7 Skin and Beauty Problems, Solved
Problem: You Cut Your Own Bangs and Botched the Job
Solution: Get the most out of the length you have left by applying a tiny bit of a styling cream that contains oil. This will weigh hair down slightly so it looks longer (the cream also adds shine and smoothness). Try John Frieda Frizz-Ease Straight Fixation Smoothing Crème ($6 at drugstores). Then blow-dry with a small brush, “pulling the hair straight down on your forehead,” suggests Riccardo Maggiore, the owner of the Riccardo Maggiore Salon, in New York City. Other options: Camouflage the unfortunate chop by brushing your bangs to the side and, if necessary, securing them with a bobby pin. Or wear a flapper-style headband (they’re trendy again, really!) over your bangs to hide them. Finally, you can slink back to your stylist for a trim to even things out.
Problem: You Gave Yourself a Facial and Now Blemishes Are More Apparent
Solution: Start by cleansing the area with a cotton pad soaked in alcohol, which has antiseptic properties. (This might sting, depending on how much damage you’ve done to the blemish.) If the spot is bleeding, apply ice wrapped in a towel for a few minutes. Then dab on a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide gel twice a day to kill the bacteria inside the blemish. This will reduce the swelling and eventually heal the pimple, says Leslie Baumann, a dermatologist in Miami Beach. Try DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel 5% Acne Treatment ($28, dermadoctor.com). Top it with an oil-free moisturizer if the surrounding skin gets dry. And for future reference? “Picking or squeezing blemishes can push the bacteria and pus deeper into the skin, rupturing the pore and causing scarring or a painful cyst,” says Baumann. A compelling reason to—for the millionth time—keep your hands off.
Problem: You Over-Tweezed and Now Your Brows Are Too Thin
Solution: First grab a photograph of yourself in which your brows look great, advises New York City makeup artist Morgen Schick. Then fill in your brows with a pencil until they match what you see in the picture. “Pick a soft-textured pencil that’s the same color as your brows and fill in the gaps where there’s no hair,” says Brett Freedman, a Los Angeles makeup artist. To avoid the stenciled-on effect, use short, quick strokes and blend with a brow brush. Do this daily until your hair begins to come in again. Fortunately, “brows typically grow fast—you’ll see some regrowth within a week,” says Freedman. “Within three to four weeks, they should be back to normal.” Some brow experts swear that prescription hair-growth and regrowth products, like Latisse and Rogaine, work for brows, but they haven’t received FDA approval for that purpose.
Problem: You Left a Whitening Strip on Too Long and Your Teeth Are Splotchy
Solution: Teeth are naturally uneven in color, and “sometimes when you use whitening products, the light areas become noticeably whiter, so you really see the contrast,” says Gigi Meinecke, a dentist in Potomac, Maryland, and a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. To remedy the situation, take a break from the strips. You should see those contrasts fade within a week or two. If your teeth feel unusually sensitive after whitening (the hydrogen peroxide in bleaching products is usually the culprit), switch to a desensitizing toothpaste, such as Sensodyne. These pastes contain potassium nitrate, strontium chloride, or potassium citrate, says Meinecke, all of which, with repeated use, can reduce sensitivity by blanketing the tiny pores on the teeth. “Listen to your teeth. If temperature extremes bother them, avoid hot or cold foods or drinks for a few days,” says Meinecke. If the sensitivity persists, see your dentist.
Problem: Your New Hair Color Is Too Dark or Too Light
Solution: There’s no shortcut here. Your best course of action is to head back to the salon. And if it’s a home hair-color mishap, get thee to a stylist, stat! Correcting botched color is a tricky process, and doing it yourself can land you in an even bigger mess. That said, if you must take matters into your own hands, here’s what to do: If your hair is too light, apply a darker semipermanent color (go one half to one level deeper than your current color). “Choose a neutral or warm shade, and avoid ash tones,” which can look greenish on bleached hair, says Mark Garrison, the owner of the Mark Garrison Salon, in New York City. If you went too dark, lighten it up with highlights instead of trying to bleach out the dark tones, says Garrison.
Problem: You Applied Self-Tanner in a Rush and Now Your Skin Is Streaky
Solution: Hop in the shower as quickly as possible and use a body brush or a loofah to gently slough your skin. “It generally takes a few hours for a self-tanner to fully develop and dry,” says Schick, “so if you exfoliate within that window, you can at least prevent the streaks from getting worse.” Next, run baby oil–soaked cotton pads over particularly stripy areas. “The oil won’t rub the tanner away, but it will dissolve it a bit,” says Freedman. If you’re still splotchy, “apply a tinted, shimmery body lotion to any exposed skin,” adds Freedman. “It will diffuse light, which can camouflage streaky spots.” Try Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect After Sun Lotion ($8, ulta.com).
Problem: You Bought a Product, then Found You Don’t Like/Want It
Solution: You bought Technicolor eye shadow or a $100 face cream, then realized it was a bad idea. Now what? Believe it or not, you can probably return it. Many national drugstore chains, including CVS and Rite Aid, allow returns on beauty products—still in the package or already used—as long as you have a receipt. The same goes for some department stores, such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. Many beauty specialty stores, like Sephora and Ulta (and their online sites), allow you to get your money back within 60 days. And the shopping channels QVC and HSN accept returns within 30 days. There can be exceptions, so check each store’s website for complete details. Notes Schick, “You’ll have the most luck with a return if the product is unopened or barely used.”