10 Ways To Keep Social Media From Triggering You (So Much)
Some of y'all might recall a couple of years back when I wrote an article for the site entitled, "How To Handle Folks Who 'Trigger' You". Hmph. Let me just say from very up close and personal experience that once you have truly mastered how to "deactivate your triggers" (oh, and control your physical and sexual appetite yet that's another topic for another time), you are pretty much unstoppable.
And while a lot of what I said in that piece could translate to how you handle your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts, I thought it would also be beneficial to offer up some tips on how to handle those specific kinds of triggers. Because since most folks spend around 2 ½ hours a day on various social media accounts, it's really important to know how to navigate the rocky waters known as the internet — how not to let people (or content) get (or keep) you shook.
1. Remember, Social Media Isn’t Therapy
Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with someone who asked me if I thought they shared too much on social media. My response was, "I think the bigger question is do you think you expect too much from it?"
Listen, people are fickle. Humans are fallible. And when you're interacting with dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of them at a time, you are setting yourself up to, at the very least, be disappointed.
You're grown, so if you want to tell all of your business on your pages, that is totally up to you. However, sitting around taking in opinions about your personal life, dilemmas and traumas all day is setting you up to be disappointed more than helped. I have a motto — social media ain't therapy. Sure, it might be free to use yet therapists/counselors/life coaches are far more equipped to give you what you need than a whole lot of random commenters. If you remember this point alone, it can spare a lot of triggering. Trust me.
2. Use It for a Purpose. More than a Distraction.
If you've ever been curious about the history of social media, an article worth checking out (that was published by Maryville University) is "The Evolution of Social Media: How Did It Begin, and Where Could It Go Next?". A line in it says, "In less than a generation, social media has evolved from direct electronic information exchange, to virtual gathering place, to retail platform, to vital 21st-century marketing tool." Indeed. Yet, let's be real — it's also turned into a cesspool for gossip, trolling and passive aggressive ways to target people. Although I don't personally use social media, I see various purposes that it can serve and that's kind of my point — remember the purpose for why you are using it. If all that you're on there for is to see which real housewife is in some mess or to spend hours talking about how men are trash (eye roll), all that's doing is wasting precious time. Plus, how is that improving you and your life on any substantial level?
Am I saying that social media shouldn't be fun? Sure, it should. Yet really think about why it can easily take up hours and hours of your day. If you can't connect it to how it's helping you progress on some level, that's a good enough reason to scale back. Even if it's just a little bit.
3. Customize Your Notifications
Other than having a low-key social media addiction (check out "Social Media: How To Take Back Control Of What You're Consuming"), I'm not sure what would make us watch our phone ring and then let it go to voicemail and yet see notifications go off and think that we immediately need to check every single one. And then, based on what we see, let it totally throw us off and even put us in a not-the-best-kind-of mood for hours on end. That's why I'm all about folks learning how to customize their notifications so that only certain ones go off or they are reminded to only check them during certain times of the day. Listen, keeping up with the monkey-branching hamster wheel dynamic of Ben and J.Lo isn't going to help you to finish that report that's due, clean up your bedroom or pay those bills.
Besides, if there's one thing about the internet, it's that, whatever's been posted, you can find it by doing a quick Google search hours, days and even years later. In other words, you're really not missing much to the point where you need to act with a sense of urgency; regardless of how much your notifications go off. Anyway, if you want to learn more about this particular point, check out Shift's "How to Avoid Notification Overload" and then consider doing what it says. You shouldn't be a slave to your notifications. You've got the power not to be.
4. Post Something Positive to Combat Negativity
Negative bias is a real thing. If you don't believe me, ask someone to share with you five things they like about themselves followed by five things that they don't; I'd be shocked if they didn't list the things that they don't like first. This is why a lot of people can be drawn to bad news more than good news. Unfortunately, social media has plenty of the former. If, as much as you like being on Black Twitter or surfing IG, this is what gets on your nerves the most, be a light in your little part of cyberspace by posting something positive — a quote, a great picture…something that will inspire others. It might not seem like you're doing much on the surface yet you'd be amazed how much something this simple can help to shift energy, even if it's only on your own pages. Just try it and see.
