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?
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!