Vaseline on her teeth provides a smooth-sliding smile.
Her breasts are routinely taped to achieve a Barbie doll's bustline.
A light coat of spray adhesive applied to her derriäre ensures that there will be no unsightly wrinkles when she promenades through the swimsuit competition.

When it comes to cosmetic wizardry, the average Miss America contender puts Elizabeth Arden, Max Factor and even Lon Chaney to shame.

Thanks to chatty contestants of the past, innovative beauty tips now are common knowledge. But it wasn't until newspaper reports about this year's pageant that many Americans first caught wind of one secret that contestants had been sitting on for years.

Earlier this month, several Miss America competitors casually confessed that they'd eliminated facial puffiness with applications of a product that, in normal use, gets nowhere near the face. Namely, Preparation H.

In an otherwise uneventful pageant (no abusive boyfriends or nude photos have surfaced as of press time), news of the arcane beauty ritual came as a shocking revelation to many. Could these dewy-eyed damsels really be smearing their mugs with a rectal ointment formulated to "shrink swelling of hemorrhoidal tissues"?

Well, wake up and smell the shark-liver oil! (Along with live yeast-cell derivation, that's the primary active ingredient in Preparation H.) According to those in the know, the hemorrhoid helper has actually been a longtime staple on the sash-and-scepter circuit.

"It's one of the oldest tricks in the book," says cosmetologist Ide Flores, owner of the Ide Mania hair salon in central Phoenix. "Models and beauty-pageant contestants have been using the stuff for years."
Flores reports that she's often used Preparation H as a cosmetic quick-fix while working as a makeup artist on a number of state-level Miss America pageants in the past. "It works on the premise that Preparation H reduces swelling," says Flores. "If one of the girls had bags under her eyes because she'd stayed up too late partying or had puffy eyes because she'd been crying, you just dab on a little Preparation H. You just use a little tiny bit, then work it in real well, making sure you stay about an eighth of an inch away from the eye. Works great."

But few of her colleagues in the local beauty community share Flores' enthusiasm for the wondrous anal salve.

"I cannot believe anyone would put something like this on her face, particularly under her eyes," says Rolf Lohse, owner of Rolf's, a salon in midtown Phoenix. "To me, this is unimaginable."
"We've heard of people doing that, but we certainly wouldn't recommend it," reports Sandra, an employee of Imagery, a Phoenix skin-care salon. "Most people who have really bad bags under their eyes go for surgery."
Quizzed about the wisdom of using a rectal remedy as a beauty aid, the manufacturer of Preparation H officially discourages the practice."Does it work on eyes?" says Cecelia McDonnell, manager of consumer affairs for the New York City-based Whitehall Laboratories. "I don't know--I've never used it. We really can't comment on that one way or the other."

However, McDonnell does report that the company has been fielding customer inquiries about this unorthodox use of its product for at least six years.

"We can only recommend Preparation H for the use described on the label," says McDonnell during a recent telephone call. "It's not that we don't recommend it for this other use; it's that legally we can't because we haven't done the testing the FDA requires." McDonnell claims she's unaware of any plans to conduct research in this area.

Interestingly, the product that's supposedly giving so many beauty contestants a lift is also one of the products that's most often lifted from drugstores. Is there a connection?

"We do lose a lot of Preparation H through theft," reports Hal Franco, a pharmacist at the Osco at Seventh Avenue and Osborn. A 16-year veteran of the drugstore business, Franco claims that the hemorrhoid preparation has historically been a popular target for shoplifters. However, the pharmacist says that the culprits appear to be neither puffy-eyed beauty queens nor (as one newspaper wire-service story claimed several years ago) junkies hoping to reduce their needle tracks. Instead, he theorizes that the majority of Preparation H heists are perpetrated by actual hemorrhoid sufferers.

Pointing to other oft-swiped personal items such as condoms and laxatives, Franco explains, "Basically, there are some products that people are just too embarrassed to carry up to the check-out counter."


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Dewey Webb