Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Things we Do for Beauty

There's a beauty regimen that nearly every woman I know has to go through. Has to I tell you. There is no choice in the matter, even for those who were born beautiful, you have to work to keep that beauty up on your face and not hanging around your neck with miriad wrinkles and age spots. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this regimen needs to start at,oh I don't know, age ten? Shockingly enough I began my "Noxzema routine" at the late age of fifteen. I remember telling my mother that the soap (Camay, remember Camay?) made my skin feel tight and icky. My mother went out to the store the following day and bought me a cobolt blue jar of Noxzema skin cleanser. Thus began the routine that followed for the rest of my life. It was only the first step, but a major one. It was like I had joined some kind of tribe after I told my friends about the miracles of that astringently smelling white cream that I used at least twice a day, on weekends three. Where had I been, I was asked. One friend claimed to have started using it at age seven. I could only think she must have had some extremely oily skin...or extraordinarily dry skin, for this was one of those "one size fits all" products. There I am, a Noxzema addict, step one is now complete and step two was just around the corner. Lipstick. My first tube was purchased in the May Company. It was Rose. Not red Rose, barely pink rose, you know just a blush of color. My mother wore Fire Engine Red and I asked her why I couldn't wear red. She told me quite simply, "you don't have the maturity to pull it off. Wait until you're older." Of course when we got home, I had to go in her bathroom and try her lipstick. She was right. I looked like an escapee from Barnum and Bailey's Circus.So, at age 16 I could wear a little powder and a tiny bit of mascara. So now here we are, clean face, a little powder, some eye makeup and an almost there lipstick. By age twenty I refused to let anyone see me without my makeup on. Mac was the only exception, he saw a clean scrubbed face twice a day. When we were stationed in London, my friend Bubbles, (she was known professionally as Violet Loxley, the West End Actress) took me to her hairdresser. Every woman knows you have to have a hairdresser that you'd trust with your life. (Here I have my darling Miranda). But so far while in England, I had yet to find anyone with whom I was, well, content. Bubbles had no end of Service people ("Little Men" as she called them...her 6/2 195 pound window washer was "her little man" and the sentence always began with "I have this little man who may be able to help you out.") She meant no disrespect, she was not rude, she was English. So, off I go to her "Little Man" who welcomes me warmly, clasping both my hands in his and standing back begins to nod his head, smiling widely. He sat me in the chair and considering me as a blank canvas began to "tch tch" and shake his head. I wondered if I had sprouted another head that didn't meet with as much approval as the one that first entered his shop. He looked at Bubbles and still shaking his head, said "lovely face, shame about the eyebrows." Bubbles came over to me and said very quietly, "he wants to give you a wax, dear. Are you game?" Now how could I tell this tiny sweet lady that the lioness, (which she often referred to me as) in her midst was not game? So Elliot came to stand over me with a sharp stick globs of hot wax upon it and although I felt I might bolt and run, I simply grasped the arms of the chair as he began to paint molten hell on my eyebrows. Not so bad, I began to relax, it didn't burn in the least. He then rubbed strips of cloth over the wax, rubbing till I thought a bruise might appear. And then the maddened little man ripped them off quickly, no warning, just PAIN erupting from my forehead. I think I screamed. I don't know, because I think I may have lost consciousness there for a minute, too. When I came to myself Bubbles was patting my hand and saying things like "it's all over now dear, wait till you see". Well, once I dashed the tears from my eyes I could see what she meant. Wow. My eyebrows looked wonderful, making my eyes look larger...the brow no longer went from one side of my face to the other with no break in the middle. I no longer looked like a long lost relative of the Wolfman. The amazing Elliot spent the next hour on my hair and when I walked out of his shop, I had to admit that I felt wonderful and looked pretty darned good, too! So we're about to walk out and back to Marleybone Station when Bubbles takes a package from "her little man". Okay, so Elliot is indeed a diminutive soul, he being 5'4 and me being, well, tall. Off we go, catch the train and back to Beaconsfield we go. On the train she takes the package from her bag and tells me "you'll like this much better for your legs than a razor or that harsh cream." I opened the box and gazed upon a contraption that fit nicely in my hand. It had what appeared to be a coil of wire at the end. Bubbles explained that you just run the little contraption up and down your leg lightly and "voila" the hair was gone as if by magic. I tried it that night. Dogs from several blocks away responded to my howls of pain. Please, someone pass me the razor.


