Monday, November 15, 2010

Age Inappropriate? Dubious Tricks Of The Trade

Barbara: When I wanted to share the great things I’ve done for myself over the years, I knew at some point I’d have to write about the ridiculous ones. I’ll admit, I don‘t mind embarrassing myself for the sake of a good eye-roll and/or laugh. I’m cute that way.

So, when it comes to the inexorable aging process, desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Okay well, in my superficial brain—or the superficial part of my brain (would this be the “susceptile” brain?)––they have often seemed like “desperate” times.

This is my miss list.

I have long been obsessed with skin care and over the years have tried many at-home facials: everything from the toweled steam over the pot of water to the homemade masks. I read somewhere that mayonnaise was highly beneficial for your skin. That seemed easy enough. Too bad they didn’t think that idjits like me would assume Miracle Whip was the same thing. You know, the processed, chemicalled, sweetened version of what should really just be olive oil, egg, lemon, Dijon, and bit of salt. My skin looked like I’d massaged it with a cheese grater. Needless to say, it turned me off the stuff forever.

Vitamins? The jury’s out on how effective these are—are they much-needed replacements for our depleted produce, or are they big-business manufactured money-makers with no real value? I don’t know, but I have had every type of vitamin go through my body at one point or another and I can’t tell if life is any different now that I don’t take them at all anymore. I eat well instead (you know the boring stuff: lots of veggies, and very little sugar, caffeine, or processed foods).

Some beauty tricks are so embarrassing that I'm mortified even if no one is watching. Like being in a department store dressing room trying on a Spanx (or some variety thereof). I was attempting this trick because I had an event I wanted to be super-cool for and I’d found a super-cool outfit that would make me so. If only it didn’t show every lump and bump that wasn’t supposed to be there. Well, I was determined and undeterred. I’d heard the raves, I’d read the beauty mags: Spanx were it for smooth, sexy curves. I put that thing on and knew the moment it clamped its spandex jaws around my torso that I was in danger of deadly asphyxiation. As the breath was slowly sucked out of me, I tried desperately to remove it. Panic set in as that ungodly contraption refused to release its stranglehold. I couldn’t get it off; I couldn’t leave it on. I couldn’t call the dressing room attendant (don’t ask me why) (No, I’ll tell you why: pride *sigh*). Me and the Spanx, locked in combat for several long sweaty painful minutes-that-seemed-like hours before I finally managed to extricate myself. I quite literally do not know how women wear these and survive. (I wore the super-cool outfit, lumps be damned.)

This is a weird trick I refuse to give up, but that I live in fear of it biting me in the ass. I don’t like to wash my hair every day. But my hair is too oily to leave as it is on the days I don’t wash it. So I sprinkle cornstarch baby powder into my hands and massage it into my scalp. I think it works great. But I know––I KNOW––that one mortifying day, that baby powder is going to reveal itself for all the world to see, either dusting my hair where the brush missed it or my clothing where I accidentally sprinkled it. For the sake of beauty, I actually risk looking like a complete idiot. This is an intervention waiting to happen.

And my last one for today is courtesy of Deb: facial exercises. She does them religiously. And her skin looks absolutely amazing: tight as a baby’s bottom, no word of a lie. And describing the exercises, she makes a very valid point: facial muscles are muscles too and benefit from exercise as much as any other. I tried them for a while and I swear they actually worked. But on the one hand I felt ridiculous and on the other I am too damn lazy.

Deb: I do confess to being the Jane Fonda of the Facersize world. Well, not really “world”, I suppose, as I do not think it has hit craze level yet. But I am diligent with them once a day, twice if I can. Am I being duped by this facial placebo? Well, it makes sense that if we can tighten and strengthen the muscles in the rest of our bodies, why not the face? And for what it’s worth, it makes me feel better, so what the heck?

Vitamins? I so hear you, Barb. I do take my multi sap and my cal/mag but as far as the multi's are concerned, I don’t know. I fight lots of colds and always think, “Hmmmnn”. Cold FX as I have said before, works like a miracle for me, if I get the cold at the first sign. But other than that, I don’t know. I guess I’d rather not stop them at the beginning of winter though.

Cornstarch––check! Just started doing it this year when a friend––who’s hair NEVER looks dirty––told me this secret. But yes the dandruff avalanche is always an unwanted side effect if you are not diligent, post inspection.

