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.


The great mineral make-up experiment

Okay, so after we decided I needed a retread and then we went out and bought a kit of mineral make-up from Costco (nearly removing my fingers in the process of opening the thing), I broke out the camera and conducted a few quasi-scientific experiments.

The research questions:

Does make-up do a woman any good at all, or is it just another waste of money designed to enrich gigantic corporations at the expense of the consumer’s vanity, whims, and general silliness?

If make-up does anything positive for the aged face, how does regular cream foundation compare with the new powdered mineral make-up variant?

The research method:

Stage 1: Wash face. Apply face cream. Photograph subject’s face using “macro” setting of swell new camera (lab equipment!) donated by M’hijito.

Stage 2. Wash face. Apply cream. Apply full full complement of L’Oréal’s True Match Foundation; color n5, “True Beige.” Photograph subject’s face using new lab equipment.

Stage 3. Wash face. Apply face cream. Apply coat of Kirkland Borghese Mineral Make-up, color “Light to Medium.” Photograph subject’s face using new lab equipment.

Stage 4: Compare.


Stage 1, the Naked Face, is pretty alarming, even to a seasoned researcher:


Amazingly enough, this is our subject’s “good” side. A liberal sprinkling of age spots lie along the jaw line, to the extent that one can say a jaw line is still visible through the fat and sagging jowls. When I said this face looks like the surface of Mars, I wasn’t kidding. The wrinkles in this region are less pronounced. However…


The left side shows the true vintage leather effect produced by a combination of genetics (my mother’s face looked just like this) and too much sun. The age-freckles and moles (I’ve always been speckled) along the jaw are joined by a prominent brown spot high on the cheekbone, one that I’ve never been able to persuade a dermatologist to remove because, of course, he knows he’s not going to be reimbursed by my insurance and he also knows I can’t afford to pay him out of pocket for any such procedure.

So, now we’ve established the reason the subject avoids mirrors and cameras. Moving on…

Stage 2, cream foundation, produces some results. What they are remains to be seen.

Here’s the right side, slathered with plenty of L’Oréal. This make-up has as its sterling quality a capacity to cover brown spots. As you can see, it does a pretty good job of smoothing out the blotchy coloring and hiding the brown speckles. Like all make-up, though, it settles into the crevasses of the aged face, thereby not only not hiding the wrinkles, but actually accentuating them.

The left side, courtesy of L’Oréal:

It covers the large brown spot to some degree. Blotchiness can be said, perhaps, not to have been elided but simply to have been moved around in new ways. As for the wrinkles: the microbial flora on this face need rock-climbing tools to get around.

Stage 3 engages the powdery new mineral make-up, co-branded with a big-box store’s warehousey name and a line of expensive department store cosmetics’ exotically Italianate name. Surely with fire-power like that, it’s gotta do some good.

The right side: fairly smooth, with neither the age spots nor the general blotchiness too pronounced. Not sure what that grayish effect is. Following the instructions given on a YouTube tutorial, I used a small amount of cover-up to help disguise the brown spots; that may be showing through here, or it may be the lighting. In later efforts, I deleted the cover-up step, since the makeup itself seems to do a fairly good job of hiding spots.

And so, to the left side…

It should be noted, too, that I added the mineral make-up’s blusher, which is very light and (seen in a mirror) hardly noticeable. I don’t use blusher with the L’Oréal, because it makes me look like something from Ringling Brothers.


Well, now that we’re at stage 4, I’d say something’s better than nothing. I guess. Both foundations provide some degree of cover-up, and given that the skin has suffered significant damage from the effects of weather and age, cover-up is what’s needed. Probably a veil of the sort favored by Taliban women would fill the bill.

For comparison’s sake, can we get all these photos together in one place?

Ah. Science advances. Et aussi la nausée.

I kind of like the mineral stuff, though it’s significantly more hassle to apply. However, I found that as time passes, it tends to yellow a bit. After five or six hours, it doesn’t look all that great. The L’Oréal does not do that: it retains its initial qualities even after several hours, although it does rub off over time.

What think you, fellow lab rats?