“Why can’t we just get wrinkles, have zits, and fucking live?”
The answer to this question, posed to me by a 27-year-old client (I’m a therapeutic skin coach), is, of course, “We can.” But living out that answer is not as easy as saying it.
I’ve been delicately dancing around this question for over a decade. Working in the skincare industry, I’m aware of what a sensitive subject it’s become. As women, we’re asked not to age beyond our early twenties, yet hardly any of us appreciate our youth while we’re in it. In fact, the reality of healthy skin has nothing to do with cultural expectations around it.
Why are we still fixated on stopping the aging process? Why is remaining young seen as staying beautiful?
Like any other organ, our skin ages as each day goes by. Aging is a natural process that starts as soon as we’re born. Our skin cells turn over while our bodies grow and we become people with experience, memories, and wisdom. The expectation that our bodies should resist this process is based on the false notion that healthy people don’t age at all.
This is not only untrue but also potentially dangerous. I’ve seen a huge increase in cosmetic injections in a wide range of users, including young women barely old enough to vote. By dramatically intervening with the skin, we lose the ability to learn about our internal health through what our skin is telling us.
For example, our foreheads can communicate a lot about our digestion. Fine lines, excess blackheads, clogged pores, and even a scaly skin texture can be the body’s way of saying that it’s having a hard time digesting a certain food and that it’s dehydrated. By eliminating our ability to showcase these signals we lose a powerful internal warning signal that something is amiss.
An imbalance in the skin does not mean you are unhealthy, it just means that stagnant energy is making it’s way out. When your skin shows you what your body needs—in the form of a zit or a wrinkle—it’s mostly due to the fact that your skin is flushing out toxins and moving them away from your other organs.
The best ways to preserve the health of your skin is with a mind-body-spirit approach. Regardless of genetics, many of us are still able to find fault with ourselves, even if we appear picture perfect to the outside world. Communicate to your body what you want to accomplish. If you set out to accept yourself fully, you will no doubt like the person you see reflected back in the mirror.
You’ll also be able to appreciate the signals your body is sending you, whether it’s through your skin or other organs. Breaking out or getting a wrinkle is all part of life; it means that your body is working to get you healthy. The gratitude you express for those signals can help you get to the root of the issue much faster. You’ll save money by avoiding invasive procedures and medications that mask your symptoms instead of treating your condition.
One huge step in the right direction occurred when Allure announced it will stop using the term “anti-aging.” This term has inadvertently caused shame for consumers for several decades. The idea of anti-aging is irresponsible advertising: It creates a false hope in what topical care can do for your largest organ and promises to turn back the clock, an impossible feat.
Next time you feel like you’re not looking your best, take into account the tremendous amount of work your skin is doing on your behalf. Self-acceptance starts with gratitude and making peace with what is. Get a zit. Have a wrinkle. Fucking live.
Editor’s note: We believe in a woman’s right to care for herself in whichever way she sees fit. This post is meant to change the narrative around aging and wrinkles, as well as encourage women to be in communication with their skin. We encourage you to do your research and make mindful decisions based on what is best for you.