Activated Charcoal soap is the new black—well, it is black, and classy looking. Like a little black dress. I like to think of it as health-conscious-urban with an herbal vibe. Urban herbal. It’s all natural, made with tea tree oil, lavender and activated charcoal. I label it as “limited edition,” but it’s usually always available. Made on Long Island with organic olive, coconut, palm oils and shea butter, this soap flies off the shelf in my Brooklyn stockists.
Uh-oh. The alarm didn’t go off! Marissa jumped out of bed and into the shower. Hopefully she could grab a waffle on the way out to the bus. As she stepped out of the shower and toweled off her lanky blonde hair, she caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror. “Oh damn!” she said out loud, looking at the new pimple in the middle of her forehead. Tossing the towel, she leaned in closer to the mirror and tried squeezing it. “Ow!” That hurt. It’s too new to mess with. Her face looked like a mine field, she thought, as her mood sank. She dried her hair quickly and let it hang so that it hid her face, but it still didn’t hide the new red bump on her head. So she grabbed a baseball cap and headed downstairs.
As her mother handed her a waffle and a smoothie, she told Marissa, “Mrs. McCarthy was asking if you can babysit on Friday night.”
“Sure,” Marissa said, thinking, I have nothing else going on Friday, with all these zits on my face! Besides, she enjoyed playing with Caitlyn, the McCarthys’ three-year-old daughter. At least that was something to look forward to.
At school, Lacey, her best friend, was waiting by her locker. “Hurry up! We’ll be late for math,” she told Marissa. “What’s with your hair? Why are you hiding your face?”
Marissa pulled off the baseball cap and showed her. “This supersized zit! My face is such a mess. I’m so embarrassed to be seen. And I hate the nickname those jocks started calling me.”
“What name?” Lacey asked.
“Spot,” Marissa said.
“Well you can’t let that bother you, and you can’t walk around with your hair covering your face either!” Lacey said. “Maybe you can find something to help your skin. They say that beauty is only skin deep, whatever that means.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Marissa answered, not very convinced that anything would help.
On Friday night, Caitlyn was standing at the door waiting for Marissa to arrive when she walked up the path to the house. As soon as Caitlyn caught sight of her babysitter, she began jumping up and down and pirouetting in the doorway, with a smile that went from ear to ear! Mrs. McCarthy opened the door and Marissa scooped up the three-year-old in her arms and kissed her neck.
“Caitlyn just loves you to death!” Mrs. McCarthy said. “She keeps saying she wants to be just like ‘Rissa when she gets big.”
“No you don’t, Caitlyn!” Marissa frowned. “Not with this face full of zits.”
Mrs. McCarthy was surprised at her comment, “Marissa, that will pass, honey. Listen to little kids. They see who you are inside, and not only does Caitlyn love who you are, her father and I think you are wonderful! You’re smart, kind, creative, and pretty.”
“Not with a face full of zits,” Marissa said.
“Marissa, listen to me. When I was your age, I had the same thing, and I thought the world would come to an end whenever I saw a new spot on my face. Remember, it will pass, and what people will really care about is how you make them feel,” said Mrs. McCarthy. “And you know, there are plenty of things you can do for the outside until you get past this stage. I learned to take care of my skin by eating carefully and using the right kind of skin care products.”
She went into her powder room and brought Marissa a package.
“Black soap?” Marissa asked, surprised.
“Activated charcoal soap with tea tree oil and lavender,” Mrs. McCarthy said. “I still use it. My husband still gets pimples from time to time, when he sweats or eats too many fatty foods. And you know what? I love him just as much, pimples or no pimples. It’s who he is as a person that means the most.”
Black soap, Marissa thought as Caitlyn clambered down to grab her new toy animal collection. “’Rissa, see what I have?” she asked. “Come play with me!”
“Oh, boy! Horses! My favorite,” Marissa said, as she sat on the floor next to Caitlyn.
Just then, the little girl leaned over and kissed Marissa’s cheek. “I love you, ‘Rissa.”
“I love you, too,” Marissa said, and gave Caitlyn a big hug, noticing that she was starting to feel a lot better.