Skin care bores me. Every time I visit the cosmetics counter to pick up some cleanser, I am distracted by the pretty colors and scents, and come away instead with a bottle of perfume or palette of eye shadow (this is also why I own lots of pretty shoes but no cardigans).
I know I'm supposed to wash my face twice a day, but I never have. The words "regimen" or "routine," so far as I'm concerned, should be used by people preparing for gymnastics competitions. In my early 20s, I had a bottle of dishwashing liquid in my shower. After my son was born, I began washing my face with unscented baby wipes. More often than not, I wake up with raccoon eyes from the mascara I was too tired to take off at bedtime. Personally, I think that not scrubbing my skin has been a good thing, because everything else I own that is washed frequently seems to wear out.
When I finally got interested in face-cleansing last year, it wasn't because I was worried about wrinkles but because I had happened to snag some samples of Tony & Tina's new skin-care line. I found that their herbal toner with lemon grass sent me into a hedonistic stupor the likes of which I hadn't experienced since I got into my mother's cooking sherry when I was 10. I can sit for half an hour after work, watching "Jeopardy" and stroking that cool, gingery elixir over the contours of my face with a cotton ball until there isn't a dead cell or free radical left. Then there's the honeysuckle foaming cleanser, the fruit and nut acid peel pads and the herbal moisturizing mask with comfrey--each one more voluptuously scented and sensorially decadent than the other. Before you know it, there goes the evening! But who cares? I feel like those girls in the '50s who got out of dates with losers by saying, "I have to stay in and wash my hair tonight."
My only complaint with Tony & Tina's line is that there are too many products: How do you decide whether to use eye serum with blue corn or eye refiner with rosa mosqueta? Or both? It seems silly to put seven products on my face every day, but that's what I've been doing. Is this what's meant by a binge? Does skin care count as a hobby, I wonder?
Tony & Tina aren't the only ones to have figured out that skin care doesn't have to be boring and medicinal. Los Angeles is full of sweet-smelling, exotic skin-care boutiques. Michelle Ornstein at Enessa Wellness Spa on Melrose recently "threaded" my eyebrows--the painless alternative to plucking--and gave me the only facial I've ever had that didn't make my skin break out. She also sent me home with a bag of essential oil-based products in little blue apothecary bottles.
A lot of products toss the term "aromatherapy" around, but Ornstein has been an aromatherapist since, well, forever, and her products are the real thing. Her Rosewood Facial Nourishment is a daily moisturizer, but unlike any other face product I've seen, it consists entirely of a blend of essential oils--no glycerine, no parabens, no dimethicone, just oils. This is the kind of utterly exotic potion Scheherazade or Cleopatra kept in the medicine cabinet, and it feels wonderful, pure and wise. But Enessa's Invigorating Body Polish, a pale yellow mixture of oils and coarse salt from the Dead Sea that leaves your skin sleek and tingly, is the item that I can't live without. This is the single most amazing bath product on the planet, a concoction that rivals the invention of the margarita or cheesecake in cultural significance. I swear.
I almost didn't bother to try products from Body Bistro ayurvedic apothecary because the name was too bizarre and unsettling. Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu herbal medicine from India, while bistros, I'm pretty sure, are found along the Champs-Elysees. I associate bistros with chops and frites, salade Nicoise and French onion soup--not exactly skin-friendly imagery. But contrary to what its unfortunate name implies, Body Bistro's products contain only basil, turmeric, coriander, neem, cucumber and other herbal ingredients.
The company, based in Sherman Oaks, was founded by Carina Chatlani, who was born in Bombay and discovered herbs and ayurveda while at boarding school in the Himalayas. Her Soothing Serum is the only face product that actually lives in my purse. It is a universally soothing balm that works wonders on this strange Pinocchio/Rudolph condition I have whereby my nose turns red and flaky when I'm under stress. So when I find myself stuck in traffic gridlock, I get out the Serum and put it on my nose--and eyes, too, why not? I haven't tried it on toast yet. But my face certainly smells delicious, in addition to being so clean you could eat off it.
See Page 31 for Resouce Guide