I have a vivid, searing memory of asking my friend in sixth grade if you were supposed to put shaving cream on your legs and then just rub it off to remove all the hair. She laughed at me, obviously, but I got the answer I wanted ("omg, no"). Since that moment in time, I have had no shame asking anyone and everyone all of my most uninformed, ignorant, embarrassing beauty questions. From asking how to pronounce Laura Mercier to asking what an essence actually is, I'm the queen of beauty's most basic quandaries.
With that in mind, I decided to pass along the knowledge I've obtained. I assembled the experts to answer the most mortifying and silly beauty questions my friends admitted to wanting answers to.
Do you really have to smother your face with lotion EVERY DAY to prevent wrinkles and aging? Is that really the secret?
— Serin, 26, Philadelphia, PA
I've wondered this myself OFTEN. Especially because I'm notoriously bad at sticking to a strict skincare routine.
According to NYC aesthetic plastic surgeon and founder of the Lorenc SkinFit System, Dr. Paul Lorenc:
"We know that there are certain ingredients that protect the skin from environmental aggressors that cause premature aging [like] vitamin C, physical sun block like zinc, and alpha lipoic acid. We also know that adding AHAs [alpha-hydroxy acids] and retinol to our skincare regimen will speed up skin cell turnover, minimizing wrinkles. The market is flooded with products that all claim to make skin look younger, but a savvy customer looks for the active ingredients and puts less emphasis on the smell and how it feels."
Does Botox actually freeze your whole face and make it hard for you to move a muscle? I'm afraid of overdoing it, but I also hate my wrinkles, you know?
— Katie, 30, Atlanta, GA
Well, Katie, according to Dr. Lorenc:
"Once properly injected by a well-trained health-care provider, a patient should NOT have a frozen appearance [from Botox]. The muscles of facial expression should be functional, but to a lesser extent. Patients look frozen because of an excessive injection [with either] too many units used or too many muscles injected."
What is a good, fairly inexpensive method for teeth whitening? I've consumed what can only be described as an inappropriate amount of candy over the course of my life, and my teeth have suffered. I've wanted to look into teeth whitening but am 1) lazy, 2) stingy, and 3) getting anxiety in the beauty section of drugstores because I am sure all the fellow shoppers will see me as the fraud that I am.
— Casie, 27, Boston, MA
I'm so in love with this question that I'm answering it without an expert to help. Crest White Strips are the best (I almost wrote "are bae" and then I stopped myself—you're welcome). They are easy to use and you definitely don't have to be embarrassed buying them. I prefer the Crest White Strips 3D Luxe Professional Effects variety, as they seal onto your teeth so you can drink your iced tea while wearing them.
I want to know how you contour without your face looking like it is still 10 different colors. I tried it once and I looked like I had escaped from the circus.
— Isabel, 26, Louisville, KY
According to New York City makeup artist Brenda Colon, "When applying your contour, be sure to buff in a small circular motion to disperse the product so those 'lines' softly blend into the cheek, temple or jaw area." Recommended products include the Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit, the Laura Mercier Flawless Contouring Palette, and the famous Beautyblender.
Why does my eye makeup always fall down my face and I look like the Hamburgler by lunchtime?
— Carolyn, 27, New York, NY
Luckily, this is easily preventable. Colon explains that "the best way to keep makeup from running is to choose a long-wearing eyeliner along the lash line (and in the waterline if preferred). Following [the liner application] with an eyeshadow of a similar shade will also help keep the liner in place."
If you're ambitious, Colon prefers NOT to use eyeliner at all and simply lines the lower lash line with shadow: "It emphasizes the lower lash line, gives a soft, diffused look [similar to] liner, [but] tends to hold better than liners that can run over time."
How much hair is supposed to fall out every day? Every time I shower I lose like 20 to 40 strands. I'm falling apart over here.
— Kelly, 27, Washington, D.C.
According to Halli Bivona, John Barrett hairstylist extraordinaire, it's actually normal to lose about 100 hairs a day. You should only be worried about hair loss if you start to see bald spots or patches, especially around your hairline.