Above, a snapshot of television history. The year was 1999, and in this particular Sex and the City episode, Carrie and co. are living it up in the Hamptons for the last leg of summer. The crew of 30-something year-olds (Carrie and friends) keep encountering 20-somethings throughout the trip, and events ensue to remind the 30-somethings that 20-something life is mostly a mess. To use a Sex and the City-ism, it got ITG thinking, “what about 20-something versus 30-something skincare?” If the thesis of the episode was that 30-something you is more stable and capable when it comes to relationships and career, does that carry over into beauty? Well, with a 20-something and a 30-something on the ITG staff, there was only one way to find out. Truthfully we could talk about this all day, and maybe you can too. If so, our handy dandy comment section is calling.
Ashley Weatherford, 30-something: I wanted to talk about this because, well, I’m in my 30s. There are a lot of things I would hear about skincare in my 20s that I thought were completely silly, over-the-top, and unnecessary. Things that you didn’t have to worry about not just in your 20s but as a human being. And then there are things I just didn’t see the value in. I’m curious about your mindset about skincare, or beauty in general, as a person in your 20s. What’s your take on it? I wonder if it’s sort of where mine was when I was your age.
Ali Oshinsky, 20-something: There’s definitely stuff that I feel has no point… I’ve told you a million times that that’s how I feel about hydrating essences. I just don’t get it.
Ashley: If you told me when I was 21 years old that I’d be into hydrating masks, I’d look at you like you were crazy. I hated my oily skin! Dermalogica had this one line targeted to teens and people in their early 20s, and Ali, I remember being so excited when I found out about it. Now, I could not imagine wearing a matte sunscreen. So I love essences, and really great, thick moisturizers. Give me the stuff that’ll melt into my skin and make me look shiny—basically I’m searching for my 20-something skin that I used to hate.
Ali: I asked you a few weeks ago if you use your face moisturizer or your body moisturizer on your neck, because I use my body moisturizer there.
Ashley: Why? I want to use the more expensive stuff on my neck.
Ali: I’m not breaking out on my neck, so whatever’s good for my body is probably fine there too! I don’t know—I don’t worry about my neck at all.
Ashley: I remember being in my 20s and worrying about undereye circles. Now I kind of want to smack any young person complaining about that. I used to wear retinol eye cream diligently, and a puffiness eye cream… now I just don’t care. There’s a sense of relief in not caring, as you shed these worries you had when you were younger. You’ve lived with your face and body for so long…This is you! This is who you are! You appreciate it more and care less about what other people think or how you’re perceived. There are so many things I used to worry or nitpick about when I was younger that I think are so silly now. You look back on days where you felt like crap, and you’re like, ‘I was fine. I was gorgeous!’
Ali: It’s that thing where you feel so bad about your body in a picture and then you go back and look at it and you’re obviously hot.
Ashley: That is real!
Ali: Do you feel like you’ve had a more positive relationship with your skin in general then? Because I feel like… I was talking to a friend recently who was saying that when she has two pimples she thinks she looks disgusting, even if I might not even notice them on her. That’s a lot of negativity to carry around with yourself, especially when you might always have a zit or two or three or four or five. It feels horrible!
Ashley: I treated skincare like a battle. Mostly because I was fighting acne. Now it’s more like, what does my skin need? How can I give it the things that it needs to thrive, and have the best foundation for whatever comes my way? It’s not a negative relationship at all—it’s like, how can I water my garden?
Ali: OK, now to go back to your other comment. Let’s take, say, Botox. My take is that it’s great that some people get Botox, but I think I’ll just want to look my age when I’m a certain age.
Ashley: See, that’s a 20-something comment. I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t think most people who are 60 think ‘I want to look 60 and not a day younger.’ You could look amazing, but still maybe want to look a little not like your actual age. I feel that way about gray hair too.
Ali: I’m dying for gray hair.
Ashley: Exactly. I do think it’s a really good look! But when you have no choice, it’s different. It’s like nap time for kindergarteners: I hated nap time and now I would kill for that. You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s not really an option. I’m curious, as a person in your 20s, do you feel confident making a statement like ‘I’ll never get any sort of surgery,’ or ‘I’ll never get fillers’?
Ali: No, I don’t. It’s so tricky, actually, because there are older people who look really, really great. It’s not like they’re trying to look young—I think they look their age. But I’m still not totally sure if that’s their real face at their age. Do you know what I mean? I think it’s hard to have a realistic expectation of what someone looks like when they’re 50 or 60 or 70 these days. I know your mom hasn’t done much, so you can get a better idea of what you might look like, but the women in my family have done things! I don’t want to look young, but I want to look good, and I don’t know where that line is going to be.
Ashley: I’m curious, because you mentioned the women in your family, do you feel a sense of excitement in not necessarily knowing what you’ll look like when you get older, because you don’t have a clear reference point? Are you nervous, or have you not thought about that at all?
Ali: Part of me is curious about how skincare will affect my aging timeline—like, if I use tretinoin and wear sunscreen consistently, how is my face going to look?
Ashley: There are so many environmental things. Like, are they vegetarians too? That helps with your skin.
Ali: Does it? I didn’t actually know that. No, they’re not. And, you know, my grandma smoked cigarettes for a lot of her life, and my mom would lay out in the sun with one of those tanning mirrors. Obviously I’m not doing any of that! I do wonder how much of a difference it’s actually going to make.
Ashley: I really do remember being super sanctimonious about beauty when I was younger, and thinking that people care too much about the wrong things. Now, it’s like with everything: I sort of see where they were coming from, or that there is a need for a particular thing. It’s very humbling, and it’s also been interesting in terms of my world opening up more. I’m trying new things—I am now trying an oil, the Biophile one, which I like!
Ali: You were so nervous to try that! Honestly, if it wasn’t my actual job, I think I would be a lot less curious about skincare. If you think of my interest in skincare as a graph, there would be a huge spike around my late-teenage years where I really felt like I needed skincare because I was breaking out so much. There was definitely that battle we were talking about earlier. I think more recently my hormones have balanced out, which happens when you get a little older, and I’ve mostly figured out what works to keep my breakouts at bay. If I try something new I might break out, and I probably will! It happens all the time! So right now, I’m not necessarily curious what bigger better deal is out there. I’m kind of at a plateau. I imagine that will start to change once the graph ticks up again…
Ashley: You know, that reminds me of the dog trainer who came over to help with Puff. He had issues biting and barking, and we pretty much solved those. As she was heading out the door, she said, ‘Oh, there are going to be other things.’ We were like, what are the other things? But they could be anything, they just develop. His new thing is that he’s scratching at the door, because he wants to go out for a walk. With skincare you’ll solve something, and then this other thing will just pop up. Now, I just don’t approach it from a place of wanting to look good to other people. It’s more so with these shifting things in my own body, I just have different needs now. Just knowing you now, Ali, you’re not going to suddenly develop a complex when you get older—I kind of feel like you will just learn to live in your body and appreciate it more. Not to be all earnest about this—
Ali: This is a very earnest, uplifting conversation! I’m enjoying it!
Ashley: Getting older has been a learning experience for me, in that there’s always space for your perspective to change. That’s what makes beauty cool and fun anyway! You can change, and it’s fun.
Ali: That sounds nice. I’m excited.
Ashley: You’re going to love it.
Photo via HBO