Serious Question: Why Is It So Hard To Find A Good Bottle Of Lotion?

May 31, 2012  |  

If I could bend y’alls ear for a few minutes and trouble you about something that’s been bugging me for a while: Why is it so damn hard to find a good bottle of lotion?

I know what you’re thinking: there are so many more serious things happening in the world and you want to discuss lotion? Well yes. And secondly, nobody told you to click the link. With that said, as we are all well aware, black folks’ skin is very sensitive to the elements. In the winter our skin suffers from the harsh winds and in the summer, our skin succumbs to the drying effects of the hot sun, and when we’re ashen, the whole world can tell.  As such, we’ve got to lube up to keep from turning into Ashy Larry or the lone tumbleweed rolling through the Atacama Desert.

Besides the NYPD, the Republicans and possibly sitting through another season of “Basketball Wives,” there is no other greater fear for black folks (or black women at least) than to be ashy in public. Am I right? Of course I am. We all spend countless minutes in our rooms, applying various concoctions to ensure the beautiful glow to our red bone to mahogany-complexioned skin.  But most times it is hit or miss. Sometimes you can make it through an entire day looking like the Black Gold of the Sun, while other days, you look more like someone dusted you with a box of confectioner’s sugar.  I can’t be the only one that has difficulty finding a good bottle of lotion nowadays.

Back in the day, say around the late ’70s to early ’80s, it seemed like lotion technology was much more simple. We had a number of black owned skin-care companies, which catered to our special skin needs. We had an ample supply of real cocoa butter and Vitamin E oils to keep us looking shiny and moisturized throughout the year. In fact, you could get an entire 15 oz tub of Queen Helena’s pure cocoa butter crème for around $3. Hell, some of us got away with just rubbing a slab of Vaseline on our face, arms and legs.  Add some Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder to the chest and to the neck (especially the neck) and you were good to go.

However, the tide began to shift somewhere in the ’90s, with the new awareness about the environment, the products that we use and their benefits and/or dangers to our skin. Suddenly, the 100 percent pure cocoa butter and Vitamin E oil wasn’t enough and new advancements in lotion technology brought about a plethora of competition. We needed dual age-defying, cell regenerating treatment that promised to moisturize while erasing blemishes on skin. We needed lotions and oils that mixed with exotic berries, nuts and plants like sweet almond jojoba oil, java plum and Goji berries, picked from the tiny virgin hands of children in Guatemala, which would cleanse the soul of toxins and negative feelings. We needed lotions that were dermatologically tested – or at least featured a tall brunette model in a lab coat and glasses on the bottle – and had special numbering symbols to coincide with your special skin needs.

The only problem was, most of the crap didn’t work. Now I’m not saying (for certain) it was a conspiracy to the highest level of ‘spiracies, but very few actually worked for the purpose that you needed most: the ash. Sure, they made you feel good, but they lacked the vital ingredients needed to offer real protection. Most of those lotions were so thin and watery or had way too much alcohol that they could be considered the sushi of lotion; you put it on and then an hour later you were ashy again. Others smelled the part but failed to do anything but have you smell like a fruit salad.  Not to mention the bees that would follow you down the street. I’m sure my 5 fl. oz bottle of Golden Apple and Guava skin pomade is a major contributing factor to colony collapse disorder.

Last year, I did come across a good bottle of lotion, courtesy of the Aveda line. I recall this because I discovered it while Pollyanna gift shopping for my boss. It was on her wish list and wanting to impress upper management (i.e. A$$-kiss), I decided that I would splurge a bit.  So I’m in the store, standing in front of a very eager sale lady, who without warning, squirts a little on the back of my hand.  I swear to all things pure and wonderful on this earth, the s**t was like silk. I mean it was the softest thing I’ve ever felt come from a bottle. It was so soft that I wanted to lie down, curl up in the fetal position and take a nap on it.  Until they told me the price: $20 for 4.2 fl. ounces. Four ounces. For lotion? Crazy.

I realize that not everyone’s skin type is the same. However, my girlfriend with oily skin has the same complaint. Neither of us remembers our skin care regimen being this difficult back in the day. Of course, I don’t remember worrying about matching my colors or taking regular baths too (I was seven. Shoot me). Maybe things were just a lot simpler back then. Or maybe my skin texture has radically changed as I have gotten older. All I know is that what used to be a quick minute and a ½ process of putting some lotion on, has turned into a time sucking, multi-product production of bath soaps, facial cleansers, crèmes, lotions, oils, pomades and body scrubs. Oh God, don’t get me started on a body scrub. It’s neither soap nor is it lotion -just some weird hybrid middleman involving sugar.

But I’ve found that when it comes to finding the perfect moisturizer nowadays, there is no perfect solution. So until I find the perfect lotion (if there is one), I will be forced to find a lotion for the winter; one for the summer; one for just my hands; one for my feet and another to use specifically for the smell good effect (sorry bees). No wonder women walk around with huge purses.

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