Things That Were Supposed to Cure My Acne and What They Actually Did – The New Yorker

By | November 27, 2019

The cure: Tea-tree-oil spot treatment
The result: No noticeable difference except that the scent seemed to trigger my roommate Beth’s chronic migraines. In our two years of living together, I’ve never seen her puke with that kind of trajectory.

The cure: Coconut oil as moisturizer
The result: Horrible rash. I had to use the last of Beth’s Benadryl lotion, which I forgot to replace. I did eventually remember that I forgot to replace it, when Beth went hiking with her new boyfriend, Carlos, and came back with poison oak. They broke up the next day (but I’m pretty sure it was unrelated to the poison-oak thing).

The cure: The Proactiv 3-Step System
The result: Somehow, using Proactiv on my face led to all of Beth’s clothes getting bleached in the wash. I told her the neon-orange splotches gave her bland power suits a little pizzazz, but she said that your clothes aren’t supposed to have pizzazz when you’re a corporate attorney for a medical-supply company. I reminded her that things could always be worse. For example, she could have dry, patchy skin, like I now do. Thanks for literally nothing, Proactiv!

The cure: Going on birth control
The result: My face erupted in cystic acne, and everything made me cry—even the most mundane entries from Beth’s diary. (Side note: Beth and Carlos did break up because of the poison oak.)

The cure: Adopting a vegan diet
The result: I started sleepwalking in search of beef. I’d head straight to the fridge and take out all the ingredients for one of Beth’s Blue Apron meals, then follow the recipe flawlessly. I never actually ate any of it, because I’m true to my convictions, even while unconscious. I’d just leave the food out to spoil and get back into bed. My skin stayed the same. Beth lost ten pounds and has honestly become a bit hostile.

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The cure: Apple-cider vinegar as toner
The result: This gave me chemical burns that quickly turned into a full-blown skin infection. Soon after, Beth started having night terrors about what she called my “oozing face meat.” Every night, when I heard her screams, I’d come charging down the hallway to calm her by aggressively shaking her awake. I think it helped a lot, even if her screams always got louder when she saw me with my face covered in layers of ointment and gauze.

The cure: Granulated sugar as exfoliant
The result: I guess I didn’t do a great job of cleaning up after this one, because our bathroom sink is now a mosh pit of angry ants. Beth has never been meaner. She was, like, “Are you going to clean this up at some point?” And I was, like, “WHY ARE YOU LASHING OUT AT ME?” I think it’s obvious whom she’s really mad at here. (It’s Carlos.)

The cure: Dating someone with worse skin than me
The result: This helped more than anything, at first. Evan had twice as many zits as me, and he was wildly jealous of my superior complexion. My confidence was off the charts. Unfortunately, Evan turned out to be a legit burglar. He didn’t steal anything from me, thank God. Just from Beth. But I really miss her flat-screen TV. And her MacBook Pro. And her grandmother’s heirloom pendant, which she’d never explicitly said I could borrow, but I think it was implied.

The cure: Overnight slug-slime mask
The result: I’ll never know. The slugs escaped.

The cure: Seeing a dermatologist
The result: Dr. Reeves thought my acne was stress-related and suggested I try meditating. Of course, neither Dr. Reeves nor I could have predicted that my new daily practice would lead to a four-alarm incense fire in Beth’s walk-in closet (A.K.A. my meditation nook). When Beth got home and took in the scene, she let out a shrill, animalistic scream. She must have been so relieved that I was O.K.

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The cure: Finding my own apartment
The result: Beth kicked me out, for reasons we may never know. But it was all for the best. My skin looks so much better now that all the ant bites have healed.

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