After weeks of caring for a baby 24 hours a day, it was so nice to have a person taking care of me.
What's crammed in my medicine chest? I don't mind throwing it open for you, because supposedly, 40 percent of people have gone through a friend's bathroom cabinet anyway. In mine, you'll find six eye creams. Four facial oils. Five serums. Moisturizers for all moods and occasions. In addition to the retinols and scrubs, my cabinet is also gorged with gadgets: NuFace, Clarisonic, Light Stim, Bliss Lean Machine. I wield them like a many-armed goddess, fiercely trying to conquer Destruction and Change. There's hundreds and hundreds of dollars' worth of products in there, yet I'm still always on the hunt for new ways to express my vanity. Those SK-II masks are next on my wish list.
So what the heck happened?
My gateway drug was an LED facial I got shortly after my first daughter was born. The soothing red light warmed my skin, and when it was over, I was amazed to see that the deep crevasses under my eyes had softened. After weeks of caring for a baby 24 hours a day, after turning my body and heart inside out with anxiety and love more powerful than I'd ever imagined, it was so nice to have a person taking care of me. Making little clucking sounds and telling me that things were going to get better, much better. In my vulnerable, sleep-deprived state, I bought the whole product line the aesthetician recommended.
Once I'd had a little taste, I started seeking scores at Sephora. I began trolling the aisles of that super-fancy Rite Aid in Beverly Hills in search of ampoules of Arctic lingonberry. Watching Friday Night Beauty on QVC feels almost dirty—talk to me about hydration and dark spots, baby! The road to skincare addiction is a slick slope, coated in dimethicone.
I began trolling the aisles of that super-fancy Rite Aid in Beverly Hills in search of ampoules of Arctic lingonberry.
My once-simple beauty routine is long gone. These days, I double-cleanse—oil first, then a probiotic cleanser. I oh-so-gently electrify myself with the NuFace and rinse off the conductivity gel. Then it is on to my stable of serums—which one to use today?—before I dab Dr. Perricone's eye cream on my eyelids and Génifique around the rest of my eyes. Moisturizing takes three steps: I apply a puddinglike blue-copper cream to stimulate collagen, then slather DMAE moisturizer on the jaw line, and then spread another moisturizer on top of that (I live in LA and it's really dry here). Top it all off with sunscreen, mixed with a skin brightener. And a dollop of vitamin C gel for the backs of my hands. And a biotin gummy so that my hair will grow. Just 74 easy steps and I'm ready!
Am I being ridiculous? Or am I just taking really good care of myself?
Let's look at the numbers. The revenue for the cosmetic industry in the U.S. will be an estimated $60.58 billon in 2015, according to Statista. In 2008, when I had my first child, that figure was only $52.44 billion. I may personally be to blame for the explosive growth in the market. According to a Huffington Post survey, I'm among the 4 percent of Americans who cop to using seven or more products to get ready in the morning. The survey didn't go higher but I'm guessing this is my shot to finally be a member of the 1%.
They say you can't buy happiness, but oh, I am happier during my not-so-little beauty ritual. Miracles? I just want 15 minutes alone. Shopping for and using skincare gives me solace and comfort, a modicum of "me time."
Indulging in skincare isn't about me feeling neurotic about how I look; it's an effort to experience luxury and beauty for just a few minutes.
Because the sensation of parenting is very similar to being hit over the head. You stagger around in a half-trance, covered in peanut butter. I'm so grateful for the experience, but it's tiring. I miss my former self—organized, neat, well rested. These days, headspace and physical space are both in short supply. I can't take a nice hot bath without some tiny person barging in, holding up her index finger and declaring, "I touched my butt!"
So indulging in skincare isn't about me feeling neurotic about how I look; it's an effort to experience luxury and beauty for just a few minutes. I throw open that bathroom cabinet, and I feel like I'm at a spa, with little rows of products to try. I feel myself relax.
And, I'm not too proud to admit that I don't want to become a Frumpy Mom. If I can flaunt radiant skin, at least I'm one up from those women I see wearing a babushka and knee-highs with sandals. My hair might be standing on end and my kitchen a mess, but I don't have parentheses marks on my face. That's something, right? Now I can summon the energy needed to scrape the Babybel cheese wax off the wall. At this point in my life, buying a jarful of pretty seems like a solid investment in my sanity.
You might be wondering: Any actual results? Yes. My skin has definitely improved. Less freckly, less lined. I've been getting a ton of compliments. Something's working! But which product? No idea. Maybe it's the brew of them all put together. I'm scared to stop using any of them, lest I wake up in the morning looking like Keith Richards.
My two little girls are downstairs watching Sofia the First, and I'm upstairs living out my own princess fantasy, my face coated with a fragrant Peter Thomas Roth rose stem cell mask. I may be killing the baby roses, but damn, do I look dewy.