Friday, August 17, 2012
"Do you, like, not wash your face? Is it not in your culture?" asked a friend who turned out not to be a friend by eighth grade. She undoubtedly thought I was a peasant straight off the rice paddies of China. (But yeah, "friend"-from-fourth-grade, Chinese people do wash their faces. Who do you think we are? French aristocracy from the 18th century?). I walked around the playground with my hand covering my face in shame. At that point, I would have rather Voldemort branded me with the Dark Mark on my forehead than grow a pimple on my face.
I've been to multiple dermatologists, some of whom tricked me into expensive and useless light treatments. My current dermatologist is awesome and way more glamorous than me. Yesterday, she wore hot pink Manolo Blahnik open-toe stilettos. She is also Asian, is way older than me, and has way better legs than me. My first dermatologist was a guy with really hairy arms and grey chest hair that looked like fur sticking out of his shirt. He was useless and kind of gross. Wouldn't you rather trust a dermatologist in Manolo Blahniks anyway?
Anyway, while I was studying abroad in Paris for the past seven months, I picked up a couple tubes of Avibon vitamin A pommade from la pharmacie. French pharmacies are unbelievably chic. In America, people go to Duane Reade and CVS for a bag of Doritos and a bottle of Herbal Essences shampoo. In France, people go to the pharmacy for amazing -- and affordable -- products that you'd find in specialty stores elsewhere. I had read about Avibon via GOOP, and because I love Gwyneth Paltrow and have even once tasted the CLEAN cleansing program she's crazy for (I felt like I was drinking sandpaper but if Gwynnie swears by it and looks the way that she does, who am I to judge?), I had to try it.
Avibon looks like Vaseline but smells like a bouquet of roses. Vitamin A, as you may know is retinoic acid, which is used for anti-aging, fighting wrinkles, erasing scars, and clearing acne. The only ingredients are lanolin, which is why it's moisturizing and not drying like most retinol creams, and vitamin A. You should smear it all over your face before bed, which makes you look like a yellow Martian. It's not really attractive, but I am a big fan of looking ugly at home when no one can see you. It makes going out into public a more dramatic affair.
My acne problems are too disastrous for a simple over-the-counter pommade to solve (we'll talk about that another day), but it has cleared up much of my scarring and has kept my skin moisturized at night without more zits than usual. It only costs about €7 (or less!) at the pharmacies in France, but most online shops sell it to foreigners for over $25 per tube. I'd recommend you find a French penpal (or better yet, lover) so that they can pick it up for you. And when you do, please let me know so I can put in an order, too.
Do you have any budget drugstore/pharmacy favorites? Especially ones that look gross but work better than bathing in virgins' blood?