The point of moisturiser is to make you feel good – not look younger
Like everyone, I've been ageing since the day I was born. Why would I want to back to my self-doubting, hangover-riddled 20s?
What is the point of moisturiser and can you recommend any decent ones?
Cheryl, by email
This is the point of moisturiser, Cheryl: to make your skin feel good. This is not the point of moisturiser: to make you feel like a baby.
You might think that is something of a straw argument. You might even think that I have spent too much time inhaling scented cosmetics and am making up this idea that moisturisers claim to make you feel like a baby, but I can assure you they absolutely do. They also claim to be able to reverse time, stop time, even defy time. In fact, I don't think there's a single product in the entire cosmetics industry that prompts as much guff from advertisers, PRs and shop assistants as moisturisers, and that really is saying something.
But let's start with the baby issue. I honestly can't remember the last time I read an article about moisturiser, let alone a press release about moisturiser, without being promised that this product will make my skin "baby soft". Now, as regular readers will know, this column disapproves of many things. So many things. Really, we're like the dowager countess of fashion columns. But the one thing we disapprove of above all others is infantalisation. I will not stand for others infantalising me and it drives me to the brink of hysteria when I see women willingly infantalising themselves. Therefore if you are fathoming that I dislike advertisers suggesting that women should all aspire to have skin like babies, you are fathoming wisely. It is ridiculous enough that women are constantly hectored by the media about their age and, once they are over 35, made to believe that they should try to look at least 15 years younger than they actually are or be deemed irrelevant. But the idea that women should actually try to have skin like babies – babies! – goes past Insane Point, straight over Perverted Bridge and down into Parody Valley.
I do not wish to cause any shock here but, speaking as one who has been ageing happily since the day I was born, ageing is not a bad thing. In fact, every single woman I know looks better in her 30s and 40s than she did in her 20s and that is probably because every woman I know – myself very much included – is a lot happier as she gets older than she was in her 20s. It simply amazes me that anyone thinks women should aspire to look like they're that age because when I was in my 20s I lived in a permanent fug of hangovers, cigarette smoke, self-doubt, unrequited crushes, bad relationships, overdrafts, insomnia and self-loathing, none of which, I can tell you, is any good for the skin. The idea that I would pay however many pounds to return to that look is about as baffling to me as the idea that there are people out there who have paid millions to travel to Mars with Richard Branson. Yes, yes, I know that whole theory about how women should try to look younger because of their waning fertility and they need to trick those innocent men into having a relationship with them before their womb dessicates into ash, but you know what? That theory is stupid, and just because it's ubiquitous, doesn't mean it must be adhered to.
‘If a moisturiser promised me I would look like Katharine Hepburn in her dotage, seriously, money would be no object.’ Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images