I first noticed it when I was pregnant. The darkening of my skin above my upper lip, a stain mustache that demanded my attention every time I looked in the mirror. At first I scrubbed hoping the dead skins cells would fall off and reveal a color consistent with the rest of my face.
It didn’t. My sister noticed. My dad said something. Nobody else did. But still when I found myself staring at my reflection I could see little else than the darkened skin above my lip. I wore sunscreen and waited for my son to be born then learned that birth control pills can make the skin susceptible to staining.
A friend of my sister had similar face staining and passed along her dermatologist’s recommendation: a Retinol concentrate and bleaching cream with hydroquinone which I later learned was popular with gay men eager to bleach their anuses. I met the friend and discretely searched her face for stains apparently common during pregnancies. Either the cream’s worked or she had blended her foundation well.
So I applied the anus whitening and anti-wrinkle cream to my face along with sunscreen to prevent any further damage. And every morning I’d examine my stain mustache noticing that the edges were blurring. My skin tone faded making me a more ghastly olive tone so I used the creme less.
With an aging gift certificate to Macys, I invested in StriVectin, a cream that claims it is better than Botox, which could lead me on a huge tangent. While using this product, I did see the stain fade more, but not completely nor did it prevent a stain on my upper right eyebrow from forming.
When I look in the mirror I try to focus on my lips, my eyes my clear complexion, something I had fantasized about for a solid decade of my life. My children’s sitter struggles with adult acne and I told her how I related. I pointed out my stain mustache and shared my self-consciousness about it. She claims she did not notice. I’m trying to notice less too.