05/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

In Tough Economic Times Go Easy on the Skin Care Obsession

I begin with a simple question: Who has better skin -- men or women? My experience is that both have pretty much the same skin quality when they are young and when they age.

Women tend to buy a lot of skin care items, particularly as they age. They worry that they will have wrinkles and furrows and deeply believe that hydration, moisturizing, and using anti-wrinkle creams will keep their skin young and lovely. Men just tend to throw some soap on their faces and drag abrasive razors across their skin. The results -- both groups have the same quality skin. I might even hazard that men, as they age, have better skin.

So what's the take-home lesson? Our culture has caused women to obsess about their skin and to solve the obsession problem by the compulsive purchasing of oils, creams, gels, lotions and other solutions whose total costs could probably run a mid-sized country very nicely. As far as I can tell, there are no creams that really get rid of wrinkles. The only proven substance Retinol-A has very limited success and needs to be used at prescription strength continuously. The other active ingredient in many products is urea. Yes, urea.

So in a time of economic necessity, why not stop spending so much money on such tiny tubes? Those Lilliputian bottles and containers really only contain broken promises. If anything, it would probably make more sense to eat well, get exercise, and try to reduce stress by not obsessing about aging. If you need an economic stimulus, you could well give yourself a sizable rebate by forswearing skin care products.

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