August 26, 2020

Feeling Old

I never used to think about getting old or worry about what I would look like as I got older. Until a couple of years ago, I used to think I looked relatively young for my age (or at least not *older than* my age).

I had a very hard time turning 30, but after that hump, I didn't worry too much about the number. I didn't freak out over getting some gray hairs. I think wrinkles in the right places can actually be cute! (I love "crows feet" that crinkle when people smile). 

Several months ago, someone said something that felt like a punch in the stomach and really made me question all of that again. And I hate that I let it bother me! I'm used to people talking about my weight--it's super public and I have no problem discussing it (obviously). But my age?

I'm 38. Jerry will be 40 in a couple of weeks.

I'd gone with Jerry to his appointment with the gastroenterologist about his stomach issues, and they ordered lab work. We went right from his appointment to the lab. We walked into the lobby, and Jerry brought his script up to the counter while I sat down in the waiting area. Jerry handed over his ID and insurance card, and the woman who took them exclaimed that she would never have guessed he was in his late thirties...

"I thought that was your mom with you!"

My mouth literally gaped open. The other receptionist immediately tried to explain "he just looked so young--not that you looked old". I couldn't even laugh about it. She thought I was his MOM?

Suddenly, every hair on my head was gray, and every wrinkle on my face was as deep as the Grand Canyon. I was a little old lady with a walker and bifocals, drinking prune juice and calling the receptionists "honey" in a thin, wavering voice. I was ancient. At Death's door. God's waiting room. Bill Knapps, for Chrissake! (And saying words like "Chrissake")

I write this tongue-in-cheek, of course. (The Bill Knapps reference is something that my friend Sarah and I used to laugh about in college--she worked at Bill Knapps and would talk about how most people who dined there were probably in their 80's.) But I'd never felt self-conscious about my age until that one comment threw me for a loop. One that is still circling. 

All of the signs of aging suddenly started to hit me. I hadn't thought about it until it was brought to my attention via a very nice receptionist who was not trying to be rude, but happened to blurt out the wrong thing to an insecure person.

Lately, I've been very conscious of my skin.

The sun is not good to my skin. For as long as I can remember, I've had vitiligo (a skin condition that causes white patches to form because the skin in those areas loses pigment). People tend to think of Michael Jackson when they hear about vitiligo--I do believe he had it as he claimed, but I think he probably had some sort of treatment to lighten the rest of his skin to "match" the vitiligo patches.

Anyways, I have patches here and there, which are easily hidden, but I also have it on my face (not so hidden). It honestly never really bothered me until a year or so ago when I noticed that I was also getting darker pigmentation in areas of my face, too (melasma, I believe, but I haven't been diagnosed with anything). Melasma is basically the opposite of vitiligo. I guess they are fighting for territory on my face?!

The vitiligo is most pronounced around my eyes, particularly my left eye (it almost looks like white eyeshadow). Ever since I started walking twice a day outside, the dark spots are getting darker which makes the vitiligo stand out even more. I really hate that the skin on my upper lip has darkened--it looks like I have a mustache!


I don't like to wear make-up, and I rarely do. But maybe if I did, people wouldn't think I was old enough to have a 39-year old son!

Whenever I go outside, I wear SPF 110 and a visor to shield my face. I always wear the sunscreen, even if it's cloudy outside or early morning when the sun is barely up. I hoped that by keeping my face protected from the sun, the dark spots wouldn't get darker. However, it just keeps getting worse, and each time I see my face in the mirror or pictures, I feel self-conscious of it.

Anyway, I know a lot of this is mental (ridiculous that I let one woman's comment trigger this consciousness of aging) but I really am concerned about my skin. Do any of you have melasma and/or vitiligo? I don't mind the vitiligo very much, because my skin is (usually) very light and you can't see the vitiligo patches very well. But this melasma (or whatever is making the skin on my face darken) is driving me crazy because it seems to get worse by the day.

I'm just curious if any of you experience it and if you have any advice--I'd love to hear/read! (I don't take birth control pills, which that is known as a trigger for melasma, so it's not related to that.)

