Nothing brings me back to being 14, greasy, and profoundly insecure quite like the sight of a certain pale-blue pack of blotting papers. There is no song, scent, or memory that triggers that same visceral reaction in me — the opposite of nostalgia, whatever that is, a longing to get as far away from that moment in time as possible. My stomach drops. My palms sweat. My oil production goes into overdrive. I... think I want to go to the nurse's office?
That's only part of the reason why I hate blotting papers. The other reason is because they are useless. Nobody needs blotting papers; the idea that you need to absorb your natural oils is predicated on the idea that your natural oils are something to be ashamed of. I am firmly against this. The worst things I have ever done to my skin have been in an effort to make it "less oily." I have scrubbed it into oblivion. I have put rubbing alcohol on cotton balls and put those cotton balls on my face — and only to discover that most methods of zapping your face of oil make it produce more oil.
To be fair, blotting papers won't do that. But they will do nothing except make your skin marginally less shiny for a short period of time, after which you will need to use them again, and then suddenly you have all these blotting papers floating around your handbag and some of them are used because you couldn't find a trash can, which, gross. (Fact: Having used blotting papers in your bag is exponentially grosser than having visibly oily skin.)
And if your skin generally has an undesirable level of shine, using blotting papers to address it is like putting a blister band-aid on a gaping wound. You're ignoring the real issue. You have to go deep: Why is your skin so oily? Do you have a hormonal imbalance that's affecting your oil production? Are your products too drying, causing your sebum glands to wild out? Are you just... oily? In that case, maybe you want to try a mattifying primer, or set your makeup with a long-wearing powder, instead of putting special paper on your face.
There is also a dark side to many drugstore blotting papers, and that is mineral oil. Mineral oil has a reputation for clogging pores; dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, says he recommends avoiding it if you have oily, acne-prone skin. Why do they contain mineral oil? Unclear. But they do, which means they might even be backfiring, leaving you oilier and worse off than before. All that, and just to have the satisfaction and novelty of pressing something to your skin and getting to see the oil right in front of your eyes.
Do I have an extremely personal vendetta against these small sheets of overpriced, potentially pore-clogging paper? I do, yes. But it is not undeserved, and really, if you want to blot that bad, go to the deli, buy a few packs of hemp rolling papers, and call it a good-skin day. They work just as well, if not better, and at least they serve a few purposes beyond just absorbing oil. In fact, they're actually the ultimate multitasker — your go-to lip and cheek tint can't roll you a joint, now can it?