A wrinkle in time

I'm pushing 30, and my face is showing some new, not entirely welcome, lines. My skin care regimen may not turn back the clock, but it does make me glow.

Published June 22, 2005 6:10PM (EDT)

I remember as a kid being baffled by the Oil of Olay ads that interrupted my after-school dates with "Guiding Light." A lovely young woman looked straight into the camera and said, "Oil of Olay will help keep you looking younger too," and, "Grow old gracefully? No way! I'm going to fight it every step of the way." I looked at the woman and thought: But she's not old! I also wondered, doesn't everyone want to get older?

I've been pretty blasi about aging ever since, but as I close in on 30 I'm starting to worry a bit about the fine lines I see, etched ever deeper, around my eyes; about keeping the texture of my skin soft, smooth and even. When I asked my mom for advice -- she's 59 and looks positively radiant and about 10 years younger than she is -- she recommended Philosophy.

I'm not talking about Nietzsche or Kierkegaard. Philosophy is a line of skin care products with silly names (Big Mouth lip plumper, Think Big eye pencil, Soul Owner exfoliating foot cream) and hokey sayings (Help Me, a nighttime face treatment, says: "Help me, help myself, so that I may help others") on the packages. Founded by Christina Carlino, a former acne sufferer, Philosophy products are available in department stores, at Sephora or online. I've liked everything I've tried -- the Cinnamon Buns body wash, for example, smells like fresh pastry, and the lip moisturizer didn't need constant reapplication and provided a nice shine -- but there are three items I can't live without: the Hope in a Jar daily moisturizer, the When Hope Is Not Enough nighttime moisturizer and Shelter, a sunscreen of 15 SPF made especially for the face.

Hope in a Jar -- described on the package as "a drink of water" for your skin -- feels like satin on your fingertips, looks like a potion concocted of the whitest melted pearls and vanishes the moment you put it on your face. It has a light scent, one that can only be described as fresh. And unlike so many face lotions I've tried, it's not greasy. At night, I actually look forward to washing my face, because when I'm done I get to dip my fingers into my "When Hope Is Not Enough" jar. The nighttime moisturizer is pearly like the daytime one, with just a little more weight, and it too smells fresh -- like sea salt. You only need to use a small amount of each moisturizer, so even though they cost a bit more than something from, say, CVS, I find myself spending about the same as I did before, when I was always trying new things.

For daytime, I use Hope in a Jar in combination with Shelter, a sunscreen. It is like a nongreasy suntan lotion, except bright white and totally fragrance-free, and it doesn't drag down the moisturizer. I put the sunscreen on second -- for no other reason than a friend told me that I should -- and it disappears right away, too. No heavy rubbing in or wiping off white blobs that won't absorb. Everyone and my mother, literally, have told me that sunscreen is the key to staying young, that it's the big red ball in the sky that gives us wrinkles and ages us, so I take my Shelter seriously.

I can definitely say that since I started using Philosophy, my skin looks better -- more glowing. Of course, it probably helps that using these products has gotten me on a skin care schedule; now I actually take off my eyeliner and mascara at night instead of sleeping all made up and waking up a smudged, black-eyed mess. And while I can't say for sure that these products are making me look younger -- they don't claim to be anti-aging, exactly -- that's not really what I'm looking for, yet. For now, I just want to keep getting carded; I want people to act surprised when I tell them how old I am; and I want my younger boyfriend to think we look the same age.

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By Hillary Frey

Hillary Frey is the Books editor at Salon.

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