SPRINGVILLE, UT—Concerned by the disturbing changes in her behavior since she discovered the site earlier this year, local man Derek Wilkinson told reporters Friday he worries his girlfriend, Katie Spencer, has started to become radicalized by a skin-care blog.
Wilkinson explained that Spencer’s involvement with the DermaTru website began innocently enough, with the 23-year-old woman occasionally browsing it for moisturizer recommendations or advice on how to treat a blemish. But he soon noticed his girlfriend engaging in uncharacteristic behaviors that suggested she had been indoctrinated by the blog and fallen victim to the dogmatic teachings of its instructional videos. Before long, Wilkinson confirmed, she was speaking continually of “the one true beauty regimen.”
“She started performing these rituals of cleansing, toning, and lotioning five times a day, and it really weirded me out,” said Wilkinson, who added that Spencer spends several hours each night either on the blog’s message boards sharing testimonials with other followers or in front of her mirror obeying strict edicts regarding the extraction of blackheads. “Something changed in her when she first began visiting that site, and at this point she’s totally obsessed.”
“The other day she looked me in the eye and told me she had finally found the path that will deliver us from dryness,” Wilkinson continued. “I had no idea what she was talking about. It’s like I don’t even know who she is anymore.”
Spencer has reportedly become more withdrawn since embracing the tenets of DermaTru, distancing herself from family and friends who don’t share her intense devotion and, in her mind, are among the “unexfoliated heretics” of the world. According to Wilkinson, Spencer’s entire life revolves around the blog’s five pillars of skin care: hydration, rejuvenation, UV protection, elasticity, and essence.
“Sometimes, she spends the whole day doing this ceremonial bathing rite that she told me is the only way to fully cleanse oneself of impurities,” said Wilkinson, noting that his girlfriend covers her face in a skin-brightening clay mask for several hours before applying no fewer than 10 fortifying serums and anti-aging creams, which must be made from ingredients processed in the name of DermaTru. “She’ll be methodically reciting a long list of revitalizing formulas or whatever, and I won’t know what to say to her. She’s just not the girl she used to be. And the worst part is she’s now pushing her crazy skin-care stuff on me, saying I must denounce all false ablutions.”
“Look, I’ll be the first to admit I could stand to use something on my face besides aftershave, but applying non-nano zinc oxide SPF 50 every 20 minutes throughout the day to ward off wrinkles?” Wilkinson added. “That’s completely insane. And there’s all these people on the internet telling Katie it’s the best thing she could be doing for herself.”
Recent studies have found that extremist skin-care organizations often use digital media to prey upon young women who may feel hopeless, recruiting them with radical lifestyle products that seem to provide answers to all their problems.
“These small blogs offer this marginalized subset an identity and a community, along with free samples and the promise of clearer, more supple skin,” said Margaret Novak, a psychologist at Stanford University who specializes in deprogramming people brainwashed by similar beauty sleeper cells. “These women have rejected big brands like Neutrogena and Clinique as the way to smaller pores, but what they end up with instead is something altogether more nefarious.”
Novak warned that once they are radicalized, these young pore purists will often attend a secret meet-up sponsored by DermaTru and never return home, showing up months later in one of the group’s detoxifying-facial-scrub training videos.
At press time, Wilkinson told reporters he was on the verge of contacting authorities after discovering his girlfriend had assembled a homemade bath bomb using instructions she found on the blog.