Here begins my somewhat feminist tract on body hair
, a pair of words as unseemly to the polite lady spa-goer as third helping
I invoke the historic form of the tract, because I find myself in the middle of a long-standing American beauty contradiction, one that should have probably gone out of fashion with the corset (not the Vivienne Westwood one):
At the same time I am test-driving a new eyelash renewal serum called RapidLash to fill out my spotty lashes and brows, I’ve been slathering on Bliss’s Get Out of Hair!, a body lotion meant to minimize hair re-growth, as well as exfoliate and moisturize. See what I mean, dear reader?
Bliss says its main fuzz-fighter is Narcissus Tazetta bulb extract, which must be a two-faced ingredient, because it’s also an anti-ager in the Elizabeth Arden’s Intervene range. (Face-waxers, I’d definitely reach for this foundation.) And at $49.95, RapidLash happens to be a fraction of the price of similar products and contains a load of promising peptides—I’ll let you know in four weeks if it works.
But back to my didactic tract: the prevailing beauty mandate—be bare from the neck down, but have lush, cow-like lashes and a shiny full mane—doesn’t correspond a bit to biology, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. And so, with lasers, tweezers, and women named Eliza, we’ve created our own highly idealized female pattern baldness. And while it’s definitely easier to attain with 21st-century skin-care products and technologies, a modern lady can’t help but feel a bit caught in Penelope’s predicament, weaving a robe only to unravel it each night.
Hawking a dangerous diet drug? Send them in.
Contaminated pet food? On the double.
Eyelash conditioning wands? Wait, what?
By announcing Allergan’s development of an eyelash-growing drug and the launch of Jan Marini’s new drug-free eyelash-conditioning product, Thursday’s piece in the Times (“Longer Lashes in a Tube, or Maybe Not”) put the spotlight on a growing battle between pharmaceutical and skin-care companies for the same turf. With drugs more commonly providing cosmetic benefits, such as Botox, Restylane, and Renova, and cosmetics mimicking drugs, the only discernable boundary remaining between the two in the moisturizer-soaked marketplace is the right to claim a product works (i.e., affects the structure and function of skin). And under the law, that’s a privilege reserved for drugs.
No doubt Jan Marini Skin Research incurred the ire of Allergan, the makers of Botox and of the lash-growing glaucoma drug supposedly used in Marini’s wildly popular Age Intervention Eyelash product. The buzz about and demand for the lash-enhancer was huge, and judging by the queues at last November’s ISPA conference, where spa directors go to learn about and shop for products, it made the company a killing. So, I suspect, when just a few weeks later on November 16 the FDA sent U.S. Marshals to the Marini warehouses and seized $2 million worth of “already embargoed” lash conditioners containing the “unapproved drug,” it wasn’t just for consumer safety, as the government agency claimed. Continue reading