Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh So Pretty

I've had a lot of good fortune in the genetic lottery. I got my Dad's height and knack for not gaining weight easily (largely because I'm lacking a sweet tooth). I've got intelligence from both sides. Aside from missing out on my Mom's boob gene, I've done well. And, during my teenage years, I hardly had acne.

I was one of those lucky teenagers. While everyone around me poured everything short of turpentine on their faces in an attempt to stop the dread red bumps, I bemoaned the occasional behemoth zit that would erupt on my nose. But once I knocked it down with some mild face cleanser, my skin was back to normal.

While most of my peers have seen their acne abate, mine has gotten worse. When I started my job out of college, my skin flared up. I don't know whether it was the new sedentary lifestyle, my poor food choices, or just the stress of paying the bills on my own that did it, but I had acne to beat the band at twenty-two. Along the sides of my face, on my chin, just about everywhere. The pimples were bad enough, but my skin is nearly translucent, so they'd leave scars once they went away. To this day, I have scars on the sides of my face from pimples I had four years ago.

Recently, I've started breaking out on my chin. I try to remind myself to not sit like the Thinker, to wash my face thoroughly twice a day, and to wash my hands often to keep rouge bacteria off my face when I inevitably end up sitting with my chin in my hand. It was not fun to go on job interviews with my face all broken out. While I was home with my Mom, we watched a Proactiv presentation on TV. I will follow Kelly Clarkson to the ends of the earth, such is the power of my love, but watching "normal" people talk about how their acne and acne scars cleared up almost convinced me. My Mom, who is in her fifties (er, 30s?) still breaks out, and we both thought about ordering a trial kit, but didn't.

The Easter bunny apparently heard my plea, as I found a small travel kit of Proactiv on my dining room table. Since a zit had cropped up on my chin sometime on Saturday, I gave it a whirl. I washed my face with the cleanser. It stung a little, but I figured that was the medicine doing its work. I used the toner, the moisturizer, and went to Easter dinner. When I got back to Boston, I did the routine again. The face wash felt like liquid sandpaper entering my pores. I noticed my face was becoming rough and bumpy, especially on my cheeks. My zit had gone down remarkably fast but the rest of my face looked unusually ruddy.

The next morning, my face was still red and rough. I used my normal Neutrogena face wash and combined it with the Proactiv toner and my regular day moisturizer (with SPF 15 to keep me looking young). All day, my face wash flushed and red like I had a fever. I haven't used any of the Proactiv stuff since Monday night and my skin's texture is still off and my face is a little redder than usual. But, on the plus side, my acne scars did go down a little.

I think once my skin returns to its regular state, I may try the toner on its own to see what happens. I had a roommate who had the Proactiv mask which I used without incident, but that was back in my acne-riddled days. And I'll probably keep the small vials of liquid sandpaper around in case I have a troublesome spot again. But for my sensitive skincare buck, I'm sticking with Neutrogena.

Tomorrow, I'll review my tampon preferences in excruciating detail. (No, not really. Come back!)

2 comments:

btichinmona@bitchinmona.com said...

I have followed the same pattern, skin-wise. My mom always thought my acne was much more problematic than it was, and I attribute that chiefly to her utter lack of exposure to unfortunate teens who had such problems with it that they went through days resembling burn victims. (That, and as a teacher to 4- and 5-year-old kids, she was seeing pristine skin on a daily basis.) When I would have a break-out, she'd comment that it looked 'angry' or if, God forbid, it was located in the crease at the side of my nose, she'd dub it a "whore bump". I'm not making that up, sadly.

My early 20s continued the trend of nearly blemis-free skin, aside from the occasional unfortunate 'chin gremlin', but I've noticed lately that I'm getting more than I thought I should be at my ripe old age. Along the jaw line, I'm getting tiny bumps. I'm getting dryness under my eyes (and some tiny pimples occasionally), and frequently, my chin and nose gets unflatteringly spotted.

For a while, I tried everything - gentle, harsh, expensive, cheap, natural, chemical - and things would work for one thing but not for another. What's finally worked for me (mostly): Absolutely NOTHING.

That's right. I never wash my face. Ever. In the shower, I don't pay any special attention to my face. Other than what cascades from the shower head down my forehead, the only thing that goes onto my face is the occasional moisturizer (which is, actually, the CVS-brand sensitive formula with the silver cap).

I've taken to making sure to swab down the phone at work (as well as my cell phone) with an alcohol wipe about once weekly. That's it. Most of the problems have disappeared.

That's not to say that there's not the occasional rogue agent popping up along the Nostril Valley perimiter, but for the most part, things seem to be in check.

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