The Fountain of Youth

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


It’s not in Miami. It’s not in West Palm either, which makes sense given the number of face-lifts per capita in the Miami metropolitan area. Nope, the fountain is in St. Augustine at a place so ancient (1513) it’s called “Ponce de León’s ‘Fountain of Youth’ Archaeology Park.” Its ad campaign emphasizes that the fountain is Florida’s “oldest attraction”—as if the words “Florida” and “old” need more pairing opportunities. But hey, “the season” is here. There’s still time for some noninvasive youth-enizing that doesn’t put anyone at risk of being “Mar-a-Lagoed” like Mika Brzezinski last season.

One can only imagine why Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella sent Ponce looking for the mythological fountain in the first place. But I confess, I don’t blame them. Ferdinand had one of those unfortunate early-onset double chins. Isabella was dead by the time Ponce returned to Spain with the bad news that the fountain didn’t work—just like all those now-abandoned miracle products you threw down your Black Card to buy.

Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to squander a bag of doubloons on a jar of face cream—just not on one that doesn’t work. Everybody dies. Why not look good doing it?

This nonsense about using olive oil as your only moisturizer is like believing in creationism. We’re like snakes, people! We shed our skin every month. Without proper humidity and nutrition, even snakes retain blotches of old dead skin. It’s hideous—like I would be—without face cream and dermatology. It’s no accident I occasionally get carded at age…well, never mind.


Because of Nancy Reagan I once had to wait in my dermatologist’s examining room (the room after the “waiting room”) for two hours. That’s right. Four hours total.

I didn’t walk out (I do have priorities), but for the first time in our doctor/patient relationship I was going to give him a piece of my mind. When the door finally opened, he hung his head exhaustedly and said, “That Nancy Reagan!”

My doctor was no longer visiting the White House to treat the former first lady; she now traveled—Secret Service in tow—from California to New York City for her appointments. My guy was the go-to doc for models who lit themselves on fire accidentally when they tried to cook on a restaurant stove. It took six months to get an appointment with him, unless you were special—like me and Nancy.

Anyway, my doc told me he personally would take care of my beautiful skin. He had me using Retin-A and hyaluronic acid a decade before anyone. No, you couldn’t even get it at Barneys for $1,200. I made him pinky swear he would tell me when I needed a face-lift. I wanted insurance—the name of the very best plastic surgeon in the universe. He gave it to me. Then he had a stroke.


I was forced to become a genius at skin care. I am a noncertified dermatologist. I do facials, waxing of every bodily area, Botox injections (BYOB—Bring Your Own Botox), and the occasional cosmetic surgery without anesthesia. My prices are fantastic. I have an exclusive clientele of one person: me. I scorn lesser experts like Lawrence H. Block, a professor of pharmaceutics at Duquesne University. He has been researching skin cream for forty years. “The ingredients do not penetrate the skin,” he writes. “As soon as you cease using the products, any effect you are seeing will dissipate rapidly.”

Seriously, Professor Block, isn’t whatever part of myself I’m staring at in the mirror “dissipating rapidly”? For the slow learners out there, consider Rogaine (which both men and women can now use at the new 5 percent strength). Say you have a bald spot. You put Rogaine on it. You have hair. If you know the hair will disappear without Rogaine, why stop using it? Even exercise is like Rogaine: If you stop doing it, you know you’ll be fat. And flabby. Oh, and old.

Once you give up on these things and let entropy take over you’re going to be indistinguishable from any hunched-over, elephant-skinned bag lady walking down the street.


I made some calculations. I didn’t have the $60,000 for the only face-lift I ever coveted—done by the very surgeon whose name I still had under lock and key. But I was a “cradle Estée Lauder” girl. The one skin care product that I knew helped me keep up appearances was “Re-Nutriv Ultimate Age Lifting Crème.” It cost $1,100 for 8.4 ounces. Pricey. Don’t ask me what else I’ve tried—I’ve sampled everything from Fango mud to an acupuncture “face-lift” using gold needles at Clinique La Prairie in Montreux. I’ve outgrown clean, affordable Neutrogena. (I don’t care what Nicole Kidman tells you: Rapid Wrinkle Repair does not “visibly reduce wrinkles in one week” unless you’re 23.)

When Estée Lauder bought a skin care line invented by dermatologists Katie Rodan, MD, and Kathy Fields, MD, I took note. I had admired them as the women who cured teenage acne; I’d hoped they’d soon have a reasonably priced adult regimen that made as much scientific sense. It was business news when they bought their company back from the Lauder empire. I would never kick Estée out of bed, but I did invest in  R+F “Redefine” and “Reverse” regimens with an “Amp MD” roller tool. I used “Acute Care” on my deeply etched elevens (two wrinkles between the eyes, detectable only in populations without access to Botox). I charted my progress with selfies. After a month, I went out in public wearing nothing but lipstick—and clothes.

You may think I’m kidding myself: Go right ahead. By Christmas, I’m going to have lush, “Lash Boost”-ed lashes (brows, too), and “renewed” lips that don’t peal like an onion.

Even Ponce’s pursuits were ultimately rewarding—in their way. King Ferdinand appointed him the first governor of nearby Puerto Rico. Ferdinand himself discovered one sure-bet “Fountain of Youth” himself—during hard times, Ferdinand blindfolded himself in his secret study so that frivolous concerns (like that double chin?) wouldn’t cloud his judgment.

Works for all skin types. 


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