Beauty 101: Your Beauty Disaster Questions, Answered

This week, our Beauty 101 series is focusing on quick fixes for everything from a bad haircut to a nasty case of razor burn. You had questions, and your fellow readers have provided the answers.

On Growing Out A Short Cut/Avoiding A Bad Bang Trim:
From commenter stella.bella:

I've been growing out a short haircut for a year. It was a pixie. There isn't really much you can do to fix the inevitable awkwardness of this process, but there are a couple things:

1. Don't see your stylist regularly. I know many sites will suggest that you go in to get your hair trimmed so it doesn't look so awkward, but all this ends up doing is prolonging the shitty experience of growing out your hair. When you decide to grow out your hair, just let it grow for a month or two, and then go see your stylist, tell him or her that you're growing it out and you want a cut that will grow out well, and then leave it alone. See your stylist as infrequently as you can.

2. Headbands, bobby pins, clips - hair accessories are your best friend. Pull your hair back with a scarf for a totally different look. As my hair grew out, it was way too long in the back for how short it was in the front, so I'd always pull the bottom half of it back with pins.

3. Be flexible. Your hairstyle is going to change probably once every two months, and it's going to be weird. If you determine that something works, you're going to have to re-evaluate and change it in a couple months. Be open to experimenting with new ways of styling your hair.

From commenter voteforme:

To trim your bangs at home, put a piece of scotch tape on your forehead to give yourself a cutting guide. I have a friend with very straight hair who puts the tape right on her hair. Either way works for maintenance.

From commenter LolainSlacks:

Bobby pins, headbands, feathers and flowers. Anything to keep you from getting bored enough to contemplate cutting it all off again. If you're growing out from a pixie cut, I've done this several times, you'll need frequent trims to the back to keep it from looking like a mullet.

From commenter brilligtove:

I've been growing out a pixie cut for the last year and I've finally got a chin-length bob. It's been a really long year.

I second the things that have been mentioned: bobby pins securing small hair twists, headbands, head scarves, consistent trims to avoid mullet-tastic-ness. My fantastic stylist gave me great cuts that kept me committed to a grow-out when there were plenty of times I wanted to chop it all off again.

Mostly, though, BANGS. Having snazzy bangs kept my hair neat-looking, even when the rest was going through weird messy stages. Plus, when the weather gets cold, slouchy hats with those bangs peeking out are your best friends.

From commenter MissKariss:

A sense of humor. looking back through photos it became apparent that my pixie-cut growing-out process definitely included a stage where my hair looked a lot like javier bardem's in No Country for Old Men.

On Covering Up Overplucked Eyebrows:
From commenter LaGiulia:

Eyebrows: if you overplucked, take a flat brush and dip it lightly into coffee-coloured or black matte eyeshadow, then brush it along the arc. Do not overdo this or you will look cartoonish: a little will give your brows a naturally full look. Also recommended if you're wearing very strong red or fuchsia lipstick, as it helps balancing your face (and also gives you a nice rétro look)

From commenter lasicate:

Brow powder and a good brush. Use it lightly in the area/shape you want your brows to be until they grow back. In a pinch, matte eyeshadow that matches your brow colour will work as well.

From commenter GunwallsLizzie:

For over-plucked eyebrows, I highly reccomend Benefit's "brow zings" kit. It has everything you need to either fix over-plucked brows or just for regular brow-shaping needs.

The hard angle brush it comes with is perfect for simulating brow hairs (better than the tip of a brow pencil, which is too easy to go overboard with). Use the hard angle brush with the wax first to shape your eyebrows, soften a little with the blending brush, then apply a little of the powder to fill in and TADA! All better until they grow back!

From commenter allison.of.bath.:

Dark-haired ladies, if you want stronger eyebrows and you don't have or don't want to bother with an eyebrow pencil, I find that two swipes of mascara per brow does the trick. My eyebrows look more full and they stay well-groomed... and it only takes an extra 15 seconds after I do my mascara.

From commenter sfikus:

I work with Look Good Feel Better, which teaches women undergoing cancer treatments how to cope with the changes their bodies are going thru - we use this tip for drawing in eyebrows and is genius:

Eyebrows are made of hair, but you see skin thru them - if you use a brow pencil the same color as your eyebrows, it can look extremely harsh or "angry". Try a neutral color a step or 2 lighter than your natural brows.

