1. I wonder if these will be the trousers that change my life forever.

2. Why is it always so hot in here? Is it just the body heat generated by changing in and out of clothes, or have I accidentally signed up for, like… Bikram shopping?

3. These are probably not the trousers that will change my life forever.

4. I’ll stand on tiptoes though, just to be sure.

5. Nope.

6. Saved myself £24.99! I am a financial wizard. I’ll probably have a three-bedroom house by the time I’m 20.

7. Could I class changing in and out of clothes I definitely don’t want as ‘exercise’? It feels like cardio.

8. This mirror is probably wrong. I will open the curtain and look at the mirror in the cubicle opposite, just to be sure.

9. Mirrors should be banned.

10. Why can’t I get this thing off? Has it shrunk in the tropical humidity? Why don’t they realise that we’re never going to buy things if we feel like a puddle in a jumpsui– hang on, am I… stuck?

11. It’s fine, I’m not stuck. Deep breaths.

12. Was that a seam ripping? Ok, shallow breaths.

13. I’m stuck.

14. They will have to call firemen to cut me out. It’ll be in the newspaper. ‘LOCAL GIRL STUCK IN JUMPSUIT, LAUGHED AT BY ASSEMBLED CROWDS’.

15. Ok, if I just slightly dislocate my shoulder and do a kind of wiggly dance…

16. Free! I am free! Sweet freedom! I will never take my limbs for granted again.

17. Do I want to buy it though? Did it look sassy before I got stuck? I think it did. Maybe I should put it back on again.

18. This is fantastic lighting for squeezing spots. I should save them all up especially.

19. I wonder if anyone has ever died in here?

20. Tell you what’s still alive and well though – my KILLER sense of personal style.

21. If I just stayed very still and quiet, could I get locked into the shop and spend all night trying on the clothes?

22. But why would I want to do that, when this is such sweaty hell?

23. Films. It is because films make trying on clothes look like fun.

24. BUT WAIT, this isn’t a skirt at all! It’s a top!

25. It’s a nice top too. Imagine how good it would look if I wasn’t wearing it with emoji socks, pants and a hoodie tied round my waist instead of a skirt.

26. I think this might be the top that changes my life forever.

Image: Sisters

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.

1. “Why?”

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.

volcano

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…

scarf

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.

peace

See ya, tiny pal. So glad we had this chat.

@finney_clare

Picture the scene. You’ve woken up, looked in the mirror, and suddenly there’s a whole other head on your head. A power pimple. A zit that won’t quit.

In a perfect world, you would take a deep, calming breath and leave it alone to do its thing. “You be you, little spot!” you might say, then go off to keep those twitching fingers busy by doing something wholesome – your homework, maybe, or learning the clarinet. You would tell yourself what we all know: that squeezing a spot can just make it worse, and that you risk transferring bacteria from your fingers to your face every time you go in for a pop or a pick. In a perfect world, you would leave. It. Alone.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and in this world you’re obviously going to want to squeeze that spot silly.

So what are the rules? How can you tell if a pimple is ripe for the popping, or if you’re going to end up with a nasty old scar? When should you probably not squeeze and when should you definitely absolutely 100% not squeeze, for fear of going to school with a scab on your forehead so big that your teacher will stop in the middle of the register to ask if you’ve been in an accident*?

*True story.

Here are your golden rules.

Rule 1: colour

Look at the spot. Look harder. Can you see a light, yellowish head in the centre, or is the whole thing red and angry? If it’s the latter, fingers off. Red means inflammation, and inflammation means that your poor spot is grumpy enough without someone jabbing at it. Let it brew for a while longer – if it’s a seriously deep cyst, it might go away without ever becoming squeezable.

‘Whiteheads’, however, are the happiest poppers of the bunch, especially once the yellow or white patch is larger than the redness round the edge. They don’t make teeny tiny rulers to measure this though, so you’ll just have to judge it by eye. 

Rule 2: texture

If your spot looks stretched and shiny, like Bruce Willis’ head, then it probably isn’t ready for squeezing yet. Ideally you’re looking for a proper bulge, as though it might just burst of its own accord. And we know, we know – waiting for this stage takes the patience of a saint, not to mention walking round with a blossoming zit on your face. But as a wise person once said, good things come to those who wait. And squeezing that bad boy is going to be so good. 

Rule 3: equipment

You might think that fingers are the best (and only) tools for the job – after all, if we weren’t supposed to squeeze spots then why did we even evolve to have fingers? But your fingers have plenty of other jobs to keep them occupied and gather germs, whereas there are actually helpful implements designed just for pimple-popping, like this blackhead remover (£4) from The Body Shop. And if you’re sticking with the tools nature gave you, always wash your hands and/or wrap tissue round your fingers before going in. You’re not an animal.

Rule 4: method

Sure, you’re excited. And also you want to get it over with quick in case somebody walks into the loo, or the spot police leap out and arrest you. But before you and your eager digits leap right in there, stop to think about technique.

Be gentle and press down either side of the spot’s centre – down, not inwards – because this motion is best for forcing the pus up, up and away. Another reminder: be gentle. If it doesn’t swiftly erupt like a party popper then STEP AWAY. Occupy your hands. Go find a puppy to stroke. Play MarioKart. Knit a scarf.

Rule 5: aftercare

You might think your job is done and you and your newly hollow pore can skip off into the sunset, but nope – there’s homework. Firstly, stop squeezing as soon as all the white is out. DO NOT be tempted to keep digging for gold. Like that time you ruined your Dad’s prize begonias looking for pirate treasure as a kid, you won’t strike gold but you will end up with a big ol’ mess.

Secondly, once your session has finished, dab a little toner or antibacterial gel on the area (it might sting, brace yourself) and then smooth a bit of Vaseline, Sudocrem or another soothing balm or cream over it to help the healing process. Then, and only then, can you sit back and relive the memories of that glorious squeeze. Mmm.

Mmm.

If spots or acne are making life hard, get the full lowdown from the NHS here.