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True Radical Honesty From Our Community

  • The Toner Debate: Does Your Skin REALLY Need It?
    Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
    Cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen are a given in anyone’s skincare routine, but when it comes to toner, opinions are split. So, what’s the truth? Can toner really benefit your skin? Actually, yes, it can. And it does.

    Underrated and misunderstood, toner has endured a lot of bad press over the years. How so? Well, for the most part it's been due to those high-alcohol toners from decades ago that were celebrated for their astringent nature and ‘big gun’ approach to removing every last scrap of oil, makeup and indeed life from the face.

    We know most of you (us included, tbh) loved that kind of modus operandi during your hormonal teenage years, but the fact is, those sebum-strippers were totally counter-productive for the skin (spots and dry patches, anyone?). Furthermore, ‘squeaky clean’ skin has been way off the agenda since 1990 for everyone over the age of 35. Hence, it’s been a not-so-fond farewell to toner ever since.

    Honestly, we think this is unfair to the hard-working toners of the world since many of them provide so much more than the beloved Sea Breezes of yesteryear. In fact, the right formulation can offer all manner of post-cleansing benefits including brightening, anti-aging, firming and clarifying. 

    So, could a toner be the exact treatment you’ve been looking for in your skincare routine?

    Let’s see how toner can work for your own skin type, shall we?

    Oily Or Blemish-Prone Skin

    Sadly, some over-the-counter toners specifically formulated for oily skin are the worse things you could put on your face. Why? Because they often contain irritants which, granted, may dry out your skin in the short-term, but in the long-term work to stimulate oil production, making your skin even oilier... yet somehow kind of dry at the same time. Frustrating is not the word.

    To help stabilize your sebum levels, choose a balancing toner that contains AHAs or BHAs such as salicylic or glycolic acids. These are super effective for thoroughly cleansing the skin, while unclogging pores and helping to prevent breakouts.

    TruSkin Daily Super Toner

    Dry/Dehydrated Skin

    This may sound like a contradiction in terms, but treatment toners are a very effective way to hydrate and nourish the skin. It’s all about the ingredients that go into the toner – as well as the ones that have been left out, of course.

    If you suffer with dryness or dehydration, look for added ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera or hyaluronic acid and try to go alcohol-free.

    "If you have dry or sensitive skin, the one ingredient to avoid in your toner is alcohol. Alcohol is irritating and further dries out the skin," warns board-certified New York City dermatologist, Dr. Lance H. Brown.

    Alcohols like isopropyl alcohol, methanol, propanol and alcohol denat are often used as preservatives in skincare, and while many skin types tolerate them perfectly well, they can cause unwanted problems for others, including irritation, inflammation and breakouts. 

    Super Sensitive Skin

    Gentle and fragrance-free are the only way to go if you have sensitive skin. Sensitivities can be caused by all sorts of ingredients in skincare, so the less you pile on your skin, the better.

    One of our favorite ingredients for sensitive skin is rose water which dates back to ancient Egypt where it was applied to the skin for its powerful antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-redness properties. Rose water is a great cleanser and simultaneously helps heal, balance, hydrate and strengthen the skin. It can also be used to control excess sebum and works hard to soothe the symptoms of acne, eczema and dermatitis. Is there anything this baby can’t do for the skin? Well, rose water can’t reverse time and completely eradicate your wrinkles, but other than that it’s pretty darn amazing. Just ensure you only ever buy 100 percent pure rose water – added nasties will only cause unwanted flare-ups.

    Dull Or Mature Skin

    Good news, people: toner can also improve the next step in your skincare routine which is great news for anyone interested in combating dullness, fine lines, pigmentation or other visible signs of aging. This may sound like the stuff of dreams, but bear with us while we explain.

    It’s a well-known fact that moist skin absorbs product more effectively than dry skin. This is why you’re often advised to apply moisturizer to slightly damp, cleansed skin. Well, the same applies to freshly toned skin. The added moisture gives your skincare the perfect base, allowing it to penetrate the skin faster and more effectively. Simple science.

