Monday, March 24, 2014

The High Cost of 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 myriad 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 cobalt blue jar of Noxzema skin cleanser. Thus began the routine that follows 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, hair wise.") 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 (our little Man) 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. Pretending it was not so bad, I began to relax, it only burned a little bit . 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 Marylebone 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 this was an Epilator, and 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...

Now that was fun! Your beauty regimen from age 15. Dare I ask what it is now? I use a little Oil of Olay and try to keep the brows under control. But ohhhhh... I remember the good old days. That epilator contraption drew blood...It was evil!

Sally said...

LOL! Love it, Sandi!

Not too long ago, my daughter told me to stop tweezing my brows so much to which I replied "I don't know what you're talkin' about, I only have ONE to tweeze."

I wasn't allowed to wear makeup, even in high school.

My mom never wore any makeup with the exception of a little powder and yep, RED lipstick. I couldn't, and still can't pull that off. Pale pink for me always. :)

Lee said...

LOL Loved that! Can't remember what age I used Noxzema but I did. Never tried an epilator and don't really want to. You're brave!

Hugs & have a good day!

Hilary said...

Oh my.. you were a gutsy lioness indeed. I can't say that I've ever had anything waxed, epilated (is there such a verb?) or otherwise savaged. And I probably wear pretty much the same makeup that I started out with (minus the blue eye shadow).

As for Noxema.. as soon as you said the word, I could smell it in my minds nose. I loved those cobalt blue jars and to this day, I love glass in that colour and have had a set of "Noxema" coloured glass dishes. Right now I just have a couple of the bowls and my son has the rest. :)

Fun story, Sandi.

Maggie May said...

I do empathise about the eyebrows. I thought you were describing me!
I have to put up with them because I'd be spending hours with tweezers otherwise and the two eyebrows don't even match!
I don't think I'd go through all that pain.

I've always moisturised my face as that dry feeling is awful if I forget.
My whole skin seems to be dry!
I think I'm shrivelling like a prune! Ha!
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Donna said...

Love the story girl!Hahaaa...yep, I have the blue jar as well.
And definitely NO waxing of Anything here!!Hahaaaa

Brian Miller said...

good lawd....i am glad that men do not have to go through would be more than dogs that were howling in response...ha....congrats on the POTW

Out on the prairie said...

Lots of work to maintain a look.

Rosaria Williams said...

Oh my! You did a great job capturing the torture we girls go through to keep our beauty routine. I gave up shaving legs decades ago by skipping dresses and skirts and sticking to pants and long skirts. As for skin routine, a dab of moisturizer plus lipstick, and I'm ready to get out of the house.

(thanks for the visit)

ancient one said...

I only had noxzema for a while when I was a teen. A woman I knew lived into her nineties. When she passed everyone remarked about how good her skin looked. Her daughter said it was noxzema. Her mother used it every night. Wished I'd have kept on using it. Too late now... I throughly enjoyed this post!!

Bimbimbie said...

Too funny and reminded me of having my eyebrows plucked by a friend, we were 13 and waiting for school to begin - she only had time to get the one eye done before the class bell rang and we went to different lessons - I had to wait until the lunch break before I saw her again to get the other one plucked!

And thanks for dropping by mine to say hello. Smiles*!*

Akelamalu said...

Oh yes, cleanse, tone and moisturise - once started one can never stop!

Tabor said...

Congrats on your POTW and I guess I could say thanks for the memories.

Betty Manousos said...

lol! love the story. too funny!!

congrats on your potw.
and thanks so much for your wonderful comment. much appreciated:))

happy weekend~

Indrani said...

I have not done any of these things, never had the courage. :)
You have penned the experiences well and this was one fun read. :)
Congrats on your POTW!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"Dogs from several blocks away responded to my howls of pain. "

I did the Noxema, too. But probably not until teenage years. Never been a big makeup person although I could probably use it. Little mascara and eyeliner. And if it is a really big event, a little blush.

Enjoyed it.

Finding Pam said...

Your post brought back many memories from years past. I loved Noxzema. I didn't get anything waxed until I was an adult and never tried an epilator. I did electrolysis about twenty years ago. Loved the dark blue jar as well. Thanks for this wonderful story.