Deborah Ross: There's a high price tag on the gift of beauty

If you ask me...

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If you ask me, beware of cosmetics counters in department stores and their promises, as they are not all they seem. The other day I was walking across a beauty floor, on my way to the middle-aged ladies' floor to fondle yet more fleeces and, perhaps, purchase a new pair of lighter-weight, fatty jeans for the spring, when I was distracted by a major brand offering "the gift of beauty". As I have always hankered for "the gift of beauty", ever since I was little and people assumed I was a boy ("hey, sonny, don't ride your bike on the pavement!"), I approached and said: "Yes, I would like this gift of beauty you speak of. Thank you."

The sales lady blinked at me blankly and then explained that if I bought three false-bottomed, false-sided skincare products for £987 I would receive a free garish make-up bag along with an eye-shadow containing, at most, a fingerprint of product. "And this is the gift of beauty?" I queried. "This is the gift of beauty," the sales lady confirmed. I felt sad, as anyone would if "the gift of beauty" had been dangled under their nose, and then snatched away. But I perked up when I noted the counter was also offering "age-defying luminosity" so I said: "Although it breaks my heart, because I have had a life-long hankering for the 'gift of beauty', I will forgo it and, instead, will accept this thing called 'age-defying luminosity' you speak of. Thank you." The lady said that "age-defying luminosity" worked along the same lines as "gift of beauty" and, again, I would have to buy three, false-bottomed, false-sided skin-care products for £987 before I would be allowed the free garish make-up bag and a free pot of serum containing enough product to use once, sparingly, or one-and-a-half times, if I just did my nostrils. "And this is age-defying luminosity?" I queried, "This is age-defying luminosity," the sales lady confirmed.

I felt crushed, and although the sales lady did try to make amends by putting in one of those hostile makeover bids – i.e. sitting you on a stool, caking you in crap and saying you look lovely, even though you now look like a sad, old, washed-up prostitute – I declined and, with my age undefied, walked quickly past the next counter, even though it was offering "perfect eyes".

So beware of cosmetics counters and beware their promises and stick to fatty jeans which are good and true and never false-bottomed. That's my arse alright. There is absolutely no getting out of that.

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