Welcome to the final part of my interview with Nadine Haobsh, the beauty blogger whose book Beauty Confidential just hit bookstores. We've already chatted about the growth of beauty blogs and the secrets of magazine editors. Now we're talking about the best drugstore products and that ever-controversial injection, Botox. Read on:
Are there any drugstore brands that you think do things well?
Yes! I am in love with anything and everything Neutrogena and actively choose their skincare products over things you can find at Saks and Barneys. The only cleanser I love in the world more than Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash is the Shu Uemura High Performance Cleansing Wash, and that's mostly because it's just fun to use. I will probably be using Oil-Free Acne Wash for the next three decades. I have some new Armani, Lancome, Avon, Kiehl's and Origins sitting unused in my cabinet right now because I can't give up my Neutrogena. Olay Regenerist is the best anti-aging product you can find without heading to your dermatologist, and that includes the $300 creams you'll find at Neiman Marcus. Oh, and Clean & Clear Persagel and Oil-Absorbing Sheets are worth their weight in gold; better than anything ten times the price.
For Nadine's opinion on Botox, and on whether caring about beauty is shallow,
What's your take on Botox?
I am a fan of Botox, and have no problem with it! Botox for all! I know it's very PC to bash cosmetic enhancements, but I think if you have healthy self-esteem and only a few things you would objectively look better with fixing, why *not* address them? I've had Botox; I inherited a frown-line between my eyebrows from my mother that's been there since my early twenties, and I finally went to the dermatologist for an injection this summer. It took two seconds, didn't hurt, and made a world of difference in my appearance. Why is a reasonable amount of Botox different from getting your hair highlighted? Neither is natural, but both can be done in a moderate, understated way that genuinely makes you look better! I think we as a culture are way too judgmental about others' beauty choices. If it makes you happy, hey, it's your face!
What do you say to people who are concerned that we're trying to achieve perfection with cosmetic procedures?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of face-lifts and mirror-obsession later. If you realize in your twenties that, yes, someday you will age, you can start taking proactive steps now. That means sunscreen everyday, antioxidants and retinol, a gentle eye cream, and if necessary, Botox to stop lines from becoming deeper later.
I say, again, we are all way too concered with what our neighbor, that pretty girl down the street and celebrity X are doing. We all have our own genes, our own imperfections and our own beautiful features, and comparing yourself to somebody else or trying to acheive some false societal standard of what's "beautiful" will only result in heartache. All you can do is make the most of what you have, and love yourself. Being assembly-line, Playboy-approved "beautiful" is uninteresting, because it's not unique.
And making the most of what you have can include wearing makeup, exercising, highlighting your hair, or getting injections. I'm not advocating living a crunchy-granola life of no makeup, grey hair and organic everything. But don't bring in a picture of a celebrity to a doctor and say, "I want to look like her!" You look like you...so let's figure out a way to learn tips, tricks and find products to be the best version of you.
Some people will say that being interested in makeup, beauty, hair and so forth is shallow. (Obviously, I'm not "some people.") How do you respond?
I say that beauty is not rocket science. It's not disease prevention. It's not counterterrorism. But it's an aspect of life that makes our days more pleasant, puts a spring in your step and helps bring a little harmony to the world. We all have two realities: the very harsh fact that we live in a difficult and scary time. If you spend too much time examining that, your entire outlook can quickly turn dark. And no, in that context, beauty doesn't matter a whit. The other reality is more prosaic; your day-to-day existence: going to work, interacting with your friends and lovers, buying food at the grocery store, having a job interview. In that still-very-real social context, impressions matter, and people are visually influenced by your surroundings. If you're heading to a job interview, it absolutely matters how you look!
And none of the pleasant things in life really "matter": art, music, wine, film, sports, who cares? But a world where Sufjan Stevens doesn't exist, there is no pinot noir, I've never seen The Sound of Music, Red Sox fans have never experienced a World Series win, and we can't walk out of a salon rocking a brand new sex-kitten haircut and highlights? I don't want to live in that world. If enjoying those things is shallow, I'm shallow.
Photo: George Bogart