“Middle-aged woman notices her wrinkles, has a meltdown, then learns to love them” might be the oldest trope in the world. But it’s nonetheless a real crisis of varying degrees to peek at your window on Zoom and notice that the visage staring back at you looks nothing like the face you’re used to speaking from.

And in the age of coronavirus, it seems as if we’re all coming face-to-face with our true-but-a-bit-wonky images in video chats. Some of the shock is due to the fact that video cameras can distort your appearance, in the same way that voice mail can distort your voice; some of it is due to the fact that, unless you’re a newscaster or actress, you’re not used to seeing yourself talking and expressing; and some of it is due to the fact that, well, I don’t know about you, but *I’m* getting older. Sigh.

I feel you so hard, Cher: If I could turn back time, I’d never spend decades fake baking in a tanning bed, scorching my fair skin in the sun and chasing the burn that only turns to tan after a good blistering. 

Since reliable time travel isn’t a thing yet (Hello? Elon Musk?), I’m trying to learn to age gracefully. I’m not above adding a plastic surgeon to my online contacts one day. But for now, these tips for managing my “laugh lines” (let’s be real—some of them are “pick up your bookbag, put away your laundry and get ready for bed right now!” lines) are helping to bolster my sagging confidence.

Wrinkles: Reduce Their Appearance

We’re not going to discuss here how to actually get rid of wrinkles. Let’s leave that for the experts. Millions of dollars have been spent in search of the fountain of youth; and to be frank, it’s often just spouting the Kool-Aid. 

But there are things you can do to diffuse, distract from and otherwise conceal those signs of aging that bother you most:

Grin and bear it. Maybe you don’t live near a construction site where men are constantly reminding you to smile, baby. But if you can find some kind of reminder to turn that frown upside down—a timer on your watch, the sight of your spouse’s pile of dirty socks—your skin laxity is more likely to show up as crinkly crow’s feet, rather than an angry forehead crease. Wrinkles result from repeated motion in collagen-deficient skin. So if your expression settles naturally into resting bitch face, like mine, try to remember to smile frequently. Bonus: It’s less scary to spouses and small children.

Mute your makeup. There are few things that point a harsh arrow at wrinkles like eyeliner and lip liner. In fact, if makeup has the word “line” in it, then it probably will accentuate all of yours. Look for products that will provide a soft wash of color for your eyes and lips—warmer shades, especially, can enliven dry skin. Choose moisturizing or cream varieties of foundation and blush that won’t make their way into creases throughout the day. And ever-so-gently, fill in any eyebrows that Mother Nature has hit with her weed wacker.

Speaking of softer shades, start to incorporate them into your wardrobe as well. Wearing black next to your face can emphasize wrinkles and make skin look dull. Wearing your eye color or pinks emphasizes natural beauty.

Distract and disguise. The easiest way to deal with wrinkles? Block them from view. Yes, a face mask serves this purpose; but one day, the pandemic will pass. Instead, try out a pair of glasses. If you’re old enough to have wrinkles, you probably need them for reading by now anyway. And sunglasses are a must to prevent squinting, which only deepens those “eye dimples.” Bangs or a fringe haircut around the face work equally as well to cover your creases.

Other ways to take the focus off of your aging skin: a pair of distinctive earrings or a necklace that gives a little glitter or glint to catch the eye, or a sophisticated scarf along the lines of Audrey Hepburn or the flight attendants of yesteryear. 

The easiest way to deal with wrinkles? Block them from view. Yes, a face mask serves this purpose; but one day, the pandemic will pass. Instead, try out a pair of glasses. If you’re old enough to have wrinkles, you probably need them for reading by now anyway.

Have a drink. No, I’m not suggesting you reduce the appearance of your wrinkles by wearing wine goggles. Instead, drink more water, to hydrate and flush toxins. Watch the salt in your diet, as well as the sugar—both can wreak havoc with your skin in the short term and the long term. Eat a balanced diet including lots of fruits and green vegetables. It’s all stuff your mother told you, but self-care does help.

(And for the love of all that is holy, wear sunscreen!)

Wrinkles: Reduce How Much You Care

Confidence should come from many sources, the least of which should be things out of your control, like aging and genetics. Consider these ways to maintain or increase your self-assuredness in the face of society’s obsession with youth:

Let’s get physical. Remember that song by Olivia Newton-John? Then you probably have wrinkles. That doesn’t mean you can’t also have a buff, strong body, too. The stories of people who started running or weightlifting in middle age are legion and inspiring. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE. Physical fitness can keep your mind sharp and your body healthy, and provide a sense of pride that comes from keeping up with those youngsters at the gym or on the trail. 

Take up a talent. Bedazzle the people around you with a unique skill or pastime that makes them—and you—forget any unfortunate folds in your face. Try your hand at the ukelele. Tell tall tales from your travels. Learn sign language or Russian or ice sculpting. As soon as you start talking about your passion, your face will light up, and happy beams of joy will emanate from your pores, medically speaking.

Hang with the cool kids. If I say that age is just a number, do you roll your eyes so hard they nearly fall out of your head? Good! You’re like those young people who think that they know everything…and often do know some really cool things. Shake up your fusty tastes and ask a teen or twentysomething about music, movies, technology. Hit up a concert or watch a show. Become conversant in the new. You’ll be a hero in the eyes of not just the kids, but also the adults who only wish they could be so cool. What wrinkles?

Dress for success. Successful aging, that is. Trendy things have an era. Don’t try to ride that wave. Chances are, fresh trends are made for truly young bodies and will only age you faster than a grandchild with a Sharpie near your furniture. Past trends? Even worse—now you’re old AND out of date. Choose timeless clothes that fit and flatter. We’ve talked about this in previous RidMe blogs, if you need some help. (Choosing an age-appropriate style icon is a great place to start.) Better still, the community on the RidMe app can help you with comments and advice on outfits in your wardrobe. Wrinkles are only one part of your look; be smart about the rest.

Grin again. Wrinkles are kind of stupid, aren’t they? So why not laugh? One gorgeous actress whose name I’ve forgotten (maybe it was Gabrielle Union?) said that she feels lucky to have wrinkles, because that means she’s had the chance to age. When you look at it that way, they are kind of a privilege. And there’s no way to escape them forever, short of that scary, I-just-inhaled-a-lot-of-helium look you get from too many fillers. 

So take care of your skin, take care of your body and take care of your spirit in all the ways that you can, but let the creases come where they may. Find your tribe of friends who are also increasingly terrified by the visage they see on Zoom, and spend lots of time smiling at one another. At least your wrinkles will be the crinkly kind.

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