10 Beauty Shortcuts
The Fastest Way to Dry Nail Polish
Dunk your hands in a bowl of ice-cold water. "The cold water freeze-dries polish, sealing and hardening it quickly," says Belinda Rivera, a nail specialist in Austin, Texas. Allow nails to air-dry for two minutes, then submerge in ice-cold water for three minutes, which is enough time for the polish to harden completely.
Another option: Blast nails with cool air from a hair dryer in between coats. This helps each layer of color dry as you go.
Quick tip: Old nail polish can take forever to dry, since time can turn polish gooey and thick. Toss bottles when the polish begins to change color or separate. At that point, the lacquer has probably thickened and become unusable.
The Fastest Way to Minimize a Facial Flush
Place a cool, wet towel on the back of your neck. "When your face flushes during exercise, it's a normal physiological response to your body overheating," says Lydia Evans, a dermatologist in Chappaqua, New York. "Your blood vessels dilate and increase blood flow to the surface of the skin to cool it, which gives it that red appearance."
A cold towel on the back of the neck constricts those blood vessels, numbs the nerve endings there, and helps lower your body temperature quickly, says Debra Luftman, a cosmetic dermatologist in Beverly Hills. Splashing cold water on your face will have the same effect.
Quick tip: Carry a spray bottle filled with cold water to the gym. When you feel your face getting warm, spritz it with water. This will help keep the redness to a minimum.
The Fastest Way to Depuff Eyes
"Wrap a bag of frozen vegetables in a thin towel and place it over your eyes for 10 minutes," says Debra Luftman, a cosmetic dermatologist. A night of sipping Champagne or eating salty foods can lead to fluid retention around the eyes. The cold of the bag stimulates circulation under the eyes, which helps bring down that fluid. (Why a bag of vegetables? Because it conforms to the contours of the face. Peas or corn works best.)
A soft washcloth soaked in cool chamomile tea will also do the trick, since chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties.
Quick tip 1: If you know you’ll be drinking alcohol or eating salty foods, be sure to drink lots of water. You’ll be less likely to puff out the next morning.
Quick tip 2: To help prevent puffy eyes, prop up your head on two pillows when you go to sleep. Gravity is your friend when it comes to fluid retention.
The Fastest Way to Soothe Post-Waxing Irritation
Apply a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, which calms inflammation, quells itchiness, and reduces redness. The force it takes to pull hairs out from the roots can inflame skin. Lydia Evans, a dermatologist, says, "Since coarse and thick hairs are more stubborn to remove, you'll probably experience more redness in areas where they grow," such as the bikini line and the underarms.
Delicate spots, like the brows, are also prone to irritation. Apply a pea-size dab of hydrocortisone cream to red zones right after waxing.
Quick tip: Don’t schedule a waxing within three days of the start of your period, when skin tends to be extra sensitive.
The Fastest Way to Repair a Torn Nail
Patch it with a tea bag. Nails can tear for many reasons: They're weak; they're soft; they've been soaking in water for too long, which softens them further.
Whatever the cause, cut a tiny piece of paper from a tea bag (it should be big enough to cover the entire tear), apply a bead of nail glue to the paper (Krazy Glue works in a pinch), then press it on top of the tear, says Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie Cosmetics. Allow the glue to dry, then gently file the top of the paper so that it is smooth and flush with the nail. Finish with a layer of base coat, two coats of nail polish, and a topcoat.
Quick tip: Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes or using cleaning products. Water and chemicals can weaken nails and make them more likely to tear.
Want to see this technique in action? Watch the video.
The Fastest Way to Fix a Streaky Tan
Sweep a cotton ball soaked in 100 percent lemon juice over stripy areas. "Citric acid from the lemon is a natural skin lightener and exfoliator," says Drita Ramadanovic, a spa manager at the Wynn resort, in Las Vegas. "It smooths away unevenly applied tanner by sloughing off overly tanned skin cells."
Another option: Massage plain baking soda onto damp skin with small, gentle circular motions. Like lemon juice, baking soda will slough off freshly dyed cells and reveal untanned skin underneath.
Quick tip: Cut your self-tanner with moisturizer. Mix equal parts of each in your palm and blend them together before applying. The diluted tanner will give you a more natural color.
The Fastest Way to Grow Out a Bad Haircut
Sadly, there's no fast way to grow out a bad haircut. That said, there are things you can do to minimize the nightmare until your hair grows back (which it does at a rate of about half an inch a month).
First try washing and restyling your hair yourself, since the way a stylist does your hair can make it look worse than it really is, says Eric Fisher, owner of the Eric Fisher Salon, in Wichita, Kansas. Then rely on accessories to help you through the growing-out phase. A headband or a barrette can hold back too-short bangs, and a ponytail or a loose bun can camouflage too-flippy layers.
Quick tip: If you’re really unhappy with a cut, voice your dissatisfaction to the salon manager that day. Ask for a different stylist, who can help reshape the cut. Most managers will be happy to oblige.
The Fastest Way to Dry Hair
Blow-dry from underneath, starting with the underlayers. "If you start drying your hair with the top layer, you end up scooping up wet hair from underneath and pulling it through the brush, rewetting the layers that are already dry," says Inez Gray, owner of the Habitude Salon and Spa, in Seattle.
First apply mousse, which will coat the hair shafts and prevent them from absorbing more water. Then flip your head over, or clip the top up, and aim the dryer at the bottom layers first. Once the bottom layers are dry, use a brush to help dry and smooth the top layers. This technique will cut drying time by about a third.
Quick tip 1: Don’t blow-dry sopping-wet hair―you’ll need to use high heat, which will lead to damage. Blot with a microfiber or terry towel first.
Quick tip 2: To make your blow-dry even speedier, choose a dryer with at least 1,800 watts. A high-powered dryer gets the job done in less time than a lower-wattage one.
The Fastest Way to Conceal Grays
Cover them with mascara. As women age, hair follicles lose the ability to produce pigment; the result is gray hair. To cover up a single gray, swipe mascara that matches the rest of your hair onto it. (Or use a touch-up product, which is temporary color that comes in a mascara-like tube and washes out with your next shampoo.)
If you begin to see a larger smattering of grays throughout your hair, try adding volume when you style. Spritz some volumizing spray onto the roots of the gray sections before you blow-dry, or back-comb sections to get them to stand away from your scalp. "Flat hair makes grays even more noticeable," says Eric Fisher, owner of the Eric Fisher Salon, in Wichita, Kansas.
Quick tip: Get a cut with lots of layers. Fisher says, "It eliminates definitive parts and gives movement to the hair," both of which hide grays.
The Fastest Way to Smooth Away Pillow Creases on Your Face
Splash warm water on your skin, then massage in a moisturizer. Skin cells contain fluid that acts as a cushion to keep the skin plump. When you're lying with your face smushed into a pillow for eight hours, that fluid seeps out of cells and is absorbed by your body. "This leads to creases," says Lydia Evans, a dermatologist in Chappaqua, New York.
Once you get out of bed, skin cells will gradually plump up with fluid. The warm water speeds this along by enhancing blood flow to the area, and moisturizer rehydrates it. Massaging the moisturizer in helps to smooth creases away manually.
Quick tip: Sleep on a smooth-fitting satin pillowcase instead of a cotton one. Satin won’t bunch up under your skin, so you may be spared morning creases. (It will not, however, eliminate long-term wrinkles.)