Fashion & Beauty

Party Bag!

November 19, 2023


By Valerie Monroe

For nearly 16 years Valerie Monroe was the beauty director at O, The Oprah Magazine, where she wrote the popular “Ask Val” column. She now splits her time between Manhattan and Tokyo.

If you’re interested in feeling happier about your appearance—especially as you age—you might like reading what she has to say about it. For more of her philosophical and practical advice, subscribe for free to How Not to F*ck Up Your Face at

Can’t get enough Valerie Monroe? There’s more at

TODAY’S POST is a bit of a gift bag. What are we celebrating? My cataract surgery, which has left me with 20/20 hyper-vision in the treated eye (vivid, peacock blues! tiny type! dusty baseboards!) and the sensation of peering through a dirty plastic sheet in the other one. Working on the computer makes me feel as if my head is floating above my body: Disorienting. So I’m looking forward to surgery #2 to see if I feel reattached.

Now, the first goody in the bag . . .

Q: Does cleansing my face with oils at night remove the self-tanner I apply in the morning?

A: I’ve wondered about the efficacy of self-tanner on the face, too, what with all the washing and seruming and oiling and exfoliating. So I emailed Perry Romanowski, cosmetic chemist and cheerful co-host of The Beauty Brains podcast.

“The color change in your skin from a self-tanner is the result of a chemical reaction between the skin’s protein and the dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in the self-tanner,” he said. Because the color is permanently bound to the skin (until it falls off due to exfoliation), it’s unlikely that a cleansing oil will remove a significant amount of the self-tanner’s effect, he added. My educated guess is that a peel, glycolic, or other kinds of acid pads that accelerate exfoliation would probably also accelerate the loss of your chemically induced glow.

Another goody . . .

Q: I adore your articles. Thank you! Have you written about oral rapamycin yet? Or its topical use? I’d love to know what you think about it.

A: You know what I adore? HNTFUYF readers who keep me curious, informed—and feeling loved.

I’d never heard of rapamycin, so I went hunting for studies. At first, what I found was exciting—longer life! healthier skin!—but then it became clear that the studies all involved our little mice friends and even littler friends the fruit flies. Good on them, those youthful weeny critters, but not great news for us.

HNTFUYF DermDiva Heidi Waldorf confirmed my conclusion: “Rapamycin’s use is based on ‘hyperfunction theory,’ which suggests that aging is caused by over-stimulation of cellular functions that cause organ damage,” she said. “In this scenario, rapamycin may prevent diseases (and aging) but not cure them. And it would have to be administered during development—in other words, at birth—to be most effective.” More potentially disturbing news: Studies in which mice were given rapamycin treatment immediately after birth showed an increase in their lifespan—but reduced normal development. The mice were significantly smaller, as were their organs, said Waldorf.

Would you give up a few inches and your big, beautiful heart to live a few more years?

Rapamycin given to mice in mid- and late-life also improved lifespan, but it hasn’t been established at what point to start and with how much. (The results are similar in fruit flies—the later the treatment, the less lifespan extension.) Interestingly, the results were best in females.


Waldorf notes there are studies underway in humans evaluating different doses. “Personally, I’d wait until those results are in before evaluating the risks and benefits,” she said. As for topical rapamycin, though it’s been shown to help treat facial angiofibromas (firm vascular growths associated with a genetic disorder), there’s only one small, well-designed study in humans showing it reduced markers of skin aging. Waldorf’s conclusion: Promising, but more research is needed to confirm the results and determine concentrations needed for efficacy.

So, as Thomas Chandler Haliburton wrote in his 1855 book, Nature and Human Nature, let’s . . . “stick a pin in that.”

Finally, one last goody . . .

Q: I’m always on the lookout for needle- and surgery-free treatments (❤ my fraxel laser results) and I’d love to know what you think of Emface.

A: Emface! Why didn’t the marketers of this device come up with a more . . . seductive name? I guess they were aiming for continuity—because the company that produces Emface also makes Emsculpt (for abs and glutes) and Emsella (for the pelvic floor; um, Emcellar?).

Emface uses a combination of radiofrequency for collagen stimulation and high-intensity facial electromagnetic stimulation for muscle stimulation, said Waldorf.  The technology used for muscle stimulation is different for the face than the body, she added, but the goal’s the same: to promote increased muscle tone. Though your face may feel tighter after each treatment, it takes about three months after four to six treatments to see results. It isn’t yet clear how long results last; Waldorf assumes some maintenance is required.

She also points out that as with all noninvasive procedures, the degree of benefit will depend on how much it targets your concerns and the underlying anatomic causes. Super-saggers won’t see a difference; radiofrequency is generally more effective at stimulating collagen in younger, less photodamaged skin. So if you’re on the fence about whether to throw your cash at Emface, it’d be wise, said Waldorf, to visit a physician who can determine which of the many noninvasive options is the best match.

But before you do anything: Please give yourself the opportunity to fall in love, or at least in like, with your face. Try this.

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