Looking straight at a mirror, take your eyebrow pencil and hold it vertically from the outside of your nose/nostril to your brow. This is the inside-most point of your eyebrow. Make a dot with the pencil.

Keeping the pencil at the nostril, rotate the top outward, so that it crosses the center of your iris. The pencil will be at a roughly 45 degree angle from your nostril outward. This line shows the natural point of the arch in your eyebrow. Make a second dot with your pencil.

Keeping the pencil at the nostril, rotate it outward further so that it lines up with the outside edge of your eye. This line shows where the brow should end. Make a third dot with your pencil.

Using light strokes, gently color in, connecting the dots. Use less pencil than you think - it's easier to add more than to take away too much. Eyebrows naturally taper, so thin the line as you move outward. In between adding color, use a brow brush (or cheap toothbrush) to soften the pencil and blend with your existing eyebrow hairs.

Finally, brush the brow hairs up, then run your thumbnail across the top of your brow, tracing the shape of the arch, to groom and shape. If you have unruly hairs, spray the brush with a small bit of hairspray before you brush and shape.

If you have very little hair from over plucking, pencil can look waxy/greasy/shiny and very fake. Use pencil lightly first to define the shape of the brow, then lightly trace with a matching matte eyeshadow color - this will matte down any shine from the pencil.

On Preventing Razor Burn:
From commenter nuttycakes:

For redness, bump, and ingrown hair prevention on your face or bikini area, I slather salicylic acid (I'm a fan of basic Clean & Clear in the little silver tube) immediately after a wax or a shave. (Obviously, take care to not get any on your ladybits.) If you are a regular exfoliator, you should be good to go. I used to have all three issues before I started applying salicylic acid immediately after, and now I may still be slightly pink, but nothing noticeable to others, and thankfully no more bumps or ingrowns. I have no shame about taking my Clean & Clear with me when getting waxed and saying no to whatever product they apply afterwards and whipping out my little tube.

From commenter bronwynmaye:

Bikini area: Apply Polysporin or generic Polysporin immediately after shaving bikini area. This minimises redness and creates a barrier between the skin and anything else. Continue to apply regularly until risk of discomfort has passed. I find that applying each morning before I get dressed works nicely.

Also, regularly exfoliate the shaved area vigorously with a dry face clothe or a soft body brush. I find that exfoliating once a day works best —always before bathing. This allows hair to regrow without becoming ingrown.

From commenter windmilloflove:

I used to get razor burn all the time until I started putting the witch hazel I use for my face (for acne and to help with dry skin) on my legs. The key is that it must be completely alcohol free (to be fair, my skin is to sensitive to try it with alcohol but I give this suggestion because normal witch hazel with alcohol in it would probably burn your skin after shaving).

From commenter Professor K:

For bikini area razor burn, apply a light layer of deodorant after shaving. does wonders!

From commenter LoneWolf:

I am the razor burn QUEEN! here's what I do:
-Wait at least 5 minutes in the shower/bath to start shaving. You need to allow your hair to soften in the warm water.
-Buy a cheap hair conditioner and slather it all over the areas you want to shave. Let it sit for a minute.
-Exfoliate any area you are shaving with either a loofah/body brush/whatever.
-Apply more conditioner or shaving cream. Any type of barrier between the razor and your skin (not soap, it's too drying)
-Shave your legs with a fresh razor. Try to go slow and only pass over each area of skin 2 times.
-Rinse your legs, and exfoliate again (if you want)

It's a pain in the ass, but it works.

Also a tip for when your legs only have a little stubble on them: Use a 1 blade razor. It won't be the best shave you've ever had but it will prevent your skin from being irritated.

On Avoiding Smudged Mascara:
From commenter geekgeekgal:

Use a 'tube' style mascara like

blinc "Kiss Me" Mascara

L'Oreal "Double Extend" Mascara

Clinique "Lash Power" Mascara or

Imju Fiberwig "Lash Knock Out" Mascara

all are silicone based and will coat the lashes in tubes that will then wash off with warm water (must be pretty warm to hot). They will NEVER run, but can flake from time to time, after longer than 24 hours. They will not budge even after swimming. They will not come off with oil, must only be warm water. The cheapest is the L'Oreal and after trying all of them, it is my favorite.

From commenter mishegoss:

Stopping mascara from running:

I put a lot of powder under my eyes before applying mascara. It seems to stop it from travelling south on me. Furthermore, that Great Lash crap is gold.

