If you’ve ever picked up a women’s magazine, you’re likely quite familiar with the term “beauty secret.” Kim Kardashian says hers is proper hydration. A good spray tan is Mandy Moore’s. And surprise, surprise, if a celeb gets paid to be the face of a skin care brand, you can bet that the “secret” to their glowing, line-free face is that skin care brand’s hero cream (they’ve probably been using it their entire life, so when the spokesperson opportunity came up, it just felt so organic!).
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Look, we’re not saying lemon water and a bottle of St. Tropez self-tanning oil don’t work wonders—just that they’re not exactly secrets by definition, things kept hidden out of shame, fear of judgment, or a strong desire for privacy. While we might never know what Jennifer Lopez has really done to halt the aging process altogether, five women of different backgrounds across the country did reveal to us the one beauty treatment or habit that they feel the need to keep under wraps, and why.
Below, read their anonymous secrets.
“I got breast implants when I was 29 after considering them for many years. My breasts were really uneven—one was completely flat, the other was a cute A-cup—and I just wanted clothes to look normal. I got the smallest cc available. I think of myself as very intellectual and I saw people with big, fake breasts as bimbos, so I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently if they knew I had a boob job.
The only person I told at the time was a gay art director I worked with; he picked me up after the surgery. I didn’t tell my parents, my best friend, or my boyfriend. When he commented on my breasts looking bigger a few weeks later, I told him I was on new birth control and he believed it.
Now, only my husband and daughter know. My daughter found out about my implants when she was in her 20s, after she noticed a ripple when I was topless, and she was furious I hadn’t ever brought it up, but I just think it’s really personal and I don’t trust people not to tell others. I never want my breasts to walk into a room before I do.”
—65, retired producer, Boston
“After having two kids, I tried everything to get rid of my love handles and they just wouldn’t go away, so I decided to get liposuction around my stomach a few months ago. My body looks amazing now and I feel great, but I don’t tell my friends about it because I think they’ll be mad at me. That sounds weird, but I think they’d be jealous because I actually went through with a procedure a lot of women want but never get. Or I think they would judge me for not putting that money toward college savings funds for my sons, especially since I’m a single mom.
This is how resistant I was to the idea of telling anyone what I was doing: I had an Uber driver I’ve used for a year pick me up from the hospital. He had to check in with the nurse and she made him put a towel down in the backseat for me, in case there was any oozing. At that point, I remember thinking maybe I shouldn’t have called him for this job, but I was so drugged out that it didn’t matter.”
—42, publicist, Washington, D.C.
“I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years, and before him, I didn’t do much in terms of grooming my pubic hair. I’d trim it as needed and shave my bikini line if I was going to be wearing a bathing suit, but I’d never gotten waxed or shaved it completely bare. The first time we had sex was on date two, so we barely knew each other, and he acted really surprised about the situation. He made a joke about my ‘retro bush’ that made me feel insecure. So what did I do? I got a Brazilian a few days later and have been keeping up with them ever since, and trust me, I know how anti-feminist that sounds, which is why it’s my beauty secret. A few months ago, I told him his comment that first time made me feel bad and he was so embarrassed. He assured me I don’t need to wax for him, but I know he finds it sexy, so I don’t mind doing it.”
—26, liquor sales rep, Nashville, TN
Expensive Skin Care
“I’m a solidly middle class, stay-at-home mom with very expensive taste, much to my husband’s annoyance. (Oh, and did I mention we both have thousands in student loans to pay off?) I had awful skin up until my 30s and experimented with a new product line every few months until I discovered Sunday Riley and SkinCeuticals. The antioxidant serums and oils did what no other acne treatment could and totally changed the texture of my skin, so obviously I can’t quit them, but the price of my routine is hard to swallow. I spend around $500 every two months on products and it kills my husband when he sees the credit card, so I try to hide just how extensive my routine is and how many $150 serums are involved. If I’m opening a new cream for the first time and he’s at the sink brushing his teeth, I’ll pretend to fold the towels or floss or something until he leaves so I can dip into my full jar in peace.”
—33, stay-at-home mom, Cleveland
“I got super overpriced Botox to lift my brows and not one single person noticed or complimented the ‘results’ after. I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone because the difference was minuscule and the price I paid ($600) was so damn high. I don’t really feel shame around having gotten it, though, because the vast majority of my friends who live in LA do much more invasive treatments, so I might consider telling others if I get more in the future.”
—28, VP of Growth at a video/media company, Los Angeles