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

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Life As a Lab Rat

"Do I look younger?" I asked my mother three weeks into my regimen. I'd run through a couple hundred dollars' worth of creams but I didn't see any change, and no one had yet commented that I "looked different" or had asked, "Did you do something new with your hair?" I was afraid my plan was doing squat.

She scrutinized my face. "Well, your pores look smaller," she said. That gave one point to Creme de la Mer, which was supposed to diminish visible pores. The stuff stressed me out, though. The instructions warned you to first "warm cream between hands to release key ingredients." I was constantly wondering: Was I warming it enough? Was I ruining it? Would I be better off rubbing cream cheese on my face?

But a little later in the day, after I applied the Murad peel, my mother stopped me in my tracks. "Wait. Your face is suddenly all glowy," she said. Too bad the effect didn't seem to last longer than a few hours and got covered by my makeup anyway. The neck and lip products felt good going on, but I hadn't noticed even a slight improvement.

The black night cream was a different story. Even when I was so exhausted from reading Goodnight Moon to my girls that applying lotion seemed like too much effort, Le Soin Noir called out to me. Or, more precisely, my face called out for it, as if my face were thirsty for more.

But first I would lather up with my other obsession, the thick, silky Yves Saint Laurent cleanser. I'd been addicted to it from the first time I used it and made Thad try it to make sure I wasn't having delusions of grandeur. ("Niiice," he said, as if he'd bitten into an exceptionally tasty barbecued rib.) Then came Le Soin Noir, which felt magical. I swore I could still feel it working in the morning, doing battle against the free radicals that cause skin damage.

A week before the end of my experiment, Thad and I were walking through Macy's when I spotted a display for StriVectin products. I checked out its Facial Sculpting Cream, Instant Deep Wrinkle Filler, and a stretch-mark cream that, I'd read, also softens the look of wrinkles, fine lines, and crow's-feet.

"Can I help you?" I turned to face a saleswoman who was wearing a very large bow around her neck.

"Just browsing," I said.

"By the looks of your face," she whispered, "you don't need any of those products."

"You're too sweet," I said, feeling kind of dumb that I was blushing. Could this be proof that my $1,000 beauty routine was working?

Continued on page 4:  The New(ish) Me


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