    "To help naturally exfoliate mature skin, look for toners that contain additional ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids, salicylic acids and retinols," explains Dr. Lance H. Brown.

    "Antioxidants like vitamin C are also an effective way to contribute to the overall health of your skin," he adds.

    Good news: we've got you covered right there, with our Daily Super Toner. You're welcome.


    The Toner Debate: Does Your Skin REALLY Need It?
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  • How To Build A New Skincare Routine
    Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
    We’re totally on board with upping your skincare game, but it’s rarely as simple as buying the latest Instagram beauty hit and hoping for the best. It takes time, patience and a little side of know-how. Here are our golden rules for getting it right, every time.

    Rule #1: Understand Your Skin

    You may think you know your skin type, but when was the last time you took a few moments to study and feel your skin? Three months ago? Last year? Well, let us ask you this: does your skin act, look and feel the same as it did a couple of months ago? Probably not.

    All manner of external and internal factors change the way your skin behaves. Yes, it might be a little shiny and oily during the summer, but then it could feel dry and tight in the winter. Similarly, that super lightweight lotion might have been perfectly adequate for moisturizing your skin in your teens, but now you’re older, chances are your skin needs much more help in the hydration department.

    So, what’s the solution? The best way to know what your skin is doing right now is to cleanse it, leave it totally free of product for a couple of hours, then look at it in the mirror and feel it – with clean hands, of course. If it already looks shiny and feels greasy, you probably have oily skin, whereas if there are patches of dryness or flakiness, it’s erring towards being dry and/or dehydrated. Maybe it’s a mixture of the two: then you have combination skin. And if it feels absolutely perfect, then lucky you, you have normal skin. Simple.

    Next, study areas of concern such as around the eyes or along your cheekbones. Do you see lines that weren’t there last time you checked? Dark circles around your eyes? Or maybe there’s a little pigmentation across your cheeks? All this detective work will help you pinpoint not only your skin type, but the areas you want to address with your skincare routine.

    Rule #2: Always Do A Patch Test

    Skincare ingredients don't have to be tested or approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) so, while there’s plenty of research and data on how effective and safe most products and their ingredients are, it’s always sensible to test out anything new before putting it all over your face. Yes, we know that desperate feeling of wanting to immediately slather your face in your spanking new Vitamin C serum, but do a patch test, wait just 24 hours and your skin will thank you for it.

    Patch tests are very simple. All you need to do is apply a little of the product to a discreet patch of your skin (behind your ears, inside your elbow, on the side of your neck, even on your hand), then leave it for 24 hours to check for a reaction. Nothing? Then you should be good to apply it to your face. If, however, you experience any kind of redness, swelling, itching or irritation, something in that product clearly doesn’t agree with your skin, so you should return it and either try something else, or go back to a product you know works.


    Photo by Linda Prebreza from Pexels

    If you know your skin is consistently super sensitive and reactive to any new brand or product, please be extra careful when trying something new. In fact, your best bet is to book an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist before switching up your skincare routine. Chances are, you’re allergic to a certain ingredient which a skin specialist can diagnose, then you can avoid.

    Rule #3: Slowly Does It

    The primary goal of a great skincare routine is to consistently improve and maintain a healthy complexion. So, while it might be tempting to go nuts with retinols, AHAs and antioxidant serums all at once, this is really not wise if your skin is not used to such active ingredients. In fact, it’s the opposite of wise – especially if you have sensitive skin.

    A better idea is to start your skin off with one new product at a time, giving yourself one or two weeks before introducing another. Then, if you have any kind of negative reaction, you’ll be able to pinpoint the exact product that caused it.

    Rule #4: Learn How To Layer

    Nailed the right balance of products but not sure in which order to apply them? After cleansing and toning, the general rule of thumb is to apply the thinnest product first and the thickest, most dense product (usually sunscreen or night cream) last. This means your serum (maybe it’s an antioxidant, perhaps it’s an acne treatment) comes after toning, followed by your moisturizer to seal in all the goodness. If you like to apply a face oil for extra hydration or radiance, this can be applied after moisturizer because oil has the ability to penetrate cream, but not the other way round. And if your moisturizer doesn't contain sunscreen? Apply this as your final step. Most sunscreen sits on your skin rather than penetrating the top layers, so if you put this on before anything else it'll act like a barrier and prevent your products from doing their jobs. That’s what we call money down the drain.

