How was your weekend?  The highlight of my Saturday night was doing some light housework while jumping on random Instagram lives.  When the notification came in that Megan Milan was live, I decided to join.

It was pretty casual with no real agenda. She did the IG live to give a quick update to her fans and answer questions in the comments.  I sat patiently and waited for the person to ask the question that has been on my mind since I first seen a pic of her.  Megan's skin is amazing.  I couldn't believe that no one asked her to divulge her secrets.
I waited long enough, I finally jumped in her comments and asked her to reveal her favorite skin products. As soon as she read my question, her whole demeanor changed. Suddenly, her voice was full of excitement and energy like she was waiting for someone to ask.
She responded by saying, "my skin favorite product is witch hazel. Witch hazel! Witch hazel!" Megan continued on with a story.  "Once I had these stress-induced breakouts that were so bad that I thought I might need to see a professional."   Mind you, Megan is an aspiring model so having clear skin is an absolute must.  She tried all these natural products and nothing worked until she tried witch hazel.  Soon her skin cleared all the way up and she's been singing the praises of witch hazel ever since. The other product Megan gave props to was coconut oil.  She uses all natural coconut oil as a moisturizer.  Let's add her to the list of beauties who attribute their glowing skin to coconut oil.

So what's so special about witch hazel?  One website proclaimed that witch hazel as one of the most powerful natural acne treatments known to man.  It's a powerful astringent with the ability to kill acne-causing bacteria.  Witch hazel is an amazing toner that can remove excess oil deposits and clear out pores.  Did I mention that witch hazel is also an antioxidant?  Not only is your skin getting the anti-inflammatory, acne-fighting benefits, but you there's also the anti-aging factor due to the antioxidant component.  That's what makes witch hazel so amazing. After Megan revealed her favorite product, a bunch of other people in the chat co-signed on how witch hazel helped them.

I had a few pesky little breakouts so I decided to give witch hazel a try.  I pulled out a bottle buried deep in my product closet. For the last couple of days, witch hazel was my main astringent and, I'm happy to say, that I'm completely acne free this morning.  Let's not forget that witch hazel also has the power to help create this type of transformation.  Yay for witch hazel!   Thanks Megan!!!
The other pressing question that several people asked Megan was regarding her signature lip color you often see her wearing in most of her pics (NSFW).  It's a deep wine color that looks amazing on her skin.  Megan confirmed that she has one lip color that she pretty much wears all the time -- Stilla's all day liquid lipstick in Chianti.  Stilla boasts of 6 hours of budge-free longlasting wear.  It's also infused with vitamin E and avocado oil to help keep lips moisturized.  Even after eating and drinking Chianti still looked great on her in the video.  But instead of the rich plum color, it had faded into more of a muted mauve shade.

Lastly, Megan was asked to share her favorite workout for toned abs. Without skipping a beat, she blurted out "Russian twists.... that's all you have to do and it gets your stomach together." I had no idea what Russian twists were so I headed over to Youtube for a visual.  Anyone who's done Russian twists before know that this is a total ab workout.  It strengthens your all parts of your core. It's obviously an awesome oblique exercise, but this movement also targets your main abdominal muscles as well.  And, if you make sure to pull your stomach in during the workout, you'll also engage your transverse abdominal muscles (your inner corset).   Russian twists also involve a lot of back and spine movement so if you have any back issues, you may want to skip this one.

Check out 4 ways to do the Russian Twist from beginner to advanced level. 

You guys know that I love an Instagram Beauty Secret reveal.  Today I stumbled upon a post that is pure gold.  Who doesn't love a good transformation pic?  This one is so inspiring that I had to share it with y'all.  Luckily for us, she shared the exact routine that caused such a dramatic change in her skin.  Best of all, it's only 3 steps and all of the items are readily accessable no matter your budget.

Let's discuss.
Instagram user Shylajanai posted this image and was bombarded with likes and comments.  Her caption laid out the details of what products created her perfectly flawless skin.

