No Holds Barred: Malaise, rage, and maskne

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Relief sculpture freeze of theatrical masks from the Roman theatre, Anatolia.

With the major cities looking like something out of Charles Dickens and the Southwest burning up with a month-long triple digit heat wave — it has been hard to find any real relief.  What does that even mean?  And Dr. Fauci says we are not even approaching our second Covid wave yet.

This is beyond the Dog Days of Summer. Actually, my own dog has had the best life. He still gets groomed weekly and continues his active playgroup and his vet has mastered curb side medical — the best of any doctor. Most rescue adoption centers have been sold out.  Dogs are making out better than ever in Covid.  It is us humans who now need rescuing.

Sunshine — living the life.

Last week the CDC reported a study saying that the pandemic has caused more people to become depressed and turn to drinking than ever before.  Something like 40% out of 5,412 Americans polled.  Is this really a surprise?  Didn’t a recent headline call 2020 the new “roaring twenties” — as more people took to private raucous drinking parties in deluxe locations.

What do we expect?  Even Michelle Obama admitted on her podcast that she is “suffering from a low-grade depression.” Who isn’t? It is called malaise. Apparently, malaise is the term for the physical effect of a depression. You can only feel sad for so long before you feel exhausted, have heart palpitations, nausea, dizziness and good old PTSD.  Hasn’t everyone had that already?

There isn’t a day that goes by when a friend doesn’t call me thinking they have COVID. We have all been dealing with the free-wheeling anxiety for 7 months. And it will continue. Sanitizing and sheltering at home we have down. But the constant fear of getting “it” is the backdrop and will continue.

I actually thought the “getting it” anxiety would disappear with the summer’s temperatures.  Remember the theory that the virus would die above 75 degrees?  It has been 110 here in Arizona for a month and our epicenter caseloads just began to level off but haven’t gone down or disappeared.  Now I have to worry that my AC technician might be a “spreader” and he is my current essential worker!

Malaise or rage, everyone has “it” emotionally.  And how is everyone dealing?  Obviously “getting through it” is up to you. And I am all for my friends who lecture me about holding “hope” on high as an antidote, but frankly that becomes annoying when the world is drowning in waters we’ve never been in before. And no one has any decent answers for much of anything. As far as doing “everyday kindness” — that’s a solid try till a scowling mask shuts the elevator door in your face for no reason (for the fourth time today).

Amazon has COVID greeting cards, of course!

These viral days are long (and some of us still don’t know what day it is) and wishes of  “hang in there and stay safe” now feel like “blow-offs” rather than wishes of honest concern.  We are all cranky and disgusted and frankly tired.  Hallmark hasn’t come out with a COVID consoling line of cards yet.

We are coming apart at the seams as one friend in NYC reported to me.  He was held up while having dinner at a sidewalk café surrounded by a lot of people. My Los Angeles friend was in her car at a Beverly Hills stoplight when a deranged woman came up in front of her car and started screaming, preventing her from moving.  Was she homeless or just an enraged Bravo Beverly Hills Housewife?

So no wonder we are all looking for a great escape.  Vaping is out as it has recently been cited for causing Covid complication, but pot sales in general are high.  My wine dealer is doing a bang-up business — his best season ever!  He says people are buying caseloads of Rosé, especially Tempier Bandol at $40 a bottle. And lots of champagne. Why not?

The most popular is Nicolas Feuillatte, an “old reliable” label.  So “drink up all you people. Order anything you see.” As Frank Sinatra sang in his famous ballad “One For My Baby (and One More For The Road).”  If not now, when?  A once sobered pal recently emailed me that she’s back to vodka because the isolation has wrecked her, and drinking is “the only time my shoulders and neck take a nap from the pain and my head sees what’s next without fear.” Reason enough.

Zoom psychotherapy is climbing and speaking of Zoom (which I can no longer tolerate on any level) people are still complaining how awful they all look online (in spite of Tom Ford’s back lifting and face angle suggestions).  It is called “zoom face” and the truth is we have all aged 100 years in the last seven months. Even Botox isn’t really helping. People have now settled into a permanent “bitch face.”  Sorry, plastic surgeons, but lifting a sagging jawline and pouchy eyebags can’t help if your psyche has permanently dropped to the floor. Last week I saw the announcement photo of 97-year-old Sumner Redstone’s death.  I realized I looked just like him minus the orange toupee.

Which brings me to the latest Covid ailment: Maskne. Acne from wearing the mask. Skin care is currently beating out cosmetics as the pandemic “go-to.” Who can wear lipstick or foundation anymore and forget eyelash extensions and bacteria-loaded mascara wands.  Humidity inside the mask and dirt on the face exacerbate clogged pores, and inflammation around the nose and under the chin is prevalent. Skin care creams and devices like NuFace are selling out.  It is $325 and has an electrical current that lifts and tones your sad-sack jowls and droopy eyelids.  TikTok is featuring many ultrasonic skin spatulas and at-home blackhead removers.  DIY facials are on the rise.

Popular pandemic device, but not necessary!

Personally, I rely on the master esthetician in my Scottsdale/ Phoenix area, Minnie Andrade, who has been booked solid for the last 30 years at her CEO of Skin office.  Dermatologists even use her for her own choice curated line of elixirs and healing potions.  Now she is providing online and phone help for facial concerns.

Her maskne remedies are easy and readily available (even in a drugstore) and none of the recommended products are over $300.  Basically, you need to sugar scrub your face three times a week and use light-absorbing creams that are not goopy, which absorb rather than lay on top.  She offers a great collagen hyaluronic acid facial gel that absorbs immediately.  Any irritation around the nose or mask chin line can be handled with a lite hydrocortisone cream — hers is called “Calm Cream.”

Great products for “maskne” issues … available through

Don’t layer with oils and serums; keep your routine simple.  Also, Aquaphor spray your face all day if you are dry or use a mineral spray from La Roche-Posay if you need extra moisture but are oily.  At night — let your face breathe — no night creams. Your face needs a mask recovery “fast” (email

The point is, less is more with skincare from a mask.  Bearded faces are the worst in a mask, and a whole separate cleanliness issue.  Beards need to be regularly “conditioned.” There have been a number of devices on the market lately which “clean and tone.”  Minnie feels the only device worth getting is the LED light wand which is $5000 and only good for professional use.  The rest of the devices are just “feel good facial vibrators that do nothing to tone or really clean.”  But if that is your choice of body stimulation, have at it.

CEO of Skin aesthetician Minnie Andrade with a shark piñata.

As for other rescue remedies, I thought NFL football might save us all. But that remains to be seen considering that college football is not making an appearance. And some people think that the NFL may have culturally “jumped the shark” leaving basketball to take us to the goal line.  Sports is a wait and see game — and I’m not sure at this point if it is a real remedy for anything.

Meanwhile, there is one glimmer of hope left on the decimated pandemic horizon.  And it is a reach.  But I’ll take anything.  Mei Xiang, a 22-year-old Giant Panda, could deliver a cub in a few days at the Washington National Zoo.  As the chief  Zoo vet exclaimed; “In the middle of a pandemic, this is a joyful moment we can all get excited about.” She is now the hot huge visual on the Panda Cam.  And if she delivers, she might beat out a panda in China as the oldest living Giant Panda Mama.

Pandemic Pregnant Panda. Maybe the only good news out of the Roaring Twenties! Smithsonian’s National Zoo

I just want the Pandemic Pregnant Panda t-shirt.  And at last, Mei Xiang will become a new influencer.

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