Hello, my Groupthink friends! New post is up on my blog! Hoorayzorz! If you love me, please go check it out at www.fiftyshadesofcoral.com! The link will open in a new tab, so you won't have to leave GT, and I very much appreciate the hits. As usual, you can find the full post below - for those who do not want to sign up with Wordpress to comment, or who have wonky internet connections that block blogs. Enjoy!


Mes petites choux!

Today, we are going to have maybe one of the most important conversations we will ever have. That's right. Ever. We're going to talk about how important it is to take care of your skin. Confession: I've had acne for many, many years, and only recently broke myself of the habit of picking at it. Sometimes I slip up, I am only human after all, but I think I've finally broken the compulsive habit! For a while it was so bad I had to go on antibiotics because the broken skin would get super infected. Please, do not ever do that to yourself. It's not fun, and it's way more expensive than good products are in the long run. So, I've spent most of my young adult life trying to find that magical combination of products that will keep the Hormonal Teenager look at bay. As it turns out, less really can be more!

What I want to do is talk about some of the things you really ought to be doing, and show you lovelies the products that I use most often/like the most. I bounce between products a lot, but these are things that I keep coming back to, again and again. Let's get started, shall we?


CLEANSING

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I cannot emphasize how important it is to keep your face clean. Don't scrub the heck out of it twice a day, but ensuring that all of your makeup has been removed every night is essential to having healthy skin. As my mother always says: "Jess, the worst thing you can do, the absolute worst thing you can do, is go to bed without washing your face." Now, she's being a tad hyperbolic, but she also makes a great point. Even if all you do is scrub it down with a cleansing wipe, get that makeup off. It'll just get all over your pillow, gathering bacteria, grinding itself into your pores, and generally wrecking havoc. I have just a few of the cleansers that I've been using lately - some come in and out of the rotation more than others.

Probably the most useful of the bunch is the Cetaphil. Inexpensive from big box stores and drugstores, it's probably the highest quality face wash I've ever purchased that is gentle and not gimmicky. I use it with my Clarisonic (more on that later!) brush and find it does a more than adequate job of getting off all my makeup. Not bad for something that costs less than $10, and lasts months! Liz Earle's cleanser is also excellent, especially when used with her muslin cloths. A nice, easy way to get your face clean.

The other two I don't use as often as I used to, but I want to particularly mention the Clean and Clear. That's got a 10% benzoyl peroxide content, which makes it excellent for use in the morning if you have issues with acne and clogged pores. Be warned though - it will bleach your sheets/towels, so I only use it in the morning! The Fresh cleanser was something I got on a bit of a whim. I was about to run out of Philosophy's famous Purity cleanser, and thought I'd try something different. Not going to lie, it was not a particularly happy switch. As nice as the Fresh cleanser is, it's just not as effective as Purity. If you're willing to spend the money, go ahead and buy Purity already. The smell isn't great, but whatever, it gets literally everything off. It's not shown because I need to buy more, but figure I should probably finish some of these before I do so!

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The point of all this rambling? Wash off your makeup, people! Keep your skin clean! Again, you don't need to scrub it to within an inch of its life (actually, really please don't do that. Your skin really does need those natural oils to keep itself healthy), but you do need to take care of it. Speaking of, let's talk about magic skin potions!


TREATMENTS

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Oh, serums and potions and treatments and sprays! Probably the most overlooked aspect in my own skincare regime, but depending on your concerns it may well be the most important for you. I've tried a variety of this type of thing, and I'm just not sold on the whole idea. My skin seems to like simple over fancy. I've heard good things though, about Lancome and Dior especially, so I may take the plunge and try one out in the future. However, I've found that unless you have very specific skin needs, you won't need much in the potion department.

Now, I'll be honest with you, friends, two of these are... way more important than the others. So I'll start with the least important - the invigorating night gel from Ole Henriksen. On the surface, this is a great product. If you have problem skin, or simply want to keep your skin looking younger longer, using a serum like this is supposed to help cell turnover, increasing the vitality and health of your skin. I'm not sure it actually does that much, honestly, but it certainly feels like I'm doing something when I have it on, so I'll keep using it until it's gone! After that, I'll likely go back to just using a light oil or moisturizer on my face at night, along with the next little miracle of a helper.

Oh, EradiKate, I didn't even know I needed you until I got you! You little wonder of a product. This is a tiny pink bottle of 10% sulfur concentrate suspended in isopropyl alcohol. Sounds nasty, yeah? Oh boy does it smell nasty. But it's brilliant. As I've mentioned - horrid acne problem over here. Ever since getting my skin mostly under control, I've noticed I get a couple big whoppers that try and come up every month. Not one to surrender, I started digging. This seemed like my best bet, and oh man has it been great. The sulfur, when applied to an emerging pimple, basically dries it out and sterilizes it. That's it. Done. Smells TERRIBLE when it's applied, which makes bedtime uh... less than appealing sometimes, but I promise you it's worth it. If I had to pick only one acne product, this is the one I'd choose.

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The other two are just things that I enjoy that I thought I'd share with you. The Ole Henriksen serum is nice in that it's light, and smells of oranges, but it doesn't play nicely with any of my other products, so I'm not sure when I'll start using it regularly again. The last product is a face spray that is... let's face it, a total frou frou luxury product. You spray it on your face, and it feels nice and refreshing. It serves no purpose except to make yourself feel better. Gotta love that, right?!


