Most people know how to treat their skin, hair and nails. But "knowing" in the beauty world is often a practice in misinformation or overly general advice. That is, we may know what to do, but we don't know how to do it. Or how to do it properly. It's time to finally know what you "know," with real secrets and actual truths about beauty maintenance. From skin irritants to mani-pedi prep to getting the most out of your hair, these are beauty secrets that every woman should know.
SECRET: Your skin cleanser is making things worse (maybe)
Cleansing can irritate even healthy skin, never mind sensitive or “problem” skin, and many cleansers are guilty. How then should you best cleanse without further irritation? The solution, regardless of skin type, is to look for a gentle cleanser that dissolves dirt and excess oil without leaving the skin feeling tight or tingly — nothing with detergents, alcohols, fragrances, irritants or ingredients that block pores. Think that means going natural? No. Among the list of irritants are lemon, mint, cinnamon and essential oils.
SECRET: Stop avoiding exfoliation; Start glowing
How do some women achieve that enviable perfect, “glowing” skin? Genetics plays a part, to be sure. But even good genes need help. It comes in the form of exfoliation. Exfoliating your skin allows skin-care serums and creams to perform better through improved penetration. Brightened skin – that “glow” – is the immediate benefit. Word to the wise: Those with active acne and/or rosacea should only exfoliate with salicylic acid, pending approval from their dermatologist.
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SECRET: Retinoids are the best things your aging skin isn't using
First developed to treat acne, retinoids, or retinols, are chemical derivatives of vitamin A that can smooth out fine facial lines. They help thicken both the epidermis and dermis, exfoliate dead skin cells, speed the turnover of keratinocytes and increase production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in the body and serves as a lubricant for joints, muscles and skin. But retinoids also increase something else: the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Use them at night for optimal benefit.
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SECRET: Want sweet skin? Try a sweet scrub.
Regular facials are essential to maintaining healthy skin – and at-home facials can work just as well as pricey spa treatments. There a number of ways to get pro treatment at home, but look first to sugar, one of nature’s great skin-sloughing agents. Applying a sugar scrub in gentle circular motions, followed by a lukewarm wash and pat-dry, can do wonders for your skin. Follow with a light steam by boiling a pot water, removing it from the stove and standing over it for a few minutes.
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SECRET: The body scrub your haven't tried
Faces often get preferential scrub treatment, while our poor bodies are neglected. From scuffed-up feet to dry, scaly skin on your legs, elbows and arms, our bodies can take a beating. Oftentimes, our daily “scrubs” (read: soap) are the culprit. There’s an easy feel-like-new remedy, though. And it might be in your kitchen. Mix coconut oil, kosher salt or sugar, and some minced basil into a paste, and scrub away. Again, steam helps. But doing this regularly helps even more.
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SECRET: Better soak for your mani & the post-pedi wrap
Manicure: Soaking your nails is a given. How to do it better? Mix shower gel with the warm water and soak your hands in the solution for five minutes. Your newly soften and mani-ready cuticles will thank you.
Pedicure: Even a pumice stone can’t remedy all of the dry, gnarly foot problems from a full day on your feet. Try this: rub petroleum jelly on your feet and wrap them in cellophane. Leave it on for 15 minutes. Baby soft feet await.
SECRET: To hydrate hair correctly, avoid the root
Deep conditioning is obviously important to fight dry or frizzy hair. Whether you use a restorative conditioner or simple olive oil (pro tip: apply olive oil, sit in the sun), make sure you do it the right way. Start with the tips of your hair and work your way up to mid-shaft. But avoid your roots: the scalp produces natural oils to help on the near end of things. Conditioning treatments could prevent them from helping.
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SECRET: That's not dandruff you're treating
Dandruff shampoo is an oft-abused product. Why? Because what many people think is dandruff is simply a dry scalp. The latter is usually the result of not rinsing your hair properly or residue buildup from bad product. Dandruff shampoo can’t treat that. If your “dandruff” isn’t going away, try rinsing a bit more thoroughly or upgrading your hair product.
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SECRET: Your short hair might make you look old
Pixie cuts have been a mini-rage in the ‘do world over the past few years. But take heed: Cutting your hair too short could be risky if you’re trying to maintain a youthful look. Having a little visible hair behind the ear will soften your neckline and, thus, the age you appear.
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SECRET: Ask for a cut, but don't talk measurements
Hair styling is a game of measurements. At least, that’s what clients think, often asking for a stylist to take off “a couple of inches” or some other preferred measurement. But people – from the stylist to the client – have different ideas of a what an inch or cm is. Instead, use your thumb and finger to demonstrate how much you want cut off. At that point, it doesn’t matter if that’s 3 inches to you and 2 inches to your stylist, because you’re looking at the same measurement.