ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Health»
  • Personal Health Information & Self-Help

"Are You Tired of Having Your Face Look Like This?" asked my Grandmother

Updated on January 15, 2012
RNMSN profile image

Barbara worked at Thomas Hospital Home Health and is certified for home health from ANCC. She received her MSN from Mobile University, Ala.

Oh Lordy Quarantine that child!

I have no photos of my face when it was at its worst

I hope there are none to be found

OK Now relatives 'with a vengeance' contain yourselves!

But, it was bad. My face had blackheads, pimples, and cysts from the time I can remember

One of the first things I remember Momma trying to do to rid me of blackheads

Was to make me lay in her lap and with the rounded end of a bobby pin

She would press it against my nose.

Not the best thing to have done...

Still it did not help, nothing helped.

Until one momentous day in Atlanta Georgia

In the wonderful, three room house of my Grandmother Barden

I walked into the screened in porch, got a hug and a smile from my Granddad

Walked into the living room

And one of my aunts screamed out,

"Oh my God She's Got the Measles!"


Now I ask You, Was That Rude, or What?

Besides the fact I was born in the early 1950s and had already had every kind of rubella, pox', rubella, croup, mumps, that every kid got before the vaccines came along how could I, already over 21 years old have the measles?

 It was soooooo embarrassing...besides the fact that I had paid particular care to my makeup that day and was sure I looked better than usual!!

Dark Blue mascara, purple and pink eye shadow, deep pink rouge over Maybelline ivory makeup and of course the white pink lipstick....I was a bombshell and only 88 pounds at that!!

 Such a cute outfit too, Momma had made Mary and I both wrap around sundresses that summer...Mary was the cutest of course but still...


It is funny now of was NOT at the time.

In fact, I cannot imagine the agony of having that face come back again...and yes even at the tender age of ....whatever age I am...I still worry that it will come back one day...there is still this one spot on the right cheek where the worst cyst used to be...

Sorry, it is the nurse in me you know...we get really gross and don't realize it.

At the time of that visit to my grandmother’s house I was already in the last part of the college courses on a teaching institution I had access and took advantage of all the interns and residents that worked the dermatology no avail.

I had done the heat lamps and the needle punctures and the peels and the masks and all the creams and lotions and cleansers that they had in the early 1970s.

Nothing worked...everything in fact, seemed to make it worse...the only real relief came of all times in the summer, in the swimming pool but of course, by the time I was in college it was so not cool to I baked my face with guess what on it? Of course! The best tanning lotion of all southern girls.

Baby oil.

So totally disgusting. Nevertheless, true...

So there I am, in the middle of summer, between quarters and nearly dead of shame; had to endure my mom talking about how wonderful it was that I had the advantage of being in nursing school so I could have the best care from all the upcoming doctors and how one day my face would be all clear ad nauseous...

But So much fun. When finally the day is closing down, the talk is quieter, the uncles are gone, it's the best time of the weekend...I had my cards read by Grandmother, future looks bright, trips and fun in the future but uh-oh what is this? This boy? Are you sure, he is the one?

Finally, when no one else was watching, Grandmother Barden took me onto the side screened in porch (that was where the ringer washer was and where Uncle Herschel convinced Grandmother the Bathroom could go...but that is another story) and into the bathroom, closed the door and sat on the toilet.

Grandmother Barden took my hands in hers, looked me straight in the eyes and asked,

"Are you tired of having your face look like this?"

Thank you Grandmother. I love you, wait for me.

Of course, the waterworks started, but she just started teaching in a sweet voice, not preachy, just common sense

"OK, this is how you do it" kind of voice you know? So the tears dried up and I began to really pay attention. Grandmother took a bar of light brown soap off the sink and showed me, using her own face! How not only to wash my face and hands but when and how often and ...this is the important part you guys...



First, wash your hands.

It's amazing but the CDC must have spoken to my Grandmother because she knew about how and how often and how long and under the nails and rinse the water down and don't forget the15 seconds and lots of friction and all that stuff long before we taught it with the JCAHO Patient Safety Goals!

Then she washed the bar of soap again! Then and only then did she wash her face...with her hands; NEVER with a washcloth!

With her hands, starting from the dirtiest (my nose) to the cleanest (my neck), using her fingertips and a circular motion.

Then rinse.

However, rinsing is an art all in itself.

She cupped her hands, and then she did not splash so much as placed and dragged the water from her hands starting from her forehead to her neck.

Grandmother Barden made a point of saying that rinsing must be done a minimum of ten times.

You think that was the end of washing your face and hands? No, it was not. Then she proceeded to repeat the entire procedure another three times and said that I should do this at the minimum of three times a day.

She warned me my face would get dry and that if I absolutely had to put something on my face if it was dry that I could use Oil of Olay.

But only four dots. Both cheeks, chin and forehead and do not use my hand, just one fingertip to rub it in...Very lightly....

OK. So far, so good, and no water on the floor, by the way, a feat I still am unable to accomplish!

