Growing Old with Grace (and Susan!)

I never thought it would happen to me. The aging process, that is. For the first 50 years of my life, I was holding my own, leaning on good genes and my mother’s wisdom in naming me Julie — meaning “One of Youth.” But one day it began to happen. I noticed the lines on my face becoming deeper and more defined. Then at one of my special treats, a facial, the technician said, “Your fine lines will soon become permanent wrinkles.” Despite trying to ignore it, my age was beginning to show. I wanted to grow old with grace, but I needed a little help. Enter Susan.   

I first met esthetician Susan at an open house held at My Plastic Surgery Group in Carmel. I was clueless about skin care when I entered the door. This became increasingly obvious as I flipped through a brochure describing services I’d never heard of. Facials were what I considered a luxury, and I may have had a handful — in my lifetime.  Mostly at vacation spas.

I soon realized that a medical spa like this office is quite different. The focus is on cleansing and exfoliating by removing layers of skin so that new cells can be produced. During my “Rejuvenating Facial,” Susan explained terms like collagen and elastin which I apparently need to reduce fine lines and prevent wrinkles. As the table warmed I tried to pay attention as my body slipped into a paralyzing state while the masks and hot towels were exchanged.

I’m not sure if it was the picking or the sucking (from the microdermabrasion) that jolted me back to reality, but all of a sudden, I was wide awake and filled with questions, “So could I prevent wrinkles through just doing facials? What about all these creams, serums, lotions? What is really necessary?” I explained to Susan that I didn’t want to look like a 20-year old, I just wanted to be the best that I could be and slow down the aging process. I knew I could take better care of my skin and do more than what I was currently doing — basic washing and then moisturizing with whatever makeup counter samples were available from the latest shopping trip. I did use a special cleanser prescribed by my dermatologist for rosacea, but that was the only consistent skin care product I had used for years. 

As Susan gently smoothed a cool mask on my face, her wisdom poured out: “Skin is your largest organ, and you need to take care of it as much as other parts of your body.” She got my attention and kept her explanation simple for this facial newbie. “It’s like exercise. You work out to get in shape, and strengthen your muscles by stretching and breaking them down to build them back up,” Susan continued. “When you get a facial, you are doing the same thing – rejuvenating the skin by breaking down the cells to remove them so new ones can grow.”

After seeing results from the initial facial and my desperate need for skin-care expertise, I decided that my face was as important as the rest of my body and signed up for a membership. That was over two years ago, and today my skin has never looked better. I found a maintenance routine that works and has prevented wrinkles and breakouts, and I look forward to my monthly facials that include a choice of a microdermabrasion, dermaplane, or a peel.

Although I have learned that I can’t stop the aging process, there are definitely ways to slow it down. I am still growing old with grace but just getting a little help from my friend Susan.

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