I'm only too familiar with bed head, but pillow face?

It's the name for the fleeting facial pleating that results from pressing aging skin into a pillow for eight or so hours every night. It's that set of minor folds, creases and mutilations that seems to disappear even before you hit the shower.

I know the look, but hadn't heard the term until I flipped through last month's Prevention magazine and caught a blurb promoting the Save My Face! Pillow. As your Midlife columnist, I knew I had a responsibility to investigate.

So I logged on to www.savemyface.com and forked over $65 for Le Grande Pillowette, which does its alleged magic by keeping your face out of contact with a pillow (or anything else) all night long.

The pillow is shaped like a puffy, silk-covered crescent wrench. The pillow's ends look like big C's. Sleep on your side and the top of the C supports the forehead, the bottom of the C the chin. Voila, the delicate cheek touches nothing, and spends the night suspended unharmed by the pillowcase below.

My problem: Keeping my head in the key of C all night long. I failed miserably and got a crick in my neck from trying. (There's probably another pillow for that.) This might have been the end of this silly experiment . . . but for one sentence. "Over time," the pillow's manufacturer claims, the damage caused by pillow face "can be permanent."

That's just a scare tactic, I thought. Yet another means (for some) to live long and prosper off the vain, long lives of others. Right? I immediately called Marsha Gordon, the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beautiful Skin" (Alpha Books, 1998) and a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. "Sleep lines may actually lead to more wrinkles," she told me.

I frantically dialed other dermatologists, hoping for reassurance. But I got this from Bethesda: "Repeated creasing and indentations of the skin could become permanent lines." And this from Beverly Hills: "There is definitely a type of patient that has wrinkles due to the way they sleep."

Do we have to take this lying down? Short of paying for a pillowette, you can, as two doctors suggested, use a satin pillowcase to decrease friction. You can always sleep on your back. Or you can use your advanced years to do what comes naturally: Forget this and nod off in front of the TV.

-- Stefanie Weiss

The columns KidLife and MidLife, devoted to healthy handling of children and adulthood, will appear in alternating weeks in this space. Send comments, suggestions and questions to kidmid@washpost.com. For U.S. Mail, see address below. No calls, please.