After my first sleepover at my husband’s, I snuck into the bathroom, a Laura Mercier compact stashed in my hand, ready to conceal my spots. Then, it was inconceivable to me to bare my skin in front of someone I fancied. Scratch that – I wouldn’t go barefaced in front of anyone bar the very few who weren’t shocked that under my foundation lay scars and bumps and redness galore because of the acne that’s plagued my adult life.
I don’t use the word plagued lightly. Spots are more than an inconvenience, an issue that antibiotics or a cracking cleanser may clear. Spots – of all varieties be it deep, pulsating, painful ones, little red ones that gather heat, or just tiny blackheads populating a nose – often come with a side of shame, a hint of assumed culpability. I would feel the need to explain them, to apologise for their presence.
My job as a Beauty Editor only served to compound this embarrassment; I felt fraudulent to be doling out advice when covered in bumps and pits.
I had a eureka moment after seeing a facialist who didn’t ask me anything about the products I used – she asked me about my hormones, about my stress levels. She took me out of the equation, which, ironically, served to forge a better relationship between me and my skin; suddenly, it wasn’t my fault – it was the result of my PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) combined with a busy life.
Since then, I’ve come to regard my skin as an organ that is doing its very best under trying circumstances, not as some manifestation of some flaw in me.
As I type, my face is free of make-up. My husband is about to come home from work with two friends, and I fully intend to socialise nude of face, despite the three rather prominent spots on my chin. Those spots, they’re not me. I live under them.