It’s Sunday, and you read that India Knight thinks everyone should buy a Clarisonic. It emerges that she used to have frequent facials, but the Clarisonic was better. In fact, her regular facialist accused her of cheating with another facialist ever since she started using a Clarisonic. You Google “buy Clarisonic”. You see they are sold out on the John Lewis website and decide it is a sign. You must have one immediately.
They are £120. You feel your pulse quicken with the certainty that they would not be allowed to cost £120 if they were not very, very good.
You do not have £120.
You count up all the cigarettes you have never smoked, all the magazines you do not subscribe to, all the forty poundses you have saved on cabs while waiting for piss soaked nightbuses in the pissing rain. You think about that time all your friends drunk-booked flights to Thailand and you didn’t, because that internship that never happened might have happened.
You have now mentally saved over five grand. You trot to Selfridges in a grasping, gasping state of excitement. The embossed numbers on your credit card have now burrowed their way onto your palm. You resolve not to shake hands with any fraudsters who know mirror writing.
The woman tries to sell you the £250 one. You shake your head like an octagenarian who has just been offered an ‘inclusive’ quad biking session on a Thomas Cook holiday. You’re so full of missionary zeal that you even manage to convince her you don’t want the pink one.
You gallop home. On the tube from Oxford Circus, you analyse everyone’s pores and feel sad for them.
You burst through your front door and collapse on your bathroom floor. When your boyfriend cries “Are you alright? Do you need a change of knickers?” you yell “NO, IT’S NOT THE GASTRO THIS TIME! I HAVE BOUGHT AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH FOR MY FACE! I MUST TRY IT OUT!”
You rip the packaging open, you pour the special facewash into your upturned hand, and read the instructions. You must charge it for 24 hours first. You blink back tears.
You go to sleep, wake up, go to work. The Clarisonic is all you can think about.
You get home and head for the bathroom. You ask your boyfriend if he would like to watch you try it out. Your boyfriend stares at you as if you have just suggested a threesome with the weird neighbour who is always trying to sell you surplus eggs he buys from Leighton.
Alone, you find absolution. Salvation. The brush is gentle but firm, penetrating your pores, shifting the blackhead you always thought was a freckle, washing the corner of your soul that you believed to be forever black after you stole a tin of Licorice Allsorts from your little sister during Christmas ’94.
You rinse your face and look in the mirror, expecting to see Jesus. You see you. You look like your 12 year old self after a Sunday night hairwash.
You do this for a few days. You notice your serum seems to be doing something. You realise serum has a point and isn’t just another expensive, paranoid making myth. Your face is smooth to the touch. You almost wish you’d only washed one side of your face, to get a full before and after effect.
You find yourself resentfully, methodically, washing your face every single night so as not to waste the £120. You drink slowly and carefully, even at weekends, determined not to get so wrecked that you pass out without washing your face. Sometimes you pass out in your boots – but you’re always clean from the neck up.
A few weeks in, you bump into an old friend from university. “Oh my god, your skin looks AMAZING. UH-MAZE-ING. What moisturiser do you use? WHAT DO YOU USE?” they shout, shaking you slightly. They never got this animated during discussions about Gawain and the Green Knight.
You smile, tilt your head and start to walk away. You are Gwyneth. You are made of kale. “Oh, thanks. I got a Clarisonic,” you reply.