Vitality Why Are We Afraid of Aging? Learn to love the wisdom of your skin. By Hayley Wood Hungry for more tips on holistic skincare? Check out Wanderlust’s first-ever wellness expo, Wellspring, October 26–28 in Palm Springs, California. The conversation on aging is one that I’ve exhausted in my time as an esthetician. If you have recently had a consultation with me you may have read the following: “I’d like to mention that I use the term aging very literally. I don’t believe in the shameful labeling of ‘anti-aging’ and have been advocating for the removal of that oxymoron of a marketing term for a decade now. So if by any means that word is triggering for you please let me know.” I make my point pretty clear right away that I don’t want to waste my time with someone who wants a quick fix and shame themselves into thinking they need to turn back the clock. They don’t. You don’t. But regardless of how much I advocate for self-acceptance and self-love, I still feel the pressures to keep up with it all and change my perspective toward aging. How can I expect you to move past this if I get sucked into the bulls*** too? Do you remember being younger and desperately wanting to be an adult? I couldn’t wait to have my own apartment, drive my own car, wear high heels etc., which are all the seemingly normal things to aspire to but, I also wanted the physical parts of aging. I wanted to be a woman. I wanted wrinkles because to me it meant that I was going to be free of acne. I wanted smile lines because it meant that I must be living a happy life filled with laughs. However, now that I’m in the full swing of adulthood, I realize that not many people had that feeling about physical aging like I did. So many folks are terrified at any premature sign of getting older that they are willing to take extreme lengths to prevent and reverse it. But where does that fear really stem from and why are we really afraid of aging? I have to admit that I’ve also always looked really young. I’m a smaller individual with an oily complexion, and I’m in the skincare industry. I’ll be honest, the chances of my skin showing premature signs of aging are significantly less than the average person. However, when I look at myself these days I start to notice that my face is much different than what I remember. One side has lost a significant amount of fullness, my dark circles are much more of a permanent fixture than before, my chin has doubled in size, my forehead is fully packed with lines of expression, and the days that I spent in the sun (or, unfortunately, a tanning bed) has now created patch of hyper-pigmentation on my right cheek. I still experience a breakout if I’m not consistent with my supplements, nutrition, and skincare routine. So here we are: I’m at the point in life that I had looked forward to and seeing all the changes I imagined. When this starts to get to me, I think about what I can do and two solutions come to mind: I use up all the resources available to turn back the clock or I look a little deeper at what is actually going on with my whole self. Whatever I look like or feel like, I know that my light is what truly shines. If we want to really focus on aging gracefully we have to accept the now. The now is something that some of our friends and family never get to see, and that most of us are completely taking for granted. We take advantage of the now by thinking that we can just erase anything with a laser and an injection. We don’t appreciate where we’re at. In my mind, we need to use intuitive skincare and mindfulness in order to prepare for the emotional changes that come with aging. We adapt to it, rather than fight it. Our society doesn’t really embrace an aging woman unless she’s Christie Brinkley or Helen Mirren. Do you think that those women want to consistently be reminded that what we primarily admire about them is how well they aged? Why did they age so well? Genetics plays a part in it I’m sure, but perhaps they truly lived and honored themselves throughout each stage of life. To think that they didn’t experience hardships is simply living in denial. Perhaps anyone who looks great for their age has an appreciation for the process that is life. Time is one of the greatest gifts because we get the opportunity to fully take advantage of this experience. With each year that goes by I become more and more comfortable with myself. I grow accepting of the fact that my waistline may never fully reduce down to what it was in high school. I’m also grateful that I have grown further away from the anxiety that plagued my very existence during that same time. I know that when I feel confident, I don’t want to go back to that time where I may have looked a little more youthful. That time for me was wasted with self-loathing and an inability to ground myself. That being said, embracing aging doesn’t mean neglecting your skincare. It means noticing unhealthy habits that are preventing you from aging at your natural timeline. There are different factors I consider when observing the skin, and one of them is noticing premature signs of aging due to toxic habits. This can range from the mindful (like drinking excessively) to the unconscious acts (like negative self-talk), but regardless this gives me an opportunity to help my clients age appropriately. I focus on providing easy solutions to help the skin stay refreshed and vibrant, regardless of external factors that could potentially be sensitizing one’s face. Eat all the superfoods you want, drink all the collagen you want, sweat out all the toxins you need, and inject anything that feels good to you. But none of that will matter if you don’t fully live in your present-day self. You in your now is a person who has weathered storms, experienced love and grief, accomplished tons of admirable feats, and have made the difference in your communities lives. No one is looking at your crows feet and seeing anything other than your light. How you choose to shine that light can only come from how much love and appreciation you have for your own journey. Don’t be afraid to age. You have much more important life stuff to focus on than how your skin looks due to the year you were born. Focus on how to live fully and authentically, and who knows, you might like that person that reflects back even more—wrinkles and all. Check out Hayley’s video below for more information on using intuitive skincare to age gracefully. This piece originally appeared on Therapeutic Skin Coach. Reprinted with permission from the author. — Therapeutic Skin Coach ™ founder, Hayley Wood, started her love affair with skincare and all things beautiful at a very young age. Having struggled with acne and other health issues since age 10, Hayley quickly educated herself on how to balance inflammatory conditions from the inside out. Having been trained by some of the best plastic surgeons in the world, along with her ever-growing love for holistic care, Hayley has the intuitive ability to find the root of most skin care issues. Combating inflammatory based conditions such as acne, rosacea, and hyper-pigmentation are her strengths.