The Spanx make millions of women happy, so far be it from me to cast aspersions, but I have worn Spanx two or three times and they drove me mental all damn night. I was in and out of the washroom pulling and yanking and begging them to do my bidding. It took me right back to the strapless bra years when I would spend the evening in the loo, bent over at the waist and yanking the bra up from my stomach back to the general area of my breasts. But the worst, the thing no one should ever see, is when you are pulling up the Spanx and your body is popping out these bubbling flesh sculptures as the Spanx slide over it. John Hurt’s alien encounter wasn’t as horrific as this hideous humbler.

No sir. Never want to see that again. 

PS Two wonderful blogs for middle-age beauty tricks that actually make sense are Middle Ageless by Rosina and The Best Of Everything After 50 by Barbara Hannah Grufferman. These women actually know what they're talking about. 


  1. I was laughing this morning over all these ideas. I have a facial every 6 weeks and use Helia D from Hungary for facial creams. I swear it works. Spanx are sitting in my drawer but I have not worn them in years as I have adjusted to my little flips and flabs. Great blog this morning.

  2. LOLOLOL Oh, Barbara! Thank you for starting my week with a laugh! :) GREAT post!

    Mayonnaise? *shudder* I despise the stuff. Can't eat it. Icky, icky, icky. It looks like something that oozes from diseased tissue. I won't eat it, and I certainly can't imagine deliberately smearing it on myself. *gags*

    The facial muscles thing actually makes sense. But, honestly, the only exercise my facial muscles get daily is smiling. I've started to get a hint of crinkles at my eyes, but I don't really mind because they just prove I've smiled a lot in life and survived a lot. Having a goofy kid who's always making me laugh (when he's not driving me batshit insane) helps! :)

    A long time ago, I bought some Spanks. I never wore them. I just couldn't do to myself basically what the olden times ladies did to themselves with their corsettes and suffocate for beauty, getting the "vapors" - fainting from not being able to draw deep enough breaths and getting inadequate oxygenation to the brain. PO2/CO2 factors aside, Spanx HURT. *shudder* The Spanx sat in my underwear drawer until I sold them in a yard sale. a) I'm not into pain for fashion. I'm into comfort and practicality. Spanx, in my mind, get tossed out with pointy toed high heels. b) Spanx or no Spanx, there's just no hope for sculpting this body. You can't hide the lumps when you are a lump! :)

    Good, good, good for you, Barbara, for wearing the supercool outfit lumps and all! (Although, skinny, gorgeous thing that you are, I'm sure you were seeing defects that noone else could recognize.)

  3. Madge, I swear by facials too -- only I let a trained professional do it now!

    Rigel, glad to be of service ;)!!

  4. facials from the spa are great as well.I love going to the spa and getting a face massage,it works like magic. My great grandmother always told to use Vanilla yogurt to put on the face to keep it clean and tight. She swears by it,me I don't know about it so much I would rather just use a hot towel to put on my face,but the yogurt thing could work to. WHO KNOW.

  5. Now I have to google Spanx. They sound kinky.

    I've done facial exercises too. I don't know if they work, but ... I bought the video, more than 10 years ago. Alas I am consistent with nothing except my two cups of morning coffee. And my love for buttered toast. Too bad they won't stand in for beauty treatments.

  6. I'm scared of Spanx. My butt is sweaty enough.

    And my mom had a book from the 70s with all those funny facial exercises in it. I used to make fun of it, but you have inspired me to try some.

    Some guy on the street today told me that 'I still got it.' I think you only really say that to someone who looks old, so I'll try it!

  7. BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! i KNEW I distrusted Spanks! I haven't tried them (though I do have a pair of support hose cut off at the knee for some of my less forgiving dresses).

    I am so bad. I put on moisturizer when I remember (which is typically only winter, because in the summer, the humidity here removes the only natural reminder I have) and I take vitimin C if I start to feel a cold coming on (usually about 3 of them). Mostly I can't be bothered... It's possible I used up my lifetime allotment of primping and preening in the 80s.

  8. Lyndsie, I love me a good facial -- and I do believe in them, so those are on my "best of" list, for sure.

    Laurenne, oh you killed me with the "still got it" = must be old. But I've gotta second the guy (without the "still"): you got it, baby!

    lol, Hart! Yeah, the 80s should really have used up EVERYBODY'S allotment of primping!


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