According to Lajanai, the 3 life changing beauty items were:
//African Black Soap
//Thayer's Witchazel
//Rosewater facial spray

Below, she provides a bit more detail about her specific routine. Plus we get to see a close-up shot of her glorious skin in motion. (click on image below to view video)
first I wash my face with the 100% pure black soap every morning and every night (don't know the brand but I get it at Mid k), then at night I tone my face with the Thayers witch hazel and put on the eucerin face lotion and spray the rosewater by Mario Badescu. I only use the rosewater in the morning if I'm wearing make up that day, I'll soak my beauty blender with it. Also let's address a few things: I know I have big eyes, I get it from my daddy. No I'm not lying, I don't have any reason to because although I had bad skin my confidence was never touched, I'm honestly just tryna help my sisters out. I'm not high, The sun was in my eyes because I was facing it dead on, I'm sure y'all have heard of squinting. I have combination skin sometimes it's dry sometimes it's oily. And nah that ain't my hair.
A post shared by Shy-luh Juh-nay (@shylajanai) on

Did you notice how she mentions that she soaks her beauty blender in rose water before applying makeup?  I thought that was brilliant.  Whenever I use a makeup sponge to apply foundation, the product seems to go deeper into the skin, providing a more flawless finish.  Imagine applying a blend of rose water and your favorite foundation at once.  I suspect that it'll add a bit more luster to the finished look.  This may be a something to try during the dry fall and winter months.

This is the second time I've featured someone with flawless skin who attributed all they had to African black soap.  Seems like black soap can be life changing if your skin responds well to it.  I've already reintroduced black soap back into my routine because I keep hearing so many great reviews.

Now let's talk about the obvious. This woman was able to overcome active acne AND somehow eliminate all of the discoloration associated with it.  I'm sure you're wondering how.  I was too.  Based on some of her responses in the comments, Lajanai didn't really take any deliberate action to create even toned skin.  She sorta attributes it to the black soap but wasn't quite sure if black soap was the true hero.  We know from the other article that pure (raw) black soap has the ability to address acne, exfoliate, and even out skin tone.  Some say the long-term effects of black soap is like having microdermabrasion done.  This soap is an actual dream come true.  Keep in mind that Lajanai's transformation took about a year so the fading was probably a gradual process.  But through it all, she remained consistent and was rewarded because of it.



I still shudder when I reflect back on the days when I constantly suffered from breakouts.  It was years of sheer agony.  There was a lot of trial and error before finally making progress.  One thing I wish I would have done differently was visit a dermatologist for professional advice.

Yesterday, I happened upon a video where a beauty guru with amazing skin mentioned that her skin's turnaround was a direct result of partnering with a dermatologist.  He gave her a small suggestion that really made a difference in her acne routine.  After following his advice, her skin transformed.
First, he inquired about her current process.  As she shared her daily routine, he interjected by informing he to switch her cleanser.  His recommendation was to use a benzoyl peroxide based cleanser.  She advised him that a benzoyl peroxide cream was already a part of her regimen.

He responded by informing her that benzoyl peroxide as a cleanser was more effective than in cream form.

Interesting piece of advice, but she didn't elaborate on why.  So I had to find out more.

After a little bit of research, I think I understand the logic behind his thinking.   First, we must understand how benzoyl peroxide works.  I didn't know this but benzoyl peroxide has exfoliating properties.  Essentially, it cleans and clears out pores while helping to prevent blocked comedones. BP also kills bacteria on the skin that promotes breakouts.    It sorta makes sense to enjoy these benefits while washing to ensure the pores are clean and clear of bacteria.  Benzoyl Peroxide also has a pH similar to water so, in theory, it remains effective as a wash vs. salicylic acid with a lower pH. Once salicylic acid comes in contact with water, it loses its acidic power.

A study was conducted with 56 participants suffering from acne.  They were instructed to use a 6% benzoyl peroxide wash plus a 0.1% Retin A gel.  The control group relied solely on the use of Retin-A to treat their breakouts.   At the end of 12 weeks, the group that paired both a benzoyl peroxide cleanser and retin-A experienced a 59% decrease in acne compared to their counterparts without the BP cleanser who saw a 30% reduction.

In this particular experiment, a BP cream was not utilized but the results were evident. This confirms that benzoyl based cleansers are indeed effective.   That dermatologist definitely knew what he was talking about.  Post wash, the guru applies a prescription based antibacterial cream.  Perhaps you might want to experiment with using topical probiotics as a suitable alternative.

