Buy This Face Cream (And Don’t Trip Over Baby Jesus)

"My darling, that Crisco regimen is absolutely doing wonders for your complexion."

“My darling, that Crisco regimen is absolutely doing wonders for your complexion!”

Truth: I hate the mall. I realize by admitting that I risk having my Girl Card revoked.  But it needs to be said. Now, there are many reasons I hate the mall, and near the top of the list is cosmetics counters.

But then the teen comes to me and asks if I can take her to get some new “face stuff”, as she puts it. Determined to get her on the path to good skin care and happy that she is taking an interest, I grab my keys and we drive to the fancy local mall.

The first saleswoman we approach looks like she applied her makeup that morning with a garden trowel. Ironically, she’s hawking beauty products out of a “natural” set up resembling a barn or some kind of organic feed store.  Overturned apple crates, lots of burlap and twine and hand carved bowls with sheep’s milk soap and things written on chalkboards. You know, kind of like the stable Jesus was born in meets Pinterest.  And who doesn’t want to buy cosmetics from Jesus?

I tell the saleswoman my daughter needs a non-foaming face wash, due to her dry skin. “Ah”, she says. “I have just the thing.” She picks up a bottle and presents it with a flourish. I read the label. It says:  Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash.

I try again. “Um, she needs a non-foaming cleanser. Because she has dry skin. “

“Well, this doesn’t foam very much.   It just has a little foam,” Says Cruella De Cleanser, clearly bent on selling us a product that will give my daughter’s skin the texture of Betty Crocker Potato Buds. Hmmmppphh. She’s beginning to seem not worthy of being in Jesus’ Pinterest stable.

I’m getting frustrated, and I realize that they probably don’t have what she needs. Foolishly, I ask my next question. “What about a reasonably priced moisturizer?”

Behind the layers of spackle, I see Cruella’s eyes light up. She simpers over to a shelf and hoists a tiny jar aloft. “This is our Bright ‘n Lovely Botanical Boost with Bovine Extract and Essence of Sea Kelp. No young girl should be without it. Oh, and she definitely needs a toner…” and with that she grabs a wee bottle of liquid that looked like it would have no problem meeting FAA travel restrictions but cost as much as a monthly  car payment .

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, those apple crates must be expensive.

Uh-oh. She must sense my hesitation, because she narrows her eyes and peers at me a little too closely for my comfort. Too late I realize I have accidentally handed her a cold-cream sized jar of whoop-ass. “What are you using, if I may I ask?” she said, as she purses her lips and circles an accusing finger in the direction of my face.

I tell her the name of the perfectly good skin care line I’ve been using for years.

But it is as if I just said, “Wellll, me ‘n the other womenfolk down in the holler just go in on a big pot o’ Crisco ‘bout once every couple o’ months. Does the trick right nice, ya’ know?” Because she frowns. “Oooohhhh. Um, I seeeee….” She says, in a tone that implies my that my complete ignorance of skin care has left me crone-like.

Great. I am not only a terrible mother who won’t buy her daughter the pricey skin cream, I am also a terrible mother who apparently looks like the Crypt Keeper.

She continues, “Are you using an eye cream, dear?  My 14 year old son uses this eye cream, and he swears by it.”

As my daughter ponders the existence of a 14 year old boy who uses eye cream, and I ponder putting a bag over my head or perhaps sleeping with a chin strap,  Cruella tries again. She slithers over to another small pot of moisturizer, plucks it off of the shelf, and begins to stroke it lovingly. “Now this girl,” she purrs, “is one of our best sellers.”

I assume I must have misheard, but Cruella continues. “She has grapefruit and kumquat extract. You just put her on once a day, lightly, and she reeeaaaally likes it when you blend her together in your palm first.”

Good heavens. The poor woman had cracked under the pressure of selling overpriced cosmetics and was now anthropomorphizing face creams.  We back away, telling her we need to think it over.

We beeline to another cosmetics counter, one with a  faux-French name where women in white lab coats are waiting to pounce. A heavily made-up elderly woman toddles up to us. “Can I help you?”

“Yes!” Convinced we’re about to get somewhere, because lab coats, I tell her, “My daughter needs a non-foaming, non-soap facial cleanser, because she has dry skin.”

“Oh, of course! I have just the thing.” Then she picks up a tube and gestures, Price Is Right style, to the label.

It says: Liquid Facial Soap.

I turn on my heel and start to walk away.

“Where are you going mom?” My daughter asks.

“Back to the Jesus/Pinterest stable. I left a jar of whoop-ass there that I think I’m gonna need.”


Buy This Face Cream!



  1. I hear you! Every time my mom is in town, we have to make a beeline to the mall, in particular, the cosmetic counters, where she buys enough to keep them afloat for the next year! I see those ‘adorable’ ladies looking at me in askance, so I put on my best ‘don’t even’ face!!

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