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Home » The Vine

The Vine: June 11, 2010

Submitted by on June 11, 2010 – 8:40 AM28 Comments

I’ve been trying to remember the name of a movie I rented back in the day and it is making me crazy. I’ve tried all the usual searching tactics with no luck. So, since TN readers seem to be able to identify even the most arcane works based on the flimsiest details, I thought I would give it a shot.

I remember where I was living at the time and with whom I watched the movie, so I can pretty much pinpoint the rental date as late 1992 or early 1993. And the film wasn’t in the new releases section, so I’m thinking it was made in the mid-/late ’80s. Here are the only things I remember about it: it was a dark comedy, the main characters were a teenage guy and girl, and there was a general theme of 1980’s-style fear of nuclear bombs being dropped.

There was also a running gag about the fact that the main guy character was always wearing all black, so people kept coming up to him and asking him if he was a priest. I also seem to remember the cover art on the video box (it was definitely a tape, long before the DVD era) was the guy and the girl lying on deck chairs and wearing sunglasses as if they were by a pool, only with a big mushroom cloud in the background.

Any suggestions? As I said, even though this knowledge has no impact on my life, it’s been driving me crazy.

Be kind, rewind


Dear Sars,

I am hoping you and/or the Nation can help me with a skin-care problem. I’m looking for a skin-lightening cream that works.

About two years ago, during a trip to Florida, I developed some brown spots on my face. That wouldn’t be the biggest deal in the world, except that the biggest patch is all across my upper lip — there’s this ever-present shadow that looks like I drew on a Tom Selleck mustache the night before and did not succeed in washing it all off.

Apparently this is a hormonal thing, exacerbated by sun exposure. I’ve tried various lightening creams — I’m currently most of the way through a bottle of Skin Effects — with no real change.

These skin-lightening creams are so expensive, I can’t just keep buying them at random to try, so I’m hoping I can benefit from the experiences of the Nation. Perhaps there is a consensus on something that actually works for hormonal dark spots. Professional chemical peels and microdermabrasion are out of my price range at this point.

Any tips for hiding the spots are also appreciated. I wax my upper lip regularly, so that there is no hair for make-up to cling to. My Cover Girl stick concealer isn’t doing much to hide the spots when applied before my foundation. These are pretty much all the tricks I have up my sleeve.


Not Pregnant Or Menopausal, Just Hormonal




  • sam says:

    Most skin lightening creams are either complete bunk or extremely dangerous – many contain much more than the FDA allowances of things like mercury and even completely banned substances like steroids. My suggestion would be, before you do even worse permanent damage to your skin, to see a licensed dermatologist to get some real advice.

  • Angela says:

    Think the movie is The Unbelievable Truth

  • Rokey says:

    Re: skin-lightening. I had a couple of “sun spots” and tried absolutely everything. Nothing made the slightest difference, except to my bank account. Then I went to a dermatologist who did a simple cryosurgery (freezing) technique. The spots turned black, so I suggest doing this when you don’t have anywhere to go for a day or two, then they peeled off. The skin was pink for a day or two, then fine. This is not covered by insurance – but neither is $65 face cream – and it was fast and effective and came in at about $200.

  • Stephanie says:

    Hormonal Here.

    I just realized in reading this (and in reading Sam’s reply) that I wasn’t entirely clear – when I say “Skin-lightening creams” what I really mean are the MANY, MANY skins creams that claim to reduce dark spots and improve skin tone (rather than creams that bleach the skin).

    This is the one I’m using now with no real effects:

  • Smash says:

    My friend had the same thing on her face, and it’s worst on her upper lip. She went to a few different dermatologists, who told her that while sun exacerbates it, the primary cause is hormonal. In her case, it was caused by the birth control she was taking. She went off hormonal birth control and it went away completely (this was after trying several prescription creams over 8 months that did nothing). So if you’re on the pill or Nuvaring or whatever, and can consider a means of contraception besides a hormonal one, that may help.

  • Amy M says:


    I had some troubles with dark spots that appeared after I moved my pasty white NJ self to sunny Santa Fe, NM.

    The product that worked (it did take a couple of months) was from Paula’s Choice (She’s the lady that writes those “Don’t Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without This Book” books and can be found here.

    You have to be REALLY careful with sunscreen once you start using it.

  • Genni says:


    Could you be thinking of “The Unbelievable Truth”?

  • tuliptoe says:

    I agree with @Angela. I was going to suggest The Unbelievable Truth. It’s one of my very favorite movies. :) Hal Hartley is awesome.
    Whenever my husband wears all black my joke is inevitably “Are you a priest or somethin’?” from that movie.
    Or our daughter calls us ninjas which is also awesome.