I'm not saying that BP based creams are ineffective. But there appears to be some value in adding it to your cleansing routine.  Looking back, I realized that I rarely used acne medicated cleansers.   Perhaps if I would have known this piece of insider information, things could have been different.

Caitlin McAvoy, Dancer, Nashville Ballet

The #ITGTopShelfie series puts the focus on the lives and beauty routines of Into The Gloss's lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Show us your own Top Shelfie on Instagram—tag us @intothegloss, and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie.

“Hi, I’m Caitlin McAvoy [@caitlinmcavoy] and I currently live in Nashville, originally from Overland Park, Kansas. I work as a dancer in the Nashville Ballet's second company. I love the feeling of dancing—it's hard to describe what it's like to be on stage and to trust your body and your training to do their jobs. A lot of times, it feels like work. Other times, it just feels so freeing.

The costumes, makeup, and hair are always exciting, but beauty in ballet is interesting—dancers are beautiful not because of the way they look, but because of the way they move. I think ballet has really broadened what I consider beautiful. People can bring so much more to the table than by being conventionally ‘attractive.’ At the same time, it makes me hyperaware of how I look, just because we spend so much time looking in the mirror. I’m definitely particular about how I want to look, because if I don’t like my hair or my makeup, I’m stuck looking at it all day.

My earliest exposure to makeup was through dance. My mom would do my makeup for all of my recitals and performances, and I always thought it was fun to wear. Now I really enjoy doing it myself. When you're doing stage makeup for 12 performances and eight dress rehearsals a week, you have to be efficent, so my routine is almost methodical. For a full face, I’ll put on Laura Geller Spackle Primer in Champagne first because it makes me feel glow-y, and then I'll use Tonymoly Panda's Dream Brightening Eye Base under my eyes for my huge dark circles. Then I’ll apply Dr. Jart Beauty Balm in Light/Medium and Cover FX Cream Concealer in Extra Light, which I blend with a Beautyblender under my eyes and around my nostrils. I have to set my undereye concealer with powder or else it tends to crease, so I use a T.LeClerc Powder in Banane. It’s a mess when I open it, but the product is great.

I’ll use the darker side of Nars’ Contour Blush in Olympia to contour my cheekbones, and I like Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Palette in Champagne Glow to highlight. For blush, I love Too Faced Love Flush in Love Hangover and Justify My Love. They’re super pigmented and go on so evenly. I’ll blend those in with a kabuki brush. I've also gotten really good at finding products that keep my makeup in place... If you know you're dancing a role that makes you sweat a lot, apply your foundation and then use a loose powder on a sponge and press it into your face. You can apply your blush and contour on top and it won’t slide all over the place.

For my eyebrows I use Anastasia's Dipbrow Pomade in Medium Brown, which is easy and lasts all day. On my eyelids I’ll start with Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base. It's seriously the greatest primer and one of my favorite products maybe ever. There’s no one go-to eyeshadow for me, but I love Colourpop’s Nillionaire, Weenie, and Mixed Tape shades. After eyeshadow, I’ll mist with Make Up For Ever’s Mist and Fix Setting Spray. I like to set my eyebrows with NYX Control Freak Eyebrow Gel and will do a coat of mascara with Too Faced’s Better Than Sex. It’s the best for length and volume and doesn’t clump at all. Finally, I’ll use a lipgloss or lipstick. Lip color is important on me because I look really pale without it, and Lipstick Queen’s Jean Queen is one of my favorite pinks. I really like Revlon's Rose Velvet for an everyday look because the color isn't too red or too pink, and the texture is really silky on your lips.

I only wash my face when I shower in the evening, and I use Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser along with a Simple Micellar Water for my eye makeup. After I wash, I spritz my face with the Herbivore Botanicals Balance Toner that I'm completely obsessed with. I’ll follow with Mizon's All-In-One Snail Repair Cream once the toner has dried. You can put a ton of it on and your skin completely absorbs it! Before I go to sleep I'll put on Mario Badescu's Seaweed Night Cream and Glycolic Eye Cream, and if I have any pimples, I use Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion on them overnight. In the morning I just use the micellar water on a cotton ball, then toner spray and Mizon cream before I do my makeup. I break out really easily and have struggled with acne, so my skincare routine is probably the most important part of my beauty regimen.

