On Being a “Beauty Blogger” but Also Being Kind of Lucky

This is another of my random, slightly-rambly posts where I work through my thoughts on something that has been on my mind for a while. You see, I consider myself at least partially a “beauty blogger” because I do post about beauty products (mostly skincare). And since I review beauty products, there is an underlying assumption that I think of myself as some sort of authority, no matter how minor.

This train of thought started when I posted a selfie on Facebook and someone commented on my “lovely glow.” Now, I believe this was a pregnancy reference, and I played it off with a joke about being excited about food, but a small part of me wanted to point out that I do spend more time than the average person thinking about my skin and caring for my skin. I definitely have honed my personal routine to have the best effect on my skin that I can get.

But the fact is that I am also somewhat a lucky person. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had struggles and skin issues, but nothing major. And while I credit some of my current success in good skin to proper care, I’ve never had a major skin issue. In fact, if I tried to see a dermatologist in the US, even at my skin’s worst, they’d probably consider me silly. Don’t even get me started on my hair. No, I’m not model-gorgeous, but I have a perfectly acceptable face and figure, and I do have rather nice hair.

And my hair is a good place to start. You see, one of the reasons I have rather nice hair is that my hair is incredibly resilient. I have thick, straight, strong hair and quite a lot of it. It’s graying, but it a somewhat chic way, with a streak that comes through at my part in a kind of Lily Munster sort of way. I’ve even been asked if I dye it in. So when I talk about my hair care routine, yes, I use best practices, avoid heat, wash as little as I can get away with, and make sure to use gentle tools. But I also know that my hair didn’t become any more brittle that one time in high school when I dyed it with boxed dye twice in the space of 48 hours (I didn’t like the color the first time). My hair is a good example because I could probably heat-style almost every day and dye it every month and still have pretty nice hair. At the very least, I have so darn much of it, it would take a long time for the wear and tear to show. So if you have thin, dry, curly, delicate, damaged, easily-damage-able hair, your mileage is certainly going to vary. That’s not to say that I don’t want you reading my blog, but I’m not necessarily going to be as helpful to you as someone with more trouble with their hair.

The same is true for skin. I was blessed with trouble-free skin as a teenager, and had some hormonal issues pop up later in life. I managed to wreck my skin barrier with high-pH cleansers and a lack of proper moisturization, but even when I was “breaking out,” I generally got maybe 4 or 5 spots at a time. It wasn’t even on the same level as some of the truly amazing skin transformations I’ve seen among bloggers I follow. And it’s never been to the point where I would consider much in the way of strong prescription treatment really worth it (I did Curology for all of three months, I think). I will admit that my skin is pretty calm. And since my hormones stopped fluctuating on a monthly basis, it’s been even better (we’ll see how that goes in a few months…). Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t read this blog if you don’t have generally good skin, just that most of my beauty reviews aren’t going to feature drastic before-and-after results, but more a sense of how I like the feel of a product and whether I notice its subtle effects.

And I think that’s so important to admit as a person who reviews beauty. It seems like it’s going to damage your credibility to point out that you might not actually need some of the products you tout. But I would rather see a blogger be honest about the fact that their a bit genetically gifted than constantly compare myself to people who are always going to have better skin than I do. And I think it’s even more important to realize that the people who have the “bad” skin might actually be more informative in the long run if you’re actually looking for products that might make a difference in your skin. I’d rather see someone with a chin full of hormonal acne tell me what took them from cystic eruptions every month to just a few lingering clogged pores and residual pigmentation marks than listen to Regina George tell me what she uses on her nonexistent pimples.

It’s why I like to follow bloggers who are over 40 and bloggers who have made their struggles with acne public. No, I do not want to watch anyone squeeze anything on their face. But if I want to try a wrinkle cream, I’d rather see it reviewed by someone with actual wrinkles. And if you’re going to use Botox, yes, I’m thrilled that you’re going to tell me about it, rather than pretending that your flawlessness is entirely the work of your 12-step over-the-counter routine.

So that’s where I am with this right now. I hope my readers continue to enjoy the posts I post, but know that you’re probably never going to get a before and after photo from me because, frankly, the benefits I get from any given product don’t tend to be dramatic enough to show up on a photograph. But hopefully there is some merit to my opinion anyway.

On Acting One’s Age

I posted on Friday about looking one’s age and about how I don’t, apparently, though I think I do and I think I’d really rather look my age than not have it show how much life I’ve lived. I thought I’d do a companion piece in a similar vein about acting one’s age.

First of all, what does that even mean, acting your age? When I was a kid, my dad would say “Act your age, not your shoe size,” which I suppose meant that I was being particularly immature. And I suppose that’s a bit of it. I mean, we all have a pretty clear idea of what a child should act like as opposed to an adult. But it’s all rather vague and imprecise.

