We all have someone in our lives who exists solely to make us feel like we know nothing. For me, this person is my cousin Lisa (heretofore referred to as “Cuz”), a native New Yorker who I love like a little sister. She moved in with us last week to establish residency for grad school, and I’m excited, partly because I know she will provide lots of material for this blog in the coming months.
The first thing to know about Cuz is that she has made skincare her life’s work. She is obsessed. When she first met Tate, he was a 9-month old baby and completely non-verbal. Instead of cooing over him like a normal person, Lisa repeatedly stroked his cheek and asked him, with a straight face, what he did to keep his skin so soft.
When we first see each other after a long time apart, she will always make a comment about my skin. She caught me this time at the end of a week-long trip to Central Oregon, from which I returned with skin so dry and bumpy that if my forehead said “Wilson” on it, you would think my head was a leather basketball. I knew the situation was serious, but she really drove it home for me when she said this: “You know, Clarisonic was invented for the exact skin problem you have. You should try it.” SKIN PROBLEM. I felt like she’d just diagnosed me with leprosy.
Anyway, I was already feeling stressed about my skin when I walked into her room and saw this.
I mean, my God. She’s 26. For comparison, here’s what my 35-year old skincare regimen looks like.
Seeing the evidence of her superior commitment to her skin was bad enough, but then she started talking and it got so much worse. I asked her about her CeraVe night lotion because the drugstore brand stood out from the $2000 worth of high-end skin care products surrounding it. “Oh,” Cuz said, “That’s the only thing that fills in my lines. Like these lines right here (casually touching a finger to my laugh lines as I froze in horror)—CeraVe will fill that in right away.” It was such brilliant timing, because I’d recently noticed that those lines—two hostile parentheses hugging my mouth—were getting more noticeable.
And Cuz was just getting started. When I asked her why she had so many serums, she said, “My morning serum has to have antioxidants. My night serum is more for intense moisturization.” Having personally discovered serum only a few years ago, the concept of having more than one serum in one’s skincare arsenal was still blowing my mind when she asked me what I used for moisturizer. “A daytime FLUID?!? Fluids are for people with oily skin. You don’t have oily skin.” And then, toners: “I don’t use American toners. They all have alcohol and they strip the skin. That’s why I like Korean essences, they soak into the skin and really prep it for the stuff that follows.” As she talked, I saw the dozens of bottles of American toners from my past flash before my eyes.
By the end of it, I just felt sorry for myself. What had I been doing with my time? I felt my upper lip bead with sweat as I began to question everything I was doing and had done to my skin. Expecting sympathy, I told her how stressed I was. Instead of coddling me, she broke it down, cold. “You SHOULD be stressed. You have good skin and you’re not taking care of it.” Hearing that, and looking at her perfectly unlined and dewy face, made me die a little inside.
My friend Pat is a skincare guru who, despite being twice my age, has skin of such surpassing loveliness that you suspect she made a pact with the devil to get it. Her face manages to stay perfectly intact during a vigorous hour of Zumba, while my face melts and slides all over the place like a gruyere sandwich. Between Pat and Cuz, I’m motivated to kick this skincare thing into high gear.
I’ll report back any findings.