Between Soap and Seven Step Skin Care Systems

This and dozens of other essays are compiled in the book Between: Living Live in Neither Extreme. Check it out!

Here’s what gets my undies in a bunch:
1. Rigorous and elaborate and expensive skin care for women, but
2. Soap and water for men.

More out of laziness than as a gender politics statement, I use soap and water on my face, just like my mom does, and just like her mom did, and maybe just like her mom’s mom did, too, though she may have been too busy yelling at farmhands to fit in any hygiene. And the soap I use is the same soap that rests in our shower stall that is used for all 2000 body parts.

You know when you’re in the shower and random quotes from TV enter your mind? For me, it is always the episode of “Friends” when Joey said he used Chandler’s toothbrush because it was just like sharing soap. I can’t remember his toothbrush logic, but Joey argued that soap is “self-cleaning,” so it is totally fine to share. Then, Chandler asserted, he (Joey) should think about the last place he (Chandler) washes and the first place he (Joey) washes, and then say whether sharing hygiene products is a good idea.

The soap and water are now failing me, not because of the possible bottom-to-face shower soap flow chart, but probably because I did not inherit flawless skin from the maternal side of the family, and probably because the forties bring with them changes that are, at best, perplexing, and, at worst, annoying enough to make me write an entire blog post about them. And so, I have recently changed my facial skin care regimen to one that can actually be defined as a “regimen.” Here is the dialogue from my recent skin care shop conversation:

Me: I have recently developed adult acne, which is no fun because nobody likes to revisit their oily adolescent skin.
Skin care associate with lovely skin and makeup that almost covers up her lip cold sore (hereafter referred to as SCAWLSAMTACUHLCS): What is your current skin care regimen?
Me: Deoderant soap in the shower, water at night. I think that counts as a half-a-step regimen twice a day. I’m a simple gal. I cannot do many steps. If I do, I will bring up annoying Mary Kay and Clinique memories, and my usual traveling with only carry-on luggage will make face upkeep hard unless I buy leakproof 3 oz. travel containers, which, as far as I can tell, do not exist. This means my face cleanser will leak all over my contact lens solution. Whattya got for me?
SCAWLSAMTACUHLCS: Soap?! Do you know how bad that is, especially for oily skin? It strips away natural oils and makes your skin even more oily!
Me: That reminds me of homeopathic medicine, which also seems counterintuitive.
SCAWLSAMTACUHLCS: How about two steps, where one is in the shower? Can you do that?
Me: I will try.

I left the store forty dollars poorer, but now had two old-timey-looking tubes of white face goo to try.

I have tried this two-step twice-a-day regimen for a few weeks, and I see no difference.

Feeling exasperated and still oily, I ventured two days ago to a local big box store and found some inexpensive face wipes that smell like grapefruit and contain salicylic acid to remove oil. Within these two days I saw a difference, but I will say that the word “wipes” in our household has only ever been about a baby butt, so I have to get over that vocabulary hump. That is somehow harder than using a bar of soap that may or may not have just been used on my son’s bottom.

Anyway, my plan is to keep the expensive tubes for the morning and use grapefruit wipes at night, perhaps phasing out the expensive morning bit and replacing it with something 99 and 44/100 percent pure, like my Grandma used.

By the way, I’m guessing wipes will not count as a liquid or gel in my carry on.

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