Last evening, while engaging in the usual pre-sleep beauty ritual, I dipped my fingers into the jar of night face moisturizer only to discover that I was about to use the last dollop.  While this is not quite as tragic as being unable to zip the cocktail dress you were planning to wear to the holiday party, or as inconvenient as a colonoscopy, it was still cause for consternation.

You noticed I specified night moisturizer.  Needless to say, my vanity tray also holds a day moisturizer, under-and-over eye creams, and a lip smoother.  Last time I looked, I think my ears were still sufficiently hydrated.

Having a Dorian Gray moment right before one goes to bed is not helpful in ensuring a peaceful rest. The jar of nocturnal face magic would have to be replaced, the sooner the better.

If you’re not concerned about fine lines and wrinkles (then you’re either not a woman, or still too young for a bra), this may sound trivial.   But trust me.  Being in the market for a new moisturizer is no fun.

First of all, I’m dealing with an industry that makes me feel bad about myself, and then wants my money.  Secondly, the range of choices is so vast, that I can liken it only to selecting wallpaper, which, until recently, I regarded as the worst domestic decision any woman would ever have to make.

As I saw it, I had two options. ( Three, if I added “Save Your Money; Use Vaseline.”  But I’ve been too brainwashed for that.)  I could simply replace the same product I’d been using.  Or, I could gullibly fall for the claims of something new and different.  And perhaps more expensive.  I chose Door #2.

I astutely observed the advertisements and tried to digest the promises.  Did I want to nourish and replenish? Reduce brown spots? Challenge skin fatigue? Eliminate dark circles? Glow? Look five years younger in four weeks? Make that three weeks, and I’m yours!

I ruled out all of the jars that state they are anti-aging, since this is not my personal political inclination.  I am definitely not anti-aging, and don’t know why any thinking person would be.  Considering the alternative, I’ll take as many birthdays as I can get.

So I wandered around the cosmetic counters, dodging the perfume spritzers, and reading labels.  Many of the ingredients were familiar to me – retinol, lanolin, placenta from Tibetan yaks, artichokes.  Artichokes? Wait a moment.  Was this Saks, or my local supermarket?

artichokeIt seems that while I was not paying attention, the new, secret beautifying agents in these creams and lotions was – food!

Product after product bragged that they alone had harnessed the age-defying properties of wheat germ, lemon-grass, or the acai berry.  Avocados, in addition to making guacamole, firmed and tighten.

Soy milk nourished.  Honey smoothed.  Vanilla extract and almonds penetrated the deep layers of your skin, so you not only became enriched and enhanced, but also smelled like trail mix.

Well, I thought.  Why was I wasting my time? I might as well go home, make a big salad, and smear it all over my face!

I think it was the artichoke that got to me most.  I could handle the thought of spreading something smooth and creamy on my skin, like honey or avocado, but an artichoke? Rough and pointy was not exactly the image I was going for.

So I left the store in utter confusion, wondering about the world we live in, and was Ghanian Shea butter more effective than that which came from a neighboring country?   And what, exactly, was an Olay from which the Oil was derived?

And did I really believe that a famous model turned actress looked as good today as she did 25 years ago simply because she used a particular French face product  spelled with an apostrophe?

The beauty industry has been so successful at preying on the insecurities of women, particularly women of a certain age, that even the most skeptical of us are willing to let go of our disbelief and credit cards for the promise of a more youthful glow and the final solution to sagging.

So I shall have to return to the marketplace to search out the perfect night cream.  But for tonight, I might have to apply my day cream before bed, and hope that it doesn’t further disturb my sleep cycle.

Or, I can look through my pantry.  Perhaps the Fountain of Youth is hidden in the corn flakes.

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