Monday, August 18, 2014

Out, damned spot!

I'm too sexy for this face mask.
No, this isn't a post about The Scottish Play. It's about the fact that for the past four years I've battled more zits than I had to during my goddamned teen years, for fuck's sake. Is this right? Is it just? I had the braces, the bad hair, the awkwardness around boys I liked back then. It took me YEARS to outgrow these, and more YEARS to get over the psychological trauma they caused. (OK, the "awkwardness around boys I like" continues to be a problem, I own it. Back off.) Now, NOW, when the hormones be flarin' up in advance of motherfucking menopause, NOW I've gotta fucking deal with acne like it's 1989 (when I was 18 and acne would've been totally age appropriate)???


So-called spot treatments.
Anyway, yeah, I've been getting acne pretty regularly since I hit 39 or so, and it takes forever to go away, and the spots, oh, how they linger! Having had little experience with the problem when I bloody well should've, I picked up some stuff I thought would help to reduce pimples and the appearance of these frigging spots. The active ingredients in these tubes of goo which are no doubt beloved by the younger set are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, respectively (from left to right). I say they're beloved by the younguns 'cause the reviews I read about these online were pretty positive coming from folks in their teens, even very early twenties. But for me, they really didn't help. At all.

More research revealed that middle-aged users of clay masks sometimes found relief from their way-adult-onset-acne. Sweet! I'd used a white clay mask from Lancôme in the past, just not often enough to develop any thoughts about it as a zit-fighter. I thought about breaking it out to deal with a Frankenzit from a few months ago (a Frankenzit is what I call a trio or more of pimples that unite to conquer my face/peace of mind by flaring up quickly and so close together it looks like some alien life form's about to burst outta my damned cheek), but worried it wouldn't work well or quickly enough. I read a lot of favorable reviews for this Fresh Umbrian Clay whatsit and dropped a load of ducats to try it. Result: well, I liked its earthy scent and I guess it did provide some overall goodness to my skin (I have to say, Fresh doesn't tout it as an acne-buster, but some of its users who've reviewed it have). But when a few weeks' (WEEKS!!!!!) usage, even to the point of dabbing some of the stuff on Frankie and leaving it overnight, didn't yield the desired results I went back to the Lancôme clay and, actually, I think it worked better for my skin. I mean, Frankie didn't disappear, nor did the marks of bygone zits, but his size and redness was somewhat reduced. I don't mean to damn the Lancôme with faint praise, though—so far, it was the first product to help even the littlest bit!

But that pernicious Frankenzit still scoffed at me, so I betook myself to the local drugstore to see if I could find any anti-acne products containing sulfur.  And not because I'm all "diabolical Goth Mom (Lite), I've the forces of Darkness at my beck and call, oooh, fear my wrath!" or anything, but because I'd used a Murad product in the past that had sulfur and did seem to help, only THEY FUCKING DISCONTINUED THAT SHIT. *Ahem.* I did find this Bye Bye Blemish stuff, which looks weird and smells camphor-ish (which I reckon beats rotten-eggy). BUT it helped more than even the white clay stuff**. I mean, it's this weird silty stuff at the bottom of the bottle with clear liquid at the top into which you dip a cotton swab (no double dipping!) and apply the resultant mixture to your spots and leave on overnight. No, you're not supposed to shake the bottle. You're NOT. It says so, like, a gazillion times on the box AND on the bottle. I think it'd be like crossing the streams or some shit, and suddenly, instead of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, you've got a fucking gargantuan pustule roaming your city and ruining your urban skyline and whatnot. Or similar.

**Curiously, it seems the first time I use either the Lancôme or the Bye Bye Blemish, I get pretty good results, but the SECOND time it's like my skin's all, "Yeah, yeah, been there, done that—you don't seriously expect this shit to work twice in a row, do ya?" So a second application the day after the first doesn't seem to do much, but if a week or so passes before the next application, it does. I think? GAH! OK, so spot treating proved slow going, but I had a couple of weapons in my arsenal, which was two more than I'd had to begin with. Still, it was a long, arduous war, and I hoped to shorten the time Frankie would occupy the battlefield. As it were.

