It doesn't take a beauty professional to unlock great looks. It just takes a little practicality - and maybe a trip to the local grocery and drug stores. Here's bridal party's worth of no-nonsense beauty tips courtesy of InStyle magazine's new beauty bible, "InStyle Ultimate Beauty Secrets (Mechler Media, 2010):
Pick cheek colors that complement your skin tone. WARM COMPLEXIONS look best in yellow-based blush shades like peach and terracotta; COOL UNDERTONES are flattered by blue-based pinks and berries. Not sure if you are warm or cool complected? FIND THE PERFECT CHEEK COLOR THIS WAY: At the hardware store, pick up paint chips in colors that you think could work as blush. Hold the chips up to your face in front of a mirror in natural light; you'll instantly see WHAT BRIGHTENS YOUR COMPLEXION vs. what makes it look sallow or gray.
Fix MESSY, CRACKED EYE SHADOW by popping it out of its tray, putting it into a makeup palette, and crushing it. Add a dab of Vaseline or EYE CREAM until you've gotten the right consistency. Voilà! Cream shadow.
After tweezing, swipe brows with rubbing alcohol to prevent ingrown hairs, then reduce redness by applying COLD CUCUMBER SLICES or chilled green-tea bags.
Apply a balm immediately after getting out of the shower, when your lips are STILL A LITTLE MOIST; this will create a smooth surface once you're READY FOR COLOR.
Lips extra dry. Combine 1 teaspoon honey with 1 TEASPOON SUGAR to exfoliate them, says makeup artist Kristofer Buckle, who helped polish looks for Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Connelly. He blends the two ingredients in his hand, then applies the mixture in A CIRCULAR MOTION for 90 seconds before wiping it off.
No emery board. Celebrity manicurist Elle, who has painted the nails of Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, and Sienna Miller, says the striking surface of a matchbook works in a pinch.
To keep cuticles from drying and cracking, run LIP BALM INTO THEM (and all over your nails) each time you apply the balm to your lips.
Cool weather can make nails brittle and polish chip faster, so protect your polish by wearing gloves every time you step out. To restore moisture to extra-dry nails, try an AT-HOME SOAK of lemon juice, olive oil, and vitamin E oil. To maximize its absorption, remove nail polish, buff nails gently with a towel to exfoliate, then soak for five minutes. Afterward, slip on a pair of cotton spa gloves to keep moisture sealed in all night.
For really stubborn stains, N.Y.C. nail guru Jin Soon Choi, owners of Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot spas, recommends dabbing whitening toothpaste onto nail beds. "The whitening agent works on nails the same way they do teeth."
If you have dry skin that is flaky, consider changing up your routine and washing your face with DANDRUFF SHAMPOO instead of your regular cleanser once a month, suggests Wellesley, Mass., dermatologist Elissa Lunder; this REDUCES THE YEAST LEVELS that cause scaly skin.
Clean your cell phone with antibacterial wipes to prevent chin and cheek breakouts. Ideally, you should do it EVERY MORNING, but if that's too much, aim for once a week.
The day before a party, don't risk a facial that can leave you red and raw. An AT-HOME MASK made with one teaspoon raw oatmeal and one teaspoon honey is a much safer bet. Let it sit on the skin for five minutes, then rinse. "The minerals in oatmeal are soothing, and HONEY HYDRATES and kills bacteria," says aesthetician Kate Somerville, who has worked with Kate Walsh and Debra Messing.
Drink a glass of ice water if your face tends to get splotchy (especially when you're nervous). Doing so will TONE DOWN YOUR REDNESS. The cold causes blood vessels to constrict and COOL YOU from the inside out, says dermatologist Ellen Marmur.
To control oil and shine, splash your face with COOL BLACK TEA, but do not rinse; it's A NATURAL ASTRINGENT, says Beverly Hills dermatologist Peter Kopelson.
Refresh your complexion by dipping a washcloth in soy milk and resting it on your face for 10 minutes once a week, suggests Beverly Hills dermatologist Debra Luftman. SOY IS A SKIN BRIGHTENER and contains phytoestrogen, a plant-derived estrogen that is thought to help prevent wrinkles.
Reduce a pimple's redness by spritzing a small amount of NASAL DECONGESTANT on the blemish, says Mount Kisco, N.Y., dermatologist David Bank. The spray, designed to LESSEN INFLAMMATION, will do the same for a pimple.
Keep your skin hydrated on cold nights with a MAKE-IT-YOURSELF humidifier. Meriden, Conn., dermatologist Nicholas V. Perricone suggests hanging A WET TOWEL from the doorknob overnight (wring out the edges to prevent drips); by morning, the towel will be dry but your skin won't.
When you get sunburned, drink a fruit or vegetable smoothie to get damage-fighting antioxidants flowing to your skin from the inside, says dermatologist Ellen Marmur. Then slip into a COOL BATH and follow with a layer of CHILLED ALOE VERA GEL. If you start to peel, don't pick - it can hurt HEALTHY SKIN and even cause scarring. Instead, slather on a thick, healing ointment.
Source: InStyle Ultimate Beauty Secrets (Mechler Media, 2010)
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