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Youthful Essence by Susan Lucci

You can put your best face forward, but it'll still leave you feeling inadequate.

What it is: A personal microdermabrasion system. Not to mention Susan Lucci's beauty (that being a flexible term for our purposes) secret.


Description: The basic setup is a cream that smoothes the skin with its "special crystals" and a "resurfacing tool" that gently massages the cream on.

Quote: "Thank you, Susan Lucci, Thank you so much."

Shills: Susan Lucci, leading a coven of actresses from All My Children and Passions who praise the product. Mixed in there are a few common wenches (with good skin, of course), a dermatological surgeon, and the product's inventors, SoCal salontrepreneurs Dean and Amby Rhoades.

Set and Costumes: A variety of generic but gleaming-white studios, plus one that we are probably supposed to think of as Susan's living room. Everyone's got on Hollywood casualwear - all tasteful, except that Susan has a habit of choosing slightly low-necked, thin-strapped shirts, which emphasize her protruding collarbone and jaw.

Cost: $89.95

Gimmick: Blurring the line between fiction and reality. Susan tells us how much her character on All My Children has been through, adding, "Believe me, that can take a toll on a girl's skin." In one vignette, Susan and her actress friends go to a "chic Manhattan restaurant" and jaw about skin care to the tune of a rip-off of the Sex And The City theme. They never touch their water glasses, and the only food on the table is an ignored basket of rolls.

Parallel Gimmick: Blurring the line between talk show and reality. Susan interviews Dean and Amby, and later, a few audience members come forward for "Guess My Age": 24? no, 31! 29? no, 40! 48? No, 49! 49? No, 58! Applause!

youthful_essence2.jpgInterwoven Gimmick: Intimacy and familiarity with Susan Lucci. Bones aside, she just seems sweeter than most hucksters. And she invites you into her AMC dressing room and demonstrates how to use the system herself, instead of just letting models do it.

Product Limitations: It's admitted, or at least not hidden, that this won't magically erase all your non-dermatalogical flaws. AMC's Eden Riegel gushes about Youthful Essence while her eyebrows arch up like a pair of menacing ferrets. In the "Guess My Age" segment, a 40-year-old female cop from Long Island says that thanks to Youthful Essence, "I can put my best face forward," but that isn't saying much.

Implied Fringe Benefit: It's also a vibrator, and not just in the way that various items that happen to vibrate can be vibrators. Nobody says it directly, but the resurfacing tool comes with three interchangeable heads, one of which is intended for just massaging yourself. A woman is shown using this option on her shoulders and arms in the bathtub, but since this is a waterproof device, any dope can tell where it's gonna end up. And why else would we need to know that the tool vibrates and 4,000 micro-orbits per minute? To cap this off, Kassey DePaiva (of One Life To Live) calls it "instant gratification in a little bitty box."

Evaluation: Fill up Xanadu with golden calves, translate it into advertising, and you've got this infomercial. It's sleek and Hollywood, even in its clumsy excesses, and it's never quite obnoxious enough to induce a headache. In fact, it's almost intoxicating. La Lucci proves herself the megalomaniacal Kim Jong-il of the paid programming world; you'd like to look away, but God only knows what havoc she - or her clavicles - would wreak upon the pores of humanity if you did. Then again, Susan, I won't care how smooth your skin is until you pack away a few months' worth of steak dinners. The collarbone's got to stop stealing the show.

Score: 8

- Scott Gordon

* Visit the Beachwood Infomercial Review library.


Posted on December 11, 2006

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