There is nothing that divides a sofa of ladies sipping a glass of well-iced Whispering Angel more than a chat about face cream. Some insist that shelling out on expensive named brands is as useful as setting fire to all your hard earned on next door's barbecue, while others would rather go without breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to slather themselves in something fragrant, unctuous and beautifully packaged. So when I announced the other day that I was kicking it all into touch and going oil free for three weeks you could have heard four glasses of pink drink drop.
What! Am I mad? The clatter of incredulity was deafening. Do I actually want to turn into a leatherette handbag? Did I realise that, overnight, my face would resemble freeze-dried fruit and I would eventually keel over and die due to lack of lubricant?
But I was undeterred. After my meeting with the glamorous dermatologist, Dr Rachael Eckel, I had seen ‘the science bit,’ checked over the before and after pics, and was ready to throw out baby, bathwater et al.
So now in lieu of some soft bubbly cleanser and fistfuls of anything that happens to be on my shelf and within wet-handed, soap-in-the-eye reach, I now have a long line of white bottles from Beverley Hills no-less: ZO Skin created by Zein Obagi. They range from a cleanser to an exfoliating polish to Te Pads for Acne Pore Treatment to a Daily Power Defense cream (oil-free: natch) to Growth Factor Serum. There is a long list of protocol and detailed instructions on how to use each product. You need a PHD to understand it all, which thankfully Rachael has, so she went through the whole thing very slowly for the hard-of-paying-attention.
The first few days were a bit of a bore as I spent most of the time either washing, or drying my hands in order to squint at the instructions trying to work how many pumps of this I needed, and exactly what order each product went in, but once I had the protocol nailed, it was a lot less tricky.
And the results? After three weeks of being oil free I can safely say a few things:
- My face has not turned into a leatherette handbag.
- I don’t look like freeze-dried fruit.
- I am still alive.
What it has done though is something really rather remarkable. The regular daily exfoliation has given me the sort of shiny, squeaky look of a fresh-faced youngster. The flesh itself also appears to have got a little tighter and is less baggy and loose around the jowls. The floppy St Bernard chops are a little less obvious and the open pores across my nose, a product of plenty of pink drink and copious cigaretting, are diminishing by the day.
Twice last week, two separate girlfriends remarked on my skin looking “good” and one actually asked me what sort of cream I was using, even clicking a biro into action, as she prepared to jot down the name.
However, it has not been Paltrow Perfect all the way. There have been a few moments of doubt. Firstly the Te Pads sting quite sharply when you use them, particularly around the nose, and secondly I am not also totally convinced you don’t need cream around the eyes as mine have been feeling quite tight and dry for the last few weeks. And lastly, if you are going anywhere near the sun, you must religiously put on the Helio sunblock because with so much exfoliating going on it is extremely easy to burn your face.
Then, of course, the purpose of it all is defeated. You end up with freeze-dried fruit face and leatherette sofa skin which is, let’s face it, not what the lovely Dr Rachael ordered at all.