Pixie Dust and Other Active Ingredients

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 13: Actress/narrator Ja...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

As the gears grind toward my 40th birthday this summer I’ve developed a sudden interest in wrinkle reduction, age spot lighteners, and I’m having a personal debate over letting my hair turn gray or continuing to dump color on it every six weeks. I’ve been coloring (not because I needed to) since I was sixteen. I’m kind of bored with the process. And these freaky Dr. Seuss-style gray hairs are not very receptive to brown. Besides, I’ve earned them. I’m leaning toward the natural look, a la Jamie Lee Curtis.

But when it comes to the wrinkles I’m not sure I’m okay with “natural.”  I noticed the first one in my reflection in the rear view mirror and thought I’d drawn on my forehead with a pen. I reached up to rub the line away. Oh horror! The line was the shadow made by the indent in my skin: my reward for years of frowning and furrowing. (There’s one more reason Jesus told us not to worry!)

So I entered the anti-wrinkle zone. Also known as the women’s paint and putty department.

First observation: Everything in this section is ridiculously overpriced. Yes, I’m a cheapskate, but seriously, $14.95 for a 0.25 oz. tube of something I can’t even prove is going to work?

Second observation: I need 36 different products just for my face. Morning, afternoon, and evening products. Eye products, lips products, cheek products. Wrinkle smoothers, wrinkle fillers, wrinkle preventers. Sun damage correctors, free radical removers, anti-sagging, anti-bagging, anti-puffing. Fine lines. Deep lines. Spots. And then, to combat the vile injustice of still having the occasional zit to accompany my creases, there’s an entire selection of goodies for the “mature” woman with “blemishes.”

My mind starts to drift. Maybe Botox? Oh, yeah, botulism for my face. No thank you, I’ll pass. I start picking up little (and I mean tiny, itsy-bitsy) boxes and jars and tubes and bottles and flipping them over. What’s in this stuff? Is it so expensive because someone has to breed captive Tinkerbells to milk them for pixie dust to put in the magic formula?

Here’s what I discover during my eyewitness investigation:

  • Caffeine is one of the latest ingredients touted to brighten and tighten the skin. That’s nifty. But I’d much rather drink my caffeine than rub it on my face. It’s cheaper, too. Even if I get a fancy coffee!
  • Vitamin C (A.K.A. L-Ascorbic Acid or Ascorbyl Palmitate), Vitamin E, Vitamin K. These are all things in my multi-vitamin. And when I eat like I’m supposed to, things that are in my food. Again, I’d rather eat them than wear them.

  • Hyaluronic acid is a substance produced naturally in the body that promotes water retention in the cells. Puffy cells look younger than saggy cells. Wanna know where it comes from? Rooster combs.  No joke, the comb of the rooster is the purest source of hyaluronic acid.
    • Retinol, retinoic acid, retin-A, and tretinoin are all fancy names for… Vitamin A. Mothers out there, stop telling your girls to eat their carrots and spinach because it’s good for their eyes. Tell them it will prevent wrinkles.
    • Alpha-hydroxy acids include lactic acid (found in milk), citric acid (found in oranges), glycolic acid (extracted from sugar cane and beets). Part of Cleopatra’s beauty regimen included goat’s milk baths. Funny how our beauty treatments come from the most unattractive animals, isn’t it?
    • Beta-hydroxy acid comes from the bark of certain willow plants and is also known as salicyclic acid. Remember Stridex? Hello salicylic acid. Hey, that will take care of zits AND wrinkles? It’s also found in aspirin, wart remover (the Wicked Witch just needed a Stridex pad!), and dandruff treatments.

    Conclusion: I walked away empty-handed from the enticing displays that promised me a virtual fountain of youth and made my way through the rest of the store in a haze. I paused at the facial tissues. At least those were on my list. My eye caught the blurb on one box, promising that these tissues had the power to kill viruses. Awesome! I grabbed a box, noticing the inflated price compared to the dull store-brand tissues in their unattractive packages. With a shaky hand, I turned the magic tissue box upside down. There, on the bottom, in tiny letters. Active ingredient: ascorbic acid.

    The tissues returned to the shelf and I wheeled my cart to the produce department for three oranges. One to eat, one to rub on my face, and one to stuff up my nose. Food, beauty, and health care in one attractive, simple package. I don’t even need a bag, so I’m being eco-friendly. At 39 cents each, that’s quite a bargain.

    Have you ever paid extra for a box of tissues because the box was “cute”?

    Did you ever buy a beauty product that didn’t live up to its promises?

    For more information:www.skincareresourcecenter.com

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    5 thoughts on “Pixie Dust and Other Active Ingredients

    1. Anonymous says:

      quite interesting read. I would love to follow you on twitter.

    2. Tina Pinson says:

      I'd try alot of things, but price tends to hold me back. I'm into better diet and lots of water. I have paid extra for Kleenex around Christmas. Like the logo

    3. Sandy says:

      This was another well written post Niki. You must have researched all the chemical things. I enjoyed your sense of humor at the end. Makes me realize I was wise in deciding to not wear makeup etc. years ago. Look at all the money I saved. 🙂 Plus, I did the same with lipstick when I got married. Found out you got kissed a lot more if hubby knew he wouldn't get lipstick all over. 🙂

    4. Niki Turner says:

      Tina, I have to admit I've bought fancy Kleenex, too, just because the box was cute.

      Sandy, SO true with lipstick! And wearing perfume our husbands like, not just perfume we like. I had some stuff once I dubbed "Pat-repellent." I saved it for certain days… : ) The links at the bottom connect to the various research sites I found. It's extremely interesting. I think advertisers do an excellent job of pulling the wool over our eyes!

      Thanks for the link-back, Eileen!

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