Vee said...

Oh I remember that torture treatment. Made me bleed like a stuck hog. I tell ya, what we go through!

Thanks for the fun, Sandi. You're a beautiful woman so I may have to go purchase some Noxema!

Mima said...

I have never been much of a make-up or face cream girl, but my waxing is religious (I have dark hair!). Lynn is the most wonderful beautician and comes to the house to perform her miracles upon me, and has now become a really close friend. She does despair though at my facial routine (which is basically nil), and is working hard to convince me to do a proper job. I am getting better about it, but I am also fully aware that once every few days to cleanse and moisturise is not up to scratch!

I also love to have my nails done, so I guess that we all get fanatical in different areas!

Anonymous said...

Sandi that is so sure it wasn't at the time. I don't use Noxema now really,but as a teen that was a have to. I still love the smell.. brings back great days.
I am also blessed that I never had heavy brow so each day I could just lotion and tweeze a few as I still do.
Yes beauty is hard!

Lee said...

Wow, Sandi! Sounds like you and my sis got your eyebrows from the same caterpillar. Don't remember how young I was when the Noxema routine started but I lived in GM's house so it was by age 10. Have to admit that today I don't have the routine I used to. There are times I dress up my face but mostly I just wash it and go.


Lynn @The Vintage Nest said...

I remember how badly I wanted one of those machines (I forget what they were called) to shave my legs. Was kind of pricey so I asked for one for Christmas. What a joke! It hurt like heck. I threw it away. :)

Pam said...

I've used Noxema from time to time, love it!
I was just thinking this morning taht I REALLY needed abrow wax. Funny that your post was about that today. ;)

windycorner said...

OOooh, that first waxing is a killer, but absolutely neccessary! It's on my list of must haves along with hair color and pedicures every month.

Carol said...

It is funny you should write this post...I have been thinking of doing a post on my make-up bag!
I always forget to 'do' my logs - sorry I meant my legs!
It is not until I have a Dr's appointment that I rush to do them!
I have found a brilliant cream that de-puff's eyes!
Carol x

Jeni said...

I've been a visitor to "Noxema Lane" on many occasions over the years and both my daughters -though not regular Noxemers -also do visit that street from time to time. It is a darned good product, needless to say.
I was, for over 18 years though, the local Avon Lady and during those years, I think I paid much more attention than at any other time in my life to makeup! Today, even when I go out in public, it has to be a really, really special occasion for me to remember to even put a dab of lipstick on, much less on rare occasions a tiny bit of blush. Not that I don't need it because at age 63, with all the wrinkles, extra weight especially, I probably need it in quadruple doses but it's become a thing of "it is what it is, accept it" now and not trying to spend all kinds of time -and money -to work miracles. Which is what really is required in my case!

Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

Excuse me, madam. I have pictures of you taken before your trip to England and you most certainly did not have a uni-brow. Unless, of course, you were angry at someone and then it did sort of look like a giant storm cloud had descended upon your forehead...but that's a whole other story.
Anywho - how ironic is this? I just returned from a day of getting my hair cut, having low-lights added (to better aide the transition from all over color in my hair to au naturel) and having my nails buffed and polished to a fairly presentable level and I jump on the computer and what do I see? A post by you that pretty much echoes my day! lol Who is it that said "great minds think alike"? Well, whoever it was, let's just say they were right! ha!!

Oh yeah - and Randey bought me one of those torture devices, too. I think it was called an "epi-lady" or some such. (Okay. In his defense, I did pretty much beg for it!) I used it ONE TIME. Talk about a flippin' nightmare!! Who in the hell ever thought that having your hair ripped out of your body by a spinning, vibrating coil was a good idea? My soul still bears the scars of that fiasco. It's a painful subject and I hate that you've brought it back up for me. I must go lie down now before the flashbacks put into a state worthy of hospitalization.