55 comments:

  1. I don’t have either of those conditions, but make sure your sunscreen has zinc in it. Otherwise, it doesn’t really protect you. EltaMD is a great choice.

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    1. Ugh, I just looked and I don't think my sunscreen has zinc (I use Neutrogena something-or-other SPF 110). Thanks for the info!

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  2. I have some melasma - a pretty prominent patch on my forehead - it kind of looks like a bad make-up job haha. One of my students pointed it out so now I try to part my hair so it covers it. I do wear makeup which helps a lot with the patches on my cheeks which are less obvious than my forehead. I purchased Neutrogena's Rapid Tone Repair serum (dark spot corrector) and it seemed to help when I used it consistently.

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    1. Of course a student pointed it out! ;) Kids definitely don't hold back. Thank you for the info--I'm going to look for it! I need something I can do at home.

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  3. Yes about the zinc. My husband is a doctor and is so adamant about sunscreen having zinc. Our kids hate it because it leaves your skin a little white but that is a good sign! We live in AZ so sunscreen is important. I have been running all summer long and while my legs and arms are nice and tan my face hasn’t. πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ˜Š

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    1. I had no idea about the zinc! Thanks for the info--I don't care how white it leave me, I just want my skin to be even-toned! :)

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  4. You do not look like you’re Jerry’s mom. That woman was making a pass at him. You need to ignore everything she said. I would have guessed you about 7 years younger than you are. You are beautiful!!!!

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    1. Bless you! xoxoxo Hahaha, I never questioned my aging until she said that!

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  5. I have melasma/sun damage along with my rosacea. I was so insecure about my skin for ages, it really ruined my self esteem. Not to mention people who would say “what’s wrong with your face?!” And “you’d be so pretty if you didn’t have bad skin” or “can’t you cover that with makeup?!” (I WAS wearing makeup..! Ugh, people).

    I highly suggest a laser treatment like IPL. It’s amazing and it will greatly improve/get rid of age spots and melasma. It also helps with skin texture, at least for me. And redness... it’s amazing! I’d find a good aesthetic dermatologist who will do a free consultation first. Mine is amazing, she has a private business and doesn’t take insurance, which actually ends up being cheaper. Usually a series of 3 treatments is recommended. I hope this helps! I wish you could see my before and afters, but I hated my appearance so much I almost never took photos of my face :-/

    PS- I’m a year younger than you and I always thought you were younger than me! I thought you had your kids very, very young!

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    1. I can't believe that people would say that... to anyone! People used to yell "Moo!" or "Fat cow!" or things like that to me when I was running, and it was infuriating--it made me want to lose the weight even more. But my skin... I can't fix it!

      I do feel like I had my kids young... I was 22 when I had Noah. But I suppose it's all relative. I could've had him 15!

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  6. I once had a very similar experience. Several years ago, my husband and I went to meet someone selling a used car. I'm 37, but my husband is 3.5 years younger than me so at the time I was 35 and he was 31. My husband got in the car to take it for a test drive, and the gentleman selling the car turned to me with a big grin and said "your son has to have a good car so he can drive you around!". He was dead serious, and I was horrified. I didn't even correct him, and as soon as my husband came back with the car I blurted out "I think we're going to keep looking" and sulked as I walked quickly back to our car. The man was so confused, but my husband just shrugged and got in our car. It still irritates me when I think about it, LOL

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    1. Ugh! That's terrible--I would have been horrified, too. People, while they mean well, tend to assume everything. It really sucks when they are very wrong!

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  7. I agree with the comment above. Elta MD is a fantastic daily moisturizer with sunscreen in it. I use the one called UV Clear SPF 46. There is a regular formula or a tinted one. I like both, but the tinted one is a bit dark on me in the winter (I have a fair-light skin tone too). It also has a good amount of niacinamide, which helps to brighten dark spots, as well as improve texture and tighten pores. I use this daily and my skin hasn't looked better.

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    1. Thank you for the info! I'm going to look for it. I just have no idea what to even look for when I pick out something for my skin, so it's nice to have some input. I appreciate it!

