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Last night I was dreaming of doing a series of posts on beauty, and it looks like Clarissa had similar thoughts to me, so I guess I’ll follow through on my thoughts and start it.

This is serendipitous timing actually, because I’m going shopping at Sephora tomorrow with Jaime and another trans lady friend, and we’ll be exploring make-up options. This is something that Jaime originally helped me get more comfortable with back when she was still in the closet, and now I’m highly enthusiastic about make-up and beauty, and hope we can have many adventures in the world of beauty together.

Taking a leaf out of Clarissa’s book, I’m going to be dividing these posts up into a series, and offering cheaper/free alternatives to what products I use when they present themselves.

Part I of this series will concern the base of beauty: A clean, healthy face and body. I’m a big believer in “less is more” when it comes to using make-up, and no matter how much you’re wearing, one always benefits from having clean, healthy, balanced skin to start off with. Make-up is meant to enhance, rather than conceal, after all, and this should be reflected in how you approach beauty, starting with an effort to keep your skin in good shape.

To keep my skin healthy, I have a basic routine: In the mornings, I wash my face with a good cleansing scrub, followed by a toner spray, and finish with a moisturiser. My secret to getting the most out of my morning care is starting off with steaming hot water. I plug the sink, and pour hot, steaming water into the basin, keeping my face close so that it soaks in the steam. This helps open up pores so that they’ll let go of whatever wicked gunk lurks in their depths. I splash and dampen up my face with the water, which should be more on the warm side by this point, then grab a tiny thimbleful of my scrub which is LUSH’s* Dark Angels, chosen because it’s highly effective and has the benefit of being a good visual marker of whether you got all of the areas of your face, since it leaves a trail of black on your skin. If you are not a die-hard LUSH-ie or in need of a cheaper alternative, three tablespoons of baking soda with a dribble of water will do the trick.

I mix the scrub with a drop of water to form a paste, then scrub it in circles across my face, getting everywhere except my eyes and mouth. Once I have a face full of grey-black charcoal scrub staring back at me in the mirror, I wash it off until all the black is rinsed off. Before going onto the spritz toner, I give my face a final splash in icy cold water, which closes my pores back up again and tightens skin. Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of King Henry II, used icy cold water as her beauty secret, and her radiant good looks were said to have lasted well into her 50s, a true feat for a lady in the 16th century.

The scrub is followed with a spritz of toner; I prefer Tea Tree Water, you can make your own at home with a spray bottle full of water and matcha (green tea powder) This is actually handy to keep around if you work in a drying environment (A building where air conditioning/heaters are used to excess, or on a plane) which takes about three minutes to dry, time which I use to wash out the sink of the charcoal smears from my face scrub.

When that’s done, moisturiser goes on, I use Enzymion. The moisturiser is the one product I do recommend splurging on, but if you must be thrifty, Clarissa had her own suggestions. I don’t just put moisturiser on my face, I spread it all across my neck down to my shoulders and décolletage, and always do it in upward strokes, my mother insisted it helped one look younger. It may or may not be hokum, but old habits die hard, so I always do it in upward strokes.

Right, so that was just the morning cleansing routine, and it took up four paragraphs. I told you I loved this topic! It is a good idea to break it down, I suppose.

The other important aspects of keeping my skin clean and healthy is my weekly facial. I usually save it for Friday, so I have plenty of time to enjoy it and unwind. I start off with a face scrub with Ocean Salt, followed by BB Seaweed or Brazened Honey, which I leave on for a good ten minutes before washing off. The weekly facial is important because it keeps your skin healthy and does additional exfoliation and cleansing your daily cleanses might miss. The mask draws stuff deep out of your pores (Keep this in mind the first time you use it, it may make your skin more spotty at first, but it evens out after a while) and freshens and smooths your overall complexion.

A beautiful base’s final steps come at night: After a day of wearing make-up, sweating, and puttering about, I prefer to use Ultra Bland to take off the day’s worth of make-up, dirt, and oil, olive oil can also do this in a pinch if your skin isn’t too oily. I use it by patting it on all over my face, waiting about a minute for it to sink in, and then rubbing it off with a damp, piping hot towel. The Ultra Bland wipes off all of the make-up, dirt, and build-up of the day, and leaves my skin feeling as soft and dewy as it was when I stepped out of my door in the morning. Nighttime is when your skin repairs itself, so it’s important for it to be clean.

I give nature a boost by squirting some Grease Lightning on my fingers and dabbing it on my forehead, nose, chin, and jawline, where I’m most likely to have breakouts. The Grease Lightning absorbs excess oil and keeps me from getting nasty pimples, it even stops “lurker” pimples from erupting onto my face at inopportune moments. After it dries, I add my moisturiser, patting in upstrokes. If Grease Lightning is out of budget, I recommend using a product called Clearasil Blackhead Control gel. Be gentle though, it can be harsh on sensitive skin.

Even though your face is probably the most important part of beauty maintenance, keeping the rest of your body clean and well-cared for is key to effective beauty product use, and it doesn’t take nearly as much effort as caring for the face does. I’ll detail that in our next post in this series, The Beauty Spot II: A Basic in Body Beauty.

* There are going to be a lot of LUSH products featured in this series, fair warning.

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