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Pretty, Please?

I don’t crave a mascara that lengthens as it thickens as it curls. I don’t require a lipstick that renews as it stains as it plumps. I don’t even need a hairspray that protects as it freezes as it boosts. I just want to be pretty. Is that so much to ask?

As I age — crawling through my thirties on chapped hands and cracked knees — I need more and more help in the glam department but have less and less patience for absurd product hype. Too many must-have ingredients (Botafirm? Copper peptides?!) get jumbled in my pre-senile brain. And all those meaningless Madison Avenue slogans (“Hope in a Jar,” “Crease Release”) can kiss my once-frighteningly firm fanny.

But one nice thing about having lived this long is I no longer rely on magazines for my information; I have resources! So I recently asked my wise and trusty chick network to give up their road-tested beauty secrets, with a promise to share the findings with womankind. Now, thanks to their help, we can all look as smooth-skinned and fluffy-haired as those airbrushed bitches in the Olay ads.

Hands-down Favorites

A friend who writes for national beauty mags says there’s no better cleanser than Cetaphil, a wash-off or leave-on potion that comes in an ugly pump bottle for less than $10. “If you want to feel like butter — and I mean honest-to-god, full-fat delicious butter,” she says, “mix in a teaspoon of baking soda and scrub gently.”

Retin-A remains everyone’s favorite not-so-secret weapon. “At first it’s stingy and makes you peel,” says a former model I know, “but then you get used to it, even though it’s subtly eating the top layer of your face off every night.” It’s about $80 in the U.S., but you can buy it crazy-cheap in Mexico (spring break, anyone?).

Cheaper than Dirt

Our grandmothers were knockouts in their day, and they passed on this pretty little secret: Beauty begins in the pantry and medicine cabinet. My friends enjoy a weekly hair rinse in apple cider vinegar for soft and shiny locks; a baking soda rub to repair split ends; an exfoliating scrub of finely crushed walnuts and baking soda; and a 15-minute face mask of aspirin and honey dissolved in warm water.


Lots of ladies say Lancôme really does make the best mascara, and Kiehls Ultimate Strength Hand Salve is worth its $18-per-tube price, as it will “cure anything dry or cracked in a matter of minutes.”

A stunning single friend of mine never leaves home without Trish McEvoy Line Refiner. “My dermatologist recommended it to me, and I love it!” she gushes. “It plumps up the little lines and dry areas under your eyes, and it’s little so you can take it anywhere and use it all the time.”

Drugstore Dabbling

Old standbys such as plain Dove soap, Aquaphor lotion, and cold, white Noxema in a pot remain perennial favorites. So, surprisingly, does Suave shampoo: “It makes my hair more body-licious than any expensive shampoo I’ve ever thrown money away on,” says a die-hard fan.

A triathlete friend swears by L’Oréal Sublime Bronze Spray-On Self Tanner. “It’s natural looking, sprays on upside-down, and doesn’t smell awful,” she says. “It’s at least a billion times better than Lancôme’s.”

I was shocked to find several women are addicted to Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker. “It has a lovely reddish tint and keeps your lips smooth and luscious. Plus it smells yummy,” says a buddy of mine who, like us all, is trying to grow old gorgeously.

The good news? “You are never too old for Lip Smacker.”

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