5. Actually Use the “Mute” Feature
I'll be honest — when I do tiptoe in to see what folks are doing out in social media, it's like it's a social media experiment on how many people know what a monologue vs. a dialogue actually is. In other words, while social media apps are supposed to be about communicating with others, some folks just want others to hear them talk all day long and so, whenever someone else doesn't think they've got the greatest thoughts ever, they mute or block them. Yeah, one day we'll get into the rise of social media narcissism. For now, I'll just say that I once read an article that stated social media has caused a 25 percent increase in narcissism among people who are between the ages of 18-34. So, when I talk about using the mute feature that's available on most apps, I'm not advising this to folks who only want to hear themselves speak.
No, what I mean is some folks are contrary just to be contrary. They don't want to get to know you better, hear your point of view or have a healthy exchange. They really just want to be assholes. If as much as you know that, you still can't seem to shake how they affect you, then yeah — mute 'em. That way, they can keep on ranting if they want without you having to see it. By the way, the mute feature is also cool for if you want to hop online but you need a break from someone else's timeline traffic or you want to mute a word so that you don't have to keep hearing about the same things over and over again. Muting is a social media feature and a blessing. Use it as another way to deactivate an online trigger.
6. Know What You Know
Back in my Facebook days, many years ago, I set my page up to be a free forum for folks to share their thoughts. One rule that I had, even when it came to what folks said to and/or about me, was I wouldn't delete any comments. And boy, did that make things really interesting. Anyway, even back then, I had to really get pushed to get upset because I could tell who was sharing an opinion vs. who was actually speaking facts.
Something that's kinda crazy about social media is how many people are so passionate about their own feelings and conclusions that they think they are truth-based data when opening up a Google browser can oftentimes easily prove otherwise. That said, there is a pandemic of unteachable people on social media — individuals who think they know every damn thing (and don't). There's no point in letting those kinds of folks get to you. If you know that what you know can be proven and cited, share the info and then let the potential debate go. Facts can easily stand on their own which actually brings me to my next point.
7. Free Yourself from Always Needing to Have the Last Word
As I've gotten away from controlling relatives (check out "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries With Toxic Family Members"), it's amazing how less controlling I've become (check out "You Just Might Be A Control Freak (In Recovery)"). Hmph. Funny how when folks are trying to run your life, you find yourself trying to do the same thing to others…as a form of gaining back some sort of control (chile). As I've freed myself from this pattern, something I've needed to have less and less of is the last word.
People who are consumed with needing to have the final say on something are typically battling with some form of needing to control something or someone, whether they realize it or not. These days, I'm more concerned about being impactful with what I say; if that's the case, who cares if I said the "final" thing or not? Same point applies to you on social media. A profound word says so much more than needing to get the last one.
If you totally get this and you still have a weakness in this area, remember what I said about the mute feature? Exactly.
8. Remember, You Don’t Know Those People (at Least Most of Them)
The older (and hopefully wiser) that I become, the more I'm like, "These folks really think we're still in high school" — in life, in general, and definitely when it comes to social media. When it comes to caring what people think, those in my life who really know me (check out "5 Signs You Really Know A Person") know that the people's opinions I care about, I truly do; oh, but that list is quite far and few between. And when I was on social media? I don't know 80 percent of those folks while 10 percent more are pretty transient in my world. They don't shift my life dynamic on any real or lasting level, one way or another, so honestly, after about a five-minute exchange, who cares what they think?
We see a lot of celebrities who totally lose their minds due to what happens on social media. And while I get that social pressure is indeed a thing — again, like peer pressure was in high school…see my point? — when you really stop and ponder the fact that your tribe isn't all of your online friends and followers, it helps to put things into a healthier perspective. When you hop online and really think, "I don't know these people like that", it gets harder and harder for them to trigger you because…why do they matter enough to get to you in that kind of headspace? This brings me to my next point.
