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Rhonda Herrington Bulmer
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Herrington
Bulmer
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August 15th, 2009
Buy that snake oil: you know you want to
by Rhonda Herrington Bulmer

Last Friday I took my middle-aged van to be serviced in preparation for our family vacation…you know, change the oil, adjust the fluids, tighten up this and that. I decided to kill time at the drug store across the street and got lost in the girly skin-care and cosmetics department where I was secretly hoping for a tune-up of my own.

I hate to accept a label or slap one on anyone else, but I guess “middle-aged’ applies to me as much as it does my minivan. But how does anybody really know? I mean, I assume I’m going to live to my 80’s. I eat my vegetables, I’ve never smoked, I exercise a little. But I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and in that case, tonight you could consider me a senior. I look pretty great for a senior.  On the other hand, if I  live to be 100, well,  that would mean I haven’t reached middle age yet, and again…don’t I look great?

When you look at it that way, who needs wrinkle cream? I definitely do, if you look at the advertising, which makes it so deliciously tempting. You gotta hand it to these clever marketing types—beautiful bottles, heady guarantees, whopping prices.  Savouring the feel of the bottle, opening the tester to smell the contents, and reading words like: “radiant smoothing,” or,” multi-layer strengthening,” or, “double-lifting/intensive-restoring,” (yes, please, give me double) feels a bit like being  Eve in the garden of Eden. I’m being promised the moon by a snake oil salesman, and I feel a guilty thrill at the prospect that this product will somehow magically reverse the hands of time overnight (or in 21 days, for sure.) By then, nobody will ever guess that Eve got married in 1991 and the teenager that tags along behind her is NOT her little sister!

So, I found my way around the testers. First cream  I  tried was an eye cream by Prevage, worth somewhere around $200…or was that the face cream?  Nice, not too smelly. Creams two, three and four were no less than $40 each, more like $50 or $60.

Second cream I smeared on was Lise Watier Resist-Age “Cell Matrix Metamulsion,” before I realized that this cream was only for the sweet young things in their 30’s. Whoops! Will it know I’m lying?

Hmm…What could I do but try the right cream for my age group?   It was called, “Lipo-Filling  Action—Chrono-regeneration,”  cheerfully produced for us poor saps in our 40’s. (41, if you want to know.) Well, why not? Whatever my chronos are, if they need to be replaced, load me up!

By now, I figured I must be looking pretty young, so I thought, why not try one more for the road? I slathered on the Neostrata Wrinkle Repair while the sales girl turned her back. (She was giving me funny looks—saucy teenager. Was she thinking I was a cheapskate, who wanted to try but not buy?  Like the kind of person who goes to Costco hungry so she can fill up at all the free food sample stations?

And that’s when my face started to sting, so I figured it was time to leave.

With a couple of replacement parts and some tune ups, the service bill for the van was $380. Man, I could have bought almost two bottles of Prevage for that much! Maybe if I had smoothed the cream over the engine instead, I could’ve killed two birds with one stone.

After indulging in all that mysterious white muck, what have I got? Fewer fine lines? A dewy, youthful complexion? Invisible pores and a tighter jawline?

Only time will tell, but here’s an ironic footnote: my husband noticed my face while we shared our traditional evening chat over tea about the day’s events. He cocked his head and told me, “Gee, your skin looks really good tonight.”

One Response to “Buy that snake oil: you know you want to”

  1. Marlene says:

    Hmmm… if you believe that 41 is ‘middle-aged’ then I am certainly in the ancient and decrepit category. But I must confess that those ‘anti-aging’ creams I generously slater my face in at night do work wonders. My fingertips are as smooth as a baby’s bottom ;-)

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