5 Beauty Skills Every Woman Must Master
Looks can be deceiving. Gorgeous grooming may seem complicated, but really it all boils down to a few—OK, five—fundamental skills.
1. Gel Manicure
Let us count the ways this manicure advancement has simplified life: long-lasting color (10 days to two weeks), instantly dry tips, and loads of shine. Doing an at-home gel manicure is just like doing a regular one—except you're curing the color onto your nails with an LED light. That LED is an investment. You'll need to buy a gel-mani starter kit, like the Red Carpet Manicure Starter Kit ($65, amazon.com). But stay with us here: It's a onetime purchase, after which you can simply replenish the polishes.
Step 1: Prep your nails: Remove old polish, file tips, push back cuticles, and trim hanging skin with a nipper.
Step 2: On each nail, paint on a layer of the gel base coat that comes with the kit.
Step 3: Place four fingers of one hand (index to pinkie) under the lamp for about two minutes (times vary by lamp); repeat with the thumb for the same amount of time. (If you cram in all five digits of one hand, the LED may not reach each nail, says Kiyo Okada, the New York City manicurist who worked on this story.)
Step 4: Repeat with two layers of the gel color and one of the clear gel topcoat that comes with the kit, curing nails for the time instructed between each coat of polish.
2. Sculpted Cheeks
A plethora of more natural-looking powders plus updated application techniques have given this cheek-defining technique a much needed face-lift.
Step 1: Start with foundation and powder as usual. (Or skip it if there's nothing usual about foundation and powder for you.)
Step 2: Sweep matte bronzer a shade or two deeper than your skin tone (or foundation) from your temples to your cheekbones to your jawbones, as if drawing the number 3, says Gregg Brockington, the New York City makeup artist who did the makeup on these pages.
Step 3: Blend pink blush just on the apples of your cheeks for contrast. Try the Giordano Beauty Tan Lines Bronzing Compact ($24, giordanobeauty.com) and Chanel Joues Contraste Powder Blush in Pink Explosion ($45, nordstrom.com).
3. Beachy Waves
Step away from the curling iron. You read that right. As the name implies, "a curling iron makes curls, not waves," says Paul Warren, the New York City hairstylist who created the modern-classic look above. The necessary tool, in this case, is a flatiron.
Step 1: Clamp the flatiron at the roots of a two-inch-wide section or hair. (The skinnier the plates, the more pronounced the wave will be.)
Step 2: Twist your wrist while holding the tool so that a small bend forms in your hair.
Step 3: Unclamp and reclamp the iron an inch down from the bend, and twist your wrist again to form another one. Keep moving down the section of hair this way, stopping just short of the ends (so they don't flip up). Continue around your whole head.
Step 4: Instead of holding with hair spray, mist on a texturizing spray, says Warren. It will create a matte finish, like your hair gets when you've been in salt water. We like KÃ©rastase Spray A Porter ($26, amazon.com).
4. False Lashes
All the makeup in the world will take you only so far. For dramatic length, you need to enlist fake lashes. For ease and speed, Brockington suggests using strip lashes rather than individual pieces. Consider Kevyn Aucoin The Starlet Faux Lashes ($25, nordstrom.com).
Step 1: Cut the lash into three pieces. Working in small sections is more manageable than trying to adhere a whole strip.
Step 2: Using a flat-tipped makeup brush, paint a thin layer of lash glue onto the base of each lash section, as well as onto your lid (where you would normally place eyeliner). Allow to dry for 60 seconds.
Step 3: Working from the inner corner of the eye out, place each section on the lid.
Step 4: Use a tweezer or even the rounded edge of a clean emory board to gently push the base of each section of the strip firmly into the glue for lasting adhesion.
Step 5: Wait a minute until the glue is completely clear and dry before sweeping mascara onto your lashes plus the fakes, which helps the two bind together.
5. Full Lips
With a touch—literally—of shimmer, anyone can create the illusion of bigger lips.
Step 1: Using a lip pencil that matches the natural color of your lips, draw slightly (slightly) outside the perimeter of your lip line and fill in, says Brockington.
Step 2: Follow with a matching lipstick.
Step 3: Next, dab a nude lip pencil with shimmer onto your pointer finger, then pat the color onto the center of your lower lip. This will create a light-reflecting surface that makes lips appear larger. Try Kevyn Aucoin nude lipsticks and pencils (kevynaucoin.com) and NYX Jumbo Lip Pencil in Bronze ($4.50, nyxcosmetics.com).