The agony and ecstacy of the cosmetics counter

Eaton's Cosmetic Counter 1929. Image courtesy of Glenbow Museum, Reference No. NA-3992-20

Ever since I became 40-something (a bunch of years ago), my need for moisturizer on my face has increased at an exponential rate. This isn’t just a desire to rid myself of fine and not-so-fine lines on my face (although it’s a great idea too), it’s just that my face often feels like sandpaper.

OK, I exaggerate a little, for effect. In my teens, I recall struggling with oily skin. Fast forward to now, and I’m struggling to keep my skin hydrated.

A couple of years ago I found a good size bottle of a product that I came to love – Aveeno’s Positively Radiant moisturizer. It was about $7 or $8 for a pump bottle. It felt great on my face. When it ran out about 8 months ago, I couldn’t find the same product anywhere. Trust me, I looked. Even had my Mother hunt for it in South Carolina when she was there. No sign of it. Yes, Aveeno has a Positively Radiant line of products, but they’re all teeny tiny sizes with big, fat price tags. My big pump bottle that was under $10 has gone the way of the dinosaur. I suspect too many people bought that, and not enough bought the micro-bottle at four times the price. I wrote to Aveeno inquiring about the product and where I could purchase it. Only silence came back from Aveeno. This confirmed my theory over too much demand at too low a profit margin.

Early this summer I caved and brought another Aveeno moisturizer product, with SPF. While I like the feel of it on my face, at some point through the day, the SPF always hits my eyes and they water and turn red. Seems no matter how hard I try to keep the stuff away from my eyes, eventually it finds a way in.

My vision isn’t that great, I really don’t need watering and red eyes on top of it all.  A week ago I went on the hunt again.

One evening, I was about 15 minutes early for my part-time gig, so I popped into The Bay. The nice lady at the Lancome counter offered to help me find something. As I told her my story about the hunt for a moisturizer that kept me hydrated, that didn’t have any SPF in it, and was good for sensitive skin (and eyes), she kindly sat me down to put a couple products to the test.  First there was this serum of some sort. It promised to do all sorts of magical things, which I’ve totally forgotten. Finally, the new moisturizer got applied. “Great for women of my age group” she said, “not only moisturizing but also reducing the look of those deeper lines”

I had already told her that I’d be living with the product on my face for a few hours, just to see how it felt over time. She knew she wouldn’t have the sale right then. She wrote down the products name and price on the back of her business card.

The fancy serum was $90! The moisturizer – wait for it – $170!!  Can you imagine?

As I walked down the street to my part-time gig, I actually started to laugh.  How weird would it be for me to tell my friends, my kids, even you that a single mom struggling to be debt free just spent about $300 on two of the smallest bottles of face cream ever invented! Would you believe me when I told you they’d last me for about 3 months, therefore, a particularly good deal?  Nah, I didn’t think so. I didn’t buy it either.

The most hilarious thing was the comment made to me by my work-buddy at the end of our shift, when she said “why are you so shiny tonight?”  I told her the story of the $170 moisturizer. She also buckled over with laughter.

Honestly, who buys this stuff?

With the hunt still on, I went back to Shopper’s Drug Mart to look again. After spending some time with a helpful sales clerk, I came home with a product from Vichy. At $36, it was more than I would have paid prior to my experience at the Lancome counter, but I don’t mind it. The sales clerk threw in a bunch more free stuff and samples, which helped a bit.

Do you have a moisturizer product that you swear by? Any outrageous cosmetic counter stories to share? I’m up for a chuckle!


9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by it's me, Sam on September 14, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Pond’s moisturizer ( Wal-mart has 2 tubs for 7.00 right now). It’s the one with the blue lid. I have dry skin too, and my skin looks like a million bucks.


  2. The Arbonne products I got to sample rented in the same neighbourhood as the Lancome. Day Moisturizer is about $70. Night Cream $100. While using it I realized how little I needed of it to do the job. It smelled amazing, my skin felt fantastic and my mood was super elevated.

    I use Olay Effects most of the time. It takes more of the product to feel ‘moisturized’. Doesn’t seem to give that visible and psychological effects the Arbonne did.

    The Olay Regenerist in the red jar I received in my free samples from P and G did feel nicer than the regular Olay. I’m not sure how much the jar of that costs. I’ll have to check that out.

    ahhhh to have the money to pamper my face 🙂


  3. Uh oh, I don’t use anything. But I do wear makeup pretty much every day – no foundation lately since my skin darkened up on holiday. Having said that, I noticed some lines on my face while I was on holiday. Eek! My sister who is 55 doesn’t have ANY wrinkles on her face and lives in a desert-like environment but she hates the sun. Not fair. I also almost always wear a hat.

    As far as a chuckle goes… Years ago when I lived in TX, I didn’t have A/C in my vehicle. On the commute back and forth to work, the left side of my face and my left arm got super tanned while the right side stayed pale thanks to having my window open. We also spent a lot of time in the apartment complex pool and over time I got a whole bunch of freckles on my upper lip. Upon coming home, my brother said to me bluntly ” jacq, maybe you should get that mustache lasered or something.” Umm… I’m Scandinavian – even my brothers hardly have facial hair… I went out and bought some skin fading cream a la Michael Jackson. Now I put SPF 50 on my upper lip area. 🙂


  4. Posted by seenonflickr on September 14, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I use Neutrogena moisturizer, I get it at Shoppers. (It’s usually about 20 bucks a bottle, I wait until it’s on sale or am using points.)


  5. Posted by Nicole at Coppertone on September 14, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I’m writing on behalf of Coppertone. Coppertone has a “tear-free” motto and if you’d be interested, I’d be happy to send you a free sample of Coppertone’s Sensitive Skin Faces for you to try out.

    Email me if you’d be interested!



  6. Posted by Momofthree on September 15, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I have just switched to the Dove cleanser, moisturizer and night cream and am quite happy with it. I can’t remember the exact price but I got them at Walmart for under $10 each. One of my co-workers used to be an esthtician and recommended either Olay or Dove to me. I don’t seem to have issues with my eyes so I can’t comment on whether these would cause you a problem.


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