One week ago I made a big mistake. Friends had been urging me to put something on my face. If not foundation and other cosmetics, then at least some moisturiser. Otherwise my face would dry out and mummify.
Now I had never been much sold on cosmetics. Yes, their power to cover, conceal, and transform was miraculous. But the cost was significant, applying the stuff needed real skill, doing it was time-consuming, and it was high-maintenance, needing touchups throughout the day. And then it all had to come off at night, to be reapplied again next morning. In between one looked disturbingly different, so that an unexpected early-morning knock on the front door might be something to dread.
I was happy to use mascara and lipstick, but considered the rest not worth the effort. It wasn't just an inclination to save money and keep life simple. However skilfully applied, the large amount of makeup some people wore looked artificial to my eyes - not at all the natural look that I wanted for myself.
And another thing: I couldn't see how layer upon layer of makeup could be good for the skin. I had a naturally greasy skin, so it was supple, and the oestrogen was clearly helping to ward off the ageing process. I ate a good, balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. I drank a lot of water. Surely that was all I needed to look fine? I certainly didn't like the notion of clogged-up pores, and skin struggling to breathe under a crust of chemicals. Or worse, those chemicals corroding the skin. I knew that my skin was sensitive to cold winds and a salty atmosphere, as was the case when in Cornwall over Christmas in 2010. My face became red, puffy and eventually much of the skin flaked off. So I had reasons for being circumspect about smearing anything onto my face.
But moisturiser...it couldn't do any harm, could it? I was in Boots killing ten minutes while my monthly prescription was being made up, and naturally I wandered over to the skincare shelves. And there were pots and pots of moisturisers for day and night use. For some reason I set aside my good reasons for not using anything on my face, and I bought a pot of daytime moisturiser. I thought I chose sensibly. It was by Simple. It ought to be all right.
That evening, I rubbed some onto most of my face. At first it seemed OK. But next morning I knew I had been stupid. My cheeks were bright red, I looked puffy around the eyes, and various parts of my face were tender. Soon they felt positively raw. The worst was over in a day or two, but much of my face then felt itchy for almost a week afterwards, and patches of skin began to flake away. It's only just stopped. Mostly.
I suppose you could say that I'd had a cheap acid peel! But I don't look any better for it. My face looks as if I've just emerged from a bad cold, after plenty of sleepless nights.
I gave the pot of Simple moisturiser away. It clearly is quite unsuitable for my own facial chemistry.
I won't be repeating this experiment in a hurry. From now on, I'm going to be deaf to anyone urging me to beautify myself.