On the appointed day, after doing extra hours of service work (to cut down on the guilt associated with this indulgence), I sat down in The Chair and a frighteningly confident, perfectly made-up “artist” named Gwen (of indeterminate age) worked on me for 90 minutes. (Normal skin care and makeup routine takes oh, six minutes). I was tempted to plead the Fifth when she asked about my normal routines, and she was appropriately shocked and horrified. And then out came The Products, specifically tailored to a woman of my age and numerous deficiencies.
No real person could really use or buy all this stuff. That’s what I kept telling myself as I surveyed her loaded tray and as my gaze kept sliding over the other five artists’ chairs, where woman were signing up with abandon for the unbelievably expensive products used on their faces.
Before a molecule of makeup hit the face, significant prep had to take place. On me, she started with a cleanser. But not just any cleanser; one that was age-appropriate (read: for Hags) and fights something but I forget what. (Free radicals? Imprisoned radicals?) Cost: $38 per small bottle. This was followed by a toner. Gwen was very serious about this being a necessary step. In fact, very serious about everything. No humor in cosmetics. They treat this stuff like it’s stem cell research. Cost for tiny bottle of “fresh balancing” toner: $32. Then — and this is crucial — you absolutely must “start out” with a Serum. There is a mind-boggling array of serums out there. Mine was a repair concentrate, and it was rubbed all over my newly cleansed and toned face. Cost of a very small bottle, with eye dropper applicator: $95. While this session was in progress, makeup brand “cheerleaders” kept strolling by the chair, chirping, “Doesn’t it feel wonderful?" and “Your skin looks fabulous!”
Over the expensive serum went moisture lotion formulated to correct dark spots ($55), then overall skin illuminating and brightening lotion ($145 for a small bottle). I think another lotion was sneaked in there to combat wrinkles, but at that point I was becoming numb, so I didn’t note the cost. I have somewhat sensitive skin (more sensitive, say, than the average tree stump) so I was told I needed a calming fluid ($65). She next applied something I recognized as resembling a regular moisturizing cream (small jar costs $94). Then, Gwen smeared on something clear and kind of oily called makeup primer ($32), and we had not even gotten to prep for the eyes, neck and lips yet.
Under the eyes went an eye cream just for daytime ($52 for small jar); patted around the eye area, a pearly eye lotion ($62, comes in a tiny tube) and then a spot-correcting concealer just for eyes ($60). Yet another custom lotion was applied to my neck and collarbone area ($84). If I had let her, Gwen would have applied a “décolletage cream” to that area. (Throughout, it was soooo hard to keep from laughing out loud. How the hell did I reach this age, moderately intact, without all this help?)