As a beauty and style blogger, it’s my business to try as many techniques as possible, and to test-drive as many products as I can. At least, that’s what I tell my husband when I come home from the store with a bag of new finds.
While trial and error has helped me discover a lot of my favorite items and tips, it has also led me to a lot of duds. Bad formulas, poor color payoff, and makeup techniques that simply don’t work are common. In other words, just because a tip appears in “Cosmopolitan,” it doesn’t mean it’s true.
I’ve systematically tested a ton of so-called beauty hacks that promise to give you everything from clearer skin to fuller lips, and I’ve narrowed things down to arrive at a “best of the best” list of tricks that actually do what they promise. Whether for a special occasion or for everyday use, adding these tips to your routine can help you save money on beauty products, use less, and get the most out of every powder, cream, and potion you own.
Beauty Tricks That Really Work
1. Curling Your Eyelashes
One mistake I see again and again is in ladies’ eyelash curling techniques. Many women simply clamp down, count to three, and are done. Not only does that make an unnatural crease in your eyelashes, but the curl may not last.
Instead, try the pump technique. Start at the base of the lash and pump the curler three times. Then, move to the middle section of your eyelashes and repeat. Finally, repeat those three pumps at the tips and you’ve got a gorgeous sweep of lashes that lasts.
2. Fake Falsies With Baby Powder
If you love false eyelashes but think they’re a pain to apply, skip the glue and tweezers in favor of something much easier: baby powder. After you’ve curled your eyelashes and applied one coat of mascara, dip a clean mascara wand or cotton swab into some baby powder and sweep it along the underside of your lashes. Then, apply another coat. The mascara adheres to the baby powder, creating dark fibers that make your lashes look longer and fuller – without the falsies.
3. Dry Shampoo Technique
Dry shampoo is practically a revelation in the beauty sphere. It’s my go-to strategy when I’m short on time and can’t wash and blow dry my hair. However, while it’s a miraculous addition to any bathroom cupboard, using it improperly and not giving it enough time to work can leave you with white spots or still-oily locks.
Dry shampoo is essentially a fine aerosol powder that, when applied to roots, absorbs extra oil and leaves a fresh scent, mimicking the effects of traditional washing. My favorite brand – Suave Professionals – costs approximately $3 per bottle. While I prefer a commercial dry shampoo, blondes can make do with cornstarch. It has the same absorbent effect and blends well with blonde coloring.
I like to apply it heavily on my roots while my hair is loose and work it in with my fingers, as one would a typical shampoo. Then, give it 5 to 10 minutes to absorb your excess oil. This is an ideal time to hop in the shower – just tie your hair up in a loose bun. After that, you can brush your hair out and it should look clean and shiny without any white residue.
4. The Magic Three
Highlighting and shading your face is the best way to get a red carpet-ready look, but it can be complicated. You’re essentially using makeup to carve out cheekbones and highlight your best features. However, instead of trying to emulate complicated facial highlighting maps, try the “magic three” technique.
After you’ve applied your foundation, load up a bronzer brush with product. Start on the left-hand side of your forehead (directly above your temple) and draw a reverse number three down the left side of your face, nipping in at the cheekbone halfway between your temple and nose, and then again from the jawbone to just below the left corner of your mouth. Repeat on the right side with a mirror-image motion. This foolproof technique allows you to apply bronzer to places that would naturally be exposed to the sun. Follow up with a bit of highlighter on your cheekbones and you’re finished.
5. Perfect Smoky Eyeliner
The smoky eye is a makeup stalwart – it’s a timeless look that can make a girl’s eyes pop. The key to getting it right is avoiding harsh lines and achieving the perfect smudge. If your eyeliner doesn’t cooperate with that, try heating it up to loosen the pigment a bit. Just grab a lighter and hold it to the tip of your eyeliner for one or two seconds. Then, let it cool for 15 seconds before applying and smudging it with a brush or your finger.
The traditional smoky eye is black or gray, but that can be a bit much for a daily get-up. When wearing it in the daytime, using a color can look less dramatic. If you have brown eyes, try a navy pencil and shadow. For blue and green eyes, plum really makes the color pop.
6. Pouty Lips
While there are a number of products on the market that promise to swell your lips, they generally present two problems. First, those products work by irritating your lips, which can be painful. Second, they only achieve short-term effects. Make your perfect pout last longer by using a bit of eyeshadow for a volumizing effect. By applying your lipstick and brushing some shimmery ivory eyeshadow to the center of your lips only, it creates a 3D effect that makes them look fuller – no irritation or special products required. The same goes for clear gloss. Just dab it on the center of your lips.
7. DIY Toner For Oily Skin
If you have dry skin and oily patches, you know that no product can tame both at the same time. Either you end up broken out or chapped. However, toner works to sop up extra oil at night, and it’s ideal for evening skin tone, texture, and color. By mixing up your own, you can conquer that excess oil without drying out your skin.
Mix a half-cup of apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of tea tree oil (check the vitamin section of your grocery store) and one cup of warm water, all in a clean spray bottle. Spray the toner onto a cotton pad and swipe it over your face in the morning and at night. If your skin is oily, simply add more apple cider vinegar. If it feels dry, increase the tea tree oil, then follow up with an oil-free moisturizer.