    Another thing to remember is not to rush as you layer your products. Slap them on too quickly and you’ll run the risk of pilling. Instead, apply your serum, then stick the coffee on or brush your teeth before moving on to moisturizer and finally sunscreen.

    Rule #5: Remember, Breakouts Aren’t Always Bad

    Granted, breakouts are often a response to something in your skincare routine. Over-rich moisturizer containing mineral oils, petroleum and petrolatum for example, can suffocate your pores, increase sebum production and exacerbate pimples, so avoid these if you’re prone to acne.

    Also, if you clash certain ingredients in your beauty regimen – hydroquinone and benzoyl peroxide, for example, are a notoriously bad combo – your skin will not thank you for it. We know this can be confusing, so try readily prepared combinations from trusted skincare brands or stick with one main, active ingredient in your morning regimen and another one in the evening.

    But as the title of this section notes, breakouts are not always a bad thing.

    Say hello to the skin purge...

    Skin purging is when your skin reacts to certain active ingredients like retinol, AHAs and BHAs which work to accelerate the exfoliation process, thus promoting cell turnover. While these ingredients sound great in practice – and they are in the long run – they can temporarily bring blockages to the surface, causing redness, irritation and unwanted pimples.

    Our best advice for avoiding these annoying flare-ups? First, slowly introduce active ingredients into your routine (see #3 above) to allow your skin to adjust – even if this means using a certain product just once or twice a week to begin with. You can always up your usage as your skin becomes more tolerant.

    Also, be patient as your skin adapts to new, powerful ingredients – pimples, blackheads and bumps due to skin purging are temporary and should soon pass. If they don’t go away within a few weeks, however, or if they get worse, always visit a board-certified dermatologist or skin expert for advice.

    How To Build A New Skincare Routine
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  • Is Aloe Vera The Secret To Flawless Skin?
    Photo by pisauikan on Unsplash
    The soothing skin benefits of aloe vera after a few hours in the sun cannot be beaten. But aloe offers so much more than instant, feel-good sun relief. In fact, it’s packed with nutrients to help heal, repair and hydrate your skin. Want the lowdown? You’ve got it.

    Otherwise known as aloe barbadensis, aloe vera is an evergreen, cactus-like succulent that’s just one of 500 species of the genus, aloe. Found naturally in North Africa, it’s been cultivated worldwide for centuries for the water-rich, medicinal gel that develops in its rosette of leaves and helps it survive in its naturally dry habitat. According to the Medical News Today the use of aloe vera can be traced back as far as the 16th century, and in ancient Egypt it was even known as ‘that plant of immortality.’ 

    Before we even touch on skincare, it's interesting to note that the benefits of aloe vera are endless. Not only has it been proven to fight cavities and heal ulcers on the feet, but further research shows that it may even help reduce depression, memory loss and irritable bowel syndrome. Additional studies are still required to back up these latter claims, but watch this space...

    By far the most well-known use for aloe vera, however, is as a topical skincare ingredient. In fact, it's so effective that it goes into every one of our products, here at TruSkin. Yes, you read that correctly. Every. Single. One. Here are five reasons why we believe in it so much.

    1. Aloe Vera Soothes Sunburn Like No Other

    Not only is aloe vera naturally cooling on the skin (yes, even for sensitive skin types), but it helps reduce itchiness, irritation and inflammation which can all be symptoms of over-exposure to the sun.

    The reason it’s so effective is two-fold. First, aloe vera contains polysaccharides (chain-like sugars) which are anti-inflammatory and help the skin retain water to stay supple and hydrated. It’s also rich in enzymes, active minerals and a whole host of vitamins including A, B, C, D and E which, together, accelerate the healing process.

    According to the AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) you should always use a moisturizer containing either aloe vera or soy to soothe sunburned skin.