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  8. I went to the dermatologist for sun damage. I'm guessing your SPF is a typo... if you're only wearing 10, definitely get a 30 at minimum for your face. Anythingabove 50 is a waste of money (research has shown that). Also, get a mineral sunscreen. Not only are they much better for the environment (coral bleaching), the FDA is also in the process of updating their recommendations. Oxybenzone (chemical sunscreen) is no bueno, lots of research on that too.
    Consider adding a good quality retinol serum/cream to your nightly routine to even your skin tone. Start with a low percentage, especially if you don't do much with your skin. It'll really help!

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    1. I wrote SPF 110, and it's not a typo--it was the highest number I could find! I don't care at all about getting tanned. I just want my skin to have an even tone. I didn't know that anything above 50 is a waste of money--I'll have to read more about that!
      Thanks so much for the info. I have never had a regular skin routine, and it's (clearly) showing now. I appreciate your input!

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  9. I get melasma, especially around my eyes. I started to use a vitamin c serum every morning when I remember and then sunscreen and that seems to help the melaama lighten and get rid of it. For what it's worth, I've always thought you look really young! I don't know what that lady was talking about. Maybe she thought someone else was with Jerry?

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    1. I wish she thought someone else was with Jerry! But nope, we were the only people there. It was a shock to me--but maybe I was living in the past(?). I've never checked out Vitamin C serum, so I will check it out. I'm interested in anything I can do!

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  10. WOW. That was a very inappropriate comment by that woman :(

    You do NOT look like Jerry's mom at all. I don't have vitiligo, but definitely some of the melasma. for me, I decided my love for the sun (with sunscreen and other protection) outweighs any sunspots on my face.

    Your point about make up is SO RIGHT--so many people are used to heavily made up faces, there just isn't any understanding what range there is for an unmade face. Also, if you are going through stress and other factors, it can make your appearance in that moment look different from your normal. I've been following Katie Sturino on insta for her part in normalizing different sizes but also for normalizing suncare :)

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    1. I'm SURE she wasn't trying to be mean, but the comment was really insensitive at the moment, unfortunately. I'm so glad you don't think I look like Jerry's mom! People are always saying how young Jerry looks, and I feel older and older by the minute.

      I've had an abnormal amount of stress the past couple of years, so I was curious that it may have had an impact on my physical health. I'll check out the Insta account--thank you!

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  11. So I have an autoimmune disease which causes skin darkening. My dermatologist prescribed hydroquinone, which is a bleaching cream. It takes awhile and you have to be consistent, but it does work.

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    1. Thank you for the input! I have questioned autoimmune because my dad has an autoimmune disease and I have so many of his symptoms. I'll be sure to ask my dermatologist!

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  12. I have melasma too - on my forehead. My dermatologist prescribed me Triluma cream. I put it on once every night before bed. It has really helped lighten up the spot on my forehead. The hardest part is remembering to out it on because yo have to store the cream in the refrigerator.

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    1. Thank you for the info... I'll have to ask my dermatologist about it. I can always set an alarm on my phone to make sure I use it. It would be great if it helps!

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  13. Hi- I would suggest you make sure you have a good skincare routine so that overall your skin feels, and looks, better. The sun damage and dryness in the photo can be partially rectified by a good serum and moisturizing regimen. Nothing expensive, just basic drugstore Olay and Loreal products or whatnot. A good vitamin C serum after cleansing can fade the pigment somewhat. The moisturizer will plump up your skin and it won't look so dry. Also, a dermatologist can recommend things that would fade the melasma. I'm 42 and I have a partial albino gene so I'm extremely fair... but can still get sunspots and a little bit of melasma. I stepped up my skincare routine and it's done wonders in the past 5 years. The joys of aging :(

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    1. Thank you! I have (unfortunately) never had a skin care routine. I always thought my skin was fine until the last few years! I wish I'd taken care of my skin before, but I was young and stupid... ugh. I appreciate the info!