MOISTURIZERS

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Little cabbages, I cannot stress enough how important moisturizers are. Those of you with super oily skin? You need it just as much as those with the driest of skin. After all the crap we put our skin through every day, especially if we're putting makup on and then stripping it off every day, something has to help balance the damage. Because my skin is a Special Snowflake, I'm very very particular about the moisturizers I use. Currently, I have two that I'm particularly fond of. At night, I use the Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation, it's a nice light formula that just melts into your skin, which is perfect for nighttime. During the day I use Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve face cream - smells wonderful, feels awesome, makes my face really happy, keeps everything bright and healthy, what more could I ask for? It is an anti-aging cream, which some think is a bit extreme when you're only 25, but it's my absolute favorite moisturizer ever, so I suspect I'll be sticking with it for some time!

Honestly, I don't have a lot to talk about on this subject, but I urge you all to go out and find a moisturizer that's just perfect for you. Doesn't matter the brand, or how much you pay, so long as it is something that makes you feel your best.


TONERS AND PRIMERS

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Prepping your face for makeup is really key in getting a professional look. Going directly from moisturizer is not the worst thing in the world, but you'll get a much smoother and cleaner finish if you prep your skin a little bit, first. Added bonus? Your skin won't suffer as many adverse effects if you put just a smidge of effort in prior to application. Once I started using toner and primer, I noticed a huge improvement in the look and feel of my skin. Apparently, it likes it when I treat it with a little TLC!

The toner I use is by NARS skin, and I chose this one for a simple reason: it's not drying, it's very light, and it's the exact same toner as Shisheido, just in different packaging. You see, Shisheido owns NARS, so all of their skin products follow basically the same formulation. Super deluxe quality for a lot less money? Yes please! Unlike a lot of traditional toners this doesn't dry out your skin at all - all it does is even out skin tone while taming the slight redness I get as a result of eczema.

The two primers I use most are Benefit's Porefessional and Korres' mattifying primer. The first is what I affectionally call 'face-spackle', and so isn't something I use on a daily basis. It's fantastic for when I want to dress up a bit, get a little fancy with my look, but I don't like the idea of having something that heavy on my face every day. Korres is an all-natural product that helps keep shine at bay while keeping everything in place. Both primers act as a barrier between my skin and the makeup, which allows my skin just a bit more breathing room. If primer isn't something you use a lot, but you do find your makeup 'slipping' after a while, I strongly suggest you look into finding one that will work for you.

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Naobay is actually a sample that I got recently in a subscription box, and boy was I impressed. It's a multifunctional, organic, completely natural creme that acts as both a moisturizer and a primer. So far, I've really liked it, but I like to give products a bit longer before I decide whether or not I'd purchase it again/with my own money! So stay tuned, friends.

I've also chosen to include the Urban Decay eye primer, just because it's a really great product, and actually does help keep eyeshadow on - especially during those long nights out!


TIPS AND TRICKS

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Alright, my friends, these three little beauties are my secret weapons. Let's go through them one by one, shall we?

First things first, my Clarisonic. That's a Clarisonic Mia, the smaller version that only has one speed, and no fancy stand. I find I need only the one speed, and there is no room in my teensy bathroom for a fancy stand anyways, so hooray! Yes, this bugger was ridiculously expensive (if you want to purchase one for yourself, you can find them here - as well as at other online or in-person retail shops, I just like Sephora ok. But don't say I didn't warn you!) but it was so so so worth it. I only use it about once a day (at night, to get all my makeup off, natch!), and I use the deep cleansing and/or acne-specific brush heads. For all my face-skin is inclined to insist it is a Special Snowflake, it's never objected to me using the more intense brushes, so that's what it gets. Honestly, guys, if you're ever going to invest in fancy face crap, please get this. I use it with some of my 'nicer' cleansers, it works great with Purity, but I also find it works super well with plain ol' Cetaphil. Gets all the makeup off quickly and easily, and gently exfoliates. So then my skin is nice and prepped for whatever potions I decide put on it that night. The cleaner your skin, and the fewer dead skin cells hanging out on the surface, the more your products can permeate the skin surface and go to work. It really is fantastic. Ok, now that we've covered that, let's go look at the things I use when I'm feeling lazy.

Let me reiterate: there is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse than not washing your face at night. However, if you are lazy like me, sometimes you just can't be arsed. So these two products come in REALLY handy. The first, the Simple makeup remover, is what I use to get off whatever gunk I may have put on my eyes that day. Mascara has a habit of sticking around for a couple of days, or at least it does for me, so using a nice gentle remover on my eyes first helps mitigate the 'day after' makeup effect. Not always what we want to go for, right friends? Right. So, a couple swipes of that using a cotton pad, and you're off to the right start. Then you take your makeup remover wipes (really really liking these by Neutrogena right now - I've tried both low-end and high-end brands of face wipes, and I've gotta say, Neutrogena just doesn't fail me.) and you remove the rest of your makeup. One wipe, scrubbed all over your face, and you're ready to hit the hay. This way you've at least removed most of your makeup, so it's not grinding itself into your pores overnight.

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Well then, how's that for a super long post, eh?? Please let me know in the comments if you'd like links to any of these products - while I love them, I don't want you to feel like these are the exact products you need to keep your skin happy and healthy! Anything you do that is essential to keeping your skin nice and happy pre- and post- makeup application? Tell me in the comments! I want to live vicariously through you! :)