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Whitney’s 24-Hour Product Diary: Staving Off Mortality

Photo: Whitney Kimball. Screenshot: American Psycho (YouTube)

“It rubs the lotion on its skin….”

Every morning, I rise to the opening sequence of American Psycho (in my mind), in which serial killer Patrick Bateman details his optimal health regimen. Successful movie serial killers are meticulous; they do not smoke; they do not drink; their skin is flawless; they know how to preserve human flesh for extended periods of time and butcher people in their apartments without staining an all-white living room set. I do not joke; I live by the first two minutes of this movie.

Generally, I dwell in darkness. Due to the nature of blogging and my fear of searing UV rays, I slink from the outdoors, isolating myself from the realm of the living. By night, I am my own mortician; I work at a dark nightclub where I basically paint a clown face over my own to give the illusion of rosy-cheeked youth for better tips.

Welcome to my dungeon of shadows.

DAY

“I always use an aftershave lotion with little or no alcohol. Because alcohol dries your face out and makes you look older.” —Patrick Bateman

Given that Patrick Bateman’s face is as fresh as a Blade Runner replicant dumped from its jelly womb, the no-alcohol thing is my holy rule of thumb for everything I smear on my face. You would not believe how many products contain alcohol, including sunscreens, aloe gel, and practically anything that sprays. This basically limits my moisturizer to a tincture of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil, a mix of mostly cocoa, sesame seed, and sunflower oils available at Duane Reade. Unfortunately now that I’m looking at the back of the box on Amazon, the second ingredient is isopropyl myristate, a compound derived from–curses!!!–alcohol and acid. My years-long quest for an alcohol-free moisturizer resumes. For the time being, it does reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

That I flatly ignore the above no-alcohol rule by consuming alcohol later in the day is called DENIAL, which is also a crucial ingredient in any skincare regimen. The point of skincare is to believe that one can counteract the forces of gravity, waning elastin, and thinning epidermis on the march toward death with topical gels. I integrate denial liberally into my routine, such as eliminating cigarettes and then Juuling furiously throughout the day. I then counteract the following inevitable breakout with Neutrogena On-the-Spot acne treatment, which is made of benzoyl peroxide, a substance so powerful that it bleaches my pillowcase. Whatever, it dries those fuckers out.

After a cup of coffee, I brush my teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste. My boyfriend has this terrifying water flossing machinery H2O Floss, which resembles a dentist’s torture device and makes a chugging noise like an ancient motorboat but does a pretty good job of getting in those tiny spaces between the permanent retainer behind my bottom teeth. I am still trying to master this object without shooting water all over the bathroom, yet I can’t remember life without its hefty and commanding presence above the toilet. It has grown on me.

Occasionally it is necessary to leave the house in order to grocery shop or get tampons or whatever, so I wear a hat and apply sunscreen; in this one very rare instance, I’m using my fancy boyfriend’s UV ESSENTIEL CHANEL sunscreen which I will never buy for myself because it is $55 for one fluid ounce.

WATCH OUT WORLD!!! I’m going grocery shopping.

“I believe in taking care of myself in a balanced diet and a rigorous exercise routine.”—Patrick Bateman

SAME. It took me about 15 years (half of my lifetime) to connect the dots between my miserable teen pizzaface years and a candy-based diet. Water is life, as Aimée Lutkin pointed out in her product diary. Drink it!!

Anyway, none of this shit in Patrick’s fridge looks “balanced” to me (more like a tub of ice cream and aging cling-wrapped meatloaf). However, gourmand Hannibal Lecter mentions pairing his human flesh with chianti and fava beans, which are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. (Have you seen the new Hannibal show? His skin is fucking incredible.) When I finally weaned myself off marshmallows and Powerbars (age 22?), I found that raw colorful foods–legumes, etc–worked wonders on my acne problem.

Buy a carrot!

