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Promiscuous Skin

My sister Emily and I share the same irksome, acne-prone skin: It's 80% lovely and 20% disaster, with the latter portion solely around the chin and mouth, residing there—with the exception of four miraculous days a month—all of the time. We blame our father for our vexing inheritance: Photo evidence reveals that he spent the early '70s rocking major breakouts, Ringo-inspired hair, and questionable Izod jumpsuits.

Any dermatologist will rightly tell you that chin-and-mouth breakouts are hormonal, which long ago led me to suspect that a) my sister and I share some hideous genetic mutancy and possibly—l'horreur!— perhaps produce more testosterone than other girls, and b) my only hope is birth control pills and eventual menopause.

Well. We had dinner together last night and her skin is, for the first time in years, truly clear! WTF?! "I threw away everything in my bathroom," she explained as I glowered across the table, feeling not unlike Jessica Simpson when Ashlee got her new nose/weave/spray-tanned androgymidget husband. "I use the same five products every day and that's it. My skin cleared up in two months." Her skin-transforming regimen:

1) Sjal Balans Deep Pore Cleanser ("I can't pronounce it but it works.")

2) Dr. Brandt Poreless Gel ("Feels like it's suctioning my pores clean.")

3) Kinerase Lotion ("Not greasy and super-light.")

4) Fresh Umbrian Clay Face Treatment ("Twice a week as a mask, and as a spot treatment where I feel zits coming on.")

5) Differen gel ("I've been prescribed this for years; it's never been as effective as it is now.")

Emily, suddenly an authority, pointed out that my problem might be that I'm a "product slut" (I vacillate wildly from one skincare trend to the next—mineral makeup! oil-free everything! retinol! all-natural!—never allowing time for the miracles to take effect) (never mind that it's my job!). But I'm convinced it's time to settle down and stick to something. So, since I'd bet money that your skin is better than mine, tell me: What's your regimen?

—Cat Marnell, beauty assistant

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