November 30, 2006

My Skin: The Unravelling

one. ugly. monkey.
Originally uploaded by berbercarpet.

My skin history is a sordid one. I’ve always had flawless skin. So flawless in fact, that it wasn’t unheard of to have strangers come up to me to comment how good my skin was. Fair. Rosy. Smooth. Not a zit in sight. And even when I did have an occasional zit, it was small, insignificant and fleeting.

And then my epidermis bliss ended. I turned 25. I started this new job. And I got a zit. And another. And another … and another … I started to really panic when I noticed a sinister pattern to my zits: (1) they didn’t dry up and go away after their customary three days, (2) they travelled in groups and (3) they started to hurt.

Now, you have to understand that this was tantamount to a Code Red situation for me. I am, to put it mildly, a shamelessly vain person. Looking good and having people look at me looking good are very important aspects of my life. True, I’m smart and funny and can pronounce really difficult words like ‘phantasmagorical’ effortlessly but suddenly, all these qualities don’t matter anymore because I had ZITS.


Suddenly I was on the other side of the fence. The ugly side. The side that dreads looking into the mirror at your own reflection; the side where washing your face is not unlike running your fingers over a reflexology mat; the side where you wait with trepidation for the next person who comes up to you to say, “What happened to your face?!”; the side that envies all the people on the other side … “Why god, why?!”

Of course, I did what every desperate, newly ugly girl would do: sign up for a bunch of facials and purchased an entire range of must-have of skincare products (makeup remover, gel cleanser, clay cleanser, toner, essential oils, booster, serum, moisturiser, sunscreen, the whole works).


I can sum up my whole facial experience in two words: very expensive and very, very painful. Okay, those were six words. And goddamn, were they expensive (and painful). It was two hundred bucks per session and they went by packages which simply meant that you had to buy something like half a dozen sessions at once. And they were heinously painful. I swear, they can abolish the death penalty and just sentence convicted serial killers to a lifetime of facials. That’ll teach ‘em to kill, steal and destroy.

Facials are very traumatic experiences. Not only do they hurt like hell, you come out each session looking like mini volcanoes had taken up residence on your war-torn visage and had erupted one after another. It’s vicious. Red. Bloody. Poked. Prodded. Destroyed, absolutely destroyed.

But I went back again and again and again. Partly because I’d paid for the thing, but also because – miracle or miracles – they worked.

I went for facials for two to three years. My skin got better, then worse, then back to normal, then slightly better … it was a roller-coaster ... and then, the facials just stopped working. And after a while (and lost of money flushed down the toilet), I just got sick and tired of the whole routine. I wondered why I was putting myself through such physical agony when my skin wasn’t even getting better. I mean, it’s one thing to suffer and get better in the end but when you suffer and still keep on getting worse, I mean, that’s just plain freaking dumb. So I decided to stop.


I went to see a dermatologist. The real kind. At a real hospital. He had a Dr. in front of his name so I figured he must’ve gone to university and all that. Maybe he could put an end to my misery. He did. For a couple of years anyway. The antibiotics worked wonderfully and I could go back to worrying about more important things like what clothes to wear, how to colour my hair and which lip gloss to buy. My skin was finally behaving itself. I loved it.

But alas, good things always come to an end, don’t they? And they recently did. A couple of months ago, my forehead started acting up. You know that familiar sense of dread you get when you suddenly feel a little bump on your face after months of clear skin? Yes, that’s the one. And they starting popping back up, like mushrooms after the rain. All over my forehead. Pop pop pop.

I went back to the good Doctor and whined to him about my skin. I can’t remember what I said exactly but I’m sure I uttered the phrase, “Oh god, please do something before I stab myself in the stomach with a wide-tooth comb.” And that’s when I first heard about Accutane.

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