Because my skin is naturally both so dry it occasionally flakes off in sheets and so sensitive that a scented candle in another apartment can cause me to break out in hives, I have devoted hours, perhaps years, of my life to massaging creams and ointments into my epidermis as if I were my own prize-winning Chinese Crested. Somewhere along the way, I came to believe in the magic of this process. Eventually, in addition to the constant lotioning, I began to periodically scrub, burn, peel and/or blast all the old skin from my body with as many products and procedures as I can afford at any given time. Slithering out of one’s top skin and immediately softening the newly revealed dermis with an assortment of potions has become more than a beauty process—it’s theurgical ritual. If no skin survives longer than a month atop my bones, I, in turn, shall live forever. So if you have a friend who, like me, knows no religion but that of the lotion bottle, I can tell you exactly what that person wants for Christmas.
A La Mer Dupe
Of course, everyone wants a bottle of La Mer, but at $90 for .5 ounces, most people understand that they probably don’t need it. Your friend who thinks lotion is magic, however, thinks about La Mer every day, longs to caress Crème de la Mer’s silken broth between their palms, craves its translucent caress against their skin. But that’s tough shit to your poor friend. Luckily, my colleague Stassa Edwards claims Weleda Skin Food is an incredibly La Mer-like dupe for a fraction of the price.
Obviously, your friend would love you more if you bought the real thing, but if you’ve got La Mer money, buy that for yourself.
Your friend who thinks lotion is magic also most likely believes that magic is magic. And no good potion is made without breaking some slimy things open, spilling their snot-consistency innards into a cauldron, and stirring the mess around until something supernatural happens.
Any snail lotion will do, but I like to buy lotions with snail mucus and bee venom because it feels more like something a witch in a children’s rhyme would make and children’s book witches are so scary because they absolutely know their shit. Therefore, anything with bee stingers and snail gunk is most likely much more powerful than the sum of its parts.
Blood Red Skin Peel
A few months ago, I decided my pores were big and full of goo. And not good snail goo that keeps you young forever. Bad dirty goo that curses you with a teenager’s nose forever. But those pore clearing strips, while fun to look at when prickly with blackheads, don’t really do much besides hurt. So on a whim, I added this $7 bottle of The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution to my cart at Sephora. Let me tell you that it is magic. I use it twice a week followed by a pink clay mask. My skin is less bumpy and my pores are noticeably smaller and cleaner. Plus, it’s so blood red that it stains my sink if I don’t wipe it up right away, making it as close to the blood of virgins one can come by for less that $10.
Obviously, I’ve looked into it.
A Lump of Coal
Your friend who believes lotion is magic isn’t stupid. They also believe that activated charcoal is magic. Rub it anywhere on one’s body, and activated charcoal grants unlimited health and beauty wishes. Each day for nearly a decade, I have rubbed Lush’s Dark Angels on my chest and face to draw impurities from my pores. Gross black toothpaste buffs coffee stains from my teeth and smells from my mouth. I’ve heard activated charcoal can prevent hangovers. I once saw in a documentary that eating charred wood from nearby fires cures monkeys of their stomachaches. There is no limit to what I fully believe activated charcoal can do. Buy any of it and stuff it into a stocking. Your friend will be thrilled.
Remember, talismans only work if you believe, so don’t look for proof that any of this stuff does anything. Your support means every bit as much as your gift-wrapped bottle of snail snot.