Love ya,

Jeanne said...

Sandi you freakin crack me up. I'm all for hair free legs but you won't get one of those contraptions near my legs! I remember Nozema, could never use that stuff always burned the heck outta my face. I'm a Clinque girl always have been although I did dabble with Sea Breeze as a teen. Oily skin but no zits keeps the dryness at bay thankfully.

LivingTheLife said...

Awwww...Sandi...the memories that your post evoke...the absolute medical miracles that one little blue jar filled with the most fragrant albeit a tad medicinal aroma wafting from the rounds of that jar. I'm not sure what age I starting using must have been the pre-teen years...b/c I distinctly remember going to my cousins house...and my mother commenting on what "lovely" skin she had...yes...she was a teenager, beautiful, with long dark shiny hair, beautifully made up eyes, with a smattering of blush and lip gloss and completely void of zits!!! I on the other hand was just about to enter puberty...rather late I might add...which was either a curse or blessing (depending on how you look at it)with long lanky arms and legs, a smattering of teen hives on my face, thick, strait, fly-away hair and big teeth!!! Oh yes!!...the words..."I use Noxema and always have" were seared in my over active imagination from that day forward!...I can remember my mother saying...."you should try Noxema...your cousin has always used it...and she has gorgeous skin!"....ok, mom...I get it!! my journey began...with that sweet little jar of Noxema and my daily routines...then on to Sea be followed by Oil of Olay....b/c goodness knows you can never start fighting the signs of aging too soon...yes...I think I was 13!! OH! girl...have we been brain-washed???...I still have a very consistent routine...I heard a long time ago...that if you go to bed with a dirty face or w/your makeup still on that it will add 10 or 12 days to your faces life...well, you don't have to tell me twice!!...I never go to bed w/o a fresh scrubbed face, moisturizer and eye cream...hmmmm do you think if I washed my face more than 2 times a day...that it would reverse the signs of aging off my face????

Oh...and we used Noxema for sunburns, too...long before we KNEW too much sun was deadly!

Oh and don't even get me started on eyebrows, shaving and hair color that could take all night!

Blessings...and really thanks for the memories! lol


Terri said...

Oh my goodness! Too funny!
With all you go through you must be a great beauty! lol!
God bless.

Anonymous said...

lol...lovely reading this post...your words are so true!

Mary said...

Perhaps we should all stay hairy? What do you think?

Unknown said...

Hi Sandi,

What a great post. Just love your stories.... I haven't used Noxema since I was a teen but I can just picture it now. I need to make an appointment for my eyebrows soon.

lime said...

thanks for the visit via david. if the tandy take cakes are troubling you i could find a nice saurkraut recipe ;)

funny post. what we go through, eh? i don't do makeup but oh the hair removal from various bits of anatomy....i have no sympathy for men who don't like to shave.

Anonymous said...

LOL thanks Sandi for this fun post! Now I better go and workout ;)
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Terri Steffes said...

I hooted so loud the custodian came in to see if I was choking. What a post! I am at school waiting for a meeting to start. I thought I would spend some quality time with the computer and I AM SO GLAD I DID!

the mother of this lot said...

Epilady, it was called. I was too much of a wimp to try it!

Sandy said...

I used Noxema too! I loved the smell ...
Great post!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I still love the way Noxema smells :-)
It is the best thing in the world for sunburns... the voice of experience has spoken!

Susie Q said...

You are such a wonderful writer...I needed this giggle and yes, the head was nodding yes a lot! Noxema...a must!
You are something special and I do adore you!


Unknown said...


Jodie Adams said...

I was laughing at my computer when I read the wolfman part. You crack me up. I agree nothing compares to an nice little razor. The first time I was allowed to shave my mom suggested Nair since I was so hairy. At the time I was so excited, however I don't have the patience for that crap now and it seems to burn a little. :)