From Yours Truly:

My eyes are always watering because I'm allergic to everything, but using waterproof mascara was making me rip my eyelashes out during the cleaning process. I've found that using a mascara primer (I've used Clinique's, but I'm sure there are other good ones out there) before applying a regular non-waterproof mascara gives me the non-smudgy effects of waterproof mascara, but is easier to clean.

On Preventing Sunburn
From commenter Luminositee:

If you have a sunburn on your face or other area of your body, do not apply burn cream to the burn. This would be the equivalent of wrapping your face in plastic wrap, trapping the residual radiant heat in, prolonging the burn.

It's so important to prevent burns before they even happen. Prevention is key, as every bad sunburn one has increases the risk of skin cancer by 25 percent.

My dad is dealing with skin cancer right now; he's had 4 surgeries in the past three months on his face and neck. Fellow Jezzies, you really don't want to have chunks of your face cut out in 10, 20, 30 years because one day you decided to stay in the sun too long to get a "healthy glow." Don't cave to media-pressure to be tan, and don't feel like it's unnecessary or uncool to put on sunscreen.

To prevent future burns, wear sunscreen everyday. You can even find moisturizers with sunscreen, tinted moisturizers with sunscreen, or foundation with sunscreen.

If you're going to be out in the sun at all, any season, it's especially important to protect your exposed skin—any hue can be damaged by the sun, even if burns aren't evident on darker skin. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF—the sun protection factor is really relative, and if you're going to be active or in the water, be sure that it's waterproof. There's now 100+ SPF out there. However, even if it protects you from getting burned, not all sunscreens protect against UVA/UVB rays, so be sure to gets a sunscreen with a high UVA/UVB broadspectrum protection level, as well. Also, be sure to reapply as per the directions on the bottle. To apply over your whole body, the average person should use at least 1 ounce of sunscreen per application to get the full SPF.

Also, did you know that you can even sunburn your eyes and that too much sun and UVA/UVB rays can give you cataracts? Not cool. Wear sunglasses and look mysterious and awesome.

Ditto for burning your lips. Make sure that you limit your use of lip gloss (it acts as a reflector—think those funky metal things that people propped on their chests in movies from the sixties to reflect the sun onto their faces for more tan). Instead, go for a base of lipbalm with sunscreen and then apply lipstick for some extra color.

Sorry for the epic post of mostly unsolicited information, but we've gotten a lot of information from my dad's doctors over the past few months. I really hope that you think twice about protecting your skin! My dad just had another surgery on his lip, and I really don't want any of you to go through that.

On Healing Wax Burns:
From commenter AngryCat:

One good tip that should apply with any burn, go to a doctor/hospital! I ended up burning my hand while trying to wax my legs (it got too hot in the microwave). I shrugged it off and simply bandaged it after soaking my hand in cold water. I went after school to the hospital the next day and when the nurse took off the bandage, there was a giant yellow blister! I would post a picture of my wound but I'm sure google images is a far better source. Leave it up to the doctor to provide any recommendations (especially when it comes to 2nd degree burns that result in blisters). If anything, keep burns out of the sun (I ended up wearing an arm sock on one hand a la the king of pop for about 6 months) to prevent hyperpigmentation. For burn first aid, cool the burned area, apply bacitracin, and use some sort of cotton/fabric bandage to keep the area covered until you can see a medical professional.

On Dealing With Event Day Blemishes:
From commenter Megara1985:

I think my skin can sense when I have a big social event or I'm going to get my picture taken, because I always develop at least one cystic zit (read: giant red goose egg on my face) 48 hours beforehand without fail, and I developed a system to at least reduce/reasonably conceal the suckers:
1. As soon as you feel it forming, wash your face with a really gentle cleanser (cetaphil, etc.) and apply a thick coat of hemorrhoid cream to the area where the zit is developing. If you don't have any Prep H cream, mixing a drop of Visine with some baking soda works too. Basically, you want something that's labeled as a vasoconstrictor, because it will reduce the swelling and redness. Leave that on for about an hour.
2. Wipe off the vasoconstrictor and apply the strongest benzoyl peroxide cream you can get (I think I use a 10% solution). Depending on how soon the event is, you can mix the vasoconstrictor with the benzoyl peroxide.
3. Never, ever put an ice cube ON the zit - always wrap ice packs in a towel and then place on the zit (cell damage from cold will look just as awful as a burn). I usually start icing a few hours before I do makeup with 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off.
4. Right before you put on makeup, wash your hands and face really well with the gentle cleanser. Take a dab of the vasoconstrictor cream and gently massage it into the area where the zit is (it will get the cream into the skin without leaving a film on the skin). use a clean cloth to wipe away the excess, and then do makeup as usual.

