I’m a great fan of Nora Ephron (such a brilliant writer) and especially her book, ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck and other thoughts on being a woman’. I’ve just got it off the shelf and flicked through it. For me, two of her pieces stand out: there’s the one about the neck and then there’s her piece on maintenance. In her last para of this she says that it’s now eight hours (a week) maintenance and counting and when she’s in her 70s it’ll probably be twice that number of hours.
I’ll tell you what takes up my time, but you don’t have to copy or anything. I write to show how things, and perhaps encourage but no more. But do I spend eight hours and counting? Oh yes. Totally. Way beyond eight hours! So what do I do?
Hair. I’ll do a longer post all about hair products soon, but I’ve just recently changed my hairdresser. The old one would not listen to me. Kept putting in layers and chopping it about. So, I’ve upped sticks and left him. And the new one? He’s good. He listened, cut it well and then said, come back in 3 months. So, not many hours spent there. But then there’s the actual washing and drying at home, and don’t forget finding the right products (more about that soon). But, because I no longer dye my hair, a small expenditure of time
The hair that’s everywhere else. Oh yes. That. This takes up a lot of my time. I have a thick head of hair which is great, courtesy of my mother who gave me the celtic red hair gene, which leads to a strong hair shaft. And we all want thick hair into our old age, don’t we? But there’s a penalty for this, which is, I have hair everywhere else that needs far more attention than any given to the hair on my head! Legs, even now in my 70s, left to their own devices would look as though they had a thick pelt of fur on them. That’s waxed every 6 weeks. Then there’s the chin, upper lip and neck hair. It’s been electrolysis for 50 years and counting. Perhaps you think that hasn’t worked? But when I had dark chin hair (which I did because I plucked my long, but fair, facial hair. Just don’t ever, it went quite stubbly) lasers hadn’t been invented. And now the hairs are fair once more, electrolysis keeps it at bay. I practically fainted when a friend said why don’t you wax your face? That would make my hair growth worse. So for me, it’s electrolysis every 4-6 weeks. Then as I get older just as my chin hairs have worsened so has my eyebrow hair. I’m cutting the hairs (I don’t pluck) every other week, it seems. That’s a fair amount of time expenditure, I’d say.
Nails. Just as I have strong hair growth so I have weak nails. This absolutely won’t suit everyone, but I wear gel nail varnish in the colder months.
This type of nail varnish has to be put on and taken off professionally and does eventually wear down the nail layers, but for me it works because it helps my nails grow through the winter beyond the usual splitting and peeling. That means going to the beauty salon every 3-4 weeks (in the winter) then in the summer I’ll have manicures every 6 weeks to keep them in tip-top condition. That’s a fair amount of time, but reasonable, I’d say.
Skincare. Oh yes, I take a lot of time over this. I cleanse and moisturise night and morning (see below for more details). But things do change as you age. Wrinkles appear and necks sag, and you have to own this, as this won’t go away (or will it – see below).
The beauty industry is getting better at the use of that dreaded phrase anti-ageing, but I even balk slightly at the words pro-ageing. Still seems jargon to me. What you want is to feel healthy and look good. Anyway, I’ve resolved to do two things. First is, I have increasing numbers of milia – those white bumps – on my forehead, which are not whiteheads and need professional help to be removed. I’m going to get some ‘done’ and will report back on this.
And second, just recently I’ve been having more advanced facials. I’ve always loved a facial and have had them for decades. There’s nothing like a hands-on cleanse and face massage. However. Three times now I’ve tried a radio frequency facial. My favourite and trusted beautician (Shelly at Balm) has enormous skills and in the first advanced facial I was given a half-price bespoke facial, which also included a very minor face peel (not the kind that you get in the high-end private clinics that leaves your face red).
But the radio-frequency, well, it’s difficult to give you a sense of before and after, but truly I do think this has tightened the skin around my neck and my jowls. I’m amazed. But, think about it, you exercise your body, the muscles respond, equally, this is designed to exercise the muscles in your face and there is a result. Yet, I often say own your wrinkles and embrace your ageing, so why am I bothering? Thing is I’m curious, and up for (nearly) everything! So, I tried it, and for me, it worked. But will I fork out loads of dosh for these facials? No, I can’t afford that. But every now and then, yes, I will have one. Time spent at the beautician? Quite a lot, probably twice a month, if you include all the other things that I get done. Yes, a fair amount of time. But time well spent, as I trust this beauty salon and the beauticians who work there.
