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It's 3:30 p.m. and You Look Like Hell

It's 3:30 p.m. and You Look Like Hell

Photograph by Frank and Helena/Corbis

It’s 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday and I look terrible. According to the tanning-product company St. Tropez, which apparently conducts scientific surveys in its spare time, women look their most wrinkly and haggard at 3:30 on Wednesday afternoons. That’s precisely when the previous weekend’s partying combines with work stress and the past few nights of insufficient sleep to turn us all into real-life versions of a Cathy cartoon.

“For maximum anti-aging benefits, it’s essential [that] women get seven to eight hours sleep a night,” St. Tropez skin expert Nicola Joss said in a Telegraph article that I’m surprised my mother hasn’t e-mailed me yet, along with a note saying: “I told you so.” Joss went on to warn that too little sleep keeps your skin cells from being able to “rejuvenate,” while too much sleep results in “puffy, older-looking skin.”

Wait, too much sleep will also make me look old? So basically, women can’t win no matter what we do. This reminds me of a 2011 study led by a Harvard psychiatrist that said women are deemed more competent when they wear make-up at work—but not too much make-up because then they look like Fox News anchors and no one will take them seriously.

St. Tropez concluded its study by announcing the creation of a new product called Gradual Tan Plus Anti-Ageing Multi-Action Face. Harvard’s study had reportedly been paid for by Procter & Gamble’s (PG) Beauty & Grooming division, which owns CoverGirl cosmetics. Someone should study how easy it is for companies to get women to freak out over their looks. Maybe I’ll do it myself—but not until Thursday, when I will have ceased looking like Gollum.

Suddath is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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