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The Secret to Perfect Skin

3 Steps to Success — Not a Product Promotion

I have struggled since puberty at embarrassingly enough, age nine, with acne and a seemingly constant unbalanced skin pH level. My parents helped pay for my costly and hopeless pursuit of the perfect skincare product to eliminate all my beauty problems, but it wasn't until I was 19 years old that my search finally ended on a surprisingly cheap and simple process to the flawless skin I never thought I would have.

There are tons of advertisements and people who will claim that all skin is different, that not every product works for every person, which I agree with completely. However, there are thousands of products out there and likewise thousands of things that could be causing redness, blemishes, clogged pores, oily skin, dry skin, etc. I spent nearly ten years looking for what to use on my face to prevent all of these things, and while some worked for a time, my skin, like everyone else's is constantly changing. Whether it be change of climate or season, stress levels or hormone levels, no one's skin stays the same.

Just as a forewarning, the process I use now and am going to share doesn't mean make my skin flawless all the time. Like any skin care regime, it's only going to be effective if it's implemented regularly. It might be the perfect process, but I'm not perfect — as simple as it is, there are days where I am too busy to take the time to do it, and there are days where I am too lazy to take the time to do it. But I have had 100 percent effectiveness with this when I do it religiously. Like all things, it only goes as far as I am willing to make it go.

So here we go:

I start with exfoliating my skin — personally I do this to my face, shoulders, and neck area because this is where I am prone to break out. This isn't limited to these areas either, on a daily basis I target the face, shoulder, and neck — about once a week I will do a full body scrub, again this is dependent on you and your skin. I recommend a coffee scrub if you're going to try a full body exfoliation, at the very least find a product that says it's made for your body, not just face! What brand and type of scrub or face wash you use for this isn't going to matter if you follow through with the steps of this process. The only purpose exfoliating in this process serves is to clean the skin, mainly getting rid of dead skin, maybe any scabs, dry patches, etc. I also recommend popping any pimples before proceeding in the process. The following steps are going to get in there and really clear it up faster if you get rid of whatever is clogging up the pores, a good scrub will do the trick!

After exfoliating my face, shoulders, and neck I will typically use toner on my face — this too, might not be for everyone. It is worth a try, toner is relatively cheap, personally I use Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner, it's one of those "try what works for you" products, but if you're following with these steps it really shouldn't matter. Again, this isn't necessary, it just leaves my skin feeling cleaner. I don't include this in the process because it's optional.

So the next step is applying coconut oil to whatever area(s) you're looking to target. You're going to want to find a virgin, unrefined coconut oil- this can come in a couple different ways. Personally I use cooking coconut oil, Walmart brand right in the baking isle, it's about five dollars for a decent sized jar. There are spray forms, it's up to you what you want to use, the kind I use is a little less convenient, I scoop it out with my fingers and apply it, but hey it works. Coconut oil is such a great thing to just have too because not only is it amazing for your skin, it helps moisturize your hair as well when used properly. Anyway, apply this wherever your skin is struggling! For those of you with oily skin don't fret, my skin is the type to start out dry and get oily as the day progresses, so I feel your pain. Adding more oil to it might be hard for you but I promise it's worth it, I can't stress enough how great coconut oil is for your skin and how amazing it goes with this next step.

Now the next step is dependent on your skin type, age, and preference with this. So I was never big on tanning beds, I went before homecoming and prom in high school, but it wasn't until I was in college that I fell in love with tanning. I know many people are opposed to tanning in beds because of the risk of skin cancer. I don't doubt that there are risks, like I said it's your preference and I know that in many states you are unable to tan unless you are eighteen. If the tanning bed is not for you, lay out in the sun for an hour each day if you can without sunscreen! Coconut oil is a natural alternative to sunscreen, it reduces redness and promotes bronzing — make sure it is unrefined and virgin coconut oil though. For those of you without access to a tanning bed or the sun, or for those who just don't want to tan, I recommend still exfoliating and using the coconut oil before bed and washing it off in the morning with only warm water, try not to use any other skin care products. You might not experience results as quickly or as effective as with the benefits of UV light, but the coconut oil certainly would not hurt.

For those of you interested hearing about how the tanning bed changed my skin's life forever, I've been using the tanning bed here and there since I was about seventeen. It wasn't until nineteen that I began going regularly and that I began researching tanning oils that give a more bronzed look quicker, that are legit. I have used Bali Body and have nothing but love for their products, but they are pricey. I was looking for something good for my skin that wasn't going to cost that much considering how expensive using the beds can get, and that is how I stumbled across coconut oil. When I started I couldn't stop, I had all the benefits of the tanning bed plus moisturized, glowing skin. Once I get out of the tanning bed I will use the toner again on my face just to prevent sweat throwing off my skin's balance before I shower, but this step is optional too.

Now not everyone is going to get in the tanning bed or be out in the sun everyday — I realize this, the religious part of this process is applying coconut oil to your target areas. If it's a tanning day, exfoliate, apply your oil, tan, and wash off. If it's not a tanning day apply the coconut oil before bed and rinse it off in the morning. I don't recommend exfoliating everyday, but definitely before getting in the tanning bed.

If you're just new to tanning beds, depending on your skin type, I recommend beginning in a level one bed about two-three times a week for two weeks. This is how I began, my skin very rarely burns so I am able to move into a higher level bed every two weeks. Currently, I tan in a level one bed for 15 minutes, five days a week because of my gym/tanning package. For some people a regular week might look like three days a week in a level three bed for 12 minutes, for others a two day a week in a four level bed for 10 minutes will work, it's up to you!

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