Seventeen girls circa 2002: Monica, Tata, Maya, Mariel, and Anne.

When my former boss (and first magazine editor) at Seventeen, Maya, uploaded this photo on Facebook, I couldn’t get over how FRESH I looked in it. I admit I got a little bit affected and fixated on then and now: as in comparing a recent pic to this. Futile, I know, but necessary. (It could also be the lighting; after all, I believe this was taken on a stage with spotlights. Hah!)

I’m not exactly one to be bothered by the aging process. Or maybe I should take that back because I’ve worked in beauty for quite some time now so I probably don’t realize that I have a slightly heightened awareness of skincare and makeup, and it’s something that’s just there so I tend to take it for granted.

Anyway, this picture is a beautiful and painful reminder that I should follow my own advice and commit to a new skincare regimen. I’m most inclined to hit the Clarins counters only because I’ve seen this brand work, on myself and on peers who have used it in times of dire skin.

Now, never say never but if there’s one thing I haven’t tried during all these years writing about skincare, hair, makeup, cosmetics… it’s plastic surgery, or anything that involves needles. At Seventeen, I didn’t have to worry about covering this ‘beat’ because my job didn’t call for it. But eventually at Cosmo, we were offered to try everything from mesotherapy injections, Thermage facials, breast augmentation, liposuction, and so forth.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do any of these because there were always other people who were willing to test-drive these cosmetic ‘innovations.’ I was left to deal with orange hair, robotic perming machines, body wraps involving seaweed and mud, and all else in between. Not a bad compromise.

Plastic surgery is something that requires a delicate sense of proportion and an impeccably refined—and most importantly, balanced—aesthetic that not very many who are in the profession are able to show for in their work. If you’re considering going under the knife, it’s crucial to shop around, do extensive research, and look for people who have achieved great results (you’ll have to look hard because if a surgeon’s good, chances are you can’t even tell someone’s had something done).