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Take a couple of minutes and go into your bathroom (or wherever you keep your cosmetics, lotions and creams) and then come back and tell me how many different jars of goop you have for taking care of your skin. You know...softening, conditioning, exfoliating, smoothing...that kind of stuff. I’ll wait.

Wow! That many, huh? Okay, just for calculation purposes, let’s assign a dollar value to each product...say, five bucks on average. If the sheer outlay doesn’t stun you, here’s something that will. You’ve spent a fortune on grease, dye, perfume and mystery chemicals stored in pretty jars. And for all the good they’ve done you, you might as well have been using Crisco. Really!

The objective of most skin creams is to seal moisture into it. A few have sunblock to keep UV rays away from it. Assuming you’re eating properly, drinking enough water, getting adequate sleep and have no actual medical condition that requires intervention, those two properties are all you really need to keep your hide in good shape.

Instead of buying expensive pink stuff made out of dew-soaked mandrake roots and ostrich egg albumen, make a quick trip to a healthfood store or a grocery store that features natural products and pick up a fourteen ounce jar of coconut oil. Solid like shortening, it liquefies easily when the jar is immersed in warm water and your options for its cosmetic and skin maintenance uses are almost limitless. Give your hair a hot-oil treatment; rub it on rough areas like elbows and knees; use a little right after you shower to keep your skin moist; massage a friend with it; put a dab on the end of the cat’s nose to help keep him from getting hairballs; use it to get gum out of your pre-schooler’s hair. Go crazy! If you want perfumed skin cream, liquefy a couple of ounces, add a drop or two of your favorite perfume or essential oil and pour it into a small decorative container. For an initial outlay of around seven dollars, you’ll have enough skin and haircare product to last for months.

For sunblock, use... brace yourself here...SUNBLOCK! You can purchase a good-sized container of any strength for three or four dollars. Apply it every day before you put on your makeup, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not your foundation will do the job.

What about exfoliating? A simple nylon mesh bath scrubber does a fine job. So do luffas. Exfoliation is just a matter of scraping old skin cells off, and there’s no particular magic involved. Nylon mesh and luffas are gentle enough for daily use, and they work.

Finally, it’s important to realize that aging happens. Faces get wrinkles no matter how well they’re cared for. Stop obsessing and just concentrate on keeping your skin healthy as a part of your general well-being. Good food, plenty of water, adequate sleep and about fifteen minutes of daily attention to moisturizing and UV protection will pay high dividends over time.