by Tavis Gray
I didn’t start regularly washing my face until college. Somehow I’d missed the teen-memo or health class or parent-led tutorial that teaches young boys that the face deserves just as much hygienic care as the rest of you. And I don’t think this was just true of my taking-care-of-your-countenance education either. As it seems, boys are more likely to be directed towards clouds of body spray than some basic education in dermo TLC. Por ejemplo, I spent most of my acne-clad years without the basic knowledge to battle a blemish. And though my situation was never dire, even a scattering of pimples can feel like the end of the world when you’re sixteen and shallow as a puddle. To make matters worse, I spent most of my nights at swim practice in a hyper-chlorinated pool, my poor skin screaming as it dried to a chemical crisp. I wouldn’t even find out about moisturizer until 2013. The whole scene was tragic.
I credit my sister with introducing me to my first lesson in face care—even if it ended without changes made. We grew up sharing a bathroom and I claimed no shame in sampling every one of her thousand shower-products because I am both a thief and innately curious. So it was with little fanfare or surprise when I reached for a face scrub one day. I rubbed it around my face and was shocked by whatever masochistic ritual with which my sister had involved herself. I put the scrub down and sang poorly to the tunes of our in-bathroom boombox, hoping the pain in my face would soon subside if only I were so Lucky.
Years later and it’s my freshman year at UGA. My friends are talking about their face care routines. I boast about how washing my face just isn’t something I do, pores oily and enflamed. Someone points out that I look tired. Have I been feeling well? I’m suddenly more self-conscious than I’ve ever been. How am I just now noticing that the bags under my eyes could hold several weeks worth of groceries? My forehead is dotted with blackheads. My nose—my nose is one giant volcano. I panic and buy a bottle of Clean&Clear at Kroger, rushing back to my dorm like a mall rat late for a sale. I splash that sweet soap on my moneymaker and don’t look back.
Washing my face becomes a regular part of my day. Things clear up. My mood is better because people stop saying I look sick. Everything’s good.
Then I move to Los Angeles and everything goes to shit. The entire population looks five minutes post-womb. My skin is suddenly ancient and red in comparison—a dwarfed star, soon to expire. I assume the youthful glow that everyone and their should-be-corpsed-out grandma has must “be in the water” and begin to drink copious amounts from the tap. This just causes me to pee more. Also, I “suffer” the worst breakout I’ve ever had.
I decide to do some research. A fun perk about gender equality? Now it’s okay for everyone to aspire to his or her most beautiful. My resources expand from the narrow straits of Men’s Health and GQ to the realm of secrets known as “beauty blogs.” And let me tell ya—that trove is full of treasure. Below is what I found that cost me less than thirty dollars but makes me feel like a million:
· Clean&Clear Morning Refresh Facial Cleanser
I use this in the shower every morning because I follow rules like a prisoner hoping for early release. I actually have the off-brand version because it’s half the price and does the same business. Wakes me up and make me feel NICE. (Have also heard Cetaphil is great, but I’m cheaper than your dad).
· Blackhead Eliminating Scrub with CHARCOAL
This one may surprise you due to my stated feelings on hateful scrubs. But as weird as it sounds to clean your face with dirt, charcoal apparently does the same job that a typical abrasive scrub would do, but without the hurt and the redness. The first time I used this I texted my sister in all caps “I FEEL LIKE A BABY ANGEL.” Stands true on continual use too.
· Garnier Moisture Rescue Gel Cream
AKA one of the reasons I believe in magic. My mom showed me this when I expressed concern about being on camera for News to Me. It makes my skin look like I peeled it off a movie star and took it as my own. Please do not ask me to confirm or deny this. But do ask your moms for their secrets!
· Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner
The skin care product to end all gender disparity. I use this with a cotton pad to clean my face before I go to bed because there is nothing less appealing than a washcloth at midnight. Also it makes me smell like a grandmother, which is a major perk.
That’s it. Four basic and simple ~products~ that have changed my face and my life. These work for me, but maybe they won’t for you! I have no idea. I’m not a guru and can only do simple math. But I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to go out in search of things and routines that will make your face feel better to live in. Look at me! Now I can venture out into the mean streets of Hollywood, ready to visit many a coffee shop and gas station without fear of socially constructed ideals of natural beauty hovering about my noggin. Jokes aside, I genuinely do feel my best when my face is at its best. Bad skin eliminated, I’m ready to take on the world. Now will somebody give me a world to conquer?