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I'm the kind of person who always wants to try new things. I have a hard time ordering the same meal when I go back to a restaurant, even if I know it's the best. (The exception is pizza margherita at my local Neapolitan-style pizza place, because why bother with anything else?) Sometimes this leads to fantastic new discoveries, and sometimes it leads to my trying to choke down mango-flavored Pepsi on a second date while a guy side-eyes me. Pepsi? Good. Mango? Good! Mango-flavored Pepsi? Very bad. The two of us met up with a friend later that day, and when I told her about it, she said, "Yeah, that sounds like the kind of thing you would buy." But I didn't scare the dude off, at least. We're still together 3 years later.
When it comes to buying what I will broadly label "personal care products," I do tend to be more systematic and cautious. I research things and read reviews; I look for sales; and I try to disregard fishy sounding marketing bullshit. But sometimes I betray my own principles and buy some crap in the hopes that it will make my life better, even when part of me suspects it's nonsense. It's rare, but it happens.
The things on this list aren't really super weird and quirky, but they are certainly questionable, because I bought them with some uncharacteristic optimism, ignoring the fact that they would probably do nothing.
Freeman Facial Revealing Peel Off Mask (Pomegranate)
I got a sample of a different peel off mask in an Ipsy bag once, and it was so fucking satisfying to use, that I bought this one too. But I used the sample half a dozen times before it ran out, so I've only just got to this one. I think this enormous tube will last a decade.
Also: I'm pretty sure these masks don't actually do much for your skin. (More on that here.) It provides the same enjoyment that you got from peeling glue off of your hands in elementary school. That's because it is, literally, glue - or at least a non-toxic, water-soluble polymer that is sometimes used as an adhesive (polyvinyl alcohol/PVA). This mask also contains some good things like humectants and anti-oxidants, but I don't know how much they actually absorb into the skin during the short period of time you use it. What it's really supposed to do is exfoliate a bit by taking some skin and debris with it when you peel it off. But I have used peel off masks over flaky skin and they don't tend to pick up much. It's almost purely recreational. This one was only $4-5, so I don't really regret paying that much for what will obviously be years of peely fun.
Badger Balm: Stress Soother and Focus Balm
I bought these aromatherapy balms when I was writing my dissertation, even though I don't believe in aromatherapy. Grad school will drive you to all sorts of crazy things. It could have been worse than aromatherapy, I guess. I suppose I do believe to the extent that I think your mind can form strong associations with certain scents, so I thought at least I might be able to train myself to associate the Focus Balm with getting shit done and the Stress Soother with relaxing. I'm not sure how successful I was. I still open up the Focus Balm tin when I sit down at my desk at home, and I put some Stress Soother on my wrists and in my cleavage when I do yoga. They both smell really lovely.
You're supposed to rub them on your temples, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I assume it's the massaging of your temples that relaxes you more than anything else. Obviously the balm isn't absorbing directly into your stressed or unfocused brain. That would not be good. When I first got these, I made the terrible mistake of applying the Stress Soother directly below my nose. I thought that would be efficient - get the smell right in there. It burned like a motherfucker on the outside of my nostrils for an hour. DO NOT DO THAT.
The tins are a little inconvenient because, if you apply with your fingers, you'll need to wash your hands afterwards lest you touch your eye or something by mistake. These days they come in a more useful stick format, which I wish I had. So while I don't believe in aromatherapy, per se, these are wonderful, sort of greasy, solid perfumes. I enjoy them, even if they don't perform any magic.
If I remember correctly, I saw these recommended in a comment thread on Jezebel, which is not my usual source for reliable information. I don't even remember what the person said these were supposed to do for me, but I got it in my head that I needed them. They're squishy silicone things that you put between your toes to stretch your feet. They are supposed to help with foot problems, like hammer toes (which I don't suffer from), and to help your posture and balance and make your feet and legs and back feel better and cause you to spontaneously develop the ability to teleport. Well, maybe not the last one. I have had them for 6 months now, but I probably haven't used them frequently enough to really notice a difference. I should use them right now, in fact . . . okay, there, I'm using them while I type out the rest of this thing. I don't know. This may have been a stupid purchase. But if I learn how to teleport, I'll report back. My feet do feel kind of nice when I take them off.
Pure silk pillow case
I don't have a photo of this, but it looks like a pillowcase. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase is supposed to completely stop you from aging and give you Disney princess hair, it seems. But the evidence to support its actually being effective for skincare is slim. I think that it maybe prevents creases on my face a bit, because when I roll over or adjust my position the skin on my face doesn't get scrunched up against the pillowcase too much. I don't know if that has any actual effects on wrinkle prevention. It's probably a little more useful for preventing tangled hair or frizz than for doing anything to the skin, because it's so smooth. I've heard some people complain that silk pillowcases are too slippery and their heads slide right off of them, but I've never had that problem.
I'm not going to tell you to buy a $20 pillowcase like I did, because that's obviously ridiculous. It won't turn you into a princess. It may, however, make you feel a little bit like a princess, especially if you are a front or side sleeper, because it's so smooth on your face. Okay, it feels fucking amazing and I love it, but still. It's a $20 pillowcase. Not my wisest investment.
(Maybe get a silk shirt from a secondhand shop and sew your own?)
Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad
This one is a little bit different in that it seemed like a genius purchase at the time, but in practice it hasn't worked out quite so well. First of all, it was hard to get the suction cups to stick to my shower wall, which is in an apartment where the tiles have been painted over multiple times and are pretty rough. The pad eventually stayed in place, but the pencil never did. Second, if you rub your hand against the sheet when it's wet, the writing will smear off. So you have to be careful.
Most annoying, but in retrospect least surprising, is that the humidity in my bathroom caused the pencil to split so that it can't be sharpened. Not surprising, because it's a wooden pencil, and changes in humidity cause wood to expand and contract like crazy. This set really should come with a pencil encased in plastic, like some eyeliners. I mean, I can always find another pencil for cheap - it's not a special one - but chances are it will keep happening.
The notepad itself is certainly useful for writing down all those ideas that only come to you in the shower and that you forget as soon as you towel off. But it's not perfect.
So that's about it. All of the other purchases I've ever made in my entire life have been carefully thought out and not at all regrettable. Yep. How about you?