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Just Jars

01.19.2017 / PLAY

Last month, a girlfriend and I are sitting in plush robes at the local spa. It’s her birthday; we’ve spent the past two weeks playing Schedule Tetris to pull off a celebratory pedicure. As a nail technician swipes Denim Duty on my toes, our conversation – naturally – turns to aging.

So how old’s the birthday girl? the technician asks.
Old enough to start lying, my friend says with a wink.

We chat about acquaintances who have gone the way of cosmetic surgery – Botox here, a lift there. We swear we’d never join their ranks, but then we find ourselves lamenting the number eleven permanently indented between our brows.

I just don’t want to look like I’m mad at everybody all the time, she says.
I know. Me too, I say, my polish starting to dry. But don’t worry; you don’t look like you’re mad at everybody.
Neither do you, she says, and we both sip our cinnamon tea.

(Old enough to start lying.)

For the record, here’s where I stand on aging:

It happens. Probably best to grin and bear it and look forward to the perks – more life experience, more wisdom, more permission to fall asleep by 8pm after a rousing night of jigsaw puzzles and a slice of cheesecake.

(Can. Not. Wait.)
But yes, I can.

Advice from Ken’s perennially young-looking aunt:

Honey. When you reach a certain age, never put anything on your face that came from a tube. Or a bottle. Certainly never a pump. Just jars, honey. Just jars.

In my own small circle of friends, I’m the guinea pig. Texts fly back and forth touting curiosities for so-called game-changers: Was City on Fire any good? Have you tried microblading? Which leggings were you talking about the other day, Erin?

It’s not that I’m the resident expert; it’s that I’m the resident tester.

I love a good experiment.

But I’ve always been skeptical of anti-aging products. How do you know it’s working? How can you tell if it’s the product or genes? Am I really showing slower signs of aging in my face, or is this just my regular speed of aging?

Still, the experiment always beckons. And it did come in a jar.

The test was simple: exfoliate, cleanse, slather on Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair nightly before bed. Try it for seven days; see what happens.

A brief sampling of a conversation in the kitchen, circa day three:
Me: Quick question. Do I look a little younger today?
Ken: That is not a quick question.
Me: But do I?
Ken: Umm…
Bee: Younger than who?
Me: Than me.
Bee: How can you look younger than you?

Here’s how you can look younger than you: Decide to.

Slather on the non-drying retinol formula because you want to, because it smells good or feels rich and moisturizing or helps you wind down after a long, hard day. Write a few sentences in your gratitude journal. Brush your teeth. Jump on the bed; find Build Me Up, Buttercup on Spotify and sing into your hairbrush with a toddler. Let the day be finished; dance it away.

Watch a new one arrive tomorrow.

A brief sampling of a conversation in the kitchen, circa day seven:
Me: How about now. Any younger?
Ken: Absolutely. 100%. Without a doubt.

(He’s old enough to start lying.)

And so, in the great debate of aging vs. anti-aging, of improving vs. proving, of just jars, I suppose we’re none the wiser.

But we will be someday.

And there will be cheesecake.

And until then, I’ll be over here slathering.



This is a sponsored essay for Neutrogena, a favored, trusted brand for affordable skincare. All thoughts and opinions are my own; thanks for reading!

  • Ellen

    Interesting advice… I’ve always been taught that products in jars are the least sanitary because you have to stick your fingers in it and the product gets exposed to a lot more air.

    • oh i’ll have to mention that one to ken’s aunt! ;)

  • Erin, I always am amazed at how you can write beautiful and inspiring words based off of simple items and objects. You are a delight to read.

  • Michelle

    Hi sweet Erin!
    A question that I’ve been meaning to ask for ages: does Ken take your photos? I just love the exposure and tones of each one!
    Also, wrinkles show experience…and wisdom! ;)

    • Hi Michelle!! He DOES! He’s pretty handy to have around, that one. ;)

  • Hello- This is the first of your posts to appear in my inbox. Late to the party, I only discovered your work a few days ago. Silly me.

    Thank you for the Friday morning smile:-) I’m already looking forward to what comes next. Cheers!

  • Erin, I wanted to tell you I just finished your book. Congratulations on such a work of art. I wrote a little review if you’d like to read:

    Thank you so much for your words. <3

    • Oh goodness, Sam – THANK YOU!!!!!!! I so appreciate your kind words!

  • Goodness! You make this whole experience sound so beautiful and poetic. You have an amazing skill for writing, Erin. Love that last photo, by the way :)

    Fariha |

  • Cynthia

    I for one, look forward to your aging b/c selfishly, that means more reading for me! Your book arrived on my doorstep on its release date and I promptly put aside the other two books that were in progress. I read you cover to cover. I laughed; I cried. Thank you for a beautiful tale and so much wisdom for one so young.

    • Oh Cynthia — I so appreciate your kindness and support. Thank you!

  • Do what feels good for you! My theory is, the less you worry about it, the fewer wrinkles you get. Ask me if I feel the same in another 10 years… = )

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