Face Wash by Leyla Josephine

Face Wash by Leyla Josephine was first published in Gutter 14 as part of our Spoken Word Issue. You can listen to it here:


Face Wash

There was a woman
She was thirty two years old
and looked seventeen.

She smiled sympathetically when i told my age
twenty three
she had guessed

I recently found three, burrowed, lines
under each eye
my body, despite my efforts,
is in fact,
getting older.

I asked her what her secret was
how her skin looked so smooth
so fresh,
so unused, so unlike mine.

She talked me through ten steps she performs every morning, every night.
Her skin routine.

The Eye Makeup Removal
The Cleanse
The Exfoliator
The Refresher
The Booster
The Essence
The Ampoule
The Sheet Mask
The eye cream
and finally
The Moisturizer

How can she be fucked? ten minutes every morning, ten minutes every night
that’s twenty minutes a day washing her face?

and never sleep with your make up on
and always wear at least factor fifty.

She walked away and I was still in shock.
I wear my make up to bed more often than not.
I usually stay up late, stealing as many minutes from the day as I can.
I rarely think ahead,
I definitely don’t have a face wash plan.

I’ve worked out that this woman spends two hours thirty three minutes a week washing her face.

Thats’s one hundred and twenty one hours every three hundred and sixty five days,
which is five days a year.

If this woman lives till she’s seventy two,
she will have spent a whole year of her life washing her fucking face.

It sounds like some sort of Cat Deeley torture camp
sponsored by Instagram
and it’s definitely not for me.

Think of all the things she could do with that extra year
backpacking in nepal, learning to play the piano,
pilot lessons, scuba diving, she could have had a baby, or cycled across a country. or maybe she could have just chilled the fuck out.

So towards the end of my journey if anybody asks me why I look so old
I’m going to tell them that I have lived every minute I could not washing my face.

When my grandchildren ask me what age I am,
I’ll tell them i’ve laughed 1 million more times than my age and have had more friends than the age spots on my hands
and i’m fifty times as old as how many times I’ve fucked their grandfather,
now fuck off.

I’ll tell them about all the adventures I’ve been on, how much trouble i’ve been in.

I’ll tell them to stay up as late as they can and sleep in as long as they want

And to go on holiday
and wear minimum sun screen because everyone looks better with a tan.

And i’ll show them my scars and tell them all about the arguments that I won and lost
and I’ll tell them if they want to pick at scabs then they should
because skin heals and it moulds to your story
and you’ll never know anything if your always careful and you’ll never learn any lessons if you stay safe and that behaving is

I’ll tell them late nights staying up drinking is a privilege denied to many
traveling is a privilege denied to many,
I’ll tell them that growing old is a privilege denied to many.

so don’t give a fuck about gray hair
it shows that you cared about something
the flabbing belly is a testimony to your children
your dangling boobies look fab
and who doesn’t like things that wibble or wobble.
The bags under your eyes are evidence of the deep conversations that went into the night
your sagging bingo wings are proof that you carried
your soft skin shows that you were tender
just stay healthy,
but smoke if you enjoy it, drink if you enjoy it,
dance all the time but especially with friends,
try not to forget.
Don’t hate yourself because, trust me, there are enough people in life that will do that for you

and for fuck sake do not spend 20 minutes a day washing your face.