This week on the Cut we’re exploring how to get your act together when it comes to personal style — from organizing your closet, to finding your signature scent, to figuring out your work uniform.
Welcome back to the first full week of January. You’ve sized up the other tributes during the lunch wait at your local overpriced chopped-salad chain. Perhaps you’ve even checked out the arena (the gym). But what about the beauty realm? Just as you work on purging your closet, try losing all the dead weight in your morning routine by paring it back to the basics. Here are 12 simple, easy beauty tips to try out for the New Year.
1. Drink more water. Because it’s not just a beauty secret for flight attendants and all the celebrities are doing it.
2. Try not to stress out about your eyebrows. You are either born with Cara Delevingne’s or you are not. End of story. Brow hairs grow mysteriously and, most important, so, so slowly. Slow like “Leonardo DiCaprio’s mom waiting for him to settle down” slow. Tweeze only stray hairs and back away from your arches. Fill in gaps with a good brow pencil or declare yourself “so over” brows.
3. Don’t forget to apply moisturizer to your neck. Dry skin doesn’t stop at your face. And lock in moisture everywhere.
4. Reassess your skin type. Most people mumble some variation of “normal” when asked about their skin type, but it’s good to know for sure. Your skin type can change depending upon age, hormones, or the time of month (so basically, anytime). Assessing your skin for patterns can refine your beauty routine and help you pick out products. Do you tend to break out the same week during the year? Compared to the rest of your face, is only your T-zone oily? The most effective skin-type test I’ve taken is the one by celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, which has catalogued nine different types. You can take it here.
5. Try to train your hair to be washed less frequently. Training your hair is not unlike training a dragon, except training a dragon probably takes less time. If you’re attached to the shackle of daily hair-washing, this could be the year you try to decrease your hair’s dependence on over-shampooing. Washing your hair less often helps preserve expensive dye jobs and your hair’s natural oils, which is better for styling and moisturizing. If you’re a daily hair-washer, try incorporating one every-other-day wash and increasing it from there. In the beginning, you will feel like matted-down Gollum but power through that with a good dry shampoo/texturizer. Just don’t do it to the detriment of your scalp.
6. Get good basics. As with fashion, basics are important. At the very least, you’ll need good bath products and skin care: a good cleanser, exfoliator, shampoo/conditioner, a soap with a scent that makes you happy, sunscreen, and one good day/night moisturizer (these can be the same if need be and also double as an eye cream to keep things simple). For makeup, a good concealer (I like Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer), mascara, eyelash curler, a foundation that photographs well, a moisturizing lip balm that adds color to your lips, brow pencil, and blush.
7. Once you have the basics down, add an extra product. Try incorporating a targeted serum (which goes on before moisturizer), face mask, or eye cream into your beauty routine. For makeup, try a luminizer or a bronzer.
8. Be consistent. Whatever skin-care routine you have, for the best results, stay consistent. Repeat it every day, every night, no matter how tired you are, even if you’re traveling. Your wrinkleless grandma who only uses Clinique owes a lot to the consistency of its three-step solution.
9. Solve one thing at a time. If you’re trying to fix an oily T-zone, reduce redness, and refine the smoothness of your skin, solve one thing at a time. If you try to solve more than one thing at a time and use an arsenal of products, you won’t be able to figure out what is working and what isn’t.
10. Consider trying out Retin-A. Unless you have extremely, extremely sensitive skin, try Retin-A. You will peel. You might get red. It will get worse before it gets better.
11. Master one makeup technique and practice so you can nail it in two minutes. Whether it’s finding your perfect shade of red or a cat-eye eyeliner, get really good at one makeup technique. Have it on hand for when you need to go to a fancy event or look extra-special.
12. Ask your friends to teach you one beauty technique they’ve learned. For me, that’s going to be learning how to apply lipstick without a mirror the way Allison Davis can. Maybe next year, someone else can teach me how to apply it with my boobs.