The larger question, though, is this: Who needs another clock? There’s already a marriage clock, a career clock, a biological clock. Sometimes being a woman feels like standing in the lobby of a hotel, looking at the dials depicting every time zone in the world behind the front desk—except they all apply to you, and all at once. It’s embarrassing to admit, but given the chance to turn back just one of these timepieces, I’d choose the beauty clock. By now I feel I have a pretty solid relationship with the other deadlines. I know where my career has been and where it’s going. I don’t hear the baby alarm ringing—yet. But when it comes to the actual physical wizening of my face, the only thing I know for sure is that choosing to “age gracefully” will not slow the rate of decline. Thus, I decided to give the SK-II regimen a shot.
The first thing I discovered upon opening the instructions was that if I ritually applied every cream, lotion, tonic, and cleanser that SK-II recommends, I’d never get out into the world before lunch (thereby protecting my skin from sun damage, so there you go). Adopting a skincare routine is like packing a bag for the weekend: No single item seems particularly heavy, and yet you can barely lift the end result.
Instead, I began with the cleanser and added a step each night: the lotion, the essence, the eye film, the refining cream. I was running out of room in my bathroom. Yet my skin really did brighten. I had never thought of it as uneven before, but having a chin and cheeks that are the same texture was a new experience. After several weeks I was finally ready to, if you’ll pardon the pun, face the grand finale of the Melting Rich Cream.
True to its name, the unguent does feel remarkably like putting cold butter on your face—it sort of liquefies as it soaks in. And after a few more weeks, I began to see an actual difference in my skin, specifically around my eyes. At least…I think I did. I suddenly found myself at my own tipping point—the juncture of Real Results and Imagined Placebo Effect.
Recently, however, I was packing one of those mysteriously heavy bags for a weekend away in upstate New York. There was no room for all my various jars and pots and tonics, and I was loath to leave them around the communal cabin bathroom, where they would be ripe for judgment. And so, after being trapped in traffic for hours in a stuffy car, I pulled into a roadside drugstore en route. They were out of face wash, so I bought a brightly designed pack of “refreshing cleansing pads.” Back in the car I lowered the mirrored visor and got to work. When I was through I smelled like some unholy combination of kiwi and dryer sheets. My poor, spoiled face—so many weeks of the best antiaging money can buy, and now this!