Clearasil condoms?

Cambodian women find an unexpected use for the lubricant.

Published August 28, 2008 7:05PM (EDT)

When I was a teenager, my mother had an irritating habit of identifying my zits and then aggressively pointing them out to me. "What's that on your chin?" she would ask, gesturing at the incriminating spot as if, despite the half-hour I had just spent staring at my face in the bathroom, I might have somehow missed it. "It looks like you've got a pimple there. Did you know you have a pimple there?"

"Yes, Mom. I know I've got a pimple there."

"Put some toothpaste on it," she'd say. "Just a dab. It'll clear it right up."

"I already put some other stuff on it."

"Put some toothpaste on it," she'd repeat. "It's amazing."

This routine continued for about four years, and despite many mornings of waking up with blue, peppermint-scented goo on my pillow, I can't really tell you if it worked. (I can, however, assure you that in a pinch, toothpaste makes an excellent silver polish.)

My teenage self would be shocked to learn that when it comes to bizarre pimple treatments, my mother's got nothing on Cambodia. According to Agence France-Presse, there's a new treatment in town: condom lubricant.

Apparently Number One Plus, a water-based lubricant designed for sex workers and gay men, does a great job of clearing up your skin. "It is very effective," said one happy user. "Some people don't believe in it but people who do get a very good result. My younger sister and my aunt use it, too."

Says another: "My friends ... advised me to apply the lubricant from Number One Plus condoms to my face every night. And just within three to four nights, the acne on my face gradually and then totally disappeared."

Someone should sign this woman up for an infomercial. And in countries where there's political opposition to distributing condoms, maybe someone else should play a little fast and loose with labels and switch the terms around, marketing the lubricant as acne cream instead. That way there'd be less controversy around its distribution, teenagers wouldn't have to go to bed with toothpaste on their faces, and eventually people would figure out that the pimple cream was good for smoothing more than just their skin. (Note: The above statement does not apply to Noxema.) Any takers?

In the meantime, though, a question for you all: What are some of the most bizarre beauty treatments family members have recommended to you? Did anyone else out there get the toothpaste thing? Are there American girls who are being urged to smear K-Y jelly on their faces? And have any of these treatments actually worked?

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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