And of course, zits were guaranteed to appear if I was interviewing one of my heroes. Two nights before my on-camera chat with Bono, a blemish rose out of my head that was so absurdly large, a friend said I looked like a unicorn. By the day of the shoot, it had grown to the point that my producer pulled me aside and said that it would be better if I faced the camera straight on when I was talking to Bono, rather than alarm viewers with my side profile.
“You can see it on camera?” I whispered. “You can see it from outer space,” he said.
Bono was charming, if slightly puzzled, because I carried on a whole conversation while rigidly staring at the camera. I wasn?t about to explain to him what was going on.
After that little incident, I decided I had to get my skin under control. So I visited a string of big-name New York City dermatologists but grew tired of the four-month waits for an appointment (and then, when I made it in, the inevitable pitch to buy the derm’s skin-care line). Happily, I discovered the publicity-shy chairman of dermatology at Columbia, who gave brisk no-nonsense orders as he peered at my face. Use sunscreen every day, even in the dead of winter. Wash with a mild, been-around-forever soap such as Dove or the Neutrogena cleansing bar. A good drugstore moisturizer works just as well as a pricey one—the only difference is scent and texture, really.
He cleared my complexion up for good—and more important, changed my entire view on an organ I had taken completely for granted. My pale, temperamental skin, he told me, gave me an instant read on my physical and mental health. If I used his simple regimen, took care of myself, and managed my stress, my skin problems would subside.
I had never thought of it that way before, but his words made sense: My skin was constantly reflecting what was going on in my life. I once went out with a sullen hipster with a quick temper and a budding drug problem, and throughout our relationship, my skin was a red, bumpy mess. When I dumped him and cleared his stuff out of my apartment, my skin cleared up, too. If I’m tired, my face is weirdly papery and dry. I never remember when it’s that time of the month, but my skin does (occasional breakouts are now tamed with a staggeringly effective, if humiliatingly named, over-the-counter potion called End-Zit). Conversely, if I’m on vacation, my face is pristine. And when I was pregnant, I really did have that fabled glow (although I think all the water I retained helped plump out my face, giving the effect of an expensive Fraxel treatment). After my daughter was born, my life was all over the place, and so was my hormone-addled skin.
These days, I’m grateful for having oily skin, and that I retreated permanently from the sun in my early 20s, because the end result is that I’m now in my 40s and don’t have many wrinkles. My sun damage is confined to a sprinkling of freckles. After years of baking, scouring, and drying out my face, I now treat it with the utmost care. I use my doctor-recommended Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar and Neutrogena 45 SPF sunblock. (Having oily skin, I was very apprehensive about using it as a moisturizer, but it’s wonderfully light and gives that elusive kind of dewiness that starlets always seem to have.) I drink eight glasses of water a day and make sure that I get enough rest (at least, as much as I’m able with a toddler at home). And let’s face it: A relatively unlined face has a lot to do with genetics, too, so I’m especially thankful that both my parents look decades younger than they are.