Oh, spots. You enigmas.
We can squeeze you, prod you and ignore you – but we just wish we could understand you. If we could only sit down for a good heart-to-heart, here are a few of the burning questions we might ask.
The first word that springs to mind the moment you catch sight of the monster staring belligerently at you in the mirror. Just why, you ask desperately – and for a while, this bleak three-lettered word is really all you can think. Facts about sebaceous glands, stress and hormones can’t reason with it.
But eventually the blind panic subsides into more nuanced questions like…
2. “Why me?”
It’s hard to answer. Spots are caused by all sorts of complex reasons – see above – but if there’s one thing we can assure you of, it is not because the universe hates you. It seems that way right now, but this has everything to do with chemicals that everyone has – and nothing whatsoever to do with you personally.
Pimples (a slightly more technical term for the little terrors) appear when oil-producing glands become clogged and infected. This could be hormones causing you to produce more oil; it could because your fingers or a hat or scarf you’ve been wearing has been irritating your face. It’s unlikely to be a product – most are tested for that these days – and probably not your diet either, whatever certain people in your family and friendship circles might tell you.
3. “Why now?”
Because, hormones. They’ve the starring roles in the film Period – and if you’re feeling them, chances are it’s heading to a cinema near you shortly. Testosterone levels are generally higher in puberty, and as that’s believed to increase oil production, it means you could get spots any time. Rest assured this has nothing to do with the fact you’ve a date tomorrow night, and it doesn’t mean said date is automatically doomed either.
4. “Are you as obvious to other people as you are in my head?”
Is Vesuvius erupting on your forehead? Is there real lava and people running away you screaming? Then no, he (spots are always he) isn’t.
Other people probably haven’t even noticed it. But that won’t stop you capturing every conceivable angle another human could see your face at in the mirror and on your phone camera, and begging friends, “but what about the south south west-facing aspect of my chin??”, of course.
5. “When will you make for good pick?”
Officially, of course, the answer to this is ‘never’. But we know that no sooner has the offending spot appeared than you are assessing his fitness for picking: prodding and stroking, dreaming of past victories, and comparing their colour and feel. Weirdly – grossly – it’s actually a very similar process to that of feeling if a fruit is ripe: you will know innately when the moment comes. The challenge is holding off until it then. Strike too soon, and you’ll blow your chances of great picking for good.
6. “Why did you pretend to be ready when you weren’t?”
He looked so promising and pickable! Now he’s just a messy, painful blob. Ow. Liar.
7. “Can I hide you?”
The sensible seventh question one can only arrive at having wailed one’s way through the first six – to which the answer is that it varies according to the spot you have. If you leave him bare, he will heal quicker – but provided the spot is not, in the least gross possible way, leaking, then if you want to cover up with some concealer (or a big scarf) go for it. Just ensure you choose your product wisely…
8. “Why the hell won’t you just stay covered?”
In short, not all concealers are born equal. Indeed, some are so ineffective they succeed in creating more of a blemish than the one they’re supposed to be concealing: all too vividly do I remember one teacher telling me that I had “a splodge of mud, dear, on the centre of your chin.”
So do your research: ask friends, family, magazines, the woman at the make up counter, what they recommend for your blemishes. You’ll cut not just the amount of time you have a spot, but the amount you spend checking, and thinking about checking, and – after you have checked – obsessing about the way the spot is blooming though your cloudy concealer like a full moon.
9. “How long are you here for?”
You beg to know, every single time you meet it in the mirror. There is no clear answer, but one’s thing for certain: the longer you pick, prod and fill him with rubbish concealer, the longer you’ll be having this conversation. Like so many bullies, the best way to deal with a spot is to not engage.
10. “Is this it for the rest of my life?”
Now for the good news. Though you will probably run into the odd one from time to time, once puberty’s done and dusted the most offending spots will plague your younger siblings (who’s laughing now, brother?) and leave your skin in peace.
See ya, tiny pal. So glad we had this chat.