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I always find myself questioning skincare more than anything else. So as part of The So Project, I am going to try and answer as many questions as I can. It's taken a lot of trial and error to get when I am now, and I'm still not satisfied with my current line up. But hopefully you can learn from my mistakes, and there are quite a few. First of all I always buy the cheaper alternative to see how my skin reacts and then invest in something a little more high end. It's a great way to save money, and make sure you keep your skins best interests at heart.

First up are cleansers, when I was in high school I just used face wipes. First mistake. This just smeared everything over my face and dried my skin out. Gross. When I got to sixth form I started using a cream cleanser, my favourite was the Simple Purifying Cleansing Lotion. This is cheap and lasted me ages! I just poured a bit onto a round cotton pad and wiped everything away. I then splashed some warm water on my face just to get the lotion off. I still have this in my cleansing collection today and would recommend this to anyone who wants to get into skincare.

When I started to wear a bit more makeup I moved onto cleansing gels and foaming cleansers. Ganier have a great selection for different skin types. I love the Pure Active Fruit Energy Daily Energising Gel Wash, it smells like grapefruit and pomegranate which are my favourites! A higher end alternative would be the Clarins Daily Energiser Cleansing Gel. It's less fruity but has the same radiant effects. Sometimes I use these with my Clarisonic Mia 2 to really give my skin a deep clean, but not when I don't need to. Usually I just I splash my face with water, rub some cleanser between my hands (about the size of a penny), and massage it into my face, until rinsing off with warm water. This takes off the majority of makeup, and gives my skin a good clean. If you use a water proof mascara or stubborn eye makeup you may want to use a makeup remover first. At the moment I'm using the Bioderma Sensibo H20, but a cheaper alternative is the L'Oréal Paris Skin Perfection Purifying Micellar Water. To be honest anything labelled as makeup remover does the trick but my eyes are incredibly sensitive and some would really sting and irritate my eyes. I find that waters are really soothing and perfect for my skin.

If you want to cut the steps then an oil is what you need. I have only really recently got into using oils but I am so glad I did. I thought that using an oil would break my skin out, but It's done the opposite. Using harsh products too often can strip your skin of natural oils and cause even more breakouts. I am speaking from experience. Second mistake. Solution? Use what your skin needs, not what the blogosphere is recommending. My favourite cleansing oil at the moment is the Super Facialist Skin Renew Cleansing Oil. A more luxurious option would be the Origins Clean Energy Cleansing Oil, but they work in exactly the same way. First I make sure all my hair is tied back, no one likes oily hair. And pour a small amount into the palm of my hands, massage this into your skin and watch your makeup melt away as well as clear skin to follow. I splash warm water over my face afterwards to rinse everything off. The great thing about cleansing oils is that your skin doesn't feel greasy or tight afterwards. Your skin feels so nice, I've even been known to cleanse twice!

Until I was about 16 I didn't know what toning was or why people used them. I just thought that It was some kind of scam to make people buy more products. But here is what I've learnt so far. There are two main types of toners. Traditional toners consist of moisturisers, oils and extracts that help soothe your skin. Astringents, which are generally alcohol-based, tighten the skin and pores and remove oil. If alcohol in your skin is a bit off putting, fresheners work similarly to astringents by tightening the skin, but they are made of ingredients like caffeine and green tea instead of alcohol. Pay attention to your skin type and use whatever toner suits you. My toner of choice is the Pixi Glow Tonic. It's an astringent toner which is oil-free and alcohol-free. My skin is dull, dry and rough in some places, so the Aloe Vera and Witch Hazel smooth my skin and soften the texture, the Ginseng supplies oxygen to the skin and the Glycolic loosens the excess dead skin and exfoliates leaving a brighter smoothed texture. It sounds a tad scientific but when you work out what your skin needs it's a lot easier to work out which product to buy. Remember to use other bloggers as a template, if they have similar skin to you then try the products they use or ask for their recommendations.

In my opinion you can't really go wrong with moisturiser. Again I look out for what the outcome is and see if that applies to me. Like I said before, my skin is dull. So I've been using the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion. This leaves my skin feeling soft and springy. With that all important healthy-looking glow. A cheaper alternative is the Simple Radiance Brightening Moisturiser. I really like Simple as a brand, and think that It's a great place to start buying products.

For spot treatments there is only one ingredient you need. Tea Tree. From my experience It doesn't matter what you buy as long at it has plenty of this in it. I never spend any more than £10 and only use them when I need them so they last forever. My three recommendations are, The Body Shop's Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion and Blemish Fade Nigh Lotion. The latter is my favourite, I pop this on before I go to sleep and see a dramatic reduction when I wake up. I do the same with the Lush Grease Lightning, another bargain and slightly cheaper! My skin does tighten a bit when I use this but plumps out by the morning. I just like to imagine little blemish busting soldiers fighting a war on spots across my skin. That's what the tingle tightening is.

Another way to combat dull skin is by exfoliating it. Removing the dead skin to reveal fresh new skin. My toner does help but once a week a always like to give my skin a boost. And for this I have two favourites, the cheapest of the two is the Avon Pore Penetrating Invigorating Scrub. Again this has the tingly feeling, but unclogs pours of dirt, removes dead skin and excess oils. Because of all these benefits I only use this once a week max, I don't want to overload my skin. A higher end alternative is the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. It's rice based powder formula removes dead skin cells, instantly leaving skin smoother and brighter. With both I rinse my face first and scrub away using a small amount in between my fingers. I usually do this whilst I'm in the shower and waiting to rinse out any conditioner.

And last but in no way least, once a week I like to treat myself with a face mask. There are only two types of masks that I like to use, the detox and the nourishing. The detox is usually a clay mask that gets rid of the nasties. For this I would recommend the Super Facialist Pore Purifying Clay Mask. It unclogs pours and restores the skin balance. My current favourite is the Lush Brazened Honey Fresh Face Mask. This mask is for when I've have overdone things and let the rules slide, not enough water, late nights, too much partying, you get the drift. This is a detox to get tired and dull skin back to being radiant and glowing. Then then nourishing mask of choice is the Lush BB Seaweed Fresh Face Mask. This softens, cools and reduces any redness you skin may have. Leaving you with that uhh, feeling.

I understand that this can be a lot to take in, but in bite sized chunks it's a lot easier to grasp. Remember it has taken me years to get this far, but hopefully you can learn something new and maybe have an idea of what products you would like to use. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below as I will be answering all of them. I really hope that you enjoyed the first of many The So Project posts. See you next week for the low down on concealers! 

For your chance to win a 500ml Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution, please look at my giveaway. No catches, just answer a few questions and make sure you follow!

Gem. x