Monday, July 18, 2011

Can't Call It a Beauty Blog Without 'Em: Five Beauty Tips

After 12 years of reading beauty tips in women's magazines, I've gotten pretty cynical about most of them. There are the product-oriented tips meant to push a particular brand, of course, but then there are plenty of tips that have no ad-sales agenda that still leave me a little bewildered. Like, am I ever going to take time in the morning to dip cotton balls in milk and use them to depuff my eyes? Do I even own cotton balls? Do I even own milk?

That said, every so often there's a beauty tip that is either so simple that I wonder why everyone doesn't know it already, or one that's so effective I feel straight-up relief for having tried it. You'll never find a lot of beauty advice on this blog, but every so often there's a tip that should be shared. Here are five of them:

1) Use toilet-seat covers as facial blotters. To date, this is my absolute favorite ladymag beauty tip of all time. I'm forever going into the bathroom and taking toilet seat covers to my face (and I always wonder if other people in the bathroom hear my crumpling of the paper while I'm peeing and wonder what the hell I'm doing since I'm not using the cover for its intended purpose, but I'm overthinking this. Right? In any case the noise helps with the occasional bout of paruresis). I was also delighted to learn that this beauty tip was what got Molly of Smart, Pretty, and Awkward to start blogging in the first place. Is it the beauty tip for unlikely beauty-tip givers?

2) Groom your eyebrows. It's one of the easiest ways to look polished, and it really is sort of amazing the difference it makes. I don't want to play body-hair police to anyone, though eyebrows somehow seem to fall into a different category than body hair. I think of grooming my eyebrows as more akin to getting a good haircut than to getting a bikini or leg wax—body hair touches on sexuality, but our eyebrows are literally about the face we present to the world. So! I get mine threaded every few weeks for $6, though I understand that outside of New York that can get expensive. A good brow specialist might cost you $30 at first go, but from there you can just maintain the shape yourself, even if you're not skilled enough with scissors and whatnot to maintain the exact manicuring of it (certainly I'm not). Also, don't be afraid to play with eyebrow pencil if your brows are skimpy. I was always scared of it, but when Eden did my makeup she explained that just a little eyebrow pencil provided a nice frame for the rest of my face. It doesn't look overdone; it just looks a little more together.

I dare you to get an anatomically correct graphic manicure.

3) Nobody looks that closely at your manicure, so your manicure can be sloppy and nobody will notice. Okay, to be honest I don't 100% subscribe to this. Rather, I don't think anyone will notice, but I take my nail polish to heart: I'm a recovering nail biter, so it still awes me that I have actual nails, and when I do them I like to do them right. It's one of those things that I really take pleasure in and would do even if I lived in solitude, so I like my manicure to be near-perfect. If I don't have time to do it right, I just go bare. But I have a wonderfully stylish friend who tells me that she always just keeps a bottle with her and she fixes nicks on the go, and though up-close it looks uneven it's never anything you'd notice if you were anyone but the owner of the fingernails. So if the manicure goal is to look pretty for others, relax!

Of course, if you do tip #4, you may want to choose a subtler shade of bronzer than I did this winter to avoid the white-neck effect. There's a reason I don't usually write beauty tips, people.

4) If you wear blush, try bronzer on your temples and forehead. Even well-applied blush can look a little artificial, and I've found that a touch of bronzer on the temples and forehead helps sort of...contextualize? Like, it's not just that you magically have this rosy glow on the apples of your cheeks; it's a flush from the sun that also magically gave you a hint of color elsewhere on your face. (I've doubly come to believe in bronzer after my time at the Jersey Shore, where my face got tanned and left me looking much weirder than I ever have just from an artificial glow. It's a beauty paradox. I'm all for embracing the pale but I find that I feel like I have a bit more verve if I look like I've been, I dunno, playing tennis or polo or something.)

Try baking soda as an exfoliant. Normally I'm not that into DIY beauty tips, mostly because the concoctions are most often for things I'd never use. (I find face masks to be a total waste of time, oatmeal/avocado/yogurt/whatever, doesn't matter. It's on your face for just a couple of minutes, so how does it make a difference?) But I do keep a box of baking soda in the shower, which I use twice a week as a face exfoliator and also as a body scrub. I just pour some into my hand, get a little shower water into it to make a paste, and rub. So soft!