    2. It’s Great For Acne-Prone Skin

    Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera is awesome when combined with other acne-fighting ingredients for effectively reducing mild to moderate acne lesions.

    It's great in cleansers to help remove bacteria and excess oils from the surface of the skin and thus reduce the development of acne spots. And if you want to target breakouts while you sleep, try it as an overnight treatment. It works especially well when combined with ingredients such as tea tree oil and salicylic acid.

    Try: Tea Tree Clear Skin Super Serum

    3. Aloe Vera Helps Fight Free Radicals

    The skin hates free radicals. And rightly so. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are formed in the skin after exposure to unwanted external aggressors such as light, heat and pollution. Because they have electrons missing from their outer shells, free radicals like to stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from other molecules such as DNA, collagen and elastin. This causes all manner of unnecessary damage to the skin.

    So, how do you counteract such savagery? With antioxidants, that’s how. Antioxidants are clever little actives that are happy to donate electrons to free radicals without losing their stability. This means all the good stuff in your skin gets left alone to do its job at keeping your complexion as healthy as possible, while those hard-working antioxidants take all the pressure.

    Along with other skin-loving ingredients like retinol, niacinamide, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, research published by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) has proven that aloe vera is a very useful antioxidant in skincare.

    4. Its Skin Healing Properties Are Second To None

    The healing powers of aloe vera don't just apply to sunburn. In fact, whether you’re hoping to heal an old zit, scab, scar or even a burn wound, aloe vera’s got your back.

    Remember that delicious cocktail of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals we talked about earlier? Well, they work synergistically to soothe, hydrate and repair the skin’s natural moisture barrier which can help heal all manner of skin concerns. Buh-bye blemishes.

    5. Aloe Vera Is A Super Effective Moisturizer

    As you might have gathered by now, aloe vera is packed with no end of nutrients to help maintain truly healthy skin. Well, it doesn’t stop there because the wonder-plant also contains another goodie: phytosterols. 

    Phytosterols are cholesterol-like molecules that help maintain the structure of cell membranes. They cannot be synthesized naturally by the body, so they have to be either ingested or applied topically. In the diet, phytosterols help reduce cholesterol and are found mostly in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and beans. And topically, thanks to skincare ingredients like aloe vera, they've been shown to increase collagen and hyaluronic acid production. This works to help prevent trans-epidermal water loss which strengthens, hydrates and protects the skin.

    Strong, super-hydrated, soft and supple? Now, that's the type of skin everyone strives for.

    Is Aloe Vera The Secret To Flawless Skin?
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  • Hyaluronic Acid: The Legit Skincare Must-Have
    Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
    Hyaluronic acid is neither new nor fancy, but the truth of the matter is it works. So, it’s time to forget your snail mucus and 24k gold-infused serums, and embrace this tried, tested and totally trusted wonder ingredient.

    Everyone knows that moisturizer is one of the most important steps in an effective skincare routine. After all, if your skin lacks essential moisture, you may as well throw every other product you own in the trash. The real issue, however, is finding the perfect moisturizer for you. You know the one – that sweet product which makes your skin feel soft, supple and hydrated, without leaving you with that icky ‘just-dipped-your-face-in-a-vat-of-olive-oil’ glow.

    Well, chances are this much beloved product of yours will contain hyaluronic acid (HA), because when it comes to skin-loving moisturizing ingredients, HA is one of, if not the best. And yes, we know that may be a bold statement, but it’s one we firmly believe in.

    Need a little convincing? Then here’s some important information about the mighty HA that proves why it’s rarely beaten in the skincare stakes…

    What Is Hyaluronic Acid? The Science Bit

    Hyaluronic acid (also known as hyaluronan), might sound like something hippies ingested in the sixties, but au contraire, dear friends; it’s actually a type of polymer that’s found naturally in the body. Composed partly of sugars, HA is present in the eyes and joints where it functions as a powerful lubricant, but most of it (50 percent, in fact) is found in the skin's structure where it acts as a humectant. What is a humectant, you ask? It’s basically a water-loving ingredient that draws moisture in and helps retain it – kind of like a sponge. Get this: studies prove that HA can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. That means just one gram can hold up to six liters of water. Impressive stuff, right?

