Coffee heat rising

Update: How’s the Retread Working?

Some of you will recall my recent enthusiasm, now a few months old, to renovate the aging face, which was beginning to show the signs one might expect in a survivor of the Pleistocene.

After a fiasco with a product called RoC, I ordered up some Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion from the Internet. This old favorite has about the same concentration of alpha-hydroxy acid as the expensive stuff my dermatologist used to dispense, at a tiny fraction of the cost. The plan was to try to plump out some of the wrinkles and fade the age spots a bit, and then to disguise what remained with liberal application of new-fangled powder mineral makeup.

So, did any of these shenanigans do any good? Well, judge for yourself. Here’s a before:


A bit blurry, but probably just as well. Some things are best not studied with excessive acuity.

Now here’s the after:

Doctored and painted!

Definitely not going to win any beauty contests. But I think it’s better. The hide looks healthier, and the splotches and uneven coloring are smoothed out.


The keys were twice-daily application of Alpha Hydrox (which I could only find at and various ordinary drugstore face creams or hand lotions; daily application of a sunscreen; weekly exfoliation with plain old baking soda, and artful painting with Kirkland Borghese mineral makeup.

Naturally, sensing that I liked the stuff Costco immediately took the makeup off the shelf. It appears to be out of production altogether—you can’t get it online, either, nor, apparently, can you buy it from Borghese. After traipsing to three Costco outlets, I finally found a few in one store, where I bought two sets for the cost of one small jar of powder from The Body Shop. When it runs out, I guess I’ll try L’Oréal, which is the drugstore version of Lancôme.

Benign sunscreen

Considering that it’s been barely four months since I started this regimen (not to say “experiment,”), the results are not bad. No doubt if I keep it up, by the time I’m 70 I’ll look like I’m 18.


Oops! Easy on the RoC de-wrinkle stuff!

So, when I bought the Costco Lifetime Supply of RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream gunk, as part of the new lifestyle retread scheme, I thought I was buying the usual wussy over-the-counter pretend cosmetico-pharmaceutical, designed and pitched to make the customer feel good but in reality unlikely to do much of anything.


It definitely does something. What exactly the something is remains to be seen. However, at the moment it’s a shade on the alarming side.

The stuff stings a little when you put it on, but I took that as unremarkable, because the Alpha-Hydrox I used to smear on my face did the same. Today, however, an hour or two after I’d rubbed this stuff in, covered it with an SPF 45 sun block, and powdered over the whole mess with SPF 20 makeup, my cheeks and chin started to hurt and feel uncomfortably parched.

Naturally, I was on the campus, so there was nothing I could do to get it off. Not for several hours after this burning sensation began did I get home where I could remove the layers of makeup and goop.

Once I washed it all off, what I discovered is that my face looks like it’s been burned. Not critically—like a middling sunburn, I’d say. But still: the irritation is there, and the skin all over my cheeks and nose has turned bright red.

I have been staying out of the sun, and each morning I’ve applied a liberal dose of Neutrogena’s best SPF 45 sun cream, plus some fairly opaque makeup also advertised to have some SPF qualities. So I doubt that it’s sunburn. I think it’s a reaction to the wrinkle gunk.

The package copy says, “You may experience mild tingling and redness during use.” Hm. I’m not sure “mild” is the term I’d use here. It continues: “This is normal and should be temporary until your skin adjusts.”

We shall see.

In the meantime, we’ll be hurrying the “adjustment” along by cessation. I’m going to quit using this stuff, at least until the inflammation subsides.

I probably overdid the slathering by applying the gunk in the morning as well as at night. The package does say you can do this, as long as you’re careful to use sunblock and hats. But it seems to recommend using it at night only.

A number of users have complained about similar discomfort. Unlike this woman, I do not have sensitive skin (to the contrary), but the effect fits what she describes, except for the eye symptoms. Presumably the redness and burning sensation will go away, one hopes without lasting damage.

If you’re going to use RoC or something like it, I’d suggest a conservative approach. It might be wise to try it on a small patch for a few days (it took several days for this reaction to develop!). Also, I certainly wouldn’t advise applying it more than once a day—maybe less than that, once every two or three days.

While it’s less than pleasant to go around in old-lady rhino hide, some things may be worse…