About six years ago I received in the mail a small tub of NeoStrata AHA cream with 10% glycolic acid. It was sent to me by a friend who had tried it to cure her acne with no success. To my surprise, shortly after I started using it, my skin cleared up. The clogged pores that made my forehead into a shiny billboard of braille nonsense disappeared, along with the pimples which had been with me since high school. I never had terrible acne, but I always had one or two or three pimples on the go at a time, and I always made it worse by picking. Pick pick pick.
But once I started using the new cream, for the first time in my adult life I had clear, smooth almost-alabaster skin. It's a small thing and I feel like I shouldn't be so vain about it, but it was nice to walk around and not be self-conscious about my skin. Before the acne went away I thought I would feel prettier if I didn't have these spots, and as it turns out, I was right. I felt prettier and more confident.
So every time I ran out of the glycolic acid cream I went for a few days without it, just to make sure that I wasn't wasting my money, and sure enough within a couple of days the clogged pores would pop up on my forehead, a sure harbinger, I thought, of the pimples to come. So off to the store I would go to spend another $35 on the magic cream.
But now the pimples are back, just like before. I have a scar on my chin where I picked one last week, I have a scab on my forehead and another at my hairline, and I have a new pimple brewing on the other side of my chin. Exactly the same as before: same kind of pimples, same places. My skin is doing the time warp. I actually wore makeup the other day. I never wear makeup!
So what changed, I asked myself. I am using exactly the same beauty routine as I was three months ago: plain soap and the glycolic acid stuff. What changed?
Then I realized: Cordelia stopped nursing. Yeah. I started using the glycolic acid cream when I was a few months pregnant. Then I had Delphine, then I nursed her, then I got pregnant with Cordelia (without giving up nursing), had her and nursed her, until a couple of months ago. And then the acne came back. But not the clogged pores! Apparently the cream cured them but wasn't actually having an effect on the acne.
It's almost funny (haw haw) how much time and money and grief I spent between the ages of thirteen and twenty-seven, trying to get rid of these pimples. All I needed to do was get knocked up! Ha!
So next time I go see the doctor I will ask her about trying one of those birth control pills which cure acne as a "side effect". Since pregnancy cured it, perhaps something which feigns pregnancy will have the same effect! We'll see. In the meantime I will try and stop picking.