5 ways I'm thinking about ageing beautifully as a skincare maker in my 30s

by Alice Ojeda
Ageing beautifully applying cleanser Alice

It's there, subtly, in the way my eyes crease up when I smile and the frown lines settling in from the hours concentrating, in the way I see myself and how I'm gradually becoming more compassionate - to others and myself. Since I turned 30, or more like 28 when a mentor said, 'that's a big milestone coming up,' I've started reflecting more on ageing beautifully and the way I'd like to approach it.

When I formulated skincare for my Cardiff small business, Authentic House, I thought a lot about ageing technically and the ways to take care of ourselves that will make a difference later on. I also love to listen to health podcasts and read, as well as finding inspiration in the people around me. Ageing beautifully is something I've come across a lot this year, which is why I wanted to share with you the 5 ways I'm thinking about ageing beautifully as a skincare maker in my 30s.

1. Why you can be the beholder of your own beauty

We've all been somewhere close to it. For me, it was the edge of the ballroom where I'd go to dance salsa in my 20s. As a young woman, I never felt more beautiful than when I was dancing, expressing myself in a way that was beyond me. And yet, waiting at the side, I was painfully conscious of the judgement women go through and how a lot of our value is still judged from the way we look.

One of my favourite quotes is from Caitlin Moran in her book More Than A Woman. Approached by her teenage daughter who isn't feeling beautiful, she says, 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so be the beholder.'

When I think of Iris Apfel, a famously beautiful older woman, part of her beauty lay in how she boldly wore and collected everything she considered beautiful. Dr Edith Eger, a psychologist and Holocaust survivor, is beautiful in this way too. Only, rather than through fashion and art, she gathers her beauty through beliefs that have helped her heal herself and others for almost a century.

So, as we're talking about ageing beautifully, I'm thinking of it as gathering what's beautiful within and without, around and for you. You are the beholder.

2. How your perspective on ageing beautifully might change how you age

In a 2001 study, researchers found that women's symptoms of menopause might be fewer in cultures that respect elders. For example, Japanese, Thai and Chinese women had fewer symptoms than Americans and Canadians. This makes me think that ageing beautifully or well must have something to do with our perspective around growing old.

One summer when I was 21, I found an internship at The Handbook in London and moved in for a month with my grandmother who was around 88 at the time. She was horrified in part and initially wanted to send me back home to Cardiff at weekends. When I showed no signs of giving up my weekends exploring the capital, she relented and we settled into an easy rhythm and friendship.

My grandmother is 98 now and I'm 31. I visit her every week as we both live in Cardiff. A lot of the time I'm helping her with little things, but I'm also learning from her. In the allotment together last weekend, I realised just how happy she is to be in a place and experience a moment. She'll sometimes drop her plans and just go with her intuition around what's right for her and her energy right now.

There's a lot of difference when we say 'old people' and when we say 'elders'. Having an intergenerational friendship with my grandmother has helped me see a path to ageing beautifully and the reality of what it might look like.

3. What does it mean to age naturally?

When I was thinking about ageing beautifully for this post, I asked how you saw it on Instagram. A theme came up around ageing naturally. Liz shared, 'To me, I think it's looking natural and feeling well.'

Patricia Alexander-Bird, a nutritional therapist from Anam Cara Nutrition wrote that ageing beautifully is 'ageing naturally, leaning into it and all the wisdom that it brings.'

This makes me think of the Japanese concept of 'wabi sabi'. It's  a way of seeing the beauty in the imperfect and the impermanent. When I was burnt out two years ago after the rollercoaster of the pandemic, a friend handed me a beautiful book, Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton.

I think wabi sabi has a part to play in ageing beautifully, and naturally. We can see the beauty in ancient trees, a fallen leaf and the patina on objects that have been loved. We know they're beautiful because they're linked to a natural process of ageing and renewal. Accepting the beauty in things that have been worn down by time and in ourselves as we age is also in part around accepting our own mortality.

These past few weeks, we've been watching Shōgun, a miniseries based on the books by James Clavell. One of the themes in the series is exploring cultural perspectives around death. I love the line spoken by Mariko, 'Flowers are only flowers because they fall.'

 4. Reconnecting to playfulness and our inner child

 In an interview with Catherine Price, the author of The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again, she talks about the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They loved to be playful with each other which brought them together across differences in beliefs. As I get older, I'm starting to see how playfulness is a kind of wisdom we come back to.

In 2018, the Mental Health Foundation found that 9 in 10 young people had felt overwhelmed by stress that year. This was  compared to 7 in 10 older people. It's still a high number for all of us, and maybe part of being human in this time!

In my experience, you can't be playful when you're feeling stressed or unsafe. Part of these feelings can go back to our childhoods (When The Body Says No by Gabor Maté is a fantastic book for this). When it comes to ageing beautifully, there's an element of healing needed to reach the wisdom that allows us to play. While we live all the chapters as we age, we're also laying the groundwork.

Feeling less stressed is something I put a lot of time into, mainly through meditating, journaling and doing yoga. I combine meditating with some Internal Family Systems techniques I've learnt from an interview with Dick Schwartz. This means going inwards and speaking to younger selves within you.

Listen and you'll find they each have voices, emotions and gifts to give in your present life. As I do this, I'm slowly reconnecting to my ability to play and simply being open to having more fun.

5. Ageing beautifully in our skin

While I'm writing from the perspective of a skincare maker, I've deliberately left skincare till last. Really, I think inner work might have the most impact on our ageing beautifully. It lowers our stress and helps us make healthy choices. That said, we can give our skin a helping hand.

How to keep your skin hydrated

In a survey I ran while designing our skincare, 1 in 2 of you had combination skin. As we age, our skin gets drier. Especially around the menopause and after, our skin starts to produce less sebum. The downside of drier skin is that it appears rougher and is more sensitive to irritation.

When you moisturise, it's worth combining hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid with ectoin and niacinamide to help prevent water loss. You can also use lots of natural plant oils and butters in your skincare. These help to form an occlusive layer which covers your skin and protects it from the elements.

The best antioxidants for ageing beautifully

If you've ever seen an apple core turn brown, you'll know how oxidation can damage our skin. That's why antioxidants are so important. Look out for ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, green tea and apricot, argan, blueberry and raspberry oils and more. Natural ingredients give us lots of antioxidants, and using them helps our skin weather the elements and age beautifully over time.

And a reminder to wear your SPF

This topic on skin could be a post in itself but, if you do nothing else, make sure to wear a good SPF every morning and to reapply it again before you go out in the afternoon. My favourite SPF is Skin Defence from The Body Shop and I also like the mineral sunscreen by UpCircle.

So there you go. These are 5 ways I'm thinking about ageing beautifully as a skincare maker in my 30s. I'm sharing my age as I'm sure my perspective on ageing beautifully is linked to the chapter of life I'm in. Maybe it will change as I age. I'd love, what does ageing beautifully mean to you?

If you enjoyed this post, share it with a friend and ask what ageing beautifully means to them. I write every week about sustainable living, mindfulness and running a small independent business. If you'd like to receive these and more, make sure to subscribe to my Friday Ideas Book newsletter.

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