spa ladyMy 22 year-old daughter recently disclosed, to her own astonishment, that she uses almost fifty beauty products while getting ready to go out at night.  This also includes “tools” like tweezers and brushes. When I pressed her to explain how the number got so high she blamed it on her friends, saying, “Before I met Hannah I never thought that I needed eyebrow gel.”  I was in disbelief that she required so much maintenance at her age, but it inspired me to assess my own current beauty regime at age 52.

I knew that I have been slathering on many more creams, or crèmes as they like to be called, since I agreed to host a party for my friend who is selling a fancy skin care line–sold exclusively through home parties.  I didn’t know this until after the party, but the bonus for being the hostess was to order $625 worth of beauty items for $125!  Because the line was seriously overpriced, a bargain hunter like me was excited by this deal.  It took days of poring over her catalog to decide between products like “detoxifying rescue wash,” “age-defying neck cream” or a “cellular renewal masque.”  It was all so confusing–not just deciding whether to put a crème on my visage or my pieds, but mostly because I never knew that I needed any of this.  Would I really use it all?  But, I convinced myself, who doesn’t want “visible results in 24 hours?”

When the big box arrived it felt like Christmas.  First, I put aside several items to give as presents, and then, I put all my crèmes and gels and serums into my bathroom drawer.  I began using them daily and nightly in earnest.  I was beginning to see how the numbers tallied up.  I am now soaking my skin in over ten new moisturizers, primers, and toners.  I’ve never been so hydrated.  Parts of my body that had become neglected and withered over these five decades are now being replenished, renewed, regenerated, and reactivated.  My skin is being lifted, quenched, brightened, and restored.  After two months, however, I can’t say that I look any different.  But, I do smell better thanks to the aromatherapy products.  I’m holding out hope that the extra prep time with all these antioxidant, nutrient-rich-advanced formulas will ultimately give me some sign that I might be slowing down a clock that I know can’t be turned back.  Now, I can’t stop running my hands up and down my neck.

I want to believe in the promises made by the beauty industry but, truthfully, in the past I have spent a lot of money on products that don’t work.  Ever since I was a little girl I’ve had deep, dark purple circles under my eyes.  I’m sensitive about my genetic flaw so I have experimented with dozens of remedies to help improve or mask the problem.  From the 59-cent cucumber slices to the hundred-dollar under eye cream that claims to “Eliminate serious dark circles in 30 days,” there isn’t any change.  But, I still dream that some day they will disappear.  For years I’ve settled on an eye cream and two little pots of make-up.  One is the bisque “corrector,” and the other is the sand “concealer.”  It dawned on me that this is an oxymoron.  They shouldn’t even be sold together.  If the first one worked then why would I even need the second?  I think about injustices like this in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping.  This only exacerbates the problem.  I wake up, a raccoon.

I became even more sensitive recently when my older sister and her ten-year-old daughter visited from their home in Maryland.  When it was time for bed my sister said to my niece, “You better get to sleep.  You don’t want to wake up with Aunt Linda eyes.”  I was so insulted.  My eyes have become a household label in Maryland!  Where else?  My niece automatically knew what my sister meant and scrambled up to bed.  I said nothing because I was in shock.  There’s nothing like sisters.

I come from a family of four girls, and now I have four daughters of my own.  I know what it’s like sharing one bathroom with a gaggle of teenage girls, but we never had as much stuff as mine do today.  Now, my daughter’s math makes sense.  When everyone is home for the holidays there isn’t an inch of room on the girls’ small bathroom sink.  For hair care alone there are light reflecting conditioners, root lifters, and shine sprays.  The counter is clogged with overflowing make-up bags, nail polishes, facial cleansers, and pore strips.  My husband can’t understand any of this.  He calculates that he uses about five products a day, including his razor “tool” and toothbrush.

I worry about when, or if, this product frenzy will end.  How do you go backwards?  Is it possible to subtract?  We didn’t know or care about teeth whitening when I was a teenager–now most toothpaste brands assume that you want and need it.  Logically, I know that I won’t be more beautiful or younger looking because my skin is so hydrated.  But, the fantasy of a firmer, wrinkle-free face and neck is so alluring.  How do I untangle and detoxify myself, or my daughters, from the lure of the beauty business web?  It gets harder to break free once you are trapped.  I’m not willing to stop trying to disguise my Aunt Linda eyes, and my daughters will always salivate over a Sephora gift card.  So, I’ll keep on slathering my crème de la crème lotions until they’re gone and too expensive to replace.

Unless I host another party….

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