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  14. I don't have any helpful comment on the condition, but just wanted to say that if you hadn't pointed it out in the picture you posted, I wouldn't even have noticed it. I think sometimes our eyes focus on something about our bodies so it seems so obvious, but other people are looking at the whole picture and not "little" details.

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    1. Thank you!! I know what you mean. I recently commented on a friend's photo about how cute she looked (pregnant). Then she mentioned she wasn't wearing make-up, but I hadn't even noticed!

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  15. I feel for you! I had a coworker who used to comment on how young my husband looks. Ok!?! I second the choice on sunscreen with zinc.

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    1. People ALWAYS comment about how young Jerry looks. Meanwhile, I'm like, "What about ME?! Do I look ancient?"

      Thanks for the recommend the choice on sunscreen with zinc. I'd never have thought of it!

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  16. about 7 years ago, we had some work in the house done, and the contractor asked if I was my daughter's grandma. This made my blood BOIL. I was mid-30's at the time, almost no grey hair and I am really not very wrinkled. No idea why he thought it, or even worse SAID it. I still remember it like it was yesterday. SIGH. People just need to learn to zip it.

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    1. Wow! He must have been in his teens? Hahaha. I can completely imagine how infuriating that must have been. He probably thought he was making nice small-talk. Yes, I wish they'd just not say anything at all in that case! ;)

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  17. The dark patches on your face are skin damage from the sun. They can be lasered off by a dermatologist, but it's very expensive. It doesn't matter how much sun screen you're putting on now, the sun damage was done when you were young, it doesn't go away on it's own. I have to go get a skin check 1x a year at a dermatologists office because of damage I did to my skin when I was young. I've had multiple areas of actinic keratosis frozen off my face, these are pre-cancerous areas that are usually dry/scaly or a spot that never seems to be "right".

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    1. I was NOT kind to my skin when I was younger, unfortunately. When I was a teen, everybody was going to the tanning beds and it was no big deal. My friend Sarah and I would go three times a week. She ended up getting melanoma and she passed away in 2014. It really made me think about all the damage I did when I didn't know any better, unfortunately.

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  18. As Bette Davis once said "Old age ain't no place for sissies!" Ugh Katie, I am quite a bit older than you, and I feel you. Aging is a lot like grief. You realize that your youth is fleeting (loss) you are angry, you become hyper focused on any and all flaws or signs of aging you try to reverse it and then, at some point, you start to accept and embrace the process. You do not in anyway shape or form look old enough to be your husband's mother. We need to allow for some stupidity:-) on the parts of others. I guess in some ways, aging forces you to focus more on who you are and not how you look to others. All that being said, you are not yet what would be referred to as old at all.

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    1. You are way too kind! Thank you. And your timeline is SPOT ON. I literally never thought about aging until I was told that I looked old, and it made me hyper-aware of any and all signs of aging. I just hope I can embrace it soon! <3

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  19. I have a patch of melasma over my right eyebrow. I didn't think it was that noticeable until my husband's ex asked me if I have a scar over my eye!

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    1. I can't believe she would have the nerve to ask that! Some people just don't have a clue.

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  20. Is it possible to see a dermatologist? Retinol may help. I have been using retinol for a while now, (not for melasma just aging) and my skin looks fairly good. I am 44 and trying to stave off the signs. Might be an option.

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    1. Yes, I really like my dermatologist. I just hope that I can deal with this with over the counter stuff instead of going in for treatments. Thank you for your input! Anything that will help me feel "less old" is welcome, hahaha ;)

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  21. That lady has no idea what she’s talking about! Vitamin C, specifically a serum with blackberry extract really helped my melasma. That, and avoiding the sun.

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    1. Thank you! It sounds like Vitamin C has helped others, too. I'm going to see what I can find! Thank you :)

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  22. I found a serum with blackberry extract really helped with melasma.

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    1. Thank you! I will see what I can find. I avoid the sun as much as I can, but since I've been out and walking so much, my skin has definitely paid the price, unfortunately.

