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Q: I have been searching for the perfect nude lipstick and thought I found it in the drugstore. But when I got it home, the shade looked terrible on my skin! Is there any way to salvage it?
A: Drugstores are great places to buy cosmetics. The prices are cheap, they offer a wide range of brands and shades, and they're less intimidating than a department store counter. But the downside is that you can't try on colors, so you risk ending up in the predicament you describe. The good news is that you probably can salvage your lipstick purchase! Here's how:
If you try the above ideas and you're still not happy with the lipstick shade, you have a final option: Return it. Many drugstores accept cosmetics returns, even if you've used a product. Check with a manager for your store's policy.
Q: The last time I was at the salon, my stylist used a flat iron to make my hair super straight and smooth. I loved the look so much, I bought one myself and have used it daily for two months. The problem is that now, my hair is dry, damaged, and brittle! How can I make my hair healthy again?
A: Flat irons give amazingly smooth effects, but they can cause serious damage and dryness. To help nurse your hair back to health, begin by getting a trim. Often, the ends show the most damage, and when trimmed off, locks look healthier immediately . Next, swear off daily shampoo, or switch to a shampoo designed for dry, damaged hair. Stock up on a rich, restorative conditioner, and use it daily, even when you don't shampoo. For extra moisture, use a weekly conditioning mask. Finally, go easy on heated appliances, including your flat iron and blow dryer. Both generate high heat, which causes damage to the hair. If you must use these appliances every day, keep them on the coolest settings and don't allow them to rest on one area of hair for more than a few seconds.
Q: My lashes are very light, so I need to use mascara. But when I put it on, I'm left with clumps and stuck-together globs. Are there any application tricks that will give me a more natural effect?
A: When asked what cosmetic item they can't live without, most women say mascara. That's because it can make your eyes look wider, clearer, and prettier with just a flick of a wand. Here, some tips on getting a flawless -- not clumpy -- application:
Q: Ever since the weather has gotten colder, my skin has been chapped and super-dry. What can I do to make my face healthy and supple again?
A: Changing seasons can wreak havoc on the skin, causing it to become greasier or drier depending on the temperature. Winter, in particular, presents specific problems: namely, dryness from heated indoor air, and chapping from windy, icy weather. That's why it's a great idea to modify your skincare routine when the weather gets colder. Begin by switching to a creamy, nonstripping cleanser; Prescriptives Comfort Cleanser ($21) and Cetaphil ($6.85) are good choices. Use your cleanser to remove makeup and wash away dirt at night; you can simply rinse skin with warm water in the morning. Avoid postcleansing toners, which can strip the skin of its natural protective oils. Next, add a richer moisturizer to your regimen. Look for an oil-free cream formula, which is a bit heavier -- and more hydrating -- than a lotion. If your skin is very oily, stick to a lotion. Finally, treat very dry or chapped areas with a healing balm, which is thicker and more occlusive (read: doesn't let out moisture) than a cream or lotion. Good choices: Weleda Everon Face Balm ($9.95) and Bobbi Brown Extra Moisturizing Balm ($75). If your skin is painfully chapped or begins to crack, see a dermatologist.
Q: On an impulse, I let my stylist cut bangs. But now I hate them! What can I do?
A: A totally new look can be tempting, especially when you're caught up in the excitement of sitting in your stylist's chair. And while an impulse change can be good, sometimes it's not quite what you expected, such as with your bangs. The great news is that while you can't take the bangs back, you can make them more manageable. To start, head back to the salon and discuss your dissatisfaction with your stylist or the salon manager. Your stylist can add more layers to the bangs, or use a razor to thin the hair, giving it a wispy look. Another option: Cutting layers into the pieces around your face, so the bangs blend into your style better.
If the thought of cutting into your bangs even more makes you nervous, your best bet is to camouflage them as you grow them out. To do this, you need two indispensable tools: A strong-hold hair product and a hair accessory. Use a pomade, firm-hold styling gel, or wax to slick bangs straight back, or smooth them to the side. Then, keep them in place with a headband, discreet barrette, or scarf. Experiment with different accessories to suit different outfits and moods.
Q: I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror at work and was horrified to see that my foundation looked cakey and mask-like! How can I get a more natural look?
A: Foundation application can be tricky, and if you don't get it just right, you wind up with the too-made-up look you describe. Surprisingly, getting it just right is easy if you know the tricks:
Q: I accidentally overplucked one eyebrow -- now my brows are uneven and one has a bald spot! What can I do?
A: Tweezing can be tricky, and even the best home-pluckers can take off too much sometimes. To make your brows look their best as you wait for them to grow in, try these tips:
Q: I apply lipstick every morning, but after one cup of coffee, it's gone. How can I make my lipstick really last?
A: Fading, feathering lipstick is a challenge for many women. But there are steps you can take to keep yours in place longer. Begin by choosing the right formula. Creamy, glossy formulas contain lots of emollient ingredients, which make them likely to smear off. Matte or opaque formulas contain fewer emollients, so they have more staying power.
Once you've chosen a longer-wearing formula, pick a lip liner that matches your lipstick shade. Next, it's time to apply. First slick on a thin coat of lip balm and give it about ten minutes to absorb. When lips feel soft but no longer moist from balm, line them all the way around. Then fill in the entire lip with pencil, too. Lip pencil acts as a magnet, keeping your lipstick locked in place longer.
Next, apply your lipstick. You'll get the best result by applying with a lip brush, but straight from the tube will do, too. Blot lips by placing a tissue over them and gently pressing the tissue with your fingers.
Now, place a clean tissue against your lips and using a fluffy powder brush, dust translucent powder over the tissue. The powder is fine enough to sift through the tissue, leaving the lightest color-locking layer on your lips. Finish by applying one last coat of lipstick and gently blotting with another tissue. This application technique should dramatically increase your lipstick's stay-on time!
Q: I bought a new concealer to hide my dark circles, but when I wear it, it makes the skin under my eyes look wrinkled and dry. Help!
A: Concealer can work miracles on dark circles and other skin blemishes. But achieving a flawless result requires some work. To get perfect undereye coverage, try these tricks:
Q: I've been wearing dark polish for a few months, but recently decided to give my nails a break and go natural. The problem is my nails now look yellow! How can I fix this?
A: The same pigments that make nail polish shades so deep and beautiful can also stain your nails. After wearing dark polish for a long time, this staining can be quite noticeable, giving nails a yellow cast. To help restore them to their healthier pink color, try these four steps: