There’s something about hitting puberty that makes it an unforgettable experience – not only because it’s when you develop that all-consuming first crush on the cute senior, but also because, as luck would have it, it marks the onset of the myriad bodily problems that creep up – which never help the situation with the crush, by the way. Acne, waxing worries, bloating – you name it, puberty’s got it.
My very own adolescent grievance came in the form of these persistent, dark rashes around my mouth and nose that either turned into reddish patches of inflammation or became so dry and flaky, they cracked when I smiled.
It was a lose-lose situation, one that no amount of heavy moisturizing creams could help. No free-spirited 13-year-old deserved this as far as I was concerned, and so I made an appointment with a dermatologist that all my friends were going to (because puberty hits everyone, except maybe Beyonce).
He diagnosed it as a chronic fungal rash that would never go away which, next to a stammering spell in front of the aforementioned crush, this was the worst thing that had happened to my teenaged self thus far. Nevertheless, I applied the anti-fungal creams and lotions he prescribed every night, for as long as I can remember.
To an otherwise carefree kid, it was a bothersome task schlepping them around to every vacation, restocking every two weeks, and having to think twice about staying over at a friend’s if I wasn’t carrying them with me. And when I did carry them with me? I was the only kid with white patches of goo on my face, which unfailingly made me the butt of more than one joke.
I tolerated all of this for seven long years – until I moved to Bombay one summer to intern at a magazine. Those four months were the best time of my skin’s life. Sure, the humidity routinely reduced my hair to a limp mess by noon, but my skin was so soft and supple – and rash free – that I didn’t care. It was a beautiful time.
But then I moved back to Bangalore, and so did the rash. That’s when I figured it couldn’t hurt to get a second opinion from one of my beauty conscious mother’s plethora of doctors (we like to joke that her dentist moved next door just for her).
That was the best decision I ever made. Dr. Nobbay, who you might remember as the guy who sorted out Komal’s issues with acne, explained to me using his signature dramatics that this was no fungus but a case of persistent dryness. And that’s how I met my very favourite product of all time – Emolene.
Like it says on the tube, Emolene is a ‘hydronourisher that restores the natural moisture balance’ of your skin – a super light, non-greasy, fragrance-free, fast absorbing cream that works like magic. After I used it continuously for a month, my patches disappeared.
I grew so obsessed with its wonders that I now slather some on for every little thing. After threading my eyebrows – slather; after nasty colds that make the skin around my nose red and raw – slather, slather. I know that beauty editors everywhere, India included, go on about Homeoplasmine like it’s this French wonder potion and while it is, most people don’t know that you can get an Indian counterpart that does the exact same thing – Emolene!
In addition to all of the above, it also heals chapped lips, insect bites, and dry cuticles; it basically does everything Homeoplasmine does, except you can get it at your local chemist.
You’ll always find a small tube of Emolene in my bag now. Call me crazy, but I’ve come to associate the light blue tube with dependability. Odd, considering it’s just a little tube; but it’s the little tube that could.
And there you have it. Sometimes, the solution you’re looking for is often the simplest one – just ask my mother’s dermatologist.