Here's a test to see if you have oily skin: Wash your face with soapy water, then an hour later blot it with a paper towel. If you don't see any traces of oil, you have normal skin. If you see small spots, your skin is oily.
I do this and it looks like I've been draining bacon.
My skin's always been lousy, prompting nothing but lies from my parents. It's a phase, they said. It’ll calm down with time. I guess I should have been suspicious, because they also said "One day you'll be glad you saved your virtue!" and "Everybody loves guys who play the banjo!" Now that I'm nearly middle-aged, though, I've got zits popping up inside of wrinkles. I'd think about getting a face lift but worried what would happen when the doctor pulled. It'd look like thousands of little champagne bottles popping open, like a tiny QE II was pulling out of port.
Needless to say, everybody born with good skin has advice. Some of them tell me to wash more, like that never occurred to me. Like I started rubbing myself with isopropyl alcohol and Clearasil and Chevron with Techron before actually considering soap. Soap didn’t work. It just provided a nice, clean environment where the zits could flourish.
When I tell them soap doesn't help, they accuse me of overwashing. Yeah, that’s a nice change of pace. That’s like what gardeners tell you when your plants die: “What an idiot you are!” they say. “You’re obviously giving them too much or too little water. You need to start watering them either more or less or they're all going to die!”
This makes me want to get involved in these people’s lives. I’d go over to their houses while they’re cooking, and taste the food. “Eww,” I’d choke. “This pot roast is horrible. It needs either more or less salt.” My mouth would drop open when they tried on new clothes. “That makes you look absolutely gorgeous,” I’d gush. "Or like the hooker in an old Fellini film.” I’d lure them into bed, then lay there appalled. “Sorry,” I’d say when they asked what was wrong. “You’re either painfully slow or waaay too fast.”
The problem with overwashing, supposedly, is that it irritates the skin. But, you know, it’s already breaking out. What else is it going to do -- call a lawyer? I tried to be nice. I pampered it. I gently buffed it, lightly bathed it with hypoallergenic lotions. Now I’m far beyond that: I’m sleeping with Stridex pads taped to my face. I’m scrubbing every hour with a paste made from kerosene and ground Swedish furniture, and hoping that eventually the pain will make those little oil factories in my skin scream “OKAY! OKAY! We’ll STOP!”
There’s exactly one piece of advice that’s helped, and that’s to drink more water. For six years I've been guzzling eight glasses a day. I'm getting just as many zits as ever, but since I'm in the bathroom all day long I get to watch them from the minute they’re born.
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