Adam Lee-Potter on why to never underestimate the vanity of a middle-aged man


- Credit: Archant

Never underestimate the vanity of a middle-aged man especially when a homemade miracle face cream, featuring seaweed from Ringstead Bay and a dash of Guinness, promises you baby-soft cheeks like Gary Lineker

No 40-something chap visits the barber without some trepidation: waiting for that dreadful moment when they whip out a mirror to show you the back of your head.

“Still no bald spot,” I told my hairdresser for the umpteenth time, stupid with relief. Laughing not unkindly, she replied: “Don’t worry, when it does pop up, I’ll just hold the mirror lower down so you won’t see it.”

‘Vanity, thy name is middle-aged man’, claimed the Daily Mail this month, citing the implausibly smooth-of-skin Gary Lineker, whose secret is – according to his wife – Crème de la Mer, a £230 ‘miracle broth’ made from seaweed ‘infused with sound’.

When I interviewed Lineker five years ago, he was so proud of his baby-soft cheeks, that – grabbing my hand - he insisted I stroke them. I can safely vouch for two things: his chops are as smooth as he is vain.

But I had not bargained for my latest, typically absurd Fleet Street assignment. Could I, asked the Mail, recreate the top-end face cream from £25 ingredients found at Tesco?

Crème de le Mer’s list of 93 ingredients looked – at first glance – horribly exotic, boasting such rarities as declustered water, sesamum indicum and citrulius vulgaris. Not to mention ‘infused’ kelp.

Most Read

But upon closer inspection, they proved considerably more down-to-earth: magnetised water, sesame seed oil, pulped watermelon and, of course, serenaded seaweed.

I was masterfully aided by Dorchester’s hugely impressive check-out girl who, despite working the till for four years, holds a degree in zoological biology. She was able to identify citrus reticulate as tangerine peel, saccharomyces lysate extract as Marmite and dipotassium glycyrrhizate as licorice. Ergothioneine, though, foxed her: “You won’t find that in aisle seven.” I settled instead for a punnet of strawberries, evidently rich in such amino acids.

My next-door neighbour, a former director of L’Oréal, had told me: “It would take a fortnight to source all those exact ingredients.”

But – in an afternoon of lateral thinking - I came close. Palmaria palmate extract – sea lettuce – made way for iceberg. Guinness stood in for butylene glycol – a preserving alcohol. Squalane – shark liver oil – was replaced by cod liver oil.

Preparation was more straightforward. Declustering my water with fridge magnets, I found some kelp washed up at Ringstead. Then, cranking up the tranny, I set to work.

My kitchen-cupboard serum was ready in less than ten minutes. It even looked, roughly, the right colour, a fleshy shade of turmeric, and smelled, reassuringly, of hospitals, thanks to the generous dollop of TCP standing in for octadegenedioic acid.

Less happily, I then had to try out this slap. But, in truth, it proved oddly invigorating: the ground almonds - prunus amygdalus dulcis - lent a gentle exfoliating action while Guinness - pimped with coffee, lavender and lemon zest – leaked into the corners of my mouth.

I can’t claim to have Lineker-esque cheeks and I’m not sure I’d want them. But I am alarmingly ruddy of hue: Judith Chalmers in drag. I had woefully underestimated the vim of Tesco food colourants mixed with beetroot. But heck, it was a lot cheaper than a week in Barbados.

Even less surprisingly, I have a glut left. And while this concoction’s claims to skin supremacy are debatable, I’ll give it one thing: it tastes delicious.

Better still, take out the TCP and I’ve got a killer hair tonic.