What wouldn't a woman of a certain age do to preserve her dewy youth? Take it from this burgeoning crone: There may be good reason Chelsea Handler took that spray of piss in the face from Jason Biggs like a champ, and it may have more to do with vanity than good sportsmanship.
Rumor has it a fountain of youth resides within our very own reserves. Last week, I was minding my own business, innocently scarfing down crepes with one friend when another friend joined our caffeinated colloquy with this rare gem: "My friend asked her dance teacher why she looks 40-something at 60-something and you'll NEVER fucking believe it. She puts her own pee on her face!"
After taking a few moments to gag into my latte, I refocused, transfixed. Apparently said immortal dance teacher swore up down and sideways the nutrients in her first morning pee made for a more effective anti-aging treatment than every megabuck cream and serum combined.
All you have to do, my friend said, was apply your whizz liberally with a cotton ball, air dry gracefully and proceed with your normal lotions and potions.
I went straight to Google. Turns out, urine's kind of a thing. Officially called urotherapy, pee has been used in some cultures to heal various ailments for centuries—and not just pain from jellyfish stings. There's a Biblical proverb ("Drink waters out of thy own cistern"), a poem by Catullus attributing snow-white teeth to a morning gargle with piss. There's even a world congress held on the many and varied healing wonders of piss, both taken internally and externally. A lack of clear scientific evidence doesn't stop people from claiming that urine can cure sicknesses as serious as cancer and AIDS.
More relevant to my purposes, there are many message boards out there touting piss as an unparalleled healer of cystic acne. Many anti-aging lotions and potions contain urea, a form of synthetic pee. Madonna supposedly once told Letterman she peed in the shower to soothe athlete's foot. So, in spite of the fact that pee is the stuff your body is wired to do away with, who was I to deny myself a first class tinkle to paradise?
Before we proceed, you should know I harbor no personal interest in the whole golden shower thing (no judgment here if you do), am by no means a survivalist and, at best, am recreationally holistic. I can barely even stomach Kombucha. But if, like me, you opt to age gracefully in your 30s in lieu of investing in preservatives of any kind, you'll slink over to Sephora the day after nursing your 40th birthday hangover and spend a small fortune on anti-wrinkle remedies to amend having slacked in undoing the freewheeling radical damage inflicted by being upright for that long. You'll use them all fairly religiously until another day, in your mid-to-late 40s, when you catch your low lit reflection in the dark screen of your iPad and gasp out an audible, "WHAT. THE. FUCK."
However confident you may be in the collateral damage, if Renee-gate has taught us anything, it's how much stock is placed on how we handle aging. So, desperate times can lead to the consideration of desperate measures, and (literally) pissing and moaning with age-appropriate compadres over crepes.
One in-joke led to another via text, proving none of us could shake the what if wondering each time we sat down to let it flow. As repulsed and horrified as I was at the initial prospect of voluntarily putting my own piss on my face, a few carefully considered factors made the whole exercise seem more doable. As a mother, I've worn bodily fluids that didn't even originate from me, and among them, piss is by far the most benign. And, as a sufferer of cystic acne, it's not like my freelance income permits me to sashay by my derm on the regular for a round of ameliorative injectables. Adding to my sense of urgency (pardon the pun), two huge cysts recently erupted on my face, practically pleading for something to ease the pain of my reflection.
And, yo, lest we not forget, pee is FREE and takes 20 seconds to obtain, max.
After a few days of hemming and hawing, my self-appointed day of reckoning arrived. Because first morning pee is the elixir with the most intense healing properties, waking surrealistically early was an inherent bonus, promising a fugue state to keep the psychological trauma of this self-peehilation to a minimum. Instead of opting for full frontal saturation, I opt for baby steps and thus wave a Q-tip into my own, personal fountain of youth.
I wield the wet, magic wand under my nose and it smells like… pee. It smells like pee. After sipping coffee to steel myself, I dab it all over the immense eruption on my face I've affectionately named Vesuvius. Surprisingly, it tingles for the next hour, like something is actually happening to Vesuvius. A few hours pass and I marvel at how easily I managed to forget I was harboring actual piss on my face. Plus, at the end of this trial period, Vesuvius was noticeably smaller.
I went at it with a fresh batch, this time dabbing some miracle flow to my laugh lines. After a few hours, the pee-skin felt remarkably soft. Vesuvius did not shrivel up and die completely, but was somehow reduced from burgeoning volcano to mere molehill.
The outcome a few days later? I look like an ovum! No, I really don't. As it turns out, it takes lots of time, adequate hydration and a steely gut for this technique to actually work—my friend's friend has been at this for over 30 years. On the bright side, I can say I do look like a middle-aged woman who would resort to sponging urine on her face in the name of vanity and essay fodder. And I can't say I'm ruling out the pee cure in the future. Who knew it was better to be pissed on than pissed off?
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.