My errors in managing a thicker stratum corneum were initially indicated by flakes, then a microscopic kind of razor whip, and most lately, a bump like an elongated mosquito bite. To this proud list, I now add... lumps.

Near the new scar on my left cheek -- yep, still there, like a pop-up turkey thermometer, indicating inadequate skin volume -- 12 hours after a spectacular Valentine shave, a new kind of texture arose, as if half of the skin had become cornified, and half had not. When I looked at it in the mirror, though, the firmness was clearly turgidity arising from below, like the mosquito bite, just under a thicker SC.

The timing was the key clue. I was familiar with late-onset razor burn from my days of thin skin and over-exposed edges. It is the consequence of excavating follicles too deeply, with a blade not sharp enough to cleave hair above the surface of the skin. As the hair is cut, the edge then snaps at the skin. Sometimes you can even see the snakebite, superficial cuts on either side of the follicle opening. But it doesn't hurt until the re-emerging hair gets there, pushing the cuts open from below. I guess the microscopic scabs aren't elastic enough. Some sweaty irritants seem to accompany the hair, too.

The lumps spare me that pain, but the thickened SC itself seems to present a similar barrier to the emergent hair. The injury is not the usual shearing, or even the injection of sharp hair tips (my hair isn't that tough) that are usually blamed for bumps. It's a kind of de-lamination, the SC being pushed off the substrata as if by thousands of hydraulic jacks.

All that is necessary to release these hairs is exfoliation. I layered Eau de Quinine, a hair tonic that helps shed dander, with pumpkin juice, and awoke with perfectly smooth skin again. I gave myself another close shave, and the skin was still nice and tough at the end.

But I didn't push it too hard. I checked out the Arko ingredients label, satisfied myself that glycerin was low enough on the list, and paired it with Noxzema. Arko has mineral oil in it, I noticed, which I think makes it more suitable for the oil-less preparation. Ammonia was less prominent, which may have made the hair a little less forthcoming. I only expect 8-10 hours out of this DFS.

Today's mystery clue: a chipped (smaller version of "flaky") skin surface. I would normally go with Dollar Tree moisturizer. Cocoa butter and a drop of oil don't make it go away. If I can't use glycerin, and don't want to pee on myself, the only thing left is... dilute clay. Will let you know how it goes.

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