Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Aunt Wants to Give Niece Unsolicited Skin Tips

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am very invested in skin care, and am currently curating the perfect anti-aging routine. I have noticed that my teenage niece, “Shannon,” has cystic acne. She covers it up with makeup and constantly touches her face and picks at it. I was a teenager once, and I battled acne into my 20s. Could I give her my unsolicited advice? I know simple fixes that could do wonders for her skin, but I don’t want to be seen as the nosy aunt. -- Clear Skin Awaits, Tupelo, Mississippi

DEAR CLEAR SKIN AWAITS: You may remember from your teenage days that young folks don’t tend to listen to us older folks. So you have to be inventive. Think about what may have motivated you. I bet if you told your niece a story about your own personal journey, especially if you had uncontrolled acne, and how you didn’t have the products to get your skin in check, she may listen.

Talk to her. Tell her that you have learned about a regimen that can reduce acne outbreaks dramatically. If you can offer her a free trial, go for it. Demonstrate the effectiveness of the products you use, and then encourage her to try them. If she follows directions and your advice works, you will be able to help your niece and possibly bring more needy teens into the fold!

DEAR HARRIETTE: Half a year after ending a long-term relationship, a mutual friend of ours told me I was cheated on the whole relationship. I have luckily moved on from the relationship, but this makes me question the “friend” more than my ex. I just don’t understand the motivation to tell me so long after the relationship ended. Should I question her more, or just drop this? I have no intention of bringing this up with my ex. -- Old Relationship, New News, Wilmington, Delaware

DEAR OLD RELATIONSHIP, NEW NEWS: If you value your friendship with this person, you should confront her. Ask her why she would choose to tell you about your ex’s indiscretions at this time. Listen to her response. Sadly, some friends feel the need to feed a fire. If her motivation is to stir the pot, you will know that she is not the kind of friend you want to have. If she has a reason for revealing this information, hear it out and decide if it is valid.

More than anything, you must tell her where you stand. Make it clear that you do not want to hear about your ex’s life, now or when he was with you. Tell your friend that you don’t understand why she chose to share such hurtful information with you so long after your breakup. Let her know that you do not consider it helpful, and that you do not want to hear any more about it. Decide to move on and to resist listening to any more stories about this man. You deserve to live in the present moment and to enjoy what comes to you now.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)