For many women, the cost of beautification had grown staggering over the last decade. Each consecutive year ushered in a series of must-do rituals; every month the beauty industry seemed to find an elusive patch of face that required yet another specific product.
As a nation, we were open-minded to the most implausible crèmes, gels, and scrubs; we subjected ourselves to countless painful and often gross procedures.
And in doing so, the American woman spent herself silly.
But then the economy took a plunge into the toilet, and seems intent on wallowing there.
Procedures that had become almost commonplace -- such as $250 oxygen facials, regular Botox injections, and nose jobs/boob jobs/knee jobs -- seem in retrospect as appalling as those once-popular subprime mortgages.
Yet this doesn't necessarily have to mean that we're all doomed to sags and sallowness.
Here is my silver-lining gesture toward recession-plagued women, who still want to look and feel good even though their wallets are slimmer: a list of easy, time-hallowed, Great Recession-proof tips about how to look your most beautiful and age gracefully, without the barrage of hideously pricey products.
Culled from a variety of sources -- from vintage etiquette manuals to advice dispensed from the mavens of Hollywood's Old Guard -- these tips have little to do with needles and knives, and everything to do with self-awareness and common sense.
Many are deceptive in their simplicity. But don't forget that the penultimate emblem of glamor, Greta Garbo - who has long been lauded by plastic surgeons as the embodiment of facial perfection - reportedly had the simplest beauty arsenal of all: "[A] single toothbrush, a comb missing several teeth, and half a bar of Lux soap," according to one biographer.
Which means that there must have been other tricks to the trade.
The ones that follow will serve you long after the job market stages a comeback.
On November 1, 2010, Chronicle Books will release a book by Lesley M. M. Blume based on her popular column about nostalgia for The Huffington Post. 'Let's Bring Back' will be a sophisticated, stylish cultural encyclopedia, celebrating forgotten objects, pastimes, fashions, and personae from bygone eras.
Let's Bring Back is also showcases many old-fashioned beauty rituals - from milk baths to moon-manicures to 1930s pin curls, culled from a wide variety of delightful sources and wise women throughout history.
Follow Lesley M. M. Blume on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lesleymmblume