The Second Half: My aging face

By Kathleen D. Tresemer

Staring at the mirror the other day, I asked myself, “Who is that haggard old lady?” Of course, I had been through a particularly difficult week and hadn’t been sleeping as much as usual, but still…that face scared me.

The aging of my face has brought up feelings in my Second Half of life, feelings I never had before. I recall an episode of The Golden Girls, where Blanche shares a facial beauty secret: “Always face up!”

Each Golden Girl tried Blanche’s “face down” test: first, hold a mirror up over your head and look up into it; second, set the mirror on a counter or table and hover over it, looking directly down into the glass. HORRORS!

If you have poor self-esteem or a weak heart, I discourage you from this terrifying exercise. After gazing into the “face-up” mirror, I thought, “Not bad for an old broad!”

But then, I saw the “face-down” image: deeply shadowed with her sagging jowls, wrinkles, and double chin. That old crone gave me nightmares!

I admit to having a bit of an advantage in my Second Half, measuring only 5 feet, 4 inches—I have the built-in benefit of looking up at most people, subtracting roughly five years from my face. And living in the country gives me a “youthful glow”—it could be sun damage, but it’s cheaper than make-up.

In any case, approaching a “big” birthday—one ending in a “5”—has led me to wonder if there isn’t something I could do to slow the effects of aging on my Second Half face.

My esthetician, Kim, once told me getting regular facials can help skin remain youthful: “Cleansing and moisturizing keeps skin healthy and soft, while some massaging of the skin helps stimulate collagen and increases circulation to your face.”

From the article, “The Benefits of Facials for Anti-Aging Skin Care,” the author Brian Dolezal tells us:

Facial massage is very beneficial for wrinkles. The massage increases the blood circulation to the muscles of the face, which helps to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. There are over 100 muscles in the face, and massage helps to relax these muscles. This is particularly effective for wrinkles that result from muscle contractions, such as laugh lines and worry lines.

Facial massage is best done by a professional who is knowledgeable in massage techniques. An inexperienced person may actually cause more harm than good. When the muscles are not massaged properly, they sag, which can cause wrinkles to be more prominent. The massage is also very relaxing… great for stress relief. (Full article at:

OK, so I try to get a professional facial every once in a while. I love how it feels and would get one every week if I could, but my finances influence my splurges, and facials don’t usually make the list. Kim shared some other things I could do to protect my face: drink lots of water to hydrate the skin; exercise to improve overall circulation; don’t smoke or hang around smokers; and sleep on a silk pillowcase or on your back.

“I start off on my back,” I explain, “but usually end up on one side or the other, with my face all smushed up.” I’ll have to get a silk pillowcase to decrease the effects of all that smushing, I guess.

Another solution to the aging face is Facial Exercise. There must be a million Web sites discussing its benefits, most of them selling a book or DVD program. Happy Face Yoga by Gary Sikorski is reported to be the No. 1 facial exercise program in the world. He sells a DVD, seminars and classes, but on his Web site offers a link to an article describing his exercises ( and even demonstrates some of them on YouTube.

Many body builders and health enthusiasts believe the muscles in the face can be built up to shape and improve the look of aging skin, even to minimize or eliminate wrinkles. I turned to my favorite Second Half health guru, Jack LaLanne. Born in 1914, he helped keep generations looking and feeling youthful and vital. Did you know he has 30 facial workout videos on YouTube? Check ’em out at:

Facial Pilates is another facial exercise reported to give assistance, not only to aging skin, but to those who experience facial paralysis from Bell’s Palsy. I can’t give you any more information about this program—I would have had to purchase their program—but if you are interested, the Web site is

Skeptical about this stuff? In her article, “Face Lift Exercises—Do They Really Work?”, expert Rachel Nesbit says:

These are exercises meant to tone, firm and condition your facial muscles so they will look younger, firmer and will be less inclined to sagging or wrinkling. If you do these exercises for a length of time with a true determination, you will be able to witness a strengthening and firming of your skin in the areas of the face on which you work. (Read the complete article at:—Do-They-Really-Work?&id=979966)

Aside from lasers, lipo and injections of Botox, collagen or other strange substances, these seem to be the only options for “average folks” like me on or nearing Social Security—facial exercises are free, folks!

For now, the best I can do for this aging face is to drink lots of water, exercise and buy myself a silk pillowcase. I already made an appointment for a facial…just one of my special birthday presents to me!

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at

From the June 2-8, 2010 issue

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