“I apply an herb mint facial mask which I leave on for ten minutes while I prepare the rest of my routine.”—Patrick Bateman

Bioré strips, baby. Covering my face in papier maché strips is my addiction, my passion, the light of my life; for reasons beyond me, extracting the blackheads from my skin and then inspecting the strips afterwards for the tiny forest of dirt stems gives me a rush of endorphins similar to scratching off a winning lotto ticket. I will spare you the photo, but my sisters share this morbid curiosity, and we compare/contrast, so I’m guessing this is a deeply genetic primal thing. It is disgusting and thoroughly satisfying.

“In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I’ll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now.”—Patrick Bateman

Have been meaning to get this eye ice pack from Accurate Manufacturing. If anyone has any facial ice pack recommendations, let me know!

I can not do a thousand crunches.

NIGHT

“…‘You are the night and the night alone understands you and enfolds you in its arms.’ One with the shadows.” —Anne Rice, Interview With a Vampire

This is where Patrick Bateman and I part ways. The Bateman Regimen is about vitality and life. Part two–my cosmetically-illustrated death mask–is more a topic on which I would seek tips from Lestat de Lioncourt, the ladies of Death Becomes Her, the Bride of Frankenstein, the undead among us, etc.

Around 5 p.m., I start prepping for my job at a nightclub. I cake on the make-up as a mortuary cosmetician might apply to a decomposing corpse for an open-casket funeral in the hopes of resembling a person has been soaking in formaldehyde since college. This requires an insane volume of assorted goops and powder to build a five-centimeter-thick veneer:

I’m starting to get forehead wrinkles (god damn you Juul!), a minefield of acne scars left over from high school, and bags under my eyes which I attempt to wash out with a thick layer of Cover FX anti-aging primer: essentially a gesso for the canvas of your face which fills in the ridges, creating a smooth surface for the Cover FX foundation and Cover FX powder to sit atop.

That the foundation hue gives me the pallor of a bloodless vampire doesn’t matter so much because the club is dark.

I then apply NARS Eyeshadow Duo in Cordura (brown/darker brown), after which I spray an all-over Cover FX illuminating setting spray which coagulates this oil fresco I’ve made here and covers it with a light Twilight-esque shimmer. If this sounds like a lengthy advertorial for Cover FX, the brand choice is due mostly to the fact that I fear New York City beauty sales people like sewer clowns and grab essentials as quickly as possible from the same section of Sephora for speediest possible escape. (This also explains why I have yet to find a foundation which matches my skin color.) Finish with Bobbi Brown smokey eye mascara.

I also attempt to cover/distract from the forehead and dark circles with big hair. My hagfish skin and scalp relentlessly excrete grease, causing my hair to fall flat, so I go through about a whole bottle Pantene dry shampoo spray per week to dry out my head and prevent my hair from flattening out. When I shower, I only use conditioner from an XXL bottle of Mane n’ Tail on the ends of my hair and Mane n’ Tail shampoo on my roots. I like Mane n’ Tail because there are horses on the bottle.

Three layers of foundation, powder, fixative spray, eyeshadow, mascara, hairspray, Banana Boat chapstick, and 13 selfie attempts later:

Kinda works? I dunno, again, my work is dark. The shadows are my friend.

Lastly, the smell of flesh. According to Twilight, vampires smell like “lilacs and sun.” I would very much like insight into how to smell like the sun, as presently I emit insuppressible foot funk strong enough to ruin any shoes-off dinner party, and I have nearly exhausted my T-shirt collection with pit stains. These products don’t so much stem the odors as provide reinforcements in my losing battle against The Stench. I use Dove deodorant and Odor-Eaters foot spray.

When I return home around 5:30 AM, I wipe it all off with Scott™ 1000 single-ply septic-safe toilet paper and Clinique “cleansing milk” and then suck out the rest with my beloved Bioré strips. I spray my hair with Marc Anthony Coconut Oil leave-in conditioner and run my fingers through it to separate the bigger clumps because I have a lot of hair, and at this point I’m way too tired to brush it. I never will.

And yet I am haunted. The manufacturers of this pile of shit have blinded god knows how many rabbits in test labs, but again, the cash tips I get are just demonstrably better when from slather on an ideally younger-looking face and contain the stink. So I silently vote with my Sephora rewards card to continue allowing animal torture. I am, like all slaves to cosmetics, a true monster.


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