The product my Grandmother put into my hand that day...oh yes I had to repeat her instruction what do you think; nurses are born or made?

She gave me my first bar of Octagon soap.

Grandmother Barden also talked about the fact that it is not as good as it used to be. She did not feel the lye was as good as it was when she first started using it....

But that it was this brown soap, which was very expensive to her...a quarter a bar at that time...that would keep my face clear of blemishes forever.

It took one month. One month you guys and since that time I have not put makeup on my face nor have I had acne!!!!!

I nearly freaked in 1979 when I moved to Tucson all alone, well, with my cat, Sheba, and could not find Octagon Soap! So there I was, in Tucson, on Grant Road, in the supermarket that started with an "A", I think...sitting on the floor of the soap aisle smelling every bar of soap on the lower shelf...I FOUND IT!

Fels-Naptha Soap!

Yes! Just like Hellman’s or Best Foods Mayonnaise. Items have different names depending on which side of the Big River you are on.

On the West side of the Mississippi River, Octagon is Fels-Naptha and on the East side, it was Octagon. What a relief!

Sorry..Déjà Vu just came Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend of "The Who" were they not the BEST! Here we are, February the7th, 2010; this author writing about 1973 and having the absolute pleasure of hearing a collage of The Who sung at halftime of some horrible war like game otherwise known as football...but that too, is another story. You guys will love it as well (I hope) as it will entail my beloved’s reaction to his favorite all time band as well as mine…which differs…but you just think you know what it will be about! hahaha

At any rate, their last part said it all does it not? Please "lets not get fooled again."

Where were we? Oh yes, how to wash and the Fels-Naptha to wash your face with versus anything else on the market

All that stuff that costs so much to heal your face?

All the trips to the dermatologist who probably never had a blackhead in his life?

It is not necessary...please tell your kids you guys...

It’s all about bacteria, germs, and washing your hands and face.

With lye based soap that costs an exorbitant amount of money now. A dollar a bar!!! Available on line...sometimes there is some in the supermarket if your beg the management but it’s online...

And it works...

But oh man weren't The WHO the BEST!!!!!!!!



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      indeed Pamela! and I still use Fels Naptha (western equivalent of Octagon) for my face! there is one neighborhood walmart here in Tucson that sells it :) but like I wrote, its online too and comes from right here in Arizona!! too cool!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      It is interesting how much our grandmothers knew back then. Now most people use all the expensive products and doctors when the answer was right there all along. I like the way you wrote this hub as it is very useful information to those that have this problem.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      hey girl hey acaetnna!!! good to see you/bless your pretty face you don't need fels-naptha!

      tons of misspelled words in this hub/glad you read it/made me re-read it and I can correct them lol sometimes the words pour out faster than my fingers can keep up you know?

      love to you

      barbara b

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

      I always learn so much from you when I come to read your hubs - thank you.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      oh absolutely great ethel!! haha cept for its a 56 nearly 57 yr old face and when do you spose all those light brown spots showed up on my left temple? ha

      no really...not oily...just gets dry now sometimes and I still use oil of olay...I replace the bottle every 3 months I use it so little and you know me and germs....

      but it isn't just the soap its the way you do it and how often...I love my fels naptha! my paternal grandmother,, Nanny, had psoriasis and used the coal tar soap on her elbows and simple soap I looked up when I was researching for fels naptha online in '98 when octagon changed or rather moved...and simple soap is glycerin/I knew I did NOT want that! but dial corp is right here in az and man I hope it stays!!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Is your skin good these days Barbara, or did all that oil take its toll. I am starting to get wrinkly :(

      Wonder if the soap is something like Simple soap or Wrights Coal Tar soap, in the UK

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      NOW TAMMY... this sounds as if you tink I am taking after my beloved and telling a tall tale!! why I nevar!!!!

      wish it were///but glad I can still get the fels natha soap...octagon is still for sale but they make it in Mex and its not the same...fels naotha is still made here/in scottsdale az as a matter of dtr and I both depend on it...weird too/it really works

      itaking...I was not either a fam of the who until after the first kid dies...moon...and only then because of my beloved...david loves the who...that was the number one reason to go to woodstock/they were there...course it was also just before he went nto boot camp for the navy then the seals and at the summer of '69, dude his hair and that triumph motorcycle and those blue eyes..not someone I would have spken to lets just leave it at that haha

      top all that off with the fact he was to pick up his older sister from canada and he was late and got lost...I don't think shes forgiven him for that....

      dude can you guys imagine the stench poor Bev had to endure from Canada back to wilmington delaware with herself all nice and college deans list, linguistics, arts, in the car with 4 of these.........uhhhhh.....h all right/hippies



      I love you both, stay well....barbara

      and my life would be perfect itakins if the cranberries would just produce another album!!!! geez!!!!

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 7 years ago from Irl

      Great story about the soap-wish I could feel the same way about The Who-husband loves them though:)

    • Tammy Lochmann profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 7 years ago

      I am really enjoying your quirky style of writing. Lotsa love, Tammy