I hope you're ready for something gross and kind of disturbing because I'm about to take that old adage about not airing your dirty laundry and dropkick it into the great beyond. I am about to literally air my dirty laundry, is what I'm saying. It's not going to be pretty, but it is going to be satisfying—and maybe it'll even be helpful.
A few months ago, in early May, I started waking up in the morning to find orange stains on my pillowcase. They were faint at first, but they got worse as the days went on. After a week, it looked like I'd massacred a bunch of carrots during a terrible nightmare. It looked like I'd fallen asleep with an orange Sharpie in my mouth. It looked like I'd snuggled up close to an Oompa Lompa who'd left before dawn. Are you getting the picture of how this looked? I hope so, because I don't think you want to see an actual picture of how this looked. I debated posting one, trust me, but in the end I decided it would be better for me to keep my dignity and you to keep your lunch.
Naturally, I figured the orange stains were being caused by something I was putting on my skin. Over the next few months, as I washed my pillowcases with Lady Macbeth-like intensity, I stopped using, in this order, my day moisturizer, my night moisturizer, my tinted moisturizer designed to make me look like I'd just got back from a week in Aruba, and my face wash. Nothing happened. The pillowcases got oranger. My condition became a joke. "Did you seep again?" Sean would ask every morning, and I'd check my pillowcase dejectedly to find another orange stain. Yep. Still seeping.
It drove me nuts. I stopped using everything I could think of, determined to find the source of the problem. Was it my hair dye? It was not my hair dye. Was it that fake tan I used one time? It was not that fake tan I used one time. Was it my vitamins? Were my vitamins making me leak orange? I stopped taking my vitamins. It was not my vitamins.
It was also not my Latisse. It was not my shower gel. It was not my shampoo. It was not my earplugs and it was not some bizarre reaction to the shellac manicure I'd just got (I know, I know, but I was getting desperate.)
I googled and googled to no avail. I asked a nurse at an unrelated doctor's appointment and she wrinkled her brow. I ruined six separate pillowcases with my orange face stains, and no amount of scrubbing or bleaching would get them out. I asked my friends if this had ever happened to them and everyone said no. I brought along a dark t-shirt to put on top of the pillows when I stayed in hotels. I started thinking that perhaps I had some terrible liver condition. Or some terrible hormonal problem. Or some terrible as-yet-unnamed orange face seeping disease. At least I could probably get a show on TLC, I reassured myself grimly. It would be called The Lady Who Leaked Orange! and it would air right after the one about the people who can't stop eating dryer sheets.
After a few months of this, I was at the end of my rope. Every morning, my pillow looked like it had been face-painted by a five-year-old running wild with a pack of Burnt Sienna crayons. I decided it was probably time to make a doctor's appointment, just to make sure I wasn't about to die. I would bring along an unwashed pillowcase, I decided, for evidence. That wouldn't be weird at all.
And then one day last week, I was browsing sleep masks online because the one I'd been using since Christmas was starting to pinch. I figured I'd buy the same one again, because it had been fine up until now, but out of curiosity I took a look at some of the one-star reviews just in case.
And this is how Sean, five minutes later, recieved perhaps the most startling instant message of his life. I HAVE FIGURED OUT THE SEEPING! I typed triumphantly, with way more exclamation points than I have included here. I KNOW WHY I KEEP LEAKING ORANGE!
The people in the reviews were complaining about stains on their pillowcases. They were mad and frustrated. They had tried eliminating things from their diets and skincare routines to figure out the staining. They had googled what was happening to them. They had asked doctors. They had ruined sheet sets. They had used a lot of bleach. And then finally—much quicker than I did, it seems—they had come to the conclusion that their sleep mask was the culprit. Many of them, like me, had used it with no issue for several months before this started happening. Some of them reported blue and purple stains—not orange, like mine—which gave me a little pause, but I wondered if maybe the manufacturer had started using a different dye (the mask itself is black.)
Regardless, I slept without the mask that night, and again the next night. On the third day, my new mask—a different brand, obviously—came in the mail, and I wore that instead. As god is my witness, I never seeped again.
So this is my reassurance to you, dear reader, if you are currently using the Lewis N. Clark Comfort Eye Mask—which is a bummer, because it's a genuinely good sleep mask otherwise—that you are not, in fact, turning into an alien or suffering from a horrible disease, but if you're waking up with orange (or blue or purple) pillowcases, there is a very good chance that this is why. (And if you're considering it, I wouldn't. As far as alternate sleep masks go, this one has been orange-stain-free for me so far.)
For now, I'm so darn relieved to have got to the root of the problem that I haven't even sat down to compose a strongly-worded letter to the makers of the offending mask yet, but believe you me, I will. And for them, I'm not going to be shy about including a photograph. Oh no, I'm going to show them the crime scene in all its ghastly orange glory. Multiple attachments, I'm thinking. If they're lucky, I won't make them super hi-res.