    HA not only acts like one big drink of water for your skin; it also stimulates collagen production, helps reduce inflammation, promotes skin healing and works like an antioxidant to fight free radicals and reduce the signs of premature aging. 


    Photo by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

    Why Your HA Needs A Boost

    If the human body, and your skin in particular, is overflowing with a readily available supply of hyaluronic acid, this begs the question: why do you need more of it in your skincare routine? Fair point. And if you’re reading this as a young, fresh 16-year-old, it’s a totally valid point. The thing is, just like collagen and elastin, levels of HA start to decrease from the age of around 18, and when you hit your 40s, these levels can drop as dramatically as 50 percent.

    What does this mean for you? Depleted levels of HA contribute significantly to the signs of aging including aching joints, dry eyes and obviously sagging, wrinkled skin. Sad times. 

    How To Up Your Hyaluronic Acid

    The good news is that HA supplements and injections are widely available from your physician if you’re suffering with mild to severe joint pain or issues like arthritis. Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers are also a great choice for plumping hard-to-treat fine lines and wrinkles, and most reputable injectable brands (Juvéderm and Restylane, for example) use synthetic HA, which means it’s not derived from animal sources. We love that.

    When it comes to your skin, a simple way to help it retain hyaluronic acid on a daily basis is to ensure you eat a healthy, well-rounded diet with lots of fruit and veggies. Full disclosure: an apple a day will not create miracles for your HA levels, but it will certainly help.

    And then there’s our favorite subject of all: skincare. The best news is that as a skincare ingredient, hyaluronic acid is formulated to act like your own, naturally-occurring HA. This means it rarely causes allergic reactions, making it the perfect choice for all skin types, even the most sensitive. It also combines well with other active ingredients so is perfectly safe to use after chemical peels or with a retinol treatment, for example.

    Warning: Not All HA Products Are Created Equal

    When checking out the ingredients of your favorite beauty products, it’s good to know what you’re looking at. Manufacturers are obliged to list ingredients in order from the highest to the lowest concentration, but only until an ingredient is 1 percent or less – then they can be listed in any order they like. Research shows the ideal concentration of HA is at least 1 or 2 percent, so if you see it hovering around the bottom of your ingredients list, it’s probably not going to be all that effective.

    Unlike some skincare brands, we at TruSkin ensure you get a good dose of hyaluronic acid in every drop of our HA products. We even list the concentrations on many of our labels for full disclosure. Our hyaluronic acid is also synthetic, vegan-friendly and we believe in it so much that it appears in no less than eight of our products and every single one of our serums.

    And we think that speaks volumes.

    Hyaluronic Acid
    Hyaluronic Acid: The Legit Skincare Must-Have
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  • Antioxidants And Your Skin: What’s The Deal?
    Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash
    With their countless skincare benefits, antioxidants are to skin what Netflix is to your couch – sheer bliss. Here’s everything you need to know about these super-effective skincare powerhouses…

    Sure, many beauty buzzwords are on a need-to-know basis (yes, we’re talking to you glycosaminoglycans), but there are a few key terms and ingredients you really have to understand. And antioxidants are right up there.

    Here at TruSkin, we truly believe antioxidants are the key to a healthy, radiant complexion. How so? Fair question, so let’s buckle up for a few facts, shall we?

    First, a small science lesson. As far as your skin is concerned, antioxidants are naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals that help prevent damage caused by free radicals. What are free radicals? They’re the result of exposure to light, heat, pollution or other external aggressors and for fear of bombarding you with too much chemistry spiel, they’re highly reactive, unstable atoms with unpaired electrons in their outer shells. This means that to stabilize themselves they tend to snatch electrons from other atoms or molecules (think DNA, collagen and elastin), resulting in what’s known as oxidative stress. And this is where antioxidants come to the rescue. Unlike other vital skin cell components that become damaged when they lose electrons, antioxidants can donate them to free radicals without losing their own stability.