A bottle usually lasts a month and helps keep dry patches and breakouts at bay. If you have normal or combination skin, try green tea as a toner. Brew a cup according to package directions, let it cool, and then pour it into a spray bottle. It keeps for about a month and works wonders for calming redness.
8. Making Scents Last
I love a good perfume, but I hate when it wears off by lunchtime, which is usually what happens. Once you find your signature scent, you want it to last longer – especially if you splurged on a designer fragrance. Believe it or not, a short-lived scent may not be a formula issue – it may be a placement issue. Fragrance should be applied to pulse points, like the wrists and neck. If you’re wearing shorts or a skirt, put some on the back of your knees as well.
If you like more of a subtle fragrance, try spraying some perfume on your hairbrush before you do your hair. And always keep some fragrance-free moisturizer on hand. Mix a few drops or sprays of shampoo perfume into it and apply normally. Both of these techniques make for a lasting scent that’s subtle, but still pleasantly noticeable.
9. White Shadow
Whether you’re into neutral shades or colors that really pop, a quality eye shadow is all about color payoff – a term that refers to how much product you have to use in order to get the opacity you desire. Some higher-end shadows promise better color payoff, but you can up the game of budget-conscious palettes simply by using white eye shadow as your base.
Slide on some eye primer and, before using a color, sweep on a wash of white eye shadow over your entire eyelid. The white acts as a secondary primer that brightens up the eye and works as a canvas for other colors, helping them look brighter and saving you money on additional product.
10. The Foundation Brush
Liquid foundations are usually applied in one of two ways: with the fingers or with a sponge. However, a third technique – and possibly the best – is to apply it with a stipple brush, a round brush with flat bristles. Fingers don’t always blend well, and sponges soak up plenty of your precious product – both problems you avoid with the stipple brush.
Just dot your foundation on your face, use the brush to press it into your pores, and then sweep to blend. It gives you a nearly perfect airbrush finish with minimal product. I picked up a stipple brush from E.L.F. for about $3 – a steal, considering how much I use it.
11. Exfoliating Lips
Lipstick over soft, smooth lips looks lovely. Lipstick over chapped, flaky lips? Not so great. Unfortunately, because lips are made up of thin skin, they’re prone to drying out and flaking. That means your lip color usually looks messy, bleeds outside of the lip line, and doesn’t last as long.
Just like you exfoliate your face and your body, your lips can use a little bit of that love as well. I like to use a clean, soft toothbrush to banish flakes for good. Just wet it and run it over your lips in a circular motion, taking care to be gentle (there’s no need to scrub). Then, make sure to moisturize well with a quality lip balm. Do this once a week and you never have to deal with flaky lips again.
12. Glitter Nails
When nail polish starts to chip and peel, it’s enough for many women to remove it entirely and start again. However, there is a way to extend your manicure utilizing glitter nail polish.
Since nail polish is more likely to chip at the tip, create an ombre glitter nail, a gradient treatment starting from light glitter coverage in the middle of the nail to a heavier coat at the tips, that effectively covers and fortifies the chip. Start at the center of the nail and sweep a coat of glitter polish to the tip. Allow that layer to dry and then sweep on another coat, this time starting halfway between the center and the tip. Allow that layer to dry and do one more coat, this time just sweeping the brush along the tip of the nail. Not only does it cover the chip, but the effect looks like a trendy ombre nail treatment. Repeat on other nails, if desired.
13. Pin Staying Power
The unfortunate danger of an elaborate up-do is that your bobby pins can easily slide out and mess up your look. Make sure your pins have real staying power by laying them out onto a paper towel before you start pinning. Spray them all with a generous coat of firm-hold hairspray and allow them to dry. Then, when you use them for your style, flip them and make sure the wavy side is the one closest to your scalp. They’ll be budge-proof until you’re ready to take them out.
14. More Mascara
Getting down to the bottom of your favorite tube of mascara usually means a pricey trip to the department store to reload. But before you make that trip, be sure to get every bit of formula you can before tossing the tube. Simply put a few drops of contact lens saline solution in and shake it up to re-moisten any mascara that’s dried on the inside. This can get you another week’s worth of product.
If you’re not a contact lens wearer, mix up your own saline solution. Just grab a teaspoon of non-iodized salt and add it to one cup of warm water, stirring until dissolved. Store it in an airtight container and use a medicine or eye dropper to put it into your mascara tube.
15. Remove Nail Polish
Removing stubborn nail polish is a pain, especially when you have to use half a bottle of acetone and a bag of cotton balls to get the job done. Luckily, you can cut the time and materials you use down by allowing the nail polish remover to soak through the polish so you can easily wipe it away.
Pour a little nail polish remover into the cap and set it aside. Then, grab a cotton ball and pinch a small section off. Dip the smaller section into the cap of nail polish remover and spread it over an entire nail, being sure to cover the whole thing. Repeat the process for each nail and by the time you get to the last one, your first nail should be ready to go. Press down on the cotton as you swipe the nail polish off and it should come away easily. It should only take two cotton balls for both hands using this method.
I’ve got an entire Pinterest board dedicated to all the beauty tips and tricks I’ve found online – but it’s taken me a lot of trial and error to find the ones that actually work. Hunting out the best of the best means you can skip your own trial and error and go straight for insider hacks that can streamline your beauty routine and save you money. What could be better?
What’s your favorite beauty trick?