I began to wonder if maybe it was time to retire the moisturizer I'd been using since my mid-30s. I mean, it was possible that my changing body chemistry no longer cottoned to it. In any event, it didn't really seem to do anything spectacular for me, so L8RZ. More research revealed that the argan oil to be found in Josie Maran products (among others) had proved beneficial to skin conditions for quite some time, and the reviews I read for the stuff on Sephora were very encouraging. I got a super small size of just the oil, which I tried with some trepidation, its positive reviews notwithstanding. I mean, I've got fair, dry, sensitive 43-year-old skin that freaks out when I try new things (so, I rarely try new things), and here I was, about to put OIL on it. Well, I tried it. No harm, no foul, and it actually made my face feel lovely. I found it a bit difficult to apply the oil, though, as no sooner did I drop a bit on my fingertips than it would slide down them and into the juncture of my fingers. Ick. So then I tried a cream-to-oil version, which had a light citrus scent (not my fave thing, but OK), proved easier for a klutz like me to apply, and also felt great. Both products did subtly improve the general condition of my skin but didn't make the zits go away. (Over the weeks I've been using the argan oil products, I have seen stuff slowly fading, which I attribute to the use of the oil, but still, it's very slow going indeed.) Regardless, I like these and plan to keep using them. (Also, running a bit of oil through my freshly washed/towel-dried hair's ends makes 'em look purty.)'s not what you're thinking. This one
really is for massaging one's face. Honest.
All this time, in the back of my tortured mind was the thought of investing in one of them electronic face brushes. Again, folks who used them and reviewed them online raved about how well the devices cleaned their faces and how many of the gals (and some guys) experienced far fewer breakouts since using them. I asked my boss, who's a year older than I am, if she knew anyone who used a facebrush and she told me that she did and also noticed a reduction in hormonal acne. Great! The recommendation of hundreds of strangers and one person actually known to me was encouraging. The price tag for the thing was not. Still, if I could just reduce the instances of breakouts, perhaps it'd be worth it. So I got me a Clarisonic Mia2 in a gorgeous purple color they call "Siren," 'cause that's just so TOTALLY me (the lighting in the pic doesn't do it justice, alas). Anyway, I sucked it up and coughed up the cash to buy it. Started using it just a week ago, so it's still too soon to tell if its efficacious as a preventive measure. But I live in hope.

So now I've got stuff to prevent, stuff to ameliorate the overall condition of my skin, and stuff to lay on the next zit that rears its ugly pus-filled head. Which, being that I'm due to get my period any day now, proved to be today. Excuse me while I head over to the bathroom with my Q-Tips and a bottle of pink silt.


  1. Sorry about your zit problem! I still get zits, but they've never phased me, oddly enough. Nevertheless, I can still relate to all the trying-and-failing when it comes to zit products, since my mom has made me use quite a few over the years. Definitely not fun. Hopefully the face brush works for you!

  2. But you haven't tried Windex? Seriously? I bet it would work. Hahahaha. I kid, I kid. I've never really had a problem, given that my skin's very similar to yours and I miraculously came through the whole menopause thingy with relatively few of the awful stuff that goes along with it. I'm focusing all my zit-zapping mojo on that frickin' Frankenzit and its progeny.

  3. ^^Windex!! HAHAHA!!!!^^

    In all serious though, zits? Not fun. I feel for you. I had them as a teen, still get the odd few now, and now that you've brought it to my attention, I dread to think what they'll be like for the big change. I tried all sorts as a kid but couldn't beat them so I have no miracle solutions to suggest. My only offering? Water. Drink plenty of water. I notice the difference in me when I up my hydration :)

  4. LOL At the Windex comment! So funny!!!! I have always had super oily skin so I never bothered to use moisturizer b/c it just compounded the problem. I stopped wearing makeup in my teens b/c it also exacerbated the acne. I finally noticed it clearing up in my late 20s and early 30s when I quit drinking Diet Coke. But I still have small breakouts every now and then.

  5. This made me laugh my flippin' head off.
    There's only one cure - A grande, reserve, Rioja. A litre a night. Then you won't give a flying fuck!

  6. The...ah... Clarisonic is apparently guaranteed to put colour in your cheeks, if you catch my drift... I've had spots from 12 to now and I've had your experience of something working once and the little buggers find a way around it, to come back with a vengeance. What works (sometimes) for me is Sudocrem, effectively a diaper cream made in Ireland and loved all over the UK for soothing baby bots. It works on other stuff, too, and somehow manages to calm down emerging zits overnight. Mostly.


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