    Still with us? Good! :-)

    The human body naturally has a very efficient antioxidant defense system. Unfortunately, the inevitable aging process, together with overexposure to the sun, pollutants or other lifestyle nasties such as smoking, alcohol and poor nutrition, disrupts this defense system and free radicals start to take over. This causes damage not only to your skin, but to the health of your entire body.

    Staying out of the sun, wearing a high, broad-spectrum sunscreen and having a healthy, balanced diet are all important ways to protect your skin from the visible effects of free radical damage such as lines, wrinkles, sagging and discoloration. But include a hard-working, clinically-proven antioxidant (or two) in your daily skincare routine and you immediately ramp up your skin’s ability to win the war.

    Here are some of the best antioxidants the skincare world has to offer…

    The TruSkin Big 5

    1. Retinol: The Ultimate Age-Fighting Hero

    You’ll see retinol splashed all over the skincare shelves. And for good reason. As a vitamin-A derivative that gets converted into retinoic acid when applied to the skin, retinol works by increasing cell turnover to help exfoliate, repair and strengthen the complexion. Unlike full-strength prescription retinoids like tretinoin, however, retinol needs to go through two steps to become retinoic acid. This makes it much gentler and tolerable on the skin and why it’s seen as the darling of anti-aging, antioxidant ingredients.

    Great For: Improving fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration and poor texture.

    Find It In: Retinol Moisturizer

    2. Niacinamide: The Gentle Skincare Giant

    If there were a prize for the most unassuming hero of antioxidants, niacinamide would win, hands down. This water-soluble form of vitamin B3 is found in many foods like meat, grains and leafy greens, and its skin-loving powers are often harnessed by the beauty industry. Why? Because niacinamide has the innate ability to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier by increasing its ceramide and fatty acid levels. This not only helps prevent environmental damage, but visibly improves the appearance of the skin.

    Great For: Reducing redness, blotchiness, brown spots and enlarged pores. Sidenote: it’s also well tolerated by sensitive skin types.

    Find It In: Tea Tree Clear Skin Serum Serum

    3. Vitamin C: The Super Antioxidant

    Skincare skeptics may try to convince you that topical vitamin C is unstable and therefore pointless. Not so. Vitamin C is a super-effective antioxidant that boosts collagen production, lightens pigmentation, adds clarity, provides UV protection and, well, the list goes on. You just need to find the right form of vitamin C, which, in our opinion is Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP). SAP is known for being much more stable than l-ascorbic acid, and many find it to be much less likely to cause irritation. Win-win.

    Great For: Boosting radiance, reducing inflammation and breakouts, and improving poor texture.

    Find It In: Vitamin C-Plus Super Serum 

    4. Vitamin E: The Sun Damage Savior

    A seasoned skincare vet and loved by many, vitamin E is a big-hitter when it comes to helping prevent and correct sun damage. It’s also a darn good moisturizer. There are many types of vitamin E, but you’ll most commonly see this lipid-based antioxidant listed in your day cream as tocopherol or tocopheryl acetate. On its own, however, it’s easily oxidized so can quickly become ineffective on contact with the skin. This is why you’ll generally find it combined with another antioxidant powerhouse like vitamin C which instantly makes it more stable and beneficial. Antioxidant cocktailing, hey? You’ve got to love that.

    Great For: Treating dry, rough or photodamaged skin.

    Find It In: Vitamin C Serum

    5. Hyaluronic Acid: The Moisturizing King

    Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is arguably one of the best, most effective skincare ingredients available. Found naturally in your body and particularly abundant within the skin’s structure, HA is a humectant, which means it works like a sponge to trap moisture in your skin – up to 1000 times its own weight in water, in fact. The problem is, it gradually depletes as you age, which is why including a topical botanical HA in your skincare routine is such an awesome idea. Along with its moisturizing prowess, HA also reportedly promotes collagen production, reduces inflammation and fights free radicals. Yes, it’s that good.

    Great For: All skin types (even sensitive) to help maintain soft, supple skin and fight premature aging.

    Find It In: Hyaluronic Acid Serum For Skin & Face

    Hyaluronic Acid
    Antioxidants And Your Skin: What’s The Deal?
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