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How To: Fix Stained Nails

5 Oct

Hey everyone!

I may not have mentioned this on the blog, but I’m going to be in my friend’s wedding this weekend! I’m very, very excited and honored to be a part of her special day – and not only am I a bridesmaid, but I’m doing her makeup as well! I’ll be sure to post pictures once I get them, and also to tell you what products I used.

We’re all wearing matching manicures for the wedding (swatches will go up later in the week) but because the polish is a pastel, I had to be very careful about not wearing dark – or my nails’ personal kryptonite, blue and green – polishes for extended periods of time, even with a base coat.

Even though I was careful, I still have some residual staining from the summer. It’s not all bad though – you guys get a how-to!

What you need:

  • Small glass or stainless steel bowl
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda

That’s all you need! Pour enough hydrogen peroxide into the bowl so that you’ll be able to cover your nails, then add two tablespoons of baking soda. Blend well. (If you’re making a day at the spa for yourself, you could add some essential oils if you have them, because this blend definitely doesn’t smell all that hot.)

Ms Manicure Block Party 4-Way Buff Block

Ms Manicure Block Party 4-Way Buff Block (kaboodle.com)

Now sit there for at least fifteen minutes per hand. This definitely works! – but if your nails looked anything like mine, they will need more time. (I suggest catching up on TiVo while you do this.) I took the business side of a sponge to my nails and redipped after scrubbing. I found that this seriously boosted my results.

You can complete this mini treatment by gently buffing them with my favorite buff block – I’ve seen it in the $1 travel section at Target! – and slathering them in olive or cuticle oil.

See?! They look almost as good as they did before you started wearing nail polish. Almost.

Does anyone have any easy beauty fixes like this one? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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Reader Request: Can You Thin Nail Polish?

19 Sep

Happy Monday, friends! Fall has fallen upon us, meaning I’ve really started to bust out the dark nail polishes – and so have my friends! That means a pertinent nail polish question for the ages comes into play.

Sara asked: Can you thin nail polish? My nice dark colors from last year are all goopy and sticky. So’s my Seche Vite.

You certainly can! Here’s my advice to making sure your polish stays as spreadable as the day you bought it.

  1. Store your nail polish in a cool, dark place. I recommend keeping it in a Tupperware in your closet – out of direct sunlight and away from radiators or anything of the sort is the key!
  2. Make sure the cap is screwed on tightly. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often I find that an occasional bottle is slightly open – this makes the polish thick and gunky.
  3. Are the contents separated? This doesn’t mean the polish is no good – roll the bottle between your palms until the colors are blended. Don’t shake! This will cause bubbles in the bottle that will show up on your nails.

If you’re having difficulty doing your manicure because your lacquer has already reached that level of maple syrup thickness on your nails, here’s how you can thin out the texture of your nail polish:

Orly Nail Polish Thinner

Orly Nail Polish Thinner (sallybeauty.com)

DON’T add nail polish remover, though you may have heard this is how to fix your old nail polish. It’s not – it’ll destroy your nail polish, which is bad news for that limited edition color that was so hard to come by. DO, however, add a nail polish thinner, which is specially made for this. Add one drop at a time and then check your progress, because you can always add more – you can never go back! Try this one by Orly – remember, a little goes a long way!

Ahh, the Achilles heel of Seche Viteit gets super thick and very difficult to apply after a few months. I usually just bite the bullet and buy a new bottle after a while, even though it’ll set me back about $7. However, the makers of Seche also have a product called Restore, which does exactly what it says – restores the topcoat. I’m not totally convinced that it brings Seche back to its original greatness, however, which is why I usually just end up purchasing a new bottle. You can check out Restore here on drugstore.com.

Happy painting! Thank you, Sara, for the great question!

How To: Hide a Pimple

29 Aug

After posting about Mario Badescu last week, I realized how difficult it can be to hide a really obnoxious pimple. Among the swelling, the redness, and the fact that the makeup just WON’T hold on, concealing a blemish can be a really traumatizing and stressful experience – and stress is the last thing you need when you have a skin issue. I thought I’d do a little how-to on how to cover a pimple without freaking out.

  1. OMG you have a pimple. You have a party to attend! Everyone will see! What do you do now?! DON’T PICK AT IT. I know, the temptation is completely overwhelming, but 9/10 times you are only going to make the situation worse. Just don’t touch it – you’ll spread bacteria.
  2. Take Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve. If your blemish hurts, then this will help with the pain – and, more importantly, it’ll reduce the swelling in the area.
  3. Clean the area with a cotton ball moistened with hydrogen peroxide. It’ll kill the germs on your skin and help dry out the pimple.
  4. Visine

    Visine - your new partner in crime. (Picture from onlinecouponsavings.com)

    Get some Visine – the redness-reducing kind – and a Q-Tip. (You should always have these products on hand – they are insanely versatile and quite inexpensive.) Moisten an end of the Q-Tip with the Visine and hold it to your blemish for a few minutes; it’ll help cut some of the redness.

  5. Get your primer out! I use Smashbox Photo Finish, but anything with dimethicone listed high in the ingredients will do. (I imagine that you could use Urban Decay Primer Potion on it and that this would be just as effective.) Apply directly to your pimple and blend it out to the surrounding area. You can use a brush here or not, but you’ll definitely need one for the next step.
  6. This is the most important step. Break out your concealer brush – I recommend one with synthetic fibers and a flat, tapered head. This one from Sephora is a nice option. Dip your brush into a cream concealer that matches your skin perfectