“Have you tried spot cream?” Obviously, Janice. Obviously. Bea Windsor on a day in the life of the acne afflicted.
Trigger warning: do not read if you have an aversion to me talking about my spots in detail for a couple of hundred words. I understand that this will be most people.
6:00am: I wake up. My face hurts.
6:30am: I look in a mirror. Crikey. A scene I can only liken to the surface of Mars. But what’s this – signs of life? An angry growth protrudes from my face. I inspect it in the mirror. He boldly returns my stare. The insolence. His white head is like a snowy tipped mountain peak. It reifies his definite and inconvenient existence.
6:31am: I should just ignore him and get on with my day.
6:32am: …Or I could squeeze him.
6:35am: Yeah, I’m going to squeeze him. Really show him who’s boss.
6: 45am: I look my nemesis in the eye, he taunts me with its angry white little head. ‘Today, you meet your maker.’ My fingers close in on the patch of skin upon which he has situated himself. He is more stubborn than I had imagined, he won’t budge. He is making a mockery of me. I shall have to arm myself if I am to win this fight.
6:50am: I take up my weapon of choice: the tweezer.
6:55am: An eruption that makes Mount Vesuvius look like a pot of spaghetti boiling over. It is gloriously disgusting. This will probably be the highlight of my day.
6:56am: A moment to calm down after this excitement.
6:57am: ‘People with clear skin will never know the unadulterated joy of popping a spot, the poor sods’, I muse. ‘Moments like this really do make it all worth it,’ I grin as I dab the spot, now trickling with blood.
7:20 Exhausted after this battle with my own face, I seek to revive myself with a coffee. Better resist milk, apparently dairy can trigger acne.
7:22am: Soya milk is 50p extra. I decide against it.
7:52: I have foregone breakfast and had no time to put any makeup on. My squeezing session has disrupted my morning schedule. I will have to make my face up the train. As you might imagine, this is a traumatic process for me and everyone else rammed into the confines of the 7:52am to Marylebone.
8:00: I sheepishly unzip my makeup bag. The noise of the zip prompts sighs of discomfort from those around me who sense an ordeal is about to commence. I am unsure, however, which is more upsetting for the public: being pressed up against my bare, angry face, or becoming embroiled in my makeover process.
8:05am: The train swerves. Everyone watches aghast as my foundation brush is launched from my hand into the air. As all eyes follow its skyward trajectory, we are all thinking one thing: ‘what goes up must come down.’ Gravity does not fail us today. The missile lands in the lap of the gentleman beside me, leaving a faint tan colour smudge on his suit. I apologise profusely. Instead of reassuring me with an ‘it’s ok’ or ‘don’t worry about it’, I am offered only a gesture of the hand. It’s the sort that a traffic conductor uses to signal STOP.
8:12am: The atmosphere becomes very tense as I set my face with powder. Those in my direct vicinity find themselves dusted in a thin layer of precipitate that glimmers in the early morning sun.
8:30am: Those around me receive a mini, unwanted, chemical-infused shower as I spritz my makeup setting spray. The tension in the carriage is palpable.
8:32am: My transformation is complete. The seething hatred of the commuter group subsides into a quiet appreciation of my masterpiece. The moment is reminiscent of that iconic makeover reveal in The Princess Diaries. I hear someone whisper Paolo’s immortal words ‘I give you…a princess.’
8:40am: I remember that I have a big presentation at work. It looks like a key theme of my day will be stress-inducing situations with motifs of fluster and embarrassment.
11:00am: The pre-presentation anxiety sets in. As a recent graduate, I am already one of the youngest in the office and I fear that with these spots I will be confused for someone on their year 11 work experience week.
11:30am: The meeting breaks for coffee. I excuse myself to the toilet. Washing my hands, I admire the semi-professional makeup job that I pulled off on the train. ‘Should I start making Youtube tutorials?’ I ask myself, when I notice a new blemish protruding from beneath lashings of the thickest foundation. Despite my efforts, he found a way.
11:32am: ‘What to do? You shouldn’t squeeze it. Not now…’
11:33:am: I squeeze it.
11:35am: Oh crumbs, its bleeding. I timidly slide back into the meeting, covering the oozing site with my hand. I will not be making any further contributions.
11:40am: I am asked a question. The whole room turns to look at me. The general gaze drifts from me to my spot. An unspoken exchange lingers in the air. Everyone in the room silently lets me know, ‘We know what you’ve done. You popped it. And we think its revolting’. With shame in my eyes, I return a look that says, ‘I know. I did. I am.’
13:00pm: Lunch. Perhaps my skin problems are a result of poor diet. I could start eating healthily for a while and see what happens. Pouring the remnants of a bag of crisps into my mouth, I revel in this fleeting moment of solace amid an otherwise grey day of drudgery. I swear never again to deny myself the pleasures of Walker’s Salt & Vinegar.
17:30pm: After a day which I would characterise as taxing at best, I decide to reward myself with a beverage.
18:00pm: I select my tipple of choice from the nearest off license and go to pay. Of course, I am asked for ID, with my bad skin making me look like a hormonal teenager, rather than a hormonal twenty-two-year-old.
18:01pm: I sigh loudly at this inconvenience, muttering, ‘Seriously? I’m 22’. The cashier retorts, ‘You look no older than fifteen.’ I am outraged. ‘I’ll show you’, I think, thrusting my provisional driver’s license in his face.
20:00pm: I meet some friends at the pub. The conversation turns to my skin issues. Little did I know, there was a pioneer in my midst: ‘Have you tried cleansing?’ Another, evidently a qualified dermatologist, ‘Have you used a spot cream?’ What are these new therapies they speak of? Until now, my skin care routine has been me rubbing a block of lard against my face and hoping for the best. I say, ‘Oh cool, I’ll try it’, preventing my eyes from rolling back into my head. I think of the many skin treatments I have tried over the years – raw egg features. There isn’t much I haven’t tried.
23:00pm: Better hit the hay.
23:15pm: Time for a quick Web MD and chill. Let’s see which suspect remedies the internet will proffer for my skin issues today.
23:20pm: I enter detailed descriptions of my symptoms. According to Web MD, I have leprosy. Oh cool.
Illustration: Mariel Abbene
Follow Bea on Twitter: @bearosewindsor