Before I moved to Utah at the age of 18 I had not ever used moisturizer on my face, and not just because I didn’t know any better. The humidity in the South where I was born and raised acted as a built-in moisturizer, and by my mid-morning algebra class in high school I had enough oil on my forehead that I could squeeze it off and use it to fry an entire chicken for lunch.
But then I left for college, and the air here is almost indescribably different than it is in Tennessee. I remember freaking out about the change in my skin, and within a week of living in Utah my hands were so dry that my knuckles started to bleed. My face was a mess of peeling skin, and not knowing what to do I called my mother, a very successful manager in Avon, and asked her to send me some lotion. And that’s what she sent me, lotion. For the body. And I put it all over my face. Afterward I looked like I had instead stuck my head inside the mouth of a genital wart.
My roommates eventually took pity on me and introduced me to moisturizer, one that wouldn’t cause massive, pepperoni-sized acne, but no one ever thought to tell me to stop using bar soap to clean my face. And up until a few weeks ago, that is what I have been using every morning and night. Bar soap. On my face. And have wondered ignorantly why people often think that I am older than my husband who was born ten years before I was. Which is surely a combination of things: the bar soap, the years of unrepentant sun-bathing, the way I chase the neighbor’s cat off the porch with a ladle.
A few weeks ago I noticed a bulk, two-container package of Cetaphil while shopping at Costco, and suddenly every mention of Cetaphil I have read in women’s magazines for the last ten years started flashing in my brain. I remembered seeing a poster for Cetaphil on the wall at my dermatologist’s office, and because I could get so much of it for so little money I threw it in the basket and thought I’d give it a try. And holy cheese fries, is it ever making a difference! My face! It no longer has the texture of an elephant buttock!
Except. One thing. And I wonder if any of you who currently use Cetaphil to clean your face know exactly what I’m about to say. I almost want to warn my dad right now to stop reading because this may just alter our relationship forever, may put me at the bottom of his will where it says: SHE GETS THE HEDGE CLIPPERS.
That one thing? Cetaphil looks and feels like semen.
The two have an identical consistency, all milky and viscous. And every time I’m washing my face, rubbing it across my cheeks, my eyes closed, I feel like I’m doing something very inappropriate.