Saturday, February 23, 2008

Beauty secrets...and a cautionary tale

It's been fascinating to me that as my friends and I age, suddenly all we talk about are skin care products and our mad attempt to get rid of all of our accumulated wrinkles and bits of sagging skin.

Remember when, as teenagers or even younger pre-teens, we all hung out with our friends at slumber parties and played with make-up? Well, these days it's the same principal, though rather than comparing lipsticks and eye shadow, we're sharing tips about products that promise to wipe the years away.

For me this started with a "significant" birthday a few years ago. About two weeks before the big day, I emailed my best friend from college warning her to prepare herself. With her birthday rolling around a couple of months after mine, I wanted her to know that she should be expecting her face to cave in. At least that's what mine had done. Practically overnight. I swear it happened that fast. For the remainder of that summer, every email I received from her had a note: Not yet. She actually made it past her birthday without the sudden onset of sagging or crinkling under her eyes. I figure she was probably always a late bloomer, but trust me, it's all caught up with her now.

And suddenly our emails are all about various products we've tried...creams and lotions and devices that scrub away dry skin and leave you with a fresh, vibrant complexion. If it's out there, I guarantee you that one or the other of us has probably tried it. We've turned into absolute suckers for all of the advertising claims.

Neither of us -- so far, anyway -- has been willing to go the route of cosmetic surgery. I absolutely know I'd be the one who ended up with major scarring or a permanently reddened complexion. That being the case, that leaves us with anti-aging products. On a daily basis, we experiment. Just last week I passed along a tip from a make-up artist who advised using green teabags to reduce undereye puffiness. I tried it. It seems to work. He also advised steeping a few of the teabags at a time and storing the extras in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. I passed along that tip without trying it. Today my friend advised me that those puffiness-reducing teabags turn moldy after a few days in the fridge. So, fresh-brewed is the way to go...after they've cooled down, of course. Otherwise, you'll be facing a whole different skin problem.

I know it's not just my friend and I who are embroiled in this activity. Last summer a neighbor held a party for a particular product line and everyone there focused on the skin rejuvenating treatments offered. I have to admit, I bought some of those, too. Then last week, I spotted an ad in the local paper for yet another product. I went online and ordered that one at what struck me as an exorbitant cost. I've now used it for two days and actually believe I see results. If I'm right, I will be ordering it by the tubful, despite the cost.

However -- and here comes that cautionary note for any teenagers out there -- the very best thing I could have done for my skin would have been to stay out of the sun all these years. Living at the beach has caught up with me. Even now, I still spend a few minutes -- rarely more than 20 -- outside every so often because I think the sun is good for bones and it just plain feels good, especially on my achy knee. I just wish I'd used that degree of moderation a whole lot sooner.

If any of the rest of you have discovered the fountain of youth in a bottle -- or a jar -- please share it with us by clicking on the comment link below.

And if you'd like to be a guest blogger or simply have a topic to suggest that matters to you and your friends, email me directly at I'd love to hear from you.

Sherryl Woods

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