Mommy Versus Mother Nature

Mother Nature can be an evil, spiteful witch. Etching fine lines and wrinkles on a 30-something mom’s face isn’t good enough. Oh no. She decides to invite our old friend from high school – Shiny McPimple – to the party.

Ten years ago, I never, ever would have thought I’d be broadcasting my acne troubles on the Internet. But hey, we’re all friends here, right? In talking with my fellow moms, I discovered I’m not alone – many of us, since giving birth, have noticed our skin is stuck in a weird limbo between The Wonder Years and The Golden Girls.

According to Dr. Michelle Tarbox, SLUCare dermatologist, via e-mail, these little grievances all come down to two things – hormones and stress. “Acne is actually quite common in women in their 30’s because there are hormonal fluctuations that occur as part of normal maturity as well as changes that happen with pregnancy and breastfeeding. All of these fluctuations can trigger acne outbreaks just as they did in puberty.”

She noted that many women our age often experience acne along our jawline, something known as “beard distribution” since this area is hormonally responsive in both males and females. “All women have some male hormone, and when there is an imbalance in male to female hormone, this hormonally responsive skin may over-produce oil, leading to acne,” explained Dr. Tarbox.

If that’s not enough, our 30’s can also bring on the first inklings of crow’s feet and fine lines, magnified by the constantly furrowed brow over why our 4-year-old insists on chewing her flip-flops and the puppet lines around our mouths from repeatedly yelling at our 1-year-old to stop taking off her diaper and twirling it like she’s at Spring Break.

So what’s a girl to do to strike the right balance and bring her skin back to life?

To treat acne, choose the right product for your skin. Dr. Tarbox suggested that women in their 30’s with true acne revert back to what worked in our teens – products with salicylic acid, which serves as both an exfoliant and an anti-inflammatory, or products with benzoyl peroxide. For those women who find salicylic acid too drying, she recommended Neutrogena Advanced Solutions Complete Acne Treatment System as a gentler choice.

Another type of acne women our age face is perioral dermatitis, or what Dr. Tarbox considers “the evil older brother of acne,” which occurs mainly around the mouth, is difficult to treat, and can be worsened by products used to treat traditional acne. For perioral dermatitis, Dr. Tarbox suggested gentler products like the Eucerin Redness Relief line which contains Licochalcone, a “soothing extract of licorice root which helps relieve perioral dermatitis,” or the CeraVe line that features ceramides or “the lipids the skin makes to hydrate itself.”

For acne that you can’t treat on your own or that worsen after an at-home treatment, it’s important to speak with a dermatologist to see what other options might be available. And as always, check with your doctor before using any products if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

To treat fine lines, choose the right product for your skin. “In a patient who has dry, maturing skin with fine wrinkles, a cream that replenishes lost moisture and improves skin texture is a good choice,” said Dr. Tarbox. She suggested the Olay Regenerist line for most women and for those with true acne, RoC products which contain Retinal, or the over-the-counter version of Retin-A. To those suffering from perioral dermatitis, one option might be the Eucerin Q10 moisturizing cream from its redness relief line.

Get down to the nitty gritty. A good exfoliating treatment can bring brightness back to the dullest of skin. “Use a mildly exfoliating product with glycolic or salicidic acid to slough off dead skin cells,” said Tami Scott, makeup artist and proprietor of Tami Scott Studio, through email. “It also aides with reducing the look of wrinkles and skin breakouts.”

Scott has a full line of makeup available at salons across St. Louis that features an under-makeup face primer which includes salicylic acid as well as SPF to protect the skin after exfoliation and silicone that provides a smooth palette for applying makeup.

Choose the right makeup to hide what you don’t like and emphasize what you do. The same products we used 10 years ago might not be the right choices for today. Too much powder, for instance, according to Scott, can get caught in fine lines and emphasize wrinkles. She suggested using a loose powder to set a cream or liquid mineral foundation (you can also hide adult acne by gently patting extra mineral foundation onto trouble spots using a makeup sponge).

Other great tips from Scott included choosing a concealer with a yellow tint to diminish dark undereye circles, a good eye cream to fill in fine lines (including around those around your mouth) and a lifting or firming cream to wake up tired eyes.

Hit the yoga studio. “Yoga’s upside-down poses get blood flowing to the face and energize and invigorate the cells,” said Scott. “A dedicated 10-20 minutes in the morning for 30 days will change how you look. Try it! You’ll be hooked by the way you look and feel. No one ever says yoga is good skincare – but it IS!”

Drink up! Water, that is. Both Dr. Tarbox and Scott agreed – staying hydrated, along with eating a healthy diet – is key to keeping healthy and supple. Remarked Scott, “Drink at least a liter of water a day, if not two. I swear, you’ll see a difference in two weeks if you drink two liters of water a day – it cures dryness, oiliness, tired skin and low energy!”

Stop looking so ticked off. A simple, free way to make your skin look its best? “SMILE!” said Scott. “It’s an instant facelift! Do it all the time!”

A mom’s vanity quickly diminishes after having kids, but we still want to look great – even if our interaction is limited to toddlers and the Imagination Movers. By following a few simple steps, our skin can appear youthful and healthy, no matter what the day might hold.

By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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