Simple Solutions to 6 Beauty Dilemmas
Overcome these beauty blunders with expert-approved tips.
"I have stretch marks on my thighs and lower back that are a decade old." —Maythe H., via e-mail
THE FIX: Older stretch marks are harder to treat than new ones, but that doesn't mean they're a lost cause, says Betty Bellman, a dermatologist in Miami. Apply a cream that contains the plant-based ingredients darutoside and registrel, which minimize the size and color, respectively, of stretch marks. (Try Belli Stretchmark Minimizing Cream; $49, jet.com.) Or use an over-the-counter retinol cream (like RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream; $14.50, amazon.com) once a day. Take a weekly photo of the scars. If you see a visible difference after six snapshots, keep up the regimen. If there has been no change, you may need a stronger solution. Your options: a prescription retinol, like Retin-A, applied once daily for a few months; or two or more (somewhat painful) Fraxel-laser procedures ($300 to $1,500 each), which blend stretch marks into the surrounding skin, making them far less apparent.
"I missed a spot while applying SPF, and now I have a weird tan." —Jennifer, via e-mail
THE FIX: Exfoliate the oddly tanned areas twice daily with an alpha hydroxy acid product. This will fade the color in less than a week without causing irritation, says Joely Kaufman, a dermatologist in Miami. Try Peter Thomas Roth 40 Percent Triple Acid Peel ($88, sephora.com), which comes in easy-to-use wipes. If you continue this regimen, the tan should disappear in less than a month. Meanwhile, camouflage unevenness by applying a self-tanner, like L'OrÃ©al Paris Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Mousse ($11 at drugstores), to the less tanned areas. Protect the darker spots from self-tanner by coating them first with a salve, like Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($4, amazon.com). Only have a tiny splotch? After exfoliating with the wipes, cover the spot with a hydrating concealer, like RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up ($36, rmsbeauty.com), suggests Ildi Pekar, the founder of Ildi Pekar Skin Care, in New York City.
"My self-tanner looks so unnatural." —Jennifer A., via e-mail
THE FIX: If your skin screams "Oompa Loompa!," relax—in a warm bath. Add three capfuls of baby oil to the water and submerge your body for at least 20 minutes, then exfoliate with a loofah, says Fiona Locke, a tanning expert for the self-tanner company St. Tropez. This can fade the color by about 80 percent. To lighten a few glaring streaks or spots, rub them with a cut lemon for two to three minutes. And to avoid blotches the next time, exfoliate right before, apply a water-based moisturizer followed by one coat of tanner, and blend thoroughly, says Jennifer Phillips, the owner of Portofino Beverly Hills, a tanning salon in Beverly Hills.
"The piercings in my ears have really stretched out." —Aileen W., via e-mail
THE FIX: Use Lobe Wonder patches ($9 for 60, shop.nordstrom.com), small, clear disks that adhere to the backs of the lobes and lend extra support to earrings, even heavy danglers, so you don't cause further damage. (Think of them as reinforcement stickers.) There are other, long-term solutions, but they're expensive. Outpatient cosmetic surgery to repair lobes costs from $600 to $1,000. "Then you'll need to wait six months to repierce your ears," says Loretta Ciraldo, a cosmetic dermatologist in Miami. Or ask a dermatologist to plump the areas around the piercings by injecting them with filler, but the process needs to be redone every 12 to 18 months at a cost of $400 to $600 per session. Now, that's what we call a stretch.
"I have to wear latex gloves for work, and it's causing my nails to peel and split like crazy." —M. R., via e-mail
THE FIX: Lack of air circulation could be the culprit, says Susan Stuart, M.D., the founder of La Jolla Dermatology, in La Jolla, California. Remove the gloves every hour for two or three minutes to let your hands breathe. Dryness caused by prolonged contact with the powder in the gloves or excessive hand washing may also lead to nail damage, says Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist in New York City. For extra protection, use a light moisturizer after every hand washing and at night slather on a thick cream with shea butter or glycerin. (Try Triple Cream Severe Dry Skin/Eczema Care, $8.50, amazon.com.) It's also a good idea to cool it on the nail polish, and skip nail-hardening products and acrylic nails.
"I overplucked my eyebrows!" —Kathy Jo O., via Facebook
THE FIX: To fake fullness convincingly, line up a brow stencil over your own brows. (Pick your best match from a set of five arches; $20, anastasia.net.) Using a brow pencil that's a shade lighter than your natural color, fill in sparse spots with feathery strokes, then blend with a (clean) soft toothbrush, says Sania Vucetaj, the owner of Sania's Brow Bar, in New York City. And don't worry: Your plucked brows will return in about a month. You can even speed up the process by applying a growth-stimulating peptide serum, like European Wax Center Restore It ($20, waxcenter.com).