28 May 2007

The infuriating freckle mustache

Though it predictably sprouts up following the first two consecutive 10-flip poolside shifts of every pre-Summer season, I always seem to forget until it arrives just how concealer-resistant and debilitating to even the prettiest pretty-day my crescent-shaped collection of tightly concentrated sommersprossen - affectionately dubbed by my older brother "Hannie's freckle mustache" - proves to be.

The angle at which the picture above was taken doesn't even begin to capture just how Pancho-Villa-esque a transformation direct sunlight activates above my upper-lip. Like muscular calves and a natural bubble-butt, the freckle mustache has been one of the tough, this-ain't-changin'-anytime-soon realities with which I've had to deal from the time I was a wee thing judging others' physical appearances on the Lincoln Elementary School playground. Once I hit fourth grade advanced math and learned to enter the numerous pros and lone con of a responsibly-earned Summer tan into a comprehensive utility-maximization matrix, however, I right there and then knew it was indeed worth the temporary illusion of whiskers to have sunkissed skin. Science is science, after all, and you can't argue with the power of a statistically significant coefficient.

That doesn't mean I haven't put forth effort to fight the futile fight, however.

On the contrary, I've tried everything from using a stronger SPF to caking on makeup to precision exfoliation, and so far, nothing has worked well enough to keep random people - people who have no obvious reason to want to make me feel uncomfortable - come up to me and say, "Uh, you've got a little something right there, no there, above your lip. No it's still there. Still there. Oh, it doesn't come off, does it? Sorry about that."

Sorry, indeed.

I implore you, loyal readers, if any of you suffer from this same miscarriage of genetic justice and have discovered a reliable method to avoid the two-to-four day embarrassment from which I'm about to suffer (thank God I'll be the only one in the office today), please come forth and share your wisdom.



brown rowergirl said...

thanks for going into the office today, babe. it may not seem worth it now (poor you in that poor empty building) but it'll definitely be worth it once you're in NYC next week!

Holla for the Brown lightweight crew reunion in the city!

you're overrated said...

thank you so much for putting this picture up, so we can all see how the sun is ruining your precious physical appearance. I laughed out loud when I saw all the wrinkles forming on your forehead! revenge is sweet!

for someone so "smart" (I have my doubts), you sure are stupid not to recognize the quickest way to an aged appearance.

You'll be ugly by 30, mark my words. Ugly on the outside, I mean, it seems you've already had the inside part down for a while.

Johanna said...


yeah, yeah yeah, the things I do for you kids...

I think I'm owed a nice tall Kir Royale for this. An *old-man bar* Kir Royale!

you're overrated-

You're welcome for the picture. I know, I know, the wrinkles are after me with a vengeance - like you, apparently - but with all the lotion and SPF application in which I currently engage, not to mention the numerous plastic surgeries that are inevitably in my future, I think I'll make out okay. Not sure what your operational definition of "ugly" is, but I work from a Kirsten Dunst standard, and sorry, but even with craggy valleys in my forehead and liver spots on my hands, I'll never be that bad. More than slightly unattractive at the worst -- you know, around the adult Brooke Shields level.

thanks for at least *trying* to keep me humble!

bff in chicago said...

have you tried waxing that beast?

just kidding, sweets. I couldn't resist.

"you're overrated" is being too harsh on that picture. Anyone that close up is going to look a little wrinkly, and to be honest, I was quite impressed at how tiny your pores are! not bad for a sun goddess. Still, I can't believe you'd post that. Very not-you of you.

I'm at home in my bikini waiting for these clouds to part so I can do the same thing you did all weekend. Hah hah, you're at work.

A kiss to you and that BEAUTIFUL face!

Anonymous said...

I love your freckles! Celebrate them!

gone wilde said...

Wow. What did she do to you? Kill your dog?

I think she'll be ravishing at 30. She's going to be beautiful for a long, long time, really.

But this blog is like the picture of Dorian Gray, getting older and uglier on the wall as she remains ever young and beautiful. As this gets more viscious and insipid, it's going to rot away her heart (she still has one to lose I think). She's going to find herself alone, locked into a thankless job, and bitching about women younger and richer and happier than her. And she'll be miserable.

And what's really disgusting are the people who encourage her. Why don't you read InTouch and feed of women who are already ruined? Why destroy find a perfectly good one to destroy?

a fan said...

You're gorgeous, gorgeous. Don't let that fool get you down. I can tell from your response they didn't, but still, you should know they don't represent the majority of your readers!

happy holiday in the office :)

I agree with "anonymous" on your freckles: they're to be celebrated!

Johanna said...

"gone wilde"-

Hmmm, I'm going to have to chew on this comment for a while...

While I thank you sincerely for the suggestion I'll grow old gracefully, I'm not sure how to take your predictions for how the rest of my life will play out. A rotted heart? Alone? A thankless job? The bitching about younger women might be true, but as for the rest of those accusations, I'm a little curious how you came to these conclusions.

Unless you know me...in which case, I'd love a hint!

thanks for reading,

Anonymous said...

If you're this prone to the freckle mustache from the sun, beware the hormonal horror of pregnancy on the same part of your face. I think it's called melasma, but it had me prowling the bleach products at Walgreens during my pregnancies.

Just one more thing to look forward to...

london girl said...

Jo, I already know the answer to your question, and it's "no," 'gone wilde' does *not* know you.

If she did, she wouldn't have written half of the things she did.

For those of us who do know our editrix and know her well, we know that she's been this superficial her ENTIRE life. She's probably read every single issue of Us Weekly, InTouch, People and Teen People every printed and watched every episode of E! News Live since she was born, but in addition to that she's also one of the most academically accomplished, driven, insightful and funny women you'll ever meet. And I can tell you, from before she started this blog up until now, her heart has remained as strong and big as it ever was. The vapidity she writes about here is an outlet for her otherwise very serious and not at all "thankless" job.

