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  • Jan Flynn

Discovering the Fountain of Youth

Well, more like the fountain of not so old

Photo by JR Harris on Unsplash

I’m not a young thing anymore, and I’m okay with that

Considering what a befuddled twit I was in my youth, I really wouldn’t want to go there again — unless I could do so with my present wisdom and experience. Generally speaking, the older I’ve gotten, the happier and more at ease with myself I’ve become.

I stopped coloring my hair several years ago, and frankly, I think I rock my silver pixie. I wear clothes that have some flair and attitude, as long as they’re comfortable — ditto shoes. I stay in good shape, working out six days a week, and while I love to eat, I don’t eat junk. I drink plenty of water, haven’t smoked since the Carter administration (and barely did even then) and my tippling is moderate.

My face shows some mileage, but I can live with that. So far it’s still as nature made it, with no fillers or Botox or surgery. Not that I’m opposed; I just haven’t felt the need strongly enough to go through the bother, expense, or risk. Moreover, it gripes me that, for women especially, natural aging is so often treated as though it’s a personal failing, something to be resisted at all costs — and it can cost plenty.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look as good as I can

I may not look like I did when I was 25, but I do want my exterior to convey that I feel good on the interior. I’m willing to put in reasonable effort. I just refuse to be a mark for every overpriced, over-hyped, over-packaged cream or serum or toner that comes down the pike. You won’t find me dropping over $2,000 for a jar of La Mer. For that kind of money, I’d rather take a vacation. And don’t even talk to me about a seven-step skincare routine. I’ve got better things to do with my time, like sleep.

Therefore, when I started hearing about a specially formulated water that was supposed to cleanse, hydrate, and infuse one’s face with a dewy, luminous glow, I scoffed. Seriously, special face water? Who is credulous enough to fall for such claptrap? Not me, kiddo, I didn’t just fall off the wrinkled turnip truck. All this hoopla about micellar water sent my BS meter spinning.

I stuck with the stuff I knew and trusted, and that my dermatologist recommended. Cetaphil cleanser, for instance: gentle to my innately dry and sensitive skin and handy at dissolving and rinsing away makeup. That and a prescription retinol treatment, and I was good. Except. As time went on, the visage was becoming a bit . . . dull. Faded. The doc’s retinoids were getting to be a little harsh, causing some flaking and peeling. And I noticed that even after a good going over with the Cetaphil at night, there were still traces of residual warpaint on the morning washcloth.

So I took another look at this micellar water hooey

Turns out it’s not what I’d suspected: regular distilled H2O, maybe with a few drops of glycerin in it, stuck in a fancy bottle and priced for us suckers. Micellar water contains, well, micelles: spherical chemical structures, composed of gentle surfactants, that help pull dirt from the skin. And, yes, purified water and moisturizing agents like glycerin. But no alcohol, nothing irritating for dry and sensitive skin types (like mine). And you don’t even have to rinse it off.

Another surprise: it’s not expensive. An eight-and-change-ounce bottle of Bioderma (the French company that first launched micellar water back in 1992) will set you back around $8.00 on Amazon. That’s less than a cocktail, I figured, so I went for it.

The very first night after the Amazon Fairy left her smiling-arrow box on my porch, I washed my face per usual with my trusty Cetaphil and rinsed it off. Then I anointed a cotton pad with a few drops of the micellar water and swirled it around my countenance. Here’s the thing: it felt nice. Refreshing, gentle, soothing. And the cotton pad came away with the last bits of makeup that the Cetaphil had left behind.

The next morning, I swiped another cotton pad with a bit more of the stuff across my face and — nada. No traces of dirt or makeup at all, and my face felt the love.

At work that day, I got compliments on how my skin looked

I know how that sounds: like one of those cheesy testimonials in an infomercial. But it really happened, and I promise you the comments were unsolicited (I did not say, “Notice anything?” while coyly patting my jawline).

At the end of the day, my skin still looked fresher and a more happily plumped up than previously. There are times, I reflected, when I wish I wasn’t such a hard sell. This stuff has been around, after all, for almost 30 years. But, better late than never.

Weeks later, and I’m still loving the stuff I’d assumed was snake oil. Now I have a new skincare routine, one I actually kind of look forward to at the end of a long day. I wash my face with the Cetaphil, rinse off, then go over it with the magic micellar water and pat dry. Lovely.

And then I apply a few drops of 1.5% hyaluronic acid serum (also not spendy, also available on Amazon). Because that stuff works too, as it turns out. Once that’s nicely dry, I put on a wee bit of ROC retinol cream, the strongest retinoid you can get without going to the derm (doesn’t cost a lot either and you can find it at Costco), and after that some of my go-to night cream (more hyaluronic acid — apparently my epidermis can’t get enough of the stuff).

Okay, so that’s five steps. Still not seven. Besides, I enjoy it. It’s easier to be comfortable in my skin when that skin doesn’t look like an elephant’s backside.

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