  • avis says:

    Hormonal, have you ever tried mineral makeup? You can get really great coverage with that stuff.

  • Stephie says:

    I had a problem with a spot on my upper lip as well; I feel Hormonal’s pain.

    The biggest tip I have is exploring the makeup counters at the mall. Those girls know about hyperpigmentation issues and if they can’t cover it completely, they can give you a good start. Sure, $20-$30 is insane for concealer, but in my experience, if it’s bothering you that much, a solution is worth the price.

    Makeup-wise, I WAS using Prescriptives Flawless Skin concealer, but it’s discontinued. Haven’t needed a replacement yet. If concealer is applied with a brush, it stays whether I’ve waxed or not. I don’t use liquid foundation, but once I powder it, it stays put.

    I don’t recommend this part, but at one point I had to get an emergency tan – , so I went to a tanning bed (I know, ew). I put a dollop of 75 spf on the spot (without blending it in – a cartoon mustache, basically). It camouflaged the spot more than I expected.

    Since then (and this is the part I recommend), if I know I’m going to be in the sun a lot, I put a higher spf on my upper lip. I also use that lightly-colored Jergen’s tanning lotion on my face, except for my upper lip. It’s gotten to the point where I barely notice it anymore, even though I haven’t tanned in a long time.

    Good luck!

  • Kelly says:


    I have the same thing in the same spot. I’ve found that Shishedo’s White Lucent line helps a lot. The spot isn’t gone, but it has faded. Also, make sure you are religious with suncreen, especially over the spot.

  • Lauren says:

    The hormonal condition is called melasma, and it sucks. As the above poster said, if you’re on any sort of hormonal birth control going off it may fix it. Sunscreen is critical, and waxing it might not be the best idea (much like you’re not supposed to wax if you use Retin-A, I found that waxing made the skin more sensitive and therefore even more prone to discoloration). Threading is cheap and fast and doesn’t “do” anything to the skin itself; if that’s available in your area, you may want to give it a try.

    Good luck!

  • Wehaf says:

    @Hormonal – I second the recommendation to see a dermatologist. If you decide not to, giving us more information about your coloration and ethnicity might be helpful. That which works for Halle Berry might not work for Nicole Kidman.

  • Wehaf says:

    @Hormonal – And in terms of covering it up, try CoverBlend Concealing Treatment. It’s makeup for covering scars and tattoos, and works really well. There are other brands of makeup for the same thing; you can just go to Ulta or Sephora or wherever and ask someone to show you the different options.

  • bottomofthe9th says:

    Melasma is it, and I’ve got it as well–my dermatologist said it comes from the combination of a) birth control (I switched to a lower-estrogen option, with some difference) and b) sun exposure. Given that I live in Texas and don’t want kids for the time being, recourse is pretty limited. Dermatologist gave me a prescription for a slightly stronger cream (forget the name exactly) than is available OTC, but my best solution was just to quit caring. Not terribly inspiring, I know.

    I do look forward to the day when my husband and I are done having kids, and I don’t have to take birth control anymore–but needless to say that’s a VERY long-term solution.

  • Stephanie says:

    Hormonal, again.

    Since some people asked, yes, I am on birth control (OrthoEvra patch). Going off is not an option, but if there are lower estrogen options, that sounds like something to look into. Thanks for the suggestion. It may also be genetic, since my mom has the same problem (she’s the one who told me about the hormonal thing).

    I don’t actually wax, I use hair-removal cream. Has anyone had problems with that stuff causing skin discoloration?

    Regarding covering up, my background is German, and my skin tone is basically ‘medium’ – not pale at all, but not Mediterranean either. I tan pretty easily, but I live up in Chicago, and you have to work hard to tan here. I do use a mineral liquid foundation, but it doesn’t seem to cover much of anything. Maybe I’m using too light a shade?

  • Dorine says:

    Melasma, indeed. I tried the quitting-birth-control trick with the hope that it would go away, with no luck. Works for some women, but not all. Just like the prescription-strength (i.e., from a dermatologist) lightening creams work for some, but not me, I mean, but not all.

    I think @bottomofthe9th has the only sure-fire remedy — quit caring. And always, always, always keep that area slathered with sunscreen or anything else that you do try to address it will just be undone.

  • Jen K says:

    Ugh, melasma. I’ve had that ‘stache for years and never understood why, as I had until that point never been pregnant and have still never taken hormonal birth control. Turns out my thyroid’s broken, which nobody thought of since I was generally asymptomatic for thyroid disease (another medical issue revealed it a year or so ago).

