20 Most Annoying Beauty Problems Solved
My makeup brushes ruin in no time!
You might not be cleaning them often enough. Letting brushes sit with product on them for too long can permanently damage the bristles, says makeup artist Fiona Stiles. She suggests washing them once a month with dish detergent, which breaks down the oils and pigments that build up in the hairs. How you dry your brushes is critical too. After a rinse, lay them flat on a paper towel. "If you put them upright in a cup, water can seep into the base and rot the brush," says makeup artist Jake Bailey.
Concealer for dark circles is cakey!
Piling on a heavy cream concealer isn't the way to go. "Liquid formulas absorb more easily under the eyes and cover circles without caking," says Bailey. Go for an opaque fluid with a peach base, which will help counteract the blue-gray tones. Still seeing shadows? Try a dusting of fine, light-reflecting powder over concealer to brighten, says Stiles.
Laura Mercier Secret Brightening powder, $22; lauramercier.com.
Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover concealer; $28; sephora.com.
That icky white film from lipgloss!
It's when lips are dry and flaky that particles can get trapped in the creases and create a gunky coating. Exfoliate your pucker with a washcloth before applying gloss. You can also run a cotton swab along the inside of lips to remove the film. Or switch to a glossy balm: Says Bailey, "It gives the same shiny look but no residue."
Burt's Bees tinted lip balm in Tiger Lily, $7; burtsbees.com.
Cover Girl Nature Luxe gloss balm in 205, $6; at drugstores.
Hair grows quickly after shaving!
Sometimes tiny hairs get trapped under the skin's surface by dead cells. A light scrub with a loofah before shaving will exfoliate and free hidden hairs so you can remove them in one clean sweep. If you get prickly hairs, use a moisturizer with urea or glycerin (like this one from Eucerin, which has both) to soften and help them lay flat, says L.A. dermatologist Jessica Wu.
Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair lotion, $12/16.9 oz.; drugstore.com.
I get mascara on my eyelids!
That's because mascara can break down when it comes in contact with oils on your skin, leaving telltale spots. If you don't plan on wearing eye shadow, try this: Before coating lashes, create a matte canvas on lids with primer, like this light NARS formula, then top it with a translucent powder. Look for ones with silica (like MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime Transparent finishing powder, $23; maccosmetics.com), which "absorbs oil like nothing else," says Fiona Stiles.
NARS Pro Prime Smudge Proof eye shadow base, $24; narscosmetics.com.
Guessing colors at the drugstore!
Shop at stores with generous return policies, says Stiles. For example, CVS will take back opened cosmetics if the shade isn't right. Keep the receipt and return products within time limits (CVS will refund within 30 days of purchase). A cool idea: Duane Reade is testing out computers that allow you to try on cosmetics virtually. You can also do this using the Hollywood Makeover tool.
My fav products are discontinued!
Send what's left of your lipstick-or blush or eye shadow-to Three Custom Color. If the sample is at least the size of a dime, the company can match the shade (it has more than 9,000 colors in its archives to work with). For Estée Lauder brand products (like Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Origins, etc.), call Lauder's Gone But Not Forgotten program at 800-216-7173. If the item-excluding limited-edition products-was discontinued within the past 36 months, the service will search for ones that remain in its inventory for you to buy.
Made-to-order custom-blended lipsticks, $60/2; threecustom.com.
I can’t get all my makeup off!
Your cleanser isn't cutting it. Switch to an oil-based formula, like Bobbi Brown's, which breaks up cosmetics better than traditional soap, says Jake Bailey. Or wash with your regular cleanser and use a cotton pad soaked in toner to remove any residue left on your skin.
Bobbi Brown cleansing oil, $39; bobbibrown.com.
Thin frizzy hairs near the forehead.
Tame them by misting a clean toothbrush with hairspray then running it over your hairline to comb down strands, says hair stylist Adir Abergel. Another tip: Use clear mascara (try Maybelline New York's Great Lash mascara in Clear, $6; at drugstores) to do the same.
Fekkai Coiff Sheer Hold hairspray, $25; fekkai.com.
Packaging starts to look grimy.
There's good reason: "When doing your makeup, your fingers are covered in creams and oils, and that residue winds up on your compacts," says makeup artist Kate Lee for Chanel. What's worse? You can transfer that residue and bacteria to your face. So keep antibacterial wipes nearby and take a minute to rub down the surfaces. Don't forget to disinfect makeup and beauty tools as well: Wash eye shadow applicators by hand with dish detergent and water, and regularly wipe down lipstick bullets and gloss brushes, says Fiona Stiles.
Dermalogica Skin Purifying wipes, $18; dermalogica.com.