I mean, when you’re a teenager, where does that leave you? I suppose if one really wanted to act like a teenager, one would affect a rebellious and surly attitude (I don’t mock; I was a moderately surly teenager myself).

But what does “acting your age” mean when you’re an adult? What does it mean to act like a 20-year-old vs. a 30-year-old? Or a 40-year-old? Does it keep going? Is there a standard of comportment throughout the decades?

I really think not. And this is what I consider when I think about acting my age. The single biggest thing that has happened with how I act as I’ve gotten older is my increase in confidence. I’ve heard older women talk about it all the time, how they wish they had the confidence that they have now when they were as young as they wish they looked. But really, part of it for me is accepting my looks, accepting compliments, and accepting that people who decide to react negatively to my appearance are probably not worth my time.

For me, acting my age is about asserting myself for myself and for others who aren’t as assertive. It’s being able to get noticed to be served at a bar, but to point out others near me who haven’t been noticed despite being their longer.

Most of all, acting my age has involved a certain development of personal style. I call this “acting my age” and not “looking my age” because the confidence that comes with getting older is how I’ve found the self-awareness to know what is really my preference, versus someone else telling me what’s chic, as well as the necessary stylish elan to carry it off and look creative and personal rather than just odd. Although a certain amount of odd does belong in my personal style.

So I suppose, in short, acting my age has meant coming into my own and as I get older, acting like myself.

On Looking One’s Age

Hello. I’m thirty-three, although apparently I don’t look it.

A couple of weeks ago, I showed up to a rehearsal and saw a friend I haven’t seen in a while. I was wearing my hair parted in the middle such that my ever-growing grey streak showed clearly. He happens to be quite a bit taller than I am, so he noticed and asked “Oh, are you going for an older look now?” I had to laugh because 1.) it was such a typically clueless comment from him, and 2.) I’ve had that grey streak for at least 10 years and it just shows in varying degrees depending on how I wear my hair.

But it got me thinking about aging and looking one’s age. When I was younger, I looked older. In fact, I never got carded for R-rated movies, and by the time I was in college, I was routinely mistaken for over 21. It’s a fun thing when you’re a young woman, to be thought to be an older, sophisticated woman. The young woman I knew as a teenager loved to pretend to be older than they were. Then, around the time I was graduating from college, I had an acquaintance give me the standard line about being surprised I was a college student and that I looked old. I coyly responded, “You know, I’m getting to the age where I’m not sure that’s a compliment anymore,” to which he responded hurriedly, “Twenty-five. You look twenty-five.”

From there, I went off to graduate school and paid little notice to my age, except occasionally to note that I was creeping closer to thirty all the while still in school. Occasionally I would be mistaken for an undergraduate on campus, but just as often I was mistaken for a new professor.

Then, I turned thirty.

When one turns twenty, it is exciting, almost. It’s not quite twenty-one. You feel like you’re getting there, but still, another year would be nice. One more year and you’ll be happy. But the years keep coming because that’s what time does. It moves. Constantly.

When one turns thirty, the fact that one is aging starts to hit home. I noticed aches and pains I didn’t have before. I would wake up creaky. I would feel “hungover” simply from staying up too late. Not to mention my alcohol tolerance started dropping. I felt my body becoming less resilient. I felt older. And when I looked in the mirror and then looked at the 18-year-old face on my old college ID, or the 25-year-old face on my graduate ID, I looked older, I thought. I was getting older.

I was also divorced, had finished three degrees, and had lost my father. I had lived a lot in those thirty years. I wore my age with a badge of honor.

And then, I started auditioning for theater roles again for the first time in almost ten years. When I was in college, I was the dark, severe, mature-looking woman. I was cast in roles that should rightly go to women in their late 30s at the youngest. So when I went to my first community theater audition, I started with roles for women in their 30s-40s. When I got into the audition room, I was asked why I wasn’t auditioning for the ingenue. It turns out, I still looked like a 20-something.

Since then, I get cast as characters in their 20s as often as characters that match my own age. Two years ago, I was cast as a 21-year-old (Personally, I thought I looked ludicrous in the role, particularly since a co-actor of mine was a pretty young woman who actually was 21 and the difference was stark, but the reviewers didn’t bat an eye). Now, I’m finally given more consideration for the more “mature” female roles (NB: women’s roles in theater are often either 20-year-olds or old women, with very little of interest in between).

I actually hope I am starting to look my age. I still get the compliments about how young I look, and I appreciate the thought. What I don’t appreciate is the idea that I want that as a compliment. I want to look my age. I don’t want to while away my life with a Dorian-Grey-esque false exterior while my life experiences are written somewhere hidden.

And to that end, while I love skin care, I focus on the health of my skin, not its youth. I don’t color my hair to cover grey (and indeed, I haven’t colored my hair at all in years). And I dress to accentuate my personality, not to make myself look either older or younger. I strive to look my age in that I strive to look like I’ve lived the life I’ve lived.