Last night I used my revitalizing, anti-aging Vital Line Serum inspired by a skin guru and formulated with ingredients I can't pronounce. I was told that this would deliver fine-line control in a soft, melting cream formulated to help restore the unrivaled luminosity of youthful-looking skin to ensure a fresh-looking complexion in the morning. I awakened neither luminous nor refreshed, but a tad greasy. thus proving that smearing products on my face before bedtime is a waste of time and money.

And yet, I buy into the hype, and drop a bundle on elixirs, salves, lotions, ointments and makeup, always thinking that that the latest revolutionary break-through will somehow make a difference.

I learned the hard way after being accosted in the cosmetics aisle at Saks by an esthetician in a white coat named Moss, who told me that my epidermal lipids and sebaceous oils were incorrectly balanced.

Your face has a split personality," she said. "In a nutshell, you have schizophrenic skin."

"Do I need to see a shrink?' I asked.

For hundreds of dollars less, Moss told me, I could put my skin on a training program and correct my imperfections. She pushed me down on a stool as she worked her magic.

"As your skin matures," she explained, smearing cleansing goop all over my face, "cell reproduction starts to lag, much like an old car."

I imagined myself analogous to a beat up old Chevy that needed major work.

Moss peered through her gigantic magnifying lens and gasped. "If you could see what I see, "she said, horrified, "you would throw a paper bag over your head. There's a pore over your left nostril as large as my mother-in-law's mouth, not to mention a blackhead that looks like a tick."

She had now snagged another sucker who was ready to place her mug on the line, and pay enormous amounts of money to get fixed.

"Take me, I'm yours," I said.

"We love customers with good skin attitudes," she complimented. Surveying my face, she said I was ready for some precipitation.

I looked around for a meteorologist, but no one was in sight. Instead, I learned that "precipitation," epidermally-speaking, was a moisture-action lotion guaranteed to keep me dewy-fresh, damp and pliable. This treatment was followed by a line chaser, a jolt of clove buds, seaweed flakes, apple emollient, avocado balm, banana extract, peach kernel and papaya-nut salve. I was then asked to sit and marinate, allowing the mixture to settle, rendering me a rejuvenated version of my former self. But, when I gazed into the mirror I was red and blotchy.

"Admit it," Moss said. "You look well-sloughed."

Was that the look I was after? The last sloth I saw was hanging by its toes from a tree at the Bronx Zoo.

"I've saved the best for last," she said, unscrewing a jar of pink gel, which she rubbed between her porcelain fingers. "What I'm about to offer you is a beauty secret handed down by an Egyptian queen. It's Nefertiti's placenta."

"The actual one?"

"It's placenta extract kept in a frozen vat for hundreds of years. Akhenaton, Nefertiti's husband fell in love with his wife's skin, and took the formula with him to his grave. Years later, a dermatologist from Perth Amboy, New Jersey got his hands on it, and sold it to our cosmetics company for millions of dollars."

It smelled like a combination of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and rotten eggs.

I ended up buying every ingredient Moss piled on my skin, and because my bill exceeded the point of obscenity, I was given a free sample of Nefertiti's umbilical gel, which I accidentally spread on my toast the next morning thinking it was jam.

Every night before bedtime, I perform a ritualistic cleansing session rendering me slippery and untouchable. I follow this up with a grapefruit enhancer, some orange essence and lemon grass toner. So far, I don't look a day younger, but occasionally, I squirt citrus from my pores. All I need is a cherry in my mouth, and I would make the perfect fruit salad.

Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views every other Wednesday. She can be reached at: or at