The dry shampoo dilemma.
Here's a trick from stylist Peter Gray: Massage a few drops of a liquid clarifying shampoo into dry strands before you shower and lather up (like this one from Neutrogena). Also, limit dry shampoo to one to two applications between washings, says N.Y.C. stylist Kattia Solano. Any more and "you'll get a buildup of oil and powder."
Neutrogena Anti-Residue shampoo, $6; drugstore.com.
I never know how much to tip.
I always smudge my polish.
To fix the smudge, dab the pad of your index finger in non-acetone remover (be careful not to get any on your nail!). "Lightly sweep it over the dent to smooth it out," says N.Y.C. manicurist Jin Soon Choi. Cover with a light layer of polish, and finish with a quick-dry top coat. Or try an at-home gel formula. Some gels need an LED or UV light to dry, but this Nutra Nail kit has you alternate coats of "activator" and color for a polish that sets in less than five minutes and lasts about as long as a traditional manicure.
Nutra Nail Gel Perfect UV-Free Gel-Color in Flame, $12; at drugstores.
Upper lip waxing: The Aftermath.
If you get redness and bumps, you're probably reacting to an ingredient in the wax or the friction that occurs when it's pulled off, says Dr. Wu. Treat the area with a few dabs of hydrocortisone cream. Switch to a natural sugar-based wax (like Parissa Chamomile body sugar, $12; parissa.com) that's less likely to aggravate skin. We like Olay's Facial Hair Removal kit, which comes with a waxy balm to smooth on before depilatory cream. "It protects skin and reduces the chance of irritation," says cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson.
Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo, $25; olay.com.
The skin around my nose is red.
This could be the result of one of many skin conditions, so consult a dermatologist to find the culprit. If the problem is rosacea, for example, you'll want to avoid inflammation triggers like spicy foods and hot saunas. If it turns out you have dilated or "broken" capillaries, you can consider Intense Pulsed Light laser treatments to shrink the blood vessels; up to five sessions, $350 to $500 each, are usually needed, says Dr. Wu. If you have combination skin with redness plus flaking, take a close look at your skin-care routine. "Oil-absorbing products can get trapped in the folds around the nose where skin is drier," causing irritation and redness, says Dr. Wu. The solution: Use mattifiers and acne medications only on greasy areas, and switch to a light gel moisturizer. Clarins Hydra Quench Cream-Gel is one good option.
Clarins Hydra Quench Cooling Cream-Gel, $49; at department stores.
The old-fashioned hairspray smell.
All hairsprays aren't created equal. Some have a heavy fragrance, often added by manufacturers to mask the distinctive scent of alcohol, explains Paul Labrecque. Give testers a spritz in a beauty-supply store to check the aroma before buying. (We love the light, fresh scent of the two shown left.) And try using one with a pump top, says Kattia Solano. Aerosols spray more mist all at once, which then hangs in the air longer, she says.
Paul Labrecque Volume Finish All Day Hold hair mist, $18; paullabrecque.com.
Jane Carter Solution Natural Hold Locking spray, $9; at Target.
Self-tanner stains my bed sheets.
Try to do your self-tanning early in the day. Then, after four hours, rinse off in the shower to remove just the temporary bronzer on the top layer of skin, says Fiona Stiles. If it's closer to bedtime, use a large makeup brush to lightly dust yourself with baby powder after the tanner has dried. "This forms a barrier that prevents slip-off but won't alter your hue," says Suvara Spray Tanning guru Anna Stankiewicz.
Johnson's baby powder, $4/15 oz.; at drugstores.
My nails always peel at the tips
Nailing Hollywood crystal glass file, $12; nailinghollywood.com.
My sunscreen leaves a film!
Here's the deal: Ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc have large particles that tend to sit on top of the skin and give it a noticeably ashy cast, says Dr. Wu. Find sunscreens with Helioplex or Mexoryl, finer UV-protecting compounds that blend in well on darker skin tones, says Great Neck, N.Y., dermatologist Jeannette Graf. One option: this thin liquid formula from Neutrogena.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer liquid sunblock fluid SPF 70, $13/1.4 oz.; at drugstores.
I just got a blowout & it's raining!
Toss your head upside down, twist hair into a high, loose bun, then pin it in place, says N.Y.C. stylist Greg Ruggeri. The bun helps keep strands smooth until you get inside. Another solution: "A silk scarf works wonders," Ruggeri says. Have one knotted stylishly on your handbag; then, when it's drizzling, fold it into a triangle, cover hair, and tie ends under your chin. Silk fabric is slippery, he says, so it won't ruffle your hair and muss up your look.
Silk scarf, Nicole Miller Collection, $68; nicolemiller.com.