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  23. I try to control my melasma which gets much worse in the summer than in the winter. Ive used the Obaji system and no Im working with Curology. Mixed reviews for both systems. The key for me is SUNSCREEN. all the time, everyday. If I know Ill be leaving the house, no matter the weather, I will put on sunscreen. Mineral sunscreen, full spectrum. It's no longer optional for me. And now I get to wear one of those big floppy sunhats when Im out at the beach. Sun protection all.the.time.

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    1. What sunscreen do you use, if you don't mind my asking? I don't mind wearing it all the time. I would love to not have to go do laser treatments, etc. I avoid the sun as much as possible, anyway--I always prefer cloudy weather! :)

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  24. Oh sweetheart. I'm turning 59 in the morning. I feel you!!!

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  25. I follow a dermotology PA on IG who is super helpful and normal and has great advice for all those things. Her handle is @skincarebysydney_reference or @sydneygivens_. She is super helpful and has lots of great advice for normal budgets and is realistic about what people will do for skincare. Highly suggest checking out her stuff!!

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  26. I follow dermatology PA on IG who has super helpful advice on all this. Search for “Sydney Givens.” I like that she’s normal, has very down to earth advice and gets that people don’t always want to spend a ton of money on skincare. She talks about all the things you mentioned. Highly recommend

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  27. I had my son at 35, so I'm an old(er) mom, but I can't stand it when people ask if he's my grandson! People need a filter. You do NOT look like you could be Jerry's mom at all! No input on your skin, except it reminds me of the pregnancy "mask" that I had.

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  28. Wow that woman was kind of rude! It almost honestly sounded like she was trying to flirt with Jerry. But I wasn't there obviously! Haha so maybe just an oblivious woman! When I was 18, I worked at Target as a cashier. I was definitely a little heavier back then and I always carry my extra weight in my stomach. I don't know if it was just the way I was standing one day but TWO people that I checked out that day asked me when my baby was due. And I was definitely not pregnant. I was more in shock than anything, I didn't know what to say! Some people just have no filter sometimes I think!

    I don't know much about skin care myself, I wash my face every night with a Neutrogena face cleanser and I put on my foundation every day day that has SPF in it. I know I need to find a better more solid skin care routine though!

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  29. I have a funny story to share. My significant other is only 4 years older than me. I am 37. However, he started going gray very early, and he's very gray as a 41 year old (no plans to color his hair). A couple of years ago we went to a rated R movie, and since I did not have my driver's license with me, they didn't believe I was at least 17. They told me I had to stay with my dad the entire movie or I wouldn't be allowed in. It was extremely embarrassing they thought I was his daughter. LOL.

    I have been a high school teacher for 15 years, and the first day a new para started with one of my students, she asked me why I was sitting in the teacher's chair. She thought I was a student. This is crazy to me because I do have some gray hairs, and I definitely do not look that young!!

    You do NOT look old. I don't know what that receptionist was smoking!!

    My sister has vitiligo very bad. She goes to a dermatologist for some sort of treatment to protect her skin. I have had friends that had IPL done for the melasma with good results.

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  30. I was 13yo and went up to the checkout counter to ask if they had tamagotchi toys. There were three kids at the counter with the lady. She asked me if I was their mom.
    People are just STUPID. It’s not you, it’s them.

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  31. First of all, you do not look like your husband's mom. Not even close!! I had melasma with all my pregnancies. My last pregnancy it didn't clear up until I eliminated sugar from my diet. I'm not sure if there is a connection or if it was just a coincidence.

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  32. Someone referred to my husband as my dad when we were ON OUR HONEYMOON! He was 25 and I was 24 (he's 3 months older than me). But he also is/was bald--his hair started falling out at 18. But still--at 24/25, even if I looked 18 and he looked 36 (which is a HUGE stretch in both directions)--it's fairly unlikely that we were father and daughter. People just have no concept of how old others might be and they make the silliest assumptions about relationships. It is amazing the power a comment can have, though. I'm 100% sure the person who said it already has little to no memory of saying it, but it held such power over you. It's a good reminder of how we should all be careful with our words because they can have lasting effects on people around us.

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