The weird, the helpful, and the not-so-weird: Some practical and perhaps unconventional beauty tips

“Best beauty tips ever”. This is a commonly-used headline splashed on the covers of women’s magazine nearly every month. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen it. Typically it’s all the same stuff: turn your head upside when you blow your hair out for volume, wear sunscreen every day and reapply constantly (which, please, no one does unless you’re Nicole Kidman), prevent early signs of ageing by not smoking, drink plenty of water. It’s all pretty intuitive stuff, but none of the typical advice we find in magazines is … I don’t know … new?

I like weird-but-practical beauty tips. I like hearing about the strange little habits that seem to make all the difference in someone’s beauty routine. That’s where the good stuff is- when you find out that your mom used to use an iron to flat-iron her hair. You think I’m kidding? How do you think everyone managed to copy Cher’s pin-straight locks in the seventies? It warn’t no Brazalian blow-out, that’s for dang sure. So here, a list for you of some of the most helpful and somewhat-odd beauty tips or snippets of advice that I’ve actually found to be effective in their intended purpose. Some of this may not be new at all for you, but have at it anyhow:

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1. Keep your hair in better shape by keeping your nails in better shape. What do these two have to do with each other? Well, I tend to bite my nails, which causes them to tear and have tattered, uneven tips. But if there’s anything I do more than bite my nails, it’s run my fingers through my hair. Run those tattered nails through fine, fragile tresses and riiiiip. I can practically hear the strands of hair gettings caught and torn by my nasty nails. And you don’t even have to bite your nails for them to be uneven; it just happens when we work with our hands. So my advice? File those nails and keep them painted and even. That way, you can run your fingers through your hair all you like without the risk of ripping your strands. Speaking of hands and nails …

2. Use sunscreen as hand lotion instead of, well, hand lotion. We’ve gotten increasingly better at hiding signs of ageing on our faces, but there’s one commonly-forgotten part of our body that’s always a dead giveaway when it comes to age, and it’s the hands. Seriously, you may not be able to tell a woman’s age by her face so much these days, but see if you can get a look at her hands. Sunspots, wrinkles, dry and leathery skin … it’s all usually found there. The easiest solution I can think of is just using sunscreen for hands instead of common hand lotion, which moisturizes temporarily but offers no sun protection.

3. Cold showers. Not the most relaxing experience, but I swear they improve circulation and wake you up more efficiently, your skin tends not to dry out so much, and they’re great for adding shine and decreasing frizz in your hair. Which leads me to my next bit …

4. Treat your showers as if they’re traumatic for your hair, not therapeutic. So many of us go all lather-crazy when we wash our hair, and we pile it on top of our heads and just start to scrub away as if our hair likes it. The harsh detergents found in most shampoos, combined with rough scrubbing and hard water, tend to promote breakage over time and do more to exasperate our hair than replenish it with lost moisture and nutrients. There’s no need to saturate the ends of your hair with shampoo; just try and keep your shampoo product on your scalp and then gently rub it in a circular motion around your head. Any shampoo run-off will take care of cleaning the ends of your hair. Additionally, there’s also no need to condition your scalp and the top of your head. Your ends are typically in most need of the benefits that conditioner offers, and covering your scalp in conditioner creates build-up that you then have to scrub out, which will probably leave your scalp dry and flaky, and so on and so forth.

5. If you have a zit, you have a zit. There’s pretty much no overnight fix for a pimple. It’s there to stay and will probably be visible for at least 48 hours, and there’s nothing you can do about it. No amount of vigorous scrubbing or picking will make it go away, so do what I’ve been doing these days: Leave it. Leave it completely exposed and deal with it. Don’t cover it with makeup, don’t touch it, don’t spend an extra five minutes washing it cleanser. Just carry on as normal, let it live its short life and, whenever you can, cover it in Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. It’s the most effecitve stuff in the smallest amount of time.

6. Turn up the heat on your flat-irons and curling rods. Turn it up, you ask? We’re always getting screamed at by magazines and hair-care companies for using too much heat! True, and you should always apply some kind heat-protective product before blow-drying or anything like that. However, what do you think is more damaging: Passing a flat-iron over the same section of hair five times at 300 degrees, or passing a flat-iron once over a section of hair at 400 degrees? If you’re thinking the former, you’re probably right. Turn up the heat as high as possible (at least for flat-irons) so you can get the heat-styling over with faster without pushing your strands through the damaging process over and over and into oblivion. Oh, and if you truly have damaged your locks? There really is no other solution for getting rid of the damage other than trimming.

7. Salty snacks late at night = puffy eyelids and face in the morning. Trust me, I’m a champ at this. What’s great for depuffing and debloating by morning? Have a cup of fennel tea at night or some grapefruit. Or, if you have time in the morning, put some cold, wet black tea bags on your puffy eyelids and let them rest. The tannin and caffeine in the tea work a small miracle.

8. Bright pink is a more flattering lip color than red, believe it or not. Hot pink makes you look tanner and your teeth look whiter. One of my favorite shades of hot pink is actually a drugstore find- CoverGirl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Spellbound. It’s a phenomenally gorgeous shade of fuschia and it’s perfect for spring.

9. Certain eye makeup looks, like Dianne Agron’s winged eyeshadow and cat-eyeliner, are difficult to pull off without a robot-kind-of-steady hand. For a cat eye, take a credit card and place it at the outer corner of your eyelid, and tilt it slightly upward. Trace along the credit card to create the outer “wing” of your eyeliner once you’ve finished lining the rest of your lid.. This is way easier than trying to do it free-hand. I find this technique is executed most easily with an angled eyeliner brush as opposed to a liquid eyeliner pen. For the punk-rock winged eyeshadow look, go ahead and first apply the eyeshadow all over the lid until you achieve your desired level of color saturation. Don’t worry about being precise. Next, take a concealer brush or a small sponge and dab some concealer on it (and use a cream concealer for this, not a liquid). Starting at the outer corner of your eye, stroke the brush or sponge outward-and-upward, shaping and covering any outlying eyeshadow at an angle. This is a pretty advanced technique a MAC makeup artist taught me, but before I’d always thought that with a look like Dianna’s the eyeshadow actually had to be applied that way with freak levels of precision. Not so! Concealer truly works wonders, doesn’t it?

10. And speaking of makeup brushes … please clean them. Please, please clean them. You can use a little Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap and some water, or a brush cleaner like Japonesque’s Parian Spirit. Once you’ve applied whatever cleaning agent you’re using, brush them gently on a fiberless towel to rub out excess makeup and let them dry overnight. And whatever you do, do not use those sponges they give you in foundation compacts to apply your makeup. Or at least, use that sponge once, throw it out, and then use a different one every time. Using the same sponge over and over just transfers all the dirt and oil from your face into your makeup, and then back on to your face when you use apply again, and so on. Brushes are always a better bet because you can clean them.

Let me know of any other weird, not-so-weird, or practical beauty advice you’ve found to be helpful over the years. I’m always curious if someone has covered their hair in mayonnaise or something like that and gotten fantastic results. Cheersies! xo, MR

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One thought on “The weird, the helpful, and the not-so-weird: Some practical and perhaps unconventional beauty tips

  1. I am totally going to switch to a hand lotion that is SPF! Good call. Any good heat protectants you’d recommend? I’m always at a loss when it comes to deciding which one to use…

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