I had a brilliant experience a few months ago when I was asked for ID when buying a bottle of red wine in Tesco. I could have kissed the woman behind the checkout. As someone who’s looked indiscriminately 20-something since I was about 19, it was a very good feeling indeed. A weekend just gone was slightly different.
I’d been invited to try out a facial at Courthouse Clinics. Given that I’m more likely to spend Saturday mornings these days wiping small bugs off my face in the manner of a human windscreen whilst travelling at speed on horseback than I am taking half decent care of it, I thought, why not? A skin assessment might be quite interesting and teach me something useful.
So last Saturday, I sweated my way gently down Wimpole Street in the sunshine, and was let into a set of reassuringly expensive looking offices.
The consultant was completely and utterly lovely. She was enormously knowledgeable, very friendly, and had absolutely flawless skin, which is something of a plus point in this particular situation.
Before she gave me the facial treatments themselves, I had a snazzy skin assessment that showed some rather clever pictures of different layers of my face, and she explained what the various pictures revealed. I found it remarkable that given my, ahem, Spartan skincare regimen (“take off make-up with cheapy Boots cleanser; moisturise when I remember”), the conclusion was that my skin’s in pretty good nick, all things considered (hurrah for Boots’ BOGOF deals on NiveaQ10).
There are some patches of redness and uneven skin tone, but given that it’s skin and not a freshly-plastered wall, I think that’s allowed (although, vain creature that I am, I’m seriously contemplating a return visit for some treatment on a too-visible vein on the side of my nose); and there’s a bit of sun damage along my hairline, where I’m clearly a bit laissez-faire about getting the sunblock into the edges.
“Hmmm,” she said, looking at the screen, “Do you use eye cream?”
“Um, no…” I confessed.
“Start,” she said sternly, in the most no-nonsense voice I’ve heard since Margaret Mountford was disparaging about slipping standards at Edinburgh University.
And then it came. The blow I was not anticipating, and that hit my ego like a brick.
“Have you considered Botox? You might want to start.”
No, is the answer. I’ve not.
She went on to point out the lines on my forehead that, with Botox, would be filled out and, if treated, wouldn’t get any worse. Ouch.
I’m not yet 30, and I’d rather like to think that, much as the pressure is heaped on women to look young, I don’t have to get involved with that particular issue (and its rights and wrongs) just yet; and I’ve not considered injecting Botulinum toxin into my face because, however long its distinguished history of medical and cosmetic usage, it’s still the same stuff that you can make chemical weapons from. Call me a stick in the mud, but I don’t want that stuff in my face.
I like being able to move my face, and show in it how I’m feeling. I like the fact that my life means I have so much to be so expressive about. So, for the time being, I’m more than happy to keep an open mind and try all kind of snazzy light treatments and sweet-smelling enzyme peels, and use expensive eye creams and more suitable cleansers and be better about moisturising. But I won’t be injecting poisons into my skin.
I will, however, be taking off all my make up, and going back to Tesco, where the light might not do anything for my skin, but the checkout assistants do a whole load for my ego.