Wednesday afternoon on San Francisco's rapidly changing Market Street, a cosmetics store selling face creams laced with such opulent ingredients as 24-karat gold, diamonds, caviar, and actual pearls opened up between a Verizon Wireless store and a Marshall's. What used to be a donut shop is now a place to buy $5,000 sets of nighttime moisturizing cream. Spokeswoman Denise Richards was in attendance to promote the lavish line of beauty products.
Not being familiar with much in the beauty department myself (I use a utilitarian shampoo and conditioner approved for both human and equine use), my eyes glossed over when a sales rep tried to slather me with the information on the benefits of precious metals in one's regular skincare routine. Those benefits generally have something to do with reversing the signs of aging. They are literally selling gold that you can rub in your face to make yourself feel younger.
Mercifully, someone handed me a mimosa.
"It turns out gold is good for you," says the sales associate whose job it is to sell you gold-laced nighttime face cream. Gold allows more of the other minerals to be properly absorbed into your skin. I don't know where this information is coming from and these other minerals are never named specifically, but that doesn't seem to matter. Again, what seems to matter is that there's gold in there. The sales rep rubbed a paste on the back of my hand, then mixed it with some gel from another bottle. It burned a little and now this spot on the back of my hand feels awkwardly taut.
As if this didn't already sound like some kind of mysterious beauty department alchemy, a new sales rep tells me they also offer products that harness the benefits of caviar, pearls, and actual diamonds. To quote Lindsay Bluth: you can actually smear diamonds on your face. "That's like, what? A million diamonds for $400? A million fucking diamonds!"
As for Mrs. Richards: the former Bond girl graciously gave me a few minutes of her time, but I forgot to record our conversation because: holy crap, I was sitting in the back room of a beauty parlor with the curtain drawn, staring down Denise Richards. When I asked her which product line was her favorite, she named the most expensive one. I imagine no amount of face cream could conceal the look on my face, though. Halfway into my two minutes, Mrs. Richards expressed the tired sigh of a bombshell-turned-cosmetics spokeswoman and, with slight annoyance in her voice, told me that I appeared to have no interest in beauty products. And she was right. Sometimes all you need to say is "expensive face cream" and someone will hand over their money.
After my interview, Mrs. Richards stepped out into the hot January sun where she posed at a step-and-repeat set up behind a bus stop on Market Street. Attendees of the media event stepped up to get pictures for their personal Instagrams while a professional snapped away. A small man walked directly in front of the camera, seemingly oblivious to all of it.