Mt. Vernon Register-News

January 14, 2013

9 tips to cure your bad grooming habits

By Holley Simmons
The Washington Post

— Pretty up your daily routine with smart products and techniques for curing bad grooming habits. (We're looking at you, Ms. Eyebrow Over-Plucker.):

1. Don't Wash Your Hair Daily

Your scalp constantly produces oils that nourish, moisturize and protect hair. Unless your lifestyle requires you to sweat a lot (marathon runner, hot-sauce tester), there's no need to strip your tresses of a healthy amount of grease daily. "The less product you use, the longer you can go without washing your hair," adds Marla Beck, co-founder of the Washington cosmetics emporium Blue Mercury (Bluemercury.com).

The Fix: Ojon's Rub-Out Dry Cleansing Spray ($24, Sephora.com) keeps hair fresh between showers. Made of oil from a nut found only in Central American rainforests, the stuff is safe for colored locks.

2. Don't Pump Your Mascara

Repeatedly drawing the wand in and out of a mascara tube to get more product allows air to enter the container, which can dry out your lash-luxing formula and shorten its lifespan. "You had to do that in the old days because the packaging was thick at the bottom and narrow at the top," Beck says. "But now mascaras are designed to be long and narrow for maximum coverage on the brush."

The Fix: If your Diorshow or Great Lash has lost its luster, add three to four drops of hot green tea to the bottle. The warm liquid loosens up the contents, and the antioxidants in tea just might promote lash growth.

3. Don't Rub Wrists After Applying Perfume

Perfume is a delicate combination of scented oils and alcohol. Spritzing it on and smashing your wrists together creates friction between the oils in your perfume and those in your skin, which can distort the sillage (the scented trail left after applying a fragrance). It won't necessarily make your Chanel No. 5 smell like Eau du Dumpster No. 12, but it will result in a slightly different waft than the maker intended.

The Fix: Spray each wrist separately, along with your décolletage. If you overdo it, smear a little rubbing alcohol on the application points to dilute. Or, for a fool-proof option, gently dab on fragrance using a roll-on. Try Marchesa's parfum d'extase roller ball with hints of lilac and star anise ($25, Sephora).

4. Don't Think Red Lipstick Isn't for You

"Playing with makeup is half the fun of being a girl," says D.C. beauty blogger Lara Ramos of Theglossarie.com. "Just let loose." Perhaps the most feminine beauty product out there is a tube of bright-red lipstick. While you may initially balk at the "Look-at-me!" Marilyn Monroe-meets-Gwen Stefani vibe, Ramos thinks true reds work for every skin tone. Not ready to take the plunge? Use your finger to dab a little red on and top it with a sheer gloss.

The Fix: True reds — the unshaded hues of stop signs, cherries and fire trucks — are universally flattering. We're sweet for Illamasqua's matte lipstick in Box ($24, Sephora); Ramos swears by Maybelline's Red Revival ($8, CVS).

5. Don't Pluck Your Eyebrows Too Close to The Mirror

Here a hair, there a hair, and before you know it, you've plucked yourself into a Dr. Evil look-alike. Sculpting your brows too close to a mirror means you can lose sight of their overall shape. "Eyebrows are so important — they frame your face. It's almost as impactful as having your hair colored," Beck says.

The Fix: Get your brows groomed by a professional and maintain upkeep of strays, steering clear of the arch itself. No time to consult with the pros? Anastasia Beverly Hills' brow stencils provide an easy-to-follow blueprint for petite, slim, medium, high or full arches ($20, Sephora).

6. Do Moisturize Your Neck

"Everybody forgets the neck," Beck says. "But keeping it moisturized is essential to projecting a youthful appearance." Indeed, a woman's aging neck can be a source of contention as years wane. Nora Ephron even wrote a book about hers! Cutting your skin-care regimen off at the chin is doing a disservice to your Diane Keaton Institute anti-aging campaign. Giving your neck attention could determine whether people believe you're celebrating your 30th birthday (again).

The Fix: Extend a moisturizer such as Kiehl's new Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream ($52, Blue Mercury) to your neck. Looking for something lightweight? Beck recommends a serum. "Sometimes people don't want to put moisturizer on their neck because they fear it'll get on their hair and clothes. A quick-absorbing serum is a good alternative."

7. Do Apply a Top Coat to Your Nails

You've managed to make it past the smudge zone (phew), but that doesn't mean you can give yourself a well-manicured high five. "Bad habits are a result of not enough time," Beck says. Rushing your paint job and failing to apply a top coat leaves your digits susceptible to chips and dings. Take an additional five minutes to seal your polish with a long-lasting top coat that will save you time in the long run.

The Fix: Illamasqua makes a high-gloss, non-yellowing top coat that dries evenly in as little as five minutes ($12, Sephora). The heavy-duty varnish can extend the life of your manicure for up to two additional weeks.

8. Do Wash Your Makeup Brushes

Using a dirty brush is like applying makeup with the bottom of a shoe. "When you're putting something on your face, you want to make sure it's clean," Ramos says. "Brushes carry a lot of gross bacteria because they're sitting in your bathroom or floating around your makeup bag collecting germs." Maintaining brush cleanliness extends their life and keeps evil, acne-causing organisms away from skin.

The Fix: Beck recommends disinfecting brushes at least every three months. Swirl damp buffers in Sephora's Purifying Brush Shampoo ($6, Sephora) before letting them dry. You'll return to clean bristles minus the buildup.

9. Don't Wash Your Face in The Morning

Like your hair, your face benefits from a healthy amount of naturally secreted oils. Cleansing skin at the end of the day strips it of environmental factors such as pollution and dirt buildup as well as makeup. But washing it again in the morning is overkill. "So many women start their day with a cleanser and they don't need to," Ramos says. "There's nothing touching your face at night, so washing it in the morning just dries you out."

The Fix: Trade harsh cleansers for a warm washcloth or gentle wipes such as Korres' Milk Proteins Cleansing & Make-up Removing Wipes, which nourish and refresh a sleepy dermis ($12, Sephora).