This week's diary isn't really about acne . It's about something that (unless I'm really missing some elite miracle beauty secret), everyone experiences at some time or other. It's a phenomenon that, whilst tiny in relative physical size, can occupy a huge space in your life while it's in its ascendancy. And no, I'm not talking about the lunar eclipse, but something a little more mundane. This week's column is dedicated to The Spot.
I say dedicated - this particular spot has really rather violently forced its way into my life and my diary. So much so that it's occupied not only my face (a large area of my chin, to be precise), but my mind and most of my life for over a week now.
Here's a litmus test to know how bad your spot really is: comment to a friend or colleague about said spot. If it's of normal size, just an average spot, they'll politely say they can't see anything (they can, of course, but it's not terrible). If, however, they say "oh, yes, ouch!" (as I experienced this week), you have a monster on your hands. (Incidentally - this can also be applied to fashion choices. When a normally hugely complimentary friend recently gave me the changing room feedback of “this will add absolutely nothing to your wardrobe”, I knew it must have been a pretty dire potential purchase).
Anyway, this spot is a determined little (read: large) blighter. The sort of spot whose presence you can feel looming for several days, the ominous inevitability of its arrival prompting you to check your calendar to see which social events it’s going to interrupt, which meetings it will meddle in.
The Spot warned me of its imminent arrival by making my chin ache (presumably under the weight of supporting something quite so gargantuan), and itch, the body’s most frustrating form of self-torture. There’s nothing worse, of course, than knowing that by touching your skin you’re presumably going to hasten the arrival of The Spot / make it grow in size and stature, whilst having an unbearable, unignorable desire to aggressively scratch your face.
On the first day of its arrival, I handily forgot my foundation in my gym bag, so The Spot was out and about, for all the world to see, on a rainy Monday morning. This brings me to a crucial observation about truly enormous spots, though - I’m not sure how much better they look with foundation on - somehow it feels like you’re drawing attention to the darn thing by covering it up. When you’re makeup free, it’s extremely obvious to all that you have a huge spot on your face. They can take one look at you, observe the spot, take pity and try excruciatingly hard not to fixate on it while talking to you.
On day two, with no makeup on, The Spot was still evident (even my beloved new industrial strength stuff wasn’t enough to hide this particular blemish altogether), but transformed into some ambiguous facial feature, drawing people to stare harder and harder at my face so they could figure out quite what’s going on there.
This ambiguity can pose dangers - for you and for those around you. A highlight of The Week of the Spot was a delicious dinner out with the boy one evening at a favourite restaurant. There's nothing like a slap up three course meal and good bottle of red to take your mind off the dermatological Vesuvius erupting itself all over your chin.
But, unfortunately, The Spot was not going to go down without a fight. It seems that, disguised in foundation, The Spot looked a little more like a blob of food than an aggressive pimple.
After asking how our food was, the waitress looked at me and kindly, subtly, gave a little signal with her finger, pointing it towards her own chin quickly and elegantly, to point out that I had a little smidgen of food there. Excellent service for a waitress to offer you a welcome tip-off that even close friends are often too embarrassed to deliver. Only problem was, of course, that it wasn't a bit of food. It was The Spot. And the moment I realised what the waitress was actually pointing at, was the moment the waitress realised what the waitress was actually pointing at.
I am not sure whether I was more mortified that The Spot was so prominent as to be mistaken for an accidental food spillage that the waitress thought I would most likely want to remove immediately, or crushingly embarrassed on behalf of the waitress when she realised her mistake and silently debated whether to stay and dig her way out of it or hurry off to the kitchen. A slideshow of cringe-inducing social faux pas on my own part (is that lady I've just offered my seat to definitely pregnant? Did I just send that email about that person to that person?) flitted through my mind in sympathy.
So. The Spot. Ruined that waitress's evening as well as mine. Its reign of terror appears to be drawing to a close now, turned into more of a dot than a spot, gone from 3D to 2D, from garish red to mucky smudge.
I think in future, I might admit defeat faced with such a formidable adversary and forego the dubious (and dangerous) ambiguity of makeup in favour of an honest, straight-up spot amnesty. Certainly I've had to deal with far fewer of these break-outs since my acne treatment began, and I suspect that prevention is better than cure. Whenever I'm getting low on sleep and healthy food and high on stress and coffee, and forget about its likely effect on my skin, I'll remember the look in that poor waitress's eyes when she realised her mistake.