9. Accept Trolls for What/Who They Are
Bots. People with 10 followers. Folks with wack ass bios. Individuals who have avatars instead of pictures. People who have something ridiculous to say every time you say something. In short, trolls. They're basically folks who live to be controversial because they want to get up underneath your skin. What they say doesn't have to be right or even make a lot of sense; if they know it will get to you, they will say it.
You know what this means, right? You cannot give a troll the satisfaction of figuring out how to press your buttons. He or she isn't a significant part of your life, so why give their simple selves the satisfaction? Bottom line, if a troll truly gets to you, do some soul-searching into why. They're not worth it so why is it…worth it?
10. Have “Off” Days
Wanna know a sign that you've got a low-key social media addiction? One is if it's the first and last thing that you do on a daily basis (you wake up and get on it, you go to bed with your phone in your hand). Another indication is you can't imagine going even two days without checking your social media accounts. And here's the thing about both of these points — there is scientific evidence to support that taking social media fasts can decrease anxiety, increase positivity, boost your self-esteem, lower your stress levels and even help you to sleep better at night.
A couple of years ago, another writer penned, "What I Learned From My Two-Month Social Media Fast" for our site. Between it and other articles I've read on the topic, I haven't seen anyone say that they regretted taking time off of social media, a few times a year. It's definitely something to consider; especially if you find yourself getting triggered a lot later. Take some moments to woosah and gain your bearings. Because again, social media can be cool yet it's not worth having a heartache over — all because you've allowed too many randoms…to trigger you.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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The Best Primers For Hot Weather: How To Keep Your Base Makeup Secure
There is no feeling worse than applying a full glam face beat only to have it melt off from the spring humidity and summer heat. Having the right primers on your roster to combat the melt is a must, with summer rapidly approaching. To assist you with keeping your makeup look secure in hot weather, this is everything you need to know about securing a weatherproof base, primer edition!
The start to any flawless glam depends heavily on skin prep. Whether you are a cleanser, vitamin C, followed by SPF girly, or not, starting on clean, well-hydrated skin makes a huge difference in makeup that lasts. With both primer recommendations we highlight below, be sure to apply a hydration routine that works best for your skin type and concerns.
Secure The Sweat Waterproof Mattifying Primer
One/Size, the beauty brand founded by Patrick Starrr, launched the Secure The Sweat Waterproof Mattifying Primer. This makeup primer, according to the One/Size site, promises to be “sweatproof, waterproof, and shine proof.” Secure The Sweat delivers up to 12 hours "of oil resistance, shine control while remaining mattifying.” It is an aluminum-free formulation with “botanical alternatives to provide a skin-safe option to balance excess sweat.”
Secure The Sweat retails for $34, and the application process to reap the maximum benefits of the primer is simple, beginner friendly, and easy to follow.
You want to start on fresh skin using a dime size amount. Warm the primer up on your fingertips, then pat the primer into the skin.
This is the step you want to follow to the T to reap the full 12-hour benefits. Wait 1 minute before applying foundation or desired base makeup.
The final result is comfortable on the skin while maintaining a completely matte finish.
E.L.F Cosmetics Power Grip Primer
The E.L.F Cosmetics Power Grip Primer is the primer of the year for 2023! The Power Grip Primer retails for $10 and is the best cost-effective way to get long-lasting makeup. The Power Grip primer leaves the skin with a super-hydrated natural finish. Great for dry skin types, it's packed with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and glycerin.
Like Secure The Sweat primer, the application is easy to follow. Apply evenly to the skin. Using your fingertips, warm the product and pat the product into the skin. Allow the primer 30 seconds to set before applying foundation or desired base makeup.
While the E.L.F Cosmetics Power Grip primer is exceptional and a personal favorite, I had to put Secure The Sweat to the test. I wore the primer for a full 12 hours.
My makeup after 12 hours with primer.
As promised, my makeup was intact after a long day of running errands, a walk in 80-degree weather, and filming under studio lighting. I noticed some shine around my t-zone later in the evening, but nothing compared to how my unprimed routine would break down in a 12-hour time frame.
Whether you choose the Power Grip or Secure The Sweat, it's safe to be outside this summer because your makeup is not going anywhere!
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