Monday, July 28, 2008

Piece of Work: Helen Gurley Brown

Reader QuiteLight recently mentioned her collection of Helen Gurley Brown books. You know HGB-- she edited Cosmopolitan magazine for thousands of years after rising to fame with the classic Sex and the Single Girl in 1963. Helen has always encouraged women to practice sexual liberation and to subsist on little more than diet Jello and grapes.
She has written a bunch of other books, mainly general guides to life for women, but to me they are auto-beauty-ographies, revealing the very private beauty habits of the author.
Helen was editor-in-chief of a major women's magazine. Do you have any idea how much beauty schwag comes with that title? But Helen didn't seem interested in the very latest products, or in being pampered (for free) at the highest end spas and salons. No, she preferred to stay home and devote herself to deeply nutty, self-administered routines:

"Wear bikini pants or nothing and slather Andrea Extra Strength Creme Bleach-- a nice thick paste-- over thighs, calves, arms, your whole body if you like. Leave on ten minutes and don't mess with it. Now start rubbing with your hands... stroke stroke stroke. Dead skin will come off with the bleach--a most gratifying experience."

For the face, she only needed a few simple items you probably already have around the house:

"Put on a shower cap; grease your face with Vaseline, cold cream, or something goopy. Fill the bathroom basin with cold water. Dump in two trays of ice cubes. Using a snorkel (a little rubber tube, one end of which you clamp between your teeth; the other end-- open-- sticks up put of the water so you can breathe. Any sporting-goods store has these), stick your face down just below the water surface and stay as long as you can. Twenty minutes is ideal. You never saw such skin... poreless, glowing."

A few years ago, I went on the Brini Maxwell show to promote my book. Brini is a sort of 60s-esque Martha Stewart so I figured I'd blather on about some tips from that general era. A couple hours before taping, the producer called me to check in.

"So you know the episode you're scheduled to be on is the Hawaiian Luau, right?"

Actually, this was the first I'd heard. The producer was "sure" that I knew some funny beauty tips that would fit right in with the island theme. Luckily I remembered HGB and her snorkel (ocean--island--Hawaii?). I clipped a big pink flower in my hair and think I also threw in something about coconut oil.