The alone thing is just a freakin' laugh, because every guy I know (including my husband and brother) is in love with this woman. She's alone right now because she chooses to be. Believe me.

My guess is you're one of those sad sad women whose man wishes he was with her instead of you.

Johanna said...

P and C are in love with me???

Interesting, suspected the former but not the latter...

Is that why I've been told I'm not allowed to stay with you guys if I ever make it over there?

nyc admirer said...

Well put, london girl. You're right on the money.

denver fan said...

I can't stand people who think there's a correlation between vapidity and a "rotted heart."

In my eyes, the person who doesn't stop to laugh, have fun, take life a little too lightly sometimes is the one who ends up unhappiest in the end. And just because someone is married doesn't mean they're not "alone." Likewise, just because Johanna isn't, doesn't mean she is.

Love the blog just the way it is. And you're great, don't listen to these haters.

wilde-r said...

London girl is SOOOOO right: J is to die for. And it's her choice whether she plays or not.

But you make a choice like that long enough lovey, and people stop trying. Because it sends a signal. The signal that says, "I am so busy being fabulous, running marathons and drinking mojitos and giggling with my girls that I don't have time for you." And that's a deal breaker for most guys who aren't love 'em and leave 'em, frat boy/Wall Street, I'm-going-to-leave-you-when-it-suits-me types. If that's the "sugar daddy" you want, go for it.

And I can't stand people who think there's a correlation between vapidity and "...stop[ing] to laugh, hav[ing0 fun, tak[ing] life a little too lightly sometimes..." Vapid is vapid, sister. Don't get it twisted.

Johanna said...


Thank you so much for your comment. Loved it. All of it.

Maybe your description of what my future man might look like (ah, a frat boy is my worst nightmare!) will shake me of my if-I-can't-have-him-then-I-don't-want-anyone attitude.


Crystal said...

I get this too when I'm living in sunny areas or when I tan. People also think something is on my lip and sometimes attempt to rub it off for me. I just put shiseido sunblock over it and on the tip of my nose. I also had a coupel IPL treatments done. I look like I don't have a single freckle on my face but I can get the freckles above my lip back quickly if I were to tan and not put on the shiseido sunblock.

Btw, IPL hurts a little above the lip, it didn't hurt anywhere else. You could use IPL on the freckles you don't want and keep the cute freckles across the cheeks and nose.

I beg to differ said...

you can get those spots if you're on the Ortho TriCyclen... it's called melasma. It usually fades (slowly) when you go off of it.
"Depending on strength, Ortho Tri-Cyclen may cause a patchy, darkening of the skin on the face (melasma). Higher strengths are more likely to cause melasma. Sunlight may intensify this darkening and you may need to avoid prolonged sun exposure and sunlamps. "

Crystal said...

I forgot to add that I think you look like a classic beauty in this pic. It's nice to see a woman who isn't obsessed with sunblock and avoiding the sun. I am one of those women who avoids tanning my face in order to avoid fine lines; your pic reminds me how healthy and natural a tan can look.

Johanna said...


Wow, it's so refreshing to hear a woman praise me for going in the sun! Thank you for your kind compliment. I think I just grew up playing in the sun at our lake house every summer day, all day, and now, there's just no getting it out of my blood -- I love the sun and always will.

I do everything I can in terms of moisturizering, exfoliating, vitamin treatments, etc., but I could never give up sun altogether. IPL is a thought...

I beg to differ-

You're the second reader to bring up the melasma idea. I'm not sure it applies to me, though, because I'm not on that particular medication *and* I've had this mustache issue since I was a teeny tot.

But thanks for trying to help!

Anonymous said...

i know you don't want to hear it, but i'm going to harp like the old harpy that i am, but i only say this for your own good- it's sun damage, plain and simple. there is no safe tan. you can use all the sunblock you want, if your skin has turned color, it has been damaged. if you freckle, it's also a sign that you are sustaining skin damage. after a while, you will start to get white freckles on top of the colored freckles. have you ever seen old white women with freckle chest? then you know what i mean. the only solution is to avoid the sun.

Johanna said...


you're right, I know you're right, but I love being in the sun too much. I love the girl-bonding at the pool, I love the family-bonding at our lake house, and I just love the way sunshine makes me feel. It's an upper, you know, and these days, I wish I could bask in it 24 hours a day.

I just looked, and I only have 3 freckles on my chest. For some reason, I just have this explosion across my nose -- it's not representative of the sun damage on the rest of my body.

Sigh...you're right, though. I shouldn't be so short-sided.

BabsieD said...

Another Vapidy Vapid here. I've done IPL as well--and it could be just what you're looking for. It wasn't for me--my freckles are minimal and I fell for the whole "it changes the texture of your skin" b.s. which really doesn't mean anything, but it did get rid of them.

D said...

A little late in my comments, but i think you're so pretty! I love freckles...i wish i had some.

Lemme ask my dermatologist friend to see if she knows what would work...

Johanna said...

short-sighted, I mean.

SadieMBeagle said...

So what's the solution?! I have them too!!! The older I get, the worse they get in the summer, and now I can't stop staring at them in the mirror and I'm convinced everybody can see my mustache. Yes, that must be what's driving the men away. It's really starting to give me a complex (in case you didn't notice), especially because I too like to skewer younger women, etc. What's IPL exactly?

CDP said...

I'm late to this post, but try Meladerm, by Civant Skincare (available online). It is amazingly effective. Costs about $60 for a 1.7 ounce bottle, and is well worth it. Your blog is great.

Anonymous said...

AH! I have the same thing...so embarrassing. I've learned to love it though along with the rest of my freckles!

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