hair turned white in the more stressful seasons of life.These thoughts aren’t meant to shame you if you choose injections or to oversimplify the complex transition of growing older in a culture that prizes youth. As women, we have carried cultural shame in too many forms for long enough.

THE ANTI-AGING MARKET

I began this small series, Nurturing Wholeness, a few years ago to honor our stories and the various ways we care for ourselves as women, also to leave a pathway of thought and practices on my own journey and learn more about yours. As we age, our bodies do need more support. I can sense it in my own self. My skin feels increasingly drier. My hair sheds like our pet Labrador, everywhere, always. It turns out perimenopause can begin up to 8 years prior to the onset of menopause, and these are only a few of the symptoms. There are so many factors to consider in taking care of yourself as you grown older––nutrition, sleep, stress-levels––but I want to focus on skincare today.

The global anti-aging market is expected to be a $300 billion dollar industry in the next two years, including everything from augmentation surgeries to various types of consumer goods, which tells me I’m not the only one conflicted about how to best grow older. But what are in all those products? According to the Environmental Working Group, there are over 82,000 different chemicals in circulation registered for commercial use with the EPA. More than 12,000 of them are used in personal care products, and few have been tested for environmental or personal safety. This makes navigating the consumer market very tricky. How do we read labels? How do we know which products are safe and effective? Becoming familiar with ingredients is a start, or at least the more commonly used and harmful ones. The EWG Skin Deep database is so helpful, as it rates products for their overall safety, but also by ingredient. Finding trusted brands who are transparent about their ingredients and who are doing the legwork is also a help.

As many of you know Beautycounter is one of those brands for me. I have been working as a consultant and using the products for the last three years, and love, love, love the way my skin feels and the way I get to participate with change in the beauty industry. As for transparency, Beautycounter lists every ingredient in their products and never hides ingredients beneath words like fragrance (which can contain hidden ingredients under proprietary laws). Their Never List , over 1800 potentially harmful ingredients they promise never to use in their products, is helpful for recognizing key ingredients to be looking for in other products in our home and bathroom cabinet.

MY SKINCARE REGIMEN

Although I am learning ways to love and receive myself in this stage of life, I am still doing what I can to care for myself and my skin. For the most part, I use Beautycounter’s newest skincare collection, Countertime, to specifically taget hydration and skin damage from aging (dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin). Formulated with Bakuchiol and Swiss Alpine Rose, Countertime is made without the more harmful Vitamin A or Retinols. It’s wonderful! Although it’s certainly the most I’ve ever spent on skincare, the full regimen is worth it! I don’t have to use much product at all, so some parts of the regimen have lasted over six months! During the winter, when my skin is prone to extreme dryness, I have also used the Cleansing Balm as a cleanser or added in a few drops of No. 02 Plumping Face Oil. I also use the Resurfacing Peel 1-2 times a week to help with cellular turnover and to keep the brightness in my skin.

FIND YOUR BEST FIT

We are not one size fits all and neither is our skin. There are many ways to help protect your skin each day, and I’m happy to answer questions or help you find something that suits you anytime. This SKIN QUIZ is really is insightful to discover your best starting point, but I often help others directly through email or direct messages, so reach out however feels best for you!

As for ways to save money, Beautycounter is currently offering a FREE PRODUCT with any regimen or collection, so if you’re in need of a fresh start, this is a great time! The Band of Beauty Reward Membership is a fantstic way to earn ongoing rewards like a free product at enrollment, free shipping, and 10%back in product credit with every purchase. I love helping others make the most of their money. In the meantime, let’s be gentle with ourselves and one another as we grow older. And if you have a favorite clean beauty product or skincare practice that you love, drop it in the comments below!


Images by Hannah Clausen and Kristen Douglass for Cloistered Away. All thoughts are my own.

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Comments

  1. Hi Bethany, there have been tons of studies done the more you see an image, the more you think it’s true and acceptable. The media also has their own studies about what will make us feel like crap about ourselves and then sell you products to have you believe if you use them, you too will be happy and look what our version of beauty is. It’s a viscous cycle. In the past I have tried so many different beauty products, and non of them worked and I hated how they felt on my face. Now at night I wash with olive oil and Castor oil on my face and that’s it. No need to moisturize and in the morning, I wash with Cold water, and put Aragon oil on. I was also told I have dried skin, but since I’ve been doing that no more dryness. Another book that helped me was Yoga and Body image. It was interesting to see that those that I considered perfect and beautiful had a ton of insecurities.

    1. Author

      Yes, things are rarely as they seem, and I agree, the ability to critically evaluate and understand visual messaging is an increasingly important skill in our culture. I’m also glad to hear that you’ve found a lifestyle and simple skin regimen that works well for you, Jessie. Thank you for sharing.

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