The XX Factor

Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Beauty Tips Leave Much to Be Desired

Elizabeth Wurtzel at the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2010.
Elizabeth Wurtzel at the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2010.

Photo by David Shankbone/Wikipedia Commons

As a not-so-secret lover of beauty products and endless articles on tips for getting pretty, I was thrilled to see that the Atlantic decided to branch out into offering such fare to its readers. The headline of the piece I’m thinking of reads “I Refuse to Be a Grown-Up: Secrets to looking young at 45.” As a bonus, it’s written by Elizabeth Wurtzel. I’m happy to see she’s taking my advice to write about things other than herself, and while compiling lists of ways to minimize wrinkles won’t win you many Pulitzers, there’s plenty of reader demand. So good for her for stretching out! However, the piece leaves much to be desired in terms of divulging how to actually look young at 45. 

Wurtzel does have a few useful tips:

  • “I wear sunscreen during the day and Retin-A at night.”
  • “I used to do cocaine and go running; now I just go running.”
  • “I don’t eat meat, and I eat lots of salad: boring. I drink red wine—never white, which does not count—but not for breakfast anymore: boring.”
  • “I have never been married, which has spared me the unhappiness of that, and the misery of a divorce. Or two. Or three. I don’t have kids, so I don’t invest energy in telling people how gifted my children are, or in figuring out how deep into the spectrum of autism they fall—nor do I turn over my hard-earned cash to SAT tutors and Mandarin coaches.”

All good advice for staying young-looking, and I commend her bravery in offering the offensive but likely true suggestion that avoiding marriage and babies keeps worry lines from forming on your face. But the piece runs over 1,200 words, and these were the only useful tips I could find. Many of her suggestions don’t seem all that helpful.

“I have been very promiscuous, sometimes with men I get to know better and sometimes with men I never see again, but the pleasure is mine.” While promiscuity is entertaining, it’s not really known to do much for the quality of your skin. 

“Only an idiot would prognosticate at all. Such activities only give you gray hair. I am going to die a dirty blonde. A very dirty blonde.” I’m fairly certain that loss of pigmentation due to the passage of years is what gives you gray hair. I suspect that Wurtzel’s actual secret to being a dirty blonde is a healthy relationship with Miss Clairol

“I am Steve Jobs’ bitch in so many ways, and my world is cluttered with stuff that I need or don’t, but excepting my very wonderful fake chinchilla comforter which is warm and wonderful—part Arctic Circle, part Nevada Whorehouse—I can think of few things that have made me quite so happy as I am when voting on the Liberal ticket.” Sorry, but voting, curling up with a soft blanket on the couch, and being the “bitch” of a departed man who founded a massive corporation are all behaviors, I’m fairly certain, associated with being middle-aged. They are not going to make you look young at all. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Everyone has to grow up some time.