the lowdown on coming "clean"
Here she is again, Valerie Monroe, taking on the big questions, especially the biggest, how to live at your best as you age. I am a man, I'm 86, I have zero interest in beauty products, and I do know a few women who are old and don't use them. My first wife never used them at all, and my daughter, who is in her early 60s, takes after her mother. My second wife, who is 80, does use beauty products and colors her hair, and she's seldom happier than the days she comes back from the beauty parlor with a haircut and a fresh color job.. So, to each her own. What I don't like is the beauty care industry. The prices strike me as outrageous even though the ads seldom show elderly women wearing the products advertised. It all seems like a giant scam, very much like the ads for Big Pharma that constantly promote medicines that do minor things, like solve your scratches. And you can't pronounce the names anyway. For the beauty industry, it's all about profit. But life is not all about profit. It's about love, risk, self-confidence, soul, satisfaction, and the beautiful all around you. It's also about sadness, loss, despair, anger, and the long slide toward death. When we give ourselves over to the essentials, we come less and less to care about the inessentials. And that's what I like about Val's columns. She gets it. She plays in the enemy's camp, bit she doesn't join their army.
Oh my that Baldwin quote!
On this snowy morning in upstate NY (and before start of my WFH day due to the snow), I'm really appreciating the quote from James Baldwin. I think of my year teaching English as Foreign Language in China and Vietnam nearly 30 years ago and how fondly I still remember the students, faculty, and people I met along the way during my time there. I also feel the same having visited many states in this country (USA, that is) and the people who made me feel welcomed and cared for, and most recently, my partner and I had a holiday in Puerto Rico and how we utterly loved meeting each person in every context. At the same time, we can do the same in our neighborhoods and decide to have a state of wonder about every encounter (just read this: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/27/well/mind/katherine-may-enchantment.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Well)
The very act of choosing products based on fear of age or illness is what's truly TOXIC. But I agree most women are overwhelmed by the misinformation and smoke and mirrors of both the clean, "natural", and "medical-grade" products out there, all of which don't exist, and are actually just distribution strategies. I have been offering "professional" level education to the Everywoman but it mostly falls of deaf ears as the spell of beauty marketing is still so strong. I was mentored by the formulator who discovered the peptide for the cosmetic industry so I know a thing or two about the subject.
Beware the chickens! Love these glimpses of your Tokyo life, Valerie!
I do pay attention to ingredients, but also just use very few products generally. For most of my life (I'm now 47), I've only used tap water to wash my face and didn't wear makeup (now I wear "clean" eyeliner and mascara most days, but that's it). I also used food-grade coconut oil as my main skincare product for decades. For sure can't speak to anyone else's experiences or preferences, but I feel this minimalist approach kept my skin way healthier and looking better than would have otherwise been the case.
Blast from the past -- I worked on Jergens and John Frieda for Kao at an ad agency in the aughts! About “clean” I can’t say enough about moderation as well -- as a beauty writer, i am asked to try so much product and I need to temper it, read labels (as we do with food) and remember to always go thin to thick when applying to ensure efficacy.
Now the other subject! From what I've read some perfumes do have troubling ingredients, but also their manufacture is unkind to the ecology. I got on the Green bandwagon when I saw Sophie Uliano with her friend Julia Roberts appear on Oprah. Sophie wrote a book, Gorgeously Green. I soaked it up cover to cover. I have not attained Sophie's level of Green-ness but I have been trying. Personal care, make up, laundry, and food mostly. Clothing and bedding not so much but I try when I can afford it. (New Birch mattress, organic cotton sheets) I'm about to create a new compost pile at our new location. It's a process and it's taken years to decide how far I'm willing to go. Making my own skincare I found was too tedious! We all get to choose our level of comfort and safety! ❤️
i will seek now to find that sense of "walking around with wonder" you so movingly describe....as it might pertain to late hour and frequent trips to my own wash closet which quite honestly has lost its sheen
-Oh my Valerie,
Here I am, sort of still trying to figure out the right words to let you know how deep the first part of this post, has factually touched me.
-Love, indeed, changes everything! To have the courage to love, is to preponderate over all visible barriers. To accept love, is to defy the tangible aspects of "winning". More than anything, to evoke love, is to understand the tapestry of life.
Aside from the insights into beauty, I so needed this gentle reminder today.
Leave it to HNTFUYF for a brilliant lowdown!
Having recently watched “Dopesick,” which dramatizes the corruption within the FDA that resulted in the disastrous approval of Purdue Pharma’s
Oxycontin, and the long, hard, slow slog toward tighter regulation of the opioid following exposure of this corruption, I am not at all surprised at the timing of the passage of MoCRA into law. But better late than never!
A few thoughts about what skincare ingredients to avoid. Many of the derms I’ve interviewed over the years had this to say: “The fewer the number of ingredients listed on the label, the lower the potential risk of irritation.”
Like you, I steer clear of products with parabens, fragrance, etc. I also try to use brands that are either derm-recommended (like Cetaphil) or developed with derms (like CeraVe). Keeping the number of products to a minimum also helps keep my skin—and my wallet—happy and healthy.
On the topic of self care, have to say that reading HNTFUYF every week is part of my own self care ritual!
So glad you’re enjoying family time in Tokyo. And thank you for the beautiful James Baldwin quote. Was just thinking about Baldwin yesterday and now thanks to you, “Nothing Personal” is on my must-read list!
So, so, good Val!!!
Oh my the Baldwin quote, yes! Mine is that my Best Girl left our home town, Phoenix, for Philadelphia (another planet) 10 years ago. First with occasional visits, I've been dreaming of moving closer ever since. It took a new husband and retirement but I'm now in Delaware (also another planet)! Truly another world and grateful for it, including the unsettlement it took.
I'd rather think about the ghost chickens.
Hi! Just joined! I’m a breast cancer survivor and wanted to share that Clearya is another good app for getting ingredients and I find it to be less “scary” and much less overwhelming than ThinkDirty or EWG. It’s taken me 4 years post-treatment to find a middle ground where I’m not obsessing over EVERYTHING that could cause cancer.
Hi Val!! I'm re-reading this a few weeks late and delighting in it all over again. I find myself somewhere in the middle after a few years where I became the equivalent of a skincare orthorexic. During a period of concern about my fertility I went CRAZY researching endocrine disruptors. I spent a year slathering myself in nothing but organic, virgin coconut oil. Aside from grease stains I left on my pillows, couch and carseat headrest, I also became cranky and righteous. I once accused my mother of messing with MY hormones by wearing lipstick while pregnant in 1984. "DID YOU OR DIDN'T YOU, MOM?" I said. "BECAUSE LIPSTICK IS NOTHING BUT LEAD." Anyway, the pursuit of 'pure' beauty made me neither more beautiful/ more healthy (I broke out everywhere) nor more pleasant. Now I dabble with all the offenders just to make sure I can. I'll use Essie nail polish if there's a color I like at the manicurist more than the Zoya in my bag; I'll wear drug store mascara because it makes my eyelashes truly superior. I'll even spray on Coppertone if that's all a friend has pool-side when I've forgotten my beach bag. If the choice is organic + insane, I choose otherwise.
A Horn-Blowing? HEAR! HEAR!
Val, I think HOW NOT TO F*UK UP YOUR FACE, should be included in ALL the roundups of ALL Best Newsletters....and congrats to making it on Ness's "23 Best Health and Wellness Newsletters of 2023!”