Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D
Among a certain population—one that includes me, as it happens—the notion of applying an elixir that instantly smooths away lines can precipitate the kind of thrill once reserved for a long-awaited pregnancy (or job offer). Which is why I was keen to test several wrinkle erasers. The balms (Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch, $28, and Sephora Immediate Wrinkle Filler, $20, for example) come in little pots and are the consistency of softened butter; the lotions (like Fresh Anise Wrinkle Eraser, $55, and Cosmedicine Instant Wrinkle Write Off, $25) come in a tube or a pen that you use to "draw" the product on the wrinkle.
Because for the past seven years I've had a serious love relationship with a prescription retinoid (Tazorac, and it's an every-night affair), I don't have a lot of wrinkles on my face, except around my mouth, where those annoying little lip lines persist. So that seemed the perfect spot to see what a wrinkle eraser could do. I have to tell you (pursing my lips) that my hopes were not high, in spite of the tantalizing promise, because one of the hard truths I've learned as a beauty editor is that there is no such thing as a cream or lotion that works as well as Photoshop.
Also, whatever the results, they were going to be temporary—the silicones in these products cover the skin with a matte film, hiding fine lines.
When I applied the Clarins balm—my experience was pretty much the same with all four erasers—I immediately received a lesson in what it really means to have a stiff upper lip. After I became accustomed to the tightening effect (it felt something like wearing a dried milk mustache), I took a trip to the office bathroom, proud home of the World's Most Unflattering Mirror, to check out the results. If you don't know me, you might think I'm making this up, but I'm not: The lines on my lip seemed to have disappeared. I peered closer. Seriously: no lines. Then I started making monkey faces to see if I could get them to appear again—how good was this stuff? After a couple of minutes of intense puckering followed by intense scrutiny, I began to see the faint traces of my old problem. I don't think you'd want to use one of these products every day (that dried milk mustache), but for special occasions when you want your face to look smooth and polished, a wrinkle eraser can give you a nice assist till you wash it off.