My $1,000 Face: The Truth Behind Expensive Beauty Products

Do expensive skincare products really deliver more than their drugstore counterparts? We asked beauty dropout and skincare skeptic Vicki Glembocki to find out.
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My Experiment

The first time I used my new tube of lip treatment I panicked. I'd given it one gentle squeeze and what looked like six gallons of balm exploded from the applicator's tiny hole. That was impossible, obviously, since the tube held just .35 ounce. But it looked as though six gallons -- or at least the entire .35 ounce -- had gushed onto the tips of my fingers, where it clearly didn't belong.

If I'd been using my old lip balm I wouldn't have cared. What was $3.95 down the drain? But this was Kinerase Lip Treatment, a blend of kinetin, collagen boosters, grape-seed oil, and white-tea extract, ingredients that would give me a "younger-looking smile" by plumping my lips and reducing the wrinkles around my mouth, which were starting to look like fault lines.

And it cost $38.

"Help!" I yelled as I frantically grabbed a Dixie cup and dropped the tube in it, desperate to salvage every last drop.

My husband, Thad, rushed into the bathroom as if he expected to find me on fire. "What?" he asked.

"Look!" I said, pointing to the cup. "How am I ever going to get that back in the tube?"

"This is honestly what you're freaking out about?"

"Thad, this is very serious." This luxury lip treatment was the first step of my Grand Age-Fighting Experiment, "grand" because that's roughly what my new arsenal of beauty products cost: $1,000. Did my face need that much help? Not really -- I still get carded every now and then when I buy certain over- the-counter cold medicines. But that didn't change the reality of my situation: I am an overscheduled, very under-moisturized mother of two little girls who has spent most of her 37 years ignoring her face.

The neglect was starting to show. If I stared at myself in the mirror long enough I began to see scary things: thinner lips, lines at the corners of my eyes, the lack of anything resembling a glow. I had to do something about this -- and fast.

That something would be an experiment. I would trade in my favorite drugstore products for the uber-expensive ones celebrities use and find out if the investment and fuss were worth it. Luckily, Ladies' Home Journal agreed to fund my "research," since no sane woman could rationalize spending that much money on her beauty routine these days. But that has never stopped me (or any other woman) from wondering whether luxury skincare products are really any better than stuff you can buy at the local drugstore.

Which was why I was gingerly squeezing the tube of Kinerase Lip Treatment just above the spill on my fingers, praying the reverse suction would force it back inside. It actually worked. Phew! I applied a few drops, covering every millimeter of my lips and the surrounding skin, just as the directions said.

I turned to face Thad. "Do I look younger?" I asked.

"You look like an insane person," he said.

"Yes, but do I look like a younger insane person?"

"Not quite yet."

Continued on page 2:  Guilt Sets In


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