The Tale Of The Burned Writer


My Bad is a series about beauty experiments gone wrong. Mistakes happen. This is where we share them.

A few years back, a skincare brand released a three-step “resurfacing system.” I am drawn to chemical exfoliants like Sarah Paulson is drawn to roles that require wigs. That plus, anything that promises in-office results from home triggers a deep curiosity in me, despite knowing they always underdeliver. The steps were as follows: an almond scrub, an acid peel, and a calming mask of no importance. I obtained the system and waited for a rainy Sunday to use it.

My first warning sign should have been the almond scrub. Please enjoy this excerpt from an earlier story to see why: “I know this is dramatic, but I have this irrational fear of routinely creating deep micro-tears, having them heal, and my skin inadvertently building up a thick layer of scar tissue. Someone in the comments would call me Keloid Boy. It would catch on and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in heavy prosthetic makeup, would be cast to play me in my made-for-TV biopic, The Keloid That Could.”

I still stand by that. But Or of yesteryear was a man of a weaker constitution.

So, I started with the scrub. It was gritty and jagged, as scrubs made with pulverized almonds tend to be. After rinsing, I followed up with the glycolic and lactic acid lemon peel. (As per the instructions!!!!) It was precisely as excruciating as you’d imagine. You know on the makeover episodes of America’s Next Top Model, where a contestant would be getting her hair bleached (to resemble Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, or something) and she’d be in tears from the pain? Then Jay Manuel would appear and explain that This Industry is All About Sacrifice. The model would then amass whatever scraps of dignity she had left and then pose as a hot dog. My suffering was comparable.

I applied the next layer. It was a neutralizing mask meant to comfort the skin. It stopped most of the stinging and smelled like porridge. I waited for the directed amount of time and rinsed. What was under the neutralized lemon acid and chamomile mask? Bright, infant skin? Nope! Just welts.

I spent the next four days with raised bumps across my cheeks, temples, and forehead—arguably my sexiest features. These bumps turned to scabs. You can expect that kind of downtime with more invasive procedures like lasers or vampire facials—treatments administered by medical professionals rather than a well-meaning bloke that eats cereal out of measuring cups. About a week later, the scabs chipped off to reveal the finished product. My skin was softer, sure, but it was also now covered in hyperpigmentation from all the scabs. All that for this? Mea culpa and never again.

—Or Gotham

Photo via ITG