Thing that also work:
- crushing an aspirin (unbuffered) and mixing it with a 1/2 tsp of baking soda and a drop or two of visine to make a thick paste. Great spot treatment for the stubborn zit.
- take an anti inflammatory if it really hurts and guzzle water. It can't hurt!
- toothpaste spot treatments (I like the classic Crest, and avoid gels) are good for if you have more than 2 days to take care of it.
- If it's come to a head more than 24 hours before the event, help it along with a hot washcloth compress (no warmer than the water you use to wash your face) until it's really "ready" (it should look like it would burst on it's own), and then use one of those extractor tools you can get at Sephora to lance it. DO NOT SQUEEZE IT TO HELP IT ALONG - this will break the blood vessels and make things worse. Gently blot with a piece of toilet paper, and then coat with one of the spot treatments listed above (the prep H cream or baking soda will probably help the most)

The only other thing that I can add is this: Apart from the spot treatments, don't deviate from your normal skin care products/routines, because I can promise you that changing them midstream will only get you more pimples.

From commenter HonkyGeisha:

As a former cystic acne sufferer, I have two proven suggestions on how to mediate a monster zit over night. Neither are great for your skin & you don't want to use them regularly, but if you have a big event coming up and you're desperate - forge ahead.

The at home version: Buy a low percentage, over the counter steroid cream meant for topical use. Dab some on a q-tip and smear it only on the pimple. Repeat every few hours. This won't get rid of the zit completely, but it will reduce the redness & swelling dramatically. Risks - thinning skin, greater chance of sun damage.

The dermo version: Call your dermo & ask for an appointment to get your blemish injected with a steroid. Costs about 50-75 bucks a shot, and your pimple WILL be gone in less than 24 hours. This is especially useful if you have cystic acne that tends to get infected or a really painful blemish. Risks: you can get a weird little divot where the blemish was injected, plus all the usual evil steroid stuffs.

Steroids are awful for your skin, but if you have a photo shoot, big job interview, wedding etc. looming, they can save you when used judiciously

From commenter Melusina:

The green concealer/primer trick does work to cover a red spot, but only if the green colour is limited to the actual redness you want to cancel out. Otherwise it's too obvious. To make it work, use a tiny makeup brush (a paintbrush shape) to painstakingly apply a tiny dab of the green stuff only to the red area. Once it dries, cover with foundation (or whatever), being careful not to smear or spread the green. And for the overnight fix, I second everyone who has mentioned benzoyl peroxide.

From commenter Sir:

For a single monster zit: get yourself some sulfur-based paste. Not a moisturizer, not a gel. A paste of some kind. Usually they'll have it in some obscure section of the pharmacy away from the usual acne creams on a bottom shelf somewhere because nobody uses sulfur anymore. If you can't find it, you could drop a wad of cash for the Proactiv "refining mask" because it's basically sulfur paste. Smudge a little paste on the zit, leave it overnight and exfoliate in the morning and it should have either come to a head (okay to pop carefully—this one time—if it's not super deep) or at least dried up or smoothed down.

For a generalized breakout: drink tons of water and green tea all day the day before the event. Use a sulfur mask the night before (wash off before you sleep). Apply a benzoyl peroxide lotion overnight and exfoliate well in the morning. Use a green-tinted makeup primer the day of.

On Removing Makeup Stains From Clothing:
From commenter edith-irene:

The Costume Designer's Guide to Makeup Stain Removal:

The main problem with makeup stains is that they the products are almost all oil and wax based, very hard to remove from clothes. Here are some tips I have compiled from years of working in the theater (ie costumes and super hard-core makeup.)

FIRST OFF- Whatever you do, DO NOT put stained items in the dryer. Heat will set a stain, and then even and act of God won't get it out! If you wash some thing and notice it is still stained, hang dry it and try again!

Also- If anything happens on white cotton or linen, consider using a dye-remover product like RIT Color Remover, when washing, instead of bleach. It won't yellow the white like bleach will, and will remove the colorants in makeup better.

