Archive | November, 2011

I Have Snapped, Cracked And Popped

9 Nov

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It was a Saturday afternoon in the late ’80s. I was hanging out at my best friend Stefanie’s house in the Valley and had just come from walking around the mall and having Tommy’s fries for lunch. I was upstairs in her room checking out The Limited items her mom bought her and suddenly I realized it was super quiet in the house. I walked out of her room and found Stefanie and her older sister Loren in the bathroom staring in the mirror at their faces in an almost hypnotic trance. They were both leaning in really closely as if to magnify what they were examining and using their fingers to squeeze every millimeter of their cheeks, chin and forehead. They were red, blotchy, misshapen and scared the hell out of me. “What the fuck are you doing!” I screamed. “Loren told me I had a zit,” Stefanie confesses.
Until this point, I had never seen anyone pop a zit. In fact, I don’t think I ever had a zit. God, I wish I could have just stayed admiring Stefanie’s lime green sweater in her room. Instead, I credit this exact moment of innocent wandering to what has ruined my life. Well, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it did ruin my run at invisible pores. While I found their grooming techniques repulsive and horrifying, there was some deep-seeded part of me that was actually lured by this instinctive habit to “pick”. Like some Jim Jone’s cult follower, I found myself saddle up to their bathroom lineup, searching for any imperfections to pick, pop and fix.
Well, it’s been more than 25 years later and I’m still trying to fix those fuckers. What’s ironic is that acne was never a major issue for me throughout my teens and twenties. (I had my share of others to deal with like spider veins and chafing thighs.) But I still found plenty of whiteheads and underground mines to sabotage. If there was ever anything truly visible on my face, it was self-inflicted. Whenever I revealed my little dark secret, people were always amazed and said stuff like, “You have such beautiful skin.” They’d just shake their heads as if I was making more of it than it really was. I’m good with concealer, I admit. Years ago, I even wrote an article for Nylon magazine about my obsession with zit picking (they didn’t publish it. I think it was because I was ahead of my time. At least, that’s what I like to tell myself). In the last several months, though, I feel like I’ve hit a second adolescence with my breakouts. In short, I’m being haunted by a sick, twisted acne that wants to fuck with me, and I’m so not in the mood.
I can’t remember the last time my skin was actually clear and I didn’t have to spackle my red spots with cover up before entering the world. What’s even more annoying is how much time I waste getting ready in the morning, not just hiding my uneven skin tone, but prepping it before I even put lotion on. I can go into a time warp standing in front of my magnifying mirror (which is one of the meanest things ever invented) Tweezermaning flakes of skin around my chin and nose. All you pickers know about the flakes.
This epidemic finally snowballed into a full on pizza-face breakout last month while I was in NYC for work doing a round of desk-sides with fashion editors. Desk-sides are short 15 minute meetings where you sit with a magazine editor in a conference room or lobby and hock them your client’s wares for the upcoming season. Pleasantries are exchanged, cards are passed, and then you can’t ever get them on the phone again.
Between the stress of traveling and some unknown zit-inducing tropical bacterial strain I was convinced I caught on my flight, my chin and right cheek look like they exploded onto themselves and no amount of concealer, regardless of my deft application, was working.
It was my last night in the Big Apple, the weather was fantastic, I had hours for exploring and what did I do? I marched myself right into the acne aisle of Sephora in Times Square.
I’m about to purchase a modest looking trial-sized set of acne products from Murad when the 19-year-old working the floor suggested I try Murad’s Acne & Anti-Wrinkle line instead. “It might address more of your concerns.” She really said that. Bitch. So instead of $29.95 for the trial set, I dish out about $180 for the Time Release Acne Cleanser, Acne & Wrinkle Reducer, Anti-Aging Moisturizer and Acne Treatment Concealer. I lug my goods back to my hotel room and slather then all on hoping for a miracle in the morning before I have to meet with Oprah magazine.
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Aside from one new criminal I was harboring on my cheek, my skin seemed a little less annoying. The Acne Treatment Concealer was the bomb and truly covered up most of my mess, for the time being.
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Once I got home from my trip, I booked it right to the dermatologist and it was decided that my hormones were what’s been screwing with my vanity. Between some topical and oral anti-biotics and a prescription for the pill (thanks to my gyno), I felt like I’ve been given another chance. After being on and off the pill for 15 years, I’d ditched it a couple years ago to “cleanse my body.” Little did I know it was doing more than keeping me from being the next Duggard.
It’s been about four weeks and although I’m not concealer-free yet, my skin doesn’t resemble a war zone any longer. And, I didn’t have high school cramps this month.