I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
Most articles I’ve read about beauty as it relates to being over 30 seem to fall into two camps: Oh my God! Fix this! Fix this before it’s too late! OR I love my crow's-feet! Who would want to be 20 again, anyway? Helen Mirren, etc!
I can’t say that I relate particularly strongly to either viewpoint, and I don’t think any of my friends dom either, judging by their quizzical looks when I asked them about it.
Basically, my 36-year-old face, for good or ill, is still just my face. Not the one I’d pick if I could choose from any face in the world, probably, but a perfectly functional place to put makeup and talk out of.
One of the things I find irksome about the kinds of beauty article I mentioned are that they push the idea that everything about getting older is either the best thing ever or a steady decline into decrepitude. In my experience, just like with everything else in life, some parts are worse and some parts are better. I miss my old metabolism, for sure, but my skin is much calmer, and all the heavy, old-fashioned perfumes I collected but couldn’t wear as a youngster suddenly smell fantastically sexy on me.
So, you know, yin and yang, circle of life. It all balances out, is what I’m saying. (And by the way, I hope that one day I am fortunate enough to be 96 years old and chuckling indulgently at the idea that your thirties is "older.")
As far as cosmetics go, for me, they are, above all, about play. Pretty colours. Transforming yourself into someone else. I’ve never really given much thought to anti-ageing stuff beyond moisturizing a lot and wearing sunscreen.
So it’s as an anti-ageing novice that I decided to try some of this stuff out and see if it actually makes me like my face better.
I picked three quick-fix products that address the kind of things that happen to your face as you get older: a serum, an instant line filler, and a lip plumper. I went for instant fixes because I don’t trust my ability to be consistent over four weeks, and because I think it would be too easy to kid myself about their efficacy over a longer period of time.
I used each of them as directed with my standard, 10-minute makeup that I wear to work every day and photographed them in the same natural daylight.
For reference, here’s my naked face:
Do you remember that bit in Donnie Darko when Drew Barrymore explains how "cellar door" is considered the most beautiful collocation of words in the English language? Well, I feel like the opposite of that is the term "problem areas." Two depressing words, yoked under a depressing concept. Let’s take a look at mine!
For the serum and filler, I focused in on the eye area because that’s famously where the ageing goes down (dark circles, crow's-feet, big pores, forehead lines):
And here’s my face with no anti-ageing products but my usual day’s makeup:
The Serum: Nip+Fab No Needle Fix
First of all, Nip+Fab, let’s have a chat about the meaning of the word "instant." You can’t put "instant skin plumper" on the box and then tell people to use it morning and evening. It’s supposed to work, well, instantly.
Still, the patented "osilift" in it is supposed to act as an instant tensor(?), and reviewers who liked it said it worked right away, so I went with it.
It’s a slightly pearlescent gel with a medicinal scent that goes on pretty much like any other serum or primer, although I would say it has a little bit more stickiness and grip when it settles in. It also stops being shiny once it’s on.
I used it all over my face before applying makeup, and then patted it on around my eyes and forehead over the top of it. Can you see a difference from before?
I’m not terribly convinced. It’s nice enough, and now that I own it, I’ll probably use it when my fancy MAC primer runs out, but I don’t really think it does very much.
The Line Filler: Smashbox Photo Finish Targeted Pore & Liner Primer
I had higher hopes for this one. It has a thick, paste-like consistency (no scent) that seems like it might actually "spackle" over the cracks quite effectively. Again, I used it both under and over my makeup:
Hmm... I think I see a slight difference. It’s not radical, but if I really look, I think the tiny lines under my eyes look a little smoother.
The thing about this filler, for me, is that it didn’t really fill in lines so much as provide a really smooth base for concealer. It actually made the areas I used it on feel quite velvety to the touch. If you’ve ever used the Benefit balm called Dr. Feelgood, it has a similar kind of texture.
I would recommend working quickly when applying foundation over the top of it, because it does seem to stiffen up the texture somehow.
Use it again? Sure. It isn’t life-changing, but it feels really nice.
I used to use these a lot when I was a teen, so I was quite excited to try one out again.
This Soap & Glory gloss looked pearly when I tried it on my hand, but was clear when it went on my lips. It has a chocolate scent and is nicely non-sticky. It also has a list of ingredients that includes butylene, ethylene and propylene, so it’s basically lighter fuel, I think? And, like most plumping glosses, it gives you that crazy pins-and-needles sensation that I thought was amazing when I was younger, and now squicks me out horribly.
Yeah, I can see a difference, actually. I don’t often wear lip gloss of any kind, so that may be skewing my perception a bit, but I do think my lips look slightly fuller.
Would I use it again? Hell, why not. It’s fun, and a pretty good gloss to boot. (I really do hate that prickling feeling, though.)
So, how do I feel at the end of my anti-ageing experiment? I quite liked the products, actually, particularly the Smashbox filler. I don’t see any of them entering my usual rotation, mainly because I’m too lazy to add another step to my daily ritual, but they’re nice things to add to my armory.
I did find the process quite dispiriting at times, though. From reading reviews (“At 30, I need all the help I can get!”) to taking the photos (“No, but really get in close, try and get my massive pores in”), I did start to feel a bit like I’d just bought a bunch of expensive sticks to beat myself with.
I also found it kind of interesting--in a really self-involved way--that I was convinced that my face must be ravaged with wrinkles until I really looked. I don’t necessarily recommend taking extreme close-up photos of your skin, but it was quite instructive for me; just because I’d hit my late thirties, it didn’t automatically follow that I had this fixed list of age-related issues. At least in my case, I found that I basically liked and disliked the same things about my face as I did 10 years ago. Go figure.
I’m really interested to hear how other people feel about getting older: do you care about it? Do you feel like things have got better? What steps do you take against it, and what would you consider too far?