HERE'S MY RECS:

1- Dishwashing liquid. In your kitchen, your friend's kitchen, the office kitchen...
This is for oily and waxy stains (ie foundation, lipstick/gloss or mascara.) Dawn works best, but any will do. Take a clean, dry, preferably white cloth (paper towels work in a pinch) and put it UNDER the stained area. On another clean cloth, wet with warm water and add a few drops of dawn. Rub onto stain, the stain will be transferred to the cloth underneath it. If you periodically move the stained fabric, you can get more of it onto the clean cloth beneath. It's like magic!

3- Shout wipes and Tide sticks- these are ok, but only for foundation-like stains. Using them for lipstick and mascara will result in smudgy disaster.

4- A Lint Brush or Bristle (boar or plastic) hair brush. A quick, brisk, hard brush with either of these will remove excess powders (face, eyeshadow, glitter, blush) and also get rid of deodorant stains on clothes.
Also will remove your makeup from your date's lapel. (In a pinch, a clean, dry cloth will work. Use a cloth napkin or ask for an extra bar towel if you are out, they are laundered so much they won't leave much lint.)

5- When the stain is really oily (foundations, primers, removers and some hair potions, not to mention salad dressing, olive oil, butter, etc...) remove the item of clothing, turn it inside out, and on the wrong side of the stain, cover the area with talcum power, baby powder, or even chalk. Let it sit, and when the powder looks dirty, brush it off. If there is still a stain visible, add more powder and let sit again. The very dry power will sap up the oils in the fabric weave, making the stain easy to wash out without leaving a weird dark spot.

6- Waxy stains- these are the toughest. If you can't get a hold of dish liquid or a remover product, place a clean, dry cloth beneath the stain and rub the stain quickly (trying to keep the rubbing small, other wise you will spread the hell out of it) with another dry cloth. The friction will heat the wax in the product and it will melt into the cloth below. This must really be done dry, wet cloths (with no soap or cleaning agent) won't work as well, as the water and wax don't mix and it will just get messy.

7- Stains, like Lip or cheek stains, are called stains for a reason. Try the dish liquid approach. If you wash it at home, and the stain is still there, don't dry it! These may be best handled by a pro, like your favorite dry cleaner.

AND IF ALL ELSE FAILS- invest in some Everblum Cosmetic Stain Remover. This stuff is the shit. It smells like mothballs from hell, but it gets any makeup out of any fabric. It has a little scrubby top to it that you rub into the stain. If you get a little ring around the stain when it dries, rub a damp cloth over it. Can be used on ANY fabrics, including dry clean only. Wait for the item to dry before wearing it, though, otherwise the chemical may irritate some skin.

From commenter sfikus:

If you learn nothing else in your life, learn this:

K2r.

It's a miracle 'dry-cleaning' spray that's available over the internets.

Spray. ALLOW TO DRY. Brush stain away.

Miraculous.

From commenter evafortuna:

Stain removal tip: I've found that there's almost nothing that a bit of purell and a paper towel won't remove. I haven't tried this with thick, waxy lipsticks. However, with many varieties of gloss from dark to light to sticky, I've been able to get it off at the office. Also works good on foundation stains and coffee too.

Didn't get the answer you were looking for? Be sure to read through the hundreds of tips and tricks posted in yesterday's thread. (Also, for sunburn treatment tips, please see our Summer Beauty post.) Disagree with something you see here? Feel free to set the record straight in the comments. Have an idea for next weekend's edition of Beauty 101? You are more than welcome to send it on in to me.

Earlier: Beauty 101: Quick Fixes

Looking for advice on another beauty topic? Check out the other Beauty 101 Q & A sessions:

Beauty 101: Your Special Occasion Makeup Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Drugstore And Department Store Recommendations
Beauty 101: Your Makeup Removal Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Recipes From Readers
Beauty 101: Your Scent-Related Problems, Solved
Beauty 101: Your Summer Beauty Dilemmas, Solved
Beauty 101: Your Blush And Bronzer Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Skincare Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Eye Queries, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Nail Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Lipstick Questions, Answered
Beauty 101:Your Hair Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Waxing/Shaving Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Foundation And Concealer Concerns, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Eyeliner Woes, Solved

Beauty 101: Your Beauty Disaster Questions, Answered

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