Shopping is better than sex.
If you’re not satisfied after
you can make an exchange
for something you really like.
~ Adrienne Gusoff
This past winter was the season from hell for me. I was pretty much sick from February through June with some sort of allergy-induced virus. For four months, my life revolved around Benadryl, nose sprays, vitamin C and boxes of lotioned tissues. In addition to developing a sensitivity to just about everything that grew or pooped in my backyard, I also developed sensitivity to most of the cosmetics in my bathroom. I was afraid to smooth, scrub, lather or line any part of my face or body. The skin care and glamour items that I had used without problem for almost five years were now the on ramp to the irritation highway. I began a new quest for products that would keep my skin illuminating instead of inflamed.
After endless trials and tribulations, samples and specimens, I managed to replace each irritating item in my daily routine with something that didn’t turn me into a spokes model for “Hives R Us”. Of course, to do this wasn’t cheap. Most of the products I found were high-end items designed for sensitive skin. Almost all had to be free of common fillers that were the new enemy to my overactive allergies. I did, however, discover recipes to make my own cleansers, exfoliators and moisturizers out of natural ingredients found in my own kitchen. I was able to save a few coins with my diluted vinegar toner but of course I had to turn around and invest them back into things like finely ground, talc-free mineral foundation. But for the sake of youthful itch-free skin, it was worth it.
Now that I had a skin care routine mastered with products that were perfect, I should be happy. Right? Ummmm, kind of. See, it’s in a woman’s nature not to be satisfied when it comes to shopping. We could save a hundred dollars on a clearance-sale dress for a party and then spend that savings plus fifty more on a new pair of shoes, lip gloss, eyeliner and perfume to accessorize. Heaven knows we all have THE perfect lipstick in our drawer. It matches every outfit, makes our lips feel like satin, stays on for hours, and never goes out of style. So if this precious tube is everything we ever wanted in a lipstick, why do we have 20 others? Some are too dark, too dry, too sparkly or too blah. Some we’ve never even broke the safety seal on! So why do we have them? Because at the time we found them, we justified a need for them. Each and every one of them. All women do this. I admit it, I do this. And I do it often. No jury needed….guilty as charged.
The advertising departments of the major cosmetic companies are trained to target the hard-core makeup shopping junkies such as myself. They know we are way past the gateway drugs of the 99 cent lip glosses and need-to-burn eyeliners and they tease our senses with brightly colored polishes and packages to lure us into their circle. We know what we have on our bathroom counter is good enough. In fact it’s probably better than good enough. But still we yearn for more. We want the rush of discovering something new and fabulous, and being the first to do so amongst our friends. We want to be the one to find the new solve-all, fix-all glam item of the century. This was evident today as I flipped through a copy of my latest fashion magazine and discovered a well-known cosmetic company had come out with a new line of cleansers and foundations. My heart began to beat erratically as I read about the new state-of-the-art ingredients in their fast-paced, anti-aging formulas that were shown to stop the hands of time. Oh heavens. Gimme gimme gimme. I mean, I knew what I had at home was perfectly fine. It worked exactly how I wanted it to. And it didn’t turn me into a piece of red flannel. So why was I planning on rushing out of the dentist’s office where I was reading this article, across the street to the local drug store, and buy stuff I did not need whatsoever? Because I’m a woman!!!!
Ten minutes, two makeup products, one bag, and one credit card receipt later, my latest fix and I were driving for home. It was just like a scene out of “Intervention”. I left my laptop and purse in the car, and rushed into the house with my little baggie of goodies. I spoke to no one, ran directly into the bathroom and locked the door. It was time to “use”. I first grabbed the innovative cleanser and held the bottle in my hands. I inhaled the scent of the new drug, and rubbed it around in my hands. Ahhhhh. This was good. Every wrinkle, every line, every problem would be gone with just a squirt and a scrub. I lathered up my face, stared in the mirror, and enjoyed the rush. I splashed my skin clean and enjoyed the fresh feeling of my newly rejuvenated face. Then I took out the new foundation that I was convinced was going to be so great, it would be nominated for Nobel Prize. I played with the packaging and applied it with sheer precision. I stepped away from the mirror and admired these life-changing products with a smile a mile wide. I was in awe, and I had made it happen. I looked good. Well, I thought I looked good. Because whether it be in life or in the cosmetic aisle…”love is blind.”
I exited the bathroom, feeling like America’s Next Top Model. I was a stunning, wrinkle-free woman. Hear me roar! As I saw my husband standing in front of the microwave, I couldn’t help but toss my hair and give him a sexy grin as I struck a pose. And he immediately responded to my self-proclaimed Cosmopolitan-like look. “Geesh, you look sick. You’re pale. What did you do to your face? You makeup looks like ass. Are you doing something new?” NOOOOOO! This was not the response I was looking for! Where were the flawless-gorgeous-timeless comments I was told I would get in the ad? This isn’t possible!! When I told him what I had done and what I had bought, he told me I had made a mistake. A big mistake. Even before I could tell him that he obviously knew nothing about what was en vogue and high tech, he called for our daughter. Because he knew I was going to tell him he was a fashion-clueless male, and he was right. He knew I would need a female’s opinion to back him up. Now my daughter is a thirteen year-old glamour guru. She is the girl whom I taught to be smart and not to do or buy anything on impulse. Ouch. He asked her “How does mommy’s makeup look?” She got close to my face. REALLY close. For twenty seconds I stood there while she inspected me like Number 14 inspects your underwear. Then, after an uncomfortable silence she gave me the devastating blow. ““Your face is getting red and blotchy. And I see wrinkles. And your pores are huge.” With no expression, she just turned and left me in a daze. My legs got weak and I had to sit down. This can’t be happening. How could this be? Sigh. That’s what I get. I had cheated on my makeup with a (not so) cheap fling. I fell hook, line and sinker for the “new kid on the block”. Why did I stray? Why did I think the skin was softer on the other side of the fence?
I sulked back to the bathroom and collected my thoughts… and my new products. I put them back in their little bag and threw in my receipt so I could return them to the store. I hung my head in shame. And what was worse was I knew deep down this probably wouldn’t be the last time I let my glamour regulars down. Why? Because we are fickle. We are women. And just like it’s a man’s nature to hunt, it’s our nature to shop. At that moment, I looked over at the bathroom counter and saw my regular cleanser and foundation staring at me in a hurtful way. I’m sure they were wondering if they could ever trust me again. I couldn’t even look at them with those other substandard products on my face. I turned on the faucet and began to wipe the slate clean. Literally. As I eliminated all traces of the facial affair, I promised myself to be true and loyal to those who have been there for me… through the good and the brash.
Well, at least until the next supermodel tells me her new lipstick will make me the next Gloria Steinem.