    Dermatologist gave me a tube of some mix of Retin-A and some other something – chemical peel in a tube. I got tired of it and just decided to use sunscreen to lessen the effect, and if it looks too bad, I use concealer. I can tell you your attitude toward it will get much better over the years, and that you are likely the only one who sees it (I didn’t believe it either).

    My favorite: when my husband said, “Aw, you look cute with freckle!” Dick.

  • Emily says:

    @hormonal — is going off the pill is really not an option or is it that you don’t know what would replace it? Might I suggest the hormone-free copper T IUD? I have one (won’t take the pill due to high family history of breast cancer) and it is FANTASTIC.

  • ambient says:

    I only come bearing mainstream product recommendations; don’t know if they will be adequate to a medically-caused problem, but I think they’re great!

    Mario Badescu Whitening Mask: While I’m an all-around Mario Badescu fan, this is my #1 fave. Literally makes the skin glow, and is like an eraser for my stubborn acne scars.

    Benefit Boi-ing Concealer: Just picked this up based on raves elsewhere on the intarwebs. I’m not a makeup girl generally (see above re: the skincare obsession I have instead), but I do have genetic perma-circles under my eyes that mere eye cream ain’t gonna fix. This stuff manages to cover while blending in subtlety, so I don’t get that reverse-raccoon effect.

  • Anon for this says:

    I just want to second Emily’s recommendation for an IUD. I tried six (or was it seven?) different hormonal birth control methods with infuriating side effects before I finally got an IUD (copper, non-hormonal. Fuck you, Mirena and your stupid-ass commercials), and I LOVE it. Also much more cost-effective than a $15-30 copay/month for, if you’ll pardon my french, stupid fucking hormones. I’m most angry that I spent four years feeling like shit going on and off hormones because my doctor said I was “too young” for an IUD and I believed her. Such bullshit. [/end rant] Anyway, Hormonal (or anybody else having awful problems with hormonal birth control), my point is, DEFINITELY look into an IUD if you think that might mitigate your symptoms. Don’t let yourself get dissuaded like I did, because in my experience the hormones were a thousand times worse than the extra cramps. If I could do it all over I would have never put that crap in my body. Ugh.

  • Heidi says:

    Awesome flick recommend, y’all. RIP Adrienne Shelly.

  • Also anon says:

    One more endorsement for the copper IUD here (brand is Paragard). I loved loved loved loved mine. Everyone’s mileage will vary with side effects, but I found that the extra cramps really subsided after the first few months. The old rule that IUDs are only appropriate for women who have had a child is pretty outdated, though it’s a nice litmus test for test-driving a new ob/gyn. My current doc’s willingness to go for an IUD was the reason she won me over during my first visit (well, that and the fact that she said “and when you decide you want babies, you come to me and we’ll just yank that sucker out”). Seriously, it’s a really good alternative for folks who want a highly effective, non-hormonal approach.

  • Tish says:

    Hormonal – re: concealer/cover up choices – it may be an issue of the shade your using. if the mark is brown, use a pink based concealer, using a yellow based concealer will only make it work.

    the rule for covering skin discoloration is:

    yellow covers blue (usually undereye or bruising)
    orange covers purple (same)
    pink covers brown (skin spots/pigmentation)
    green covers red (rosacea, flushed skin, allergies etc)

  • tebazile says:

    Rewind here. The Unbelievable Truth might just be the movie. It definitely sounds like it’s in the ballpark. I can’t really be sure from the IMDB description (since I remember so little about the actual film in the first place), but it’s going straight into the netflix queue so I can see if that’s it. Thanks for the help!

  • CheekyMomma says:

    And yet another copper T endorsement on this end! Absolutely ask your doc about it – there are many that will do it on women that have not had kids…Copper T – it’s not just for moms anymore!

    For me the cramps lasted only a couple of months, the monthly flooding was longer – maybe 6-8 months. (Sorry about the TMI – I lost my brain/mouth filter this morning after hearing WAY too much about a co-worker’s upcoming vasectomy…oops – didn’t mean to drag y’all down with me) But I had ZERO problems, and having it removed was a breeze.

  • Stephanie says:

    Hormonal here one last time…

    Thank y’all so much for the advice and info. I’ll check with my doc about the IUD next time – I ruled it out a while ago as kind of scary, but you guys have given me confidence.

    It’s also good to hear that others have this Melasma thing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone at least. I’m going to go hunting for a pink concealer, and I already bought an oil-free sunstick to apply to my brown spots.

    The Nation rules!

  • La BellaDonna says:

    I’ve had some success with TriLuna Cream from my dermatologist – but if you can get the spot zapped either crygenically or with the laser, that’s more effective (in my experience). Daily sunblock with a really high SPF is a MUST for that area (and any area that’s been lightened/abraded/sensitized).

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