The hustle and bustle of Miami is not my first choice for a weekend away (Little Palm Island is more my speed), but on a recent business trip I was lucky enough to stay at the Four Seasons.
Now, the Four Seasons is lovely, with delightful amenities and impeccable service. However, there was one amenity in the bathroom that I’d never paid attention to before that freaked me out—a gigantic, lighted, high-powered magnifying mirror. If you’ve never looked, really looked, in one, may I be the first to say, don’t do it!
I thought I was doing pretty well for 39. Forehead? Lineless. Lips? Plump. Crow’s feet? More like dainty finch feet. Parentheses? Only in my writing. That was before I met the Four Seasons Mirror of Doom. It definitely looks like it’s time to start taking the whole skin care thing more seriously than I did when I was 17 and slapped on a little Noxzema.
I’ve done my requisite research, and apparently good skin is made from the inside out. So I toss a handful of flax seeds in my mouth, pack a cooler of Zephyrhills in the car and head to Sephora at Coconut Point.
The smooth-skinned 11-year-old salesgirl listens to my concerns, then steers me toward products by PerriconeMD, before sprinting off to help other 11-year-olds find plumping lip gloss. My bitterness grows.
I chug more water and decide to be difficult. I flag down another salesperson, and she’s more helpful. (She’s also over 30.) Soon I have products lined up in front of me, things like Nutritive Cleanser, Firming Facial Toner, Firming Activator, Face Finishing Moisturizer, High Potency Eye Lift and a LIGHT Renewal Kit, which is supposed to regenerate collagen.
I’m intrigued, but what kind of Power Shopper would I be if I just took the first thing and ran? The hunt continues.
At Nordstom’s opening in 2008, I received some Clarins samples that I used immediately, liked and then never bought full-sized versions of. Ungrateful wretch, aren’t I? I do love the way the Nordstrom cosmetic section is set up. It’s a small store, but that makes it feel like a boutique, and the saleswoman immediately puts me at ease. She’s clearly knowledgeable, and she talks to me about my daily routine before suggesting products. She helpfully points out that I am pale and thin-skinned. I let it go.
I get to try everything, and it all smells lovely. We finally settle on slightly less than 47 products that promise to firm, tone, brighten and tighten. My face has become a project only a bit less extensive than I-75’s iROX. I am especially fond of the Clarins Younger Longer Balm and the Extra-Comfort Cleansing Cream.
I make a list of my favorite seven items and head for the door. Shoes call to me as I go, but I’m all about skin today, and I’m almost late for an appointment. An appointment, you ask? That’s right; I’ve decided it’s time to call in the pros.
When I arrive at Dr. Elizabeth Fox’s plastic surgery center, my nerves set in. I’m convinced she’ll read my face like a roadmap, a lifetime of excess and neglect. I fantasize that she will make comments along the lines of: “See you had 17 sunburns by the age of 11,” and “Squinty gal, ain’t ya?”
But she doesn’t. For one thing, she uses proper grammar, but she also delivers a consistent message of hope for my face. She does a full-body scan to check for any skin cancer issues, and then we concentrate above the neck. It’s not as bad as I thought. She even says I look good!
And despite my certainty that I’m doomed, she doesn’t suggest laser. Instead, she suggests Obagi, a skin-care line only available through physicians. She shows me before and after pictures, and explains my skin and how the Obagi line works.
She gives me what she thinks is a reasonable timeline to begin seeing results, and then we’re interrupted. But it’s a lovely interruption, and I’m delighted to meet Dr. Fox’s mother, Loretta. She is gorgeous and in her 70s … and her skin looks better than mine. I am lucky enough that she offers to take over the aesthetician’s job today and will show me what my new Obagi routine is. If a woman with skin like this offers to show you what she does, follow her!
We start with the standard six Obagi products: cleanser, toner, age spot corrector, exfoliant, cellular improvement and SPF cream. Then we add items specific to my skin conditions, like a tretinoin cream and Elastiderm, a night eye treatment. We also add in some stronger SPF lotion for the beach and a body polish that Loretta assures me will make my skin like satin. I feel so well taken care of by Dr. Fox, her mother and her staff that I know I’ve found my skin-care solution. Expect to see me glowing around town within six weeks.
Oh, on the way out they asked, “And how would you like to pay today?” My answer? “Bill it to the Four Seasons, Miami.” It only seems fair.
Save My Face
Coconut Point, Estero
PerriconeMD Age Correct Nutritive Cleanser, $38
PerriconeMD Age Correct Firming Facial Toner, $38
PerriconeMD Age Correct Advanced Face Firming Activator, $120
PerriconeMD Age Correct Face Finishing Moisturizer, $65
PerriconeMD High Potency Eye Lift, $95
PerriconeMD Age Correct Restorative Night Treatment, $100
PerriconeMD LIGHT Renewal Kit, $268
Waterside Shops, Naples
Clarins Extra-Firming Tightening Lift Botanical Serum, $78
Clarins Younger Longer Balm, $99
Clarins Extra-Firming Night Cream, $86
Clarins Advanced Extra-Firming Neck Cream, $80
Clarins Advanced Extra-Firming Day Lotion SPF 15, $78
Clarins Extra-Comfort Cleansing Cream, $42
Clarins Extra-Comfort Toning Lotion, $30
Dr. Elizabeth Fox, M.D., P.A.
827 Myrtle Terrace, Naples
Obagi Foaming Gel, $36
Obagi Toner, $36
Obagi Clear, $91
Obagi Exfoderm, $62
Obagi Blender, $87
Obagi Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35, $40
Obagi Elastiderm, $85
Tretinoin .05 percent, $73
Solar Protection Formula SPF 58, $36
Body Polish, $30