It was an evening like many, I was feeling like crap and shopping for scarves or some sale-priced accessory at a local department store, when I walked by the Clarins cosmetic counter.
"Would you like a facial? And a skin care analysis?" OK. Yes, I want an facial awkwardly administered behind a white curtain in the middle of a well-traveled aisle at the local department store.
I told the perky aesthetician/sales associate how I had been looking for new face cleansers and moisturizers anyway. Olay and Neutragena and health food store brands just weren't cutting it. My skin was changing.
They demonstrated like 12 different products on me (their line is huge,) my head was spinning. "See how this makes your hand wrinkles just disappear? That's what it'll do to your face!" So I have wrinkles now? Goddammit. My hands looked kind of the same.
I visited the Clarins counter a couple of times, and came away with quite a haul. Here are some of the products I tried so you don't have to. I'll give 5-second reviews of each.
Supposedly, Clarins is the #1 brand in Europe. I don't have any European friends anymore to ask if they use the products or not. Do you?
From the top: Extra Firming Day Cream ($84) This is one of the first products I used. Loved it more than drugstore brands at first, but as the year wore on I found it wasn't hydrating enough. I explained this to the counter staff but they insisted it was the right product for me. Hmmm.
At 1:00: Beauty Flash Balm ($46 at full size) This is a free sample size of the multi-purpose cream. Or balm. I get very confused by multi-purpose products. It gives the sensation of a tightening lift under your makeup. It feels great for a short time. Perfect if you had a late night. But it can also be used as a mask and washed off. I don't get it. But I liked it.
The little red pot: Instant Smooth ($35) Its purpose is to, duh, smooth out wrinkles, and it does. The effect lasts for about 10 minutes. I just rubbed it on creasy spots over makeup because that's what counter lady told me to do, after demonstrating it on the back of my hand again. A makeup artist also advised to mix it with your foundation, so your whole face would be INSTANTLY smooth.
The crumpled tube: Gentle Foaming Cleanser ($23) This is definitely the best value of the bunch. This tube lasted 17 months. However, as time went on, my skin got drier from it. It's the Cottonseed.
At 4:00: Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate ($83) I have a hard time sticking with an eye cream, and this is no exception. It's always like one more freaking step to getting out the door. I just can't. The cream is no big whoop, and definitely not worth that price tag.
The big bottle: Cleansing Milk with Alpine Herbs ($31) Don't the Alpine Herbs intrigue you? The formula sounds so wholesome and refreshing. Don't fall for it. This is what the staff recommended to me when I said that crumpled up bottle with cottonseed stuff in it was drying. Frankly, I like Cetaphil from the CVS better.
The next bottle around: Instant Eye Make-up Remover ($28 for full size) This was a free sample, and I hated it. It's really oily, required lots of cotton pads, and stung my eyes.
At 10:00: BB Cream ($40) Well this was money well spent, yes? No. It doesn't spread well, and you have to use a ton of it. I took a break from this cream and bought Lumene, again at CVS, which I like much better for its color shade and spreadability.
Finally: Double Serum ($80) This is the one product I miss. I may actually splurge again and buy more. Most serums focus on wrinkles and this one helps with moisture also. They sell it as full of plant extracts and high tech molecules or some shit. The other serum I've tried over the past two years was recommended by a Sephora skin care advisor, Caudalie Vinosource, less expensive than Clarins but it doesn't have that double barreled chamber. Anyway, I liked them both.
I tried a couple of Clarins color cosmetics also because I just couldn't stop myself. The Jolie Rouge lipstick ($27) dry but has staying power and great colors. Still, it was a novelty. But the Crayon Kohl Eye Pencil ($25) is awesome. Smoky plum on one side, blending brush (not a sponge, which drags) on the other. I'd go for that again. I'd just eat more Ramen noodles at home.
Also, those bitches recommended neck cream. I was a bit offended. I've never used neck cream. I guess it shows. I got home, looked in the mirror and was all HOLY SHIT I NEED NECK CREAM! But fuck it.
I totaled up all I spent on Clarins in the last two years. That's right, $696. That's two car payments. That's a season's worth of clothes. THAT IS RIDICULOUS.
Of that $696, the amount I spent on worthwhile products was $171. The rest went down the drain.
My new moisturizer, which I love, is Benefit Total Moisture. It comes in a cute jar and you don't have to use much and it'll last a good long time. It's really hydrating and smoothing. We'll see how long I love it before I have to change again.
Through it all, I realized that the purchase of high-end skin care was just clever marketing to make me feel ageless and pretty. I got it. I did it anyway. I know I'm buying promises. Some days, though, promises are enough to make you feel better.
And now I've come clean.