Hi! I think you have misunderstood a little the comments on the flicker site. The teqnique of using the: "merge all visible layers(ctrl-shift-alt-e)> blur> avarege> blend mode:color, opacity: ca20% blur" is a tenique to blend the background with the foreground object in a composit, making the color of the different photos a bit more even.
About your question on manipulating skin tone, id say that was a pretty vague question. You should specify a little bit more what you want to acheive. Manipulating skin tones is a huge subject. You will find shows from many of the best retouchers in the world here on retouchpro live. It is also discussed in various threads here in the forum. Look for "how to acheive this effect" or "how to acheive this skin tone" or similar.
If you want the look on your link id recomend you start with the "jill greenberg effect" tutorial on Phlearn.com (Sorry Doug! See next step..
). It gives you a good introduction to dodging and burning and manipulating skin tones, and gets you a similar look pretty quick.
Next step could be the Glyn Dewis show here on retouchpro live. He does a similar effect.
And if you really want to nail it: Read the thread: "The demystification of dave hill! let's all help" here in the forum. When you have read all the posts and links in that thread Shineylewis will probably ask you how you acheive such stunning effects