My hair is always up [for dance], so I wash it one to three times a week—it’s really fine and it dries out if I wash it any more than that. I use R+Co's Sunset Blvd Shampoo and Conditioner, but if it's cold and my scalp is dry, I'll use Neutrogena's T/Gel Shampoo. I also love to use the Fekkai Technician Color Care Hair Mask in place of a conditioner because it's so hydrating. Before blow drying I'll spray some R+Co Dallas Thickening Spray on my roots to give me some volume. I always have to use hairspray because my hair will slip out of my bun without it, but I've found that R+Co's Outer Space Flexible Hairspray doesn’t build up a gross layer and make your hair look filmy. It really holds!

To stay fit, I eat a lot of protein and try to drink a ton of water—even though I’m pretty bad at actually doing it. Depending on what I'm rehearsing, which can change drastically month to month, I'll go on the treadmill and add more cardio to keep my stamina up. When we rehearse ballets like Swan Lake or the Nutcracker, the work is pretty aerobic and you'll be in rehearsals all day, so your stamina will be up and you'll be really in shape. But when we’re not rehearsing for a performance, I'll add in additional cardio workouts. I also love to get a lot of sleep. Napping and going to sleep early are things I have to do. When I’m tired, I’m not functional in any way.”

—as told to ITG

Fellow ballerina Courtney Lavine recommends one very luxe (and affordable) weekend bath routine in her #ITGTopShelfie.

The post Caitlin McAvoy, Dancer, Nashville Ballet appeared first on Into The Gloss.

The Backstage Fix For Skin That’s Not Quite So Perfect

Hair the past few seasons at the shows has been all about individuality—Ruth Bell's got a buzz cut, Mica's got her short curls, Lineisy has her natural texture, and stylists are game to work with it all, not against it. But what about on the face, I wonder? Seems hard to believe that makeup artists would do the same skincare on every single model pre-look...

Believe it or not, some models get *gasp* pimples. (In all honesty, most of them are easy enough to blur out in Photoshop and it seems like common courtesy given the kind of stress everyone is under this week—no one wants their zits slapped up on a beauty website, even if they believe in journalistic integrity.) That said, the skin at Adam Selman was particularly good. Like, noticeably different even in a sea of shows where good skin is the only beauty look. It all came down to a tip from Emi Kaneko, the makeup key artist this year. I had asked her a sort of odd question: If I were an 18 year-old Dutch next-big-thing model, with bone structure like Julia Fleming BUT with my skin (sensitive, red, prone to breakouts), could she make it work? Yes, she said without hesitating. She then suggested some products—including one that we haven't already covered to death on ITG (oh boy!). Read closely:

"I always start with Bioderma Créaline to remove any excess oil, dirt, makeup, or residue. You always want to start with a clean palette. Then I use the SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion—it's the absolute best for oily or acne-prone skin. It purifies and gently exfoliates without drying. Most toners for oily skin contain alcohol which makes the skin dry which then causes the skin to produce more oil throughout the day, leading to more breakouts. Not good. After that, my favorite product is Nelsons Pure and Clear Acne Treatment Gel. It's homeopathic and has arnica, calendula, and tea tree oil to instantly relieve any inflammation and redness without the dryness. Once it sets, it almost creates a kind of seal so that you can safely use products on top. I like it for makeup because you don’t have to do half the work with covering with foundation. I’m all about using skincare to make it work. And Nelsons is especially great under makeup because it won’t pill once it sets. Also a little trick I use is Homeoplasmine for those super dry blemishes with excess skin that won’t go away. I slab on some all over and let it sit for about five minutes, apply a bit of Nelsons and voila…smooth and ready to go."

And there you have it.

—Tom Newton

Photographed by the author.

More artist tips and good-looking models can be found in ITG's Fashion Week roundup, right this way.

The post The Backstage Fix For Skin That’s Not Quite So Perfect appeared first on Into The Gloss.