And, continuing with skin care, I never sit in the sun. I’m the kind of person who feels ever so slightly vulnerable when in the summer people say, oh, let’s sit outside in the sun. I do sit with them, but inwardly I’m cringing slightly. Of course, I do go outside lots, and get my Vitamin D that way, but sitting in the sun? No. My skin got damaged by the sun when I was young. I’m not adding to that damage.
Makeup and its removal thereof. I could never travel light because I have so many products to take with me. A lot are essential though, and to do with the eyes. But let’s start with the morning routine: have shower, splash face and wash it using a little bit of Simple soap, clean eye lids with a special product to keep my my blepharitis under control, put in contacts and moisturise face. Then the makeup, which actually takes no time at all. I do it much faster than I do on the YouTube videos, which I am thrilled to tell you seems to be going well – do have a look if you haven’t already.
Makeup for me is an essential, and like many of you I’d no more walk out of the door unmade up than I would if I was undressed. It just wouldn’t happen. I have a face I expect to see, and that is a made-up face. But are manufacturers of makeup products acknowledging that older women wear makeup? Apart from Look Fabulous Forever and the occasional sight of Helen Mirren advertising Boots No 7 (does she actually wear that brand) I’m not seeing a lot of mature older faces. And I do mean older and not 40-50-yr-olds with dyed grey hair. Wake up people, you’re ignoring a potentially quite large market.
But it’s the removal of the makeup in the evening that takes up my time. This begins with taking out the contacts and cleaning them – 10 minutes. Eye makeup remover and cleansing lotion next, and then rigorous use of a particular product for blepharitis to make sure every scrap of makeup is off – 5 minutes at least. Then a hot clean cloth applied to my face for the eyelids (they need warming – see this) and to open the pores – another 5 minutes. Finally, moisturisers for face, neck and eye area. That’s not very frugal because that’s 3 different products but I’ve been doing this for years so it’s not something I’ve just taken to doing. Anyway that’s – 5 minutes, I’d say. And don’t forget the teeth. Another – you get the message – that’s half an hour.
And I never stint, I never miss the routines, ever. That is definitely, a lot of time spent. and btw, in the interests of research (I do it, so you don’t have to!) I watched a few makeup videos, and was horrified to see one girl giggling away saying she never washed her makeup brushes – oh please! So that’s wash your makeup brushes, and makeup bag, once a week – more time expended!
Exercising the body I can’t not talk about exercise. For me it’s Pilates twice a week and I can now do a plank. This is astonishing as when I joined last April, I couldn’t get my body off the floor. I also do stuff at home including weights – and am quite pleased about the state of my arms here.
I’ve worked for those arms, but I’m telling you, if I can do it so can you. But also, and just saying, don’t ever start weights without proper supervision. And you don’t have to do Pilates; there’s all sorts of different types of classes. There’ll be one for you out there somewhere – you just need to find it. This takes up a lot of my time but I don’t regret a minute of it as it is such an important part of maintenance. And yes, there’s that neck, but the folds used to be much looser and flabbier and I was definitely more jowly.
My challenge to myself, in April (I’m going away shortly) is to start Park Runs. I really do want to do this, but it will be quite a challenge just to get to the park. But I will try and will let you know how it goes.
Exercising the mind Then there’s this. The thing is always have a project on the go or in development. The YouTube videos are a huge challenge – there’s so much to learn. But both of us, Mr F who loves editing, and me deciding the subject and filming with my iPhone, we’re up for this. This is very, very time-consuming. Again, it’s all good, we don’t mind the time it takes.
And what about my next project? Not sure. What if I said something and then never did it?! But on the other hand, I took a long time to change the format of my blog (well over a year, maybe two) and set up videos (ditto). OK, one idea I had is to write a book on ageing. But on the other hand, there are so many of these out there. Everything about ageing has already been written. What do you think? I’ve wondered whether an earnest book is soon forgotten – what about something with a title like: WTF is this ageing business? Or, Don’t You Wish You’d Said… Oh no, Helen Mirren said that first!!!
I think this project could be in development for some time! But what interests you and what is your challenge to your self – do let me know!
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper
P.S. I’ve made my Instagram icon a bit bigger. Note that my account is private so you have to request first. Many apologies, but Instagram is a funny old place and I had some peculiar people following me. Nor do I like or am bothered by the numbers game. Consequently, I made the account private, and that’s good because now my account is full of lovely women who are interested in the same things that I’m interested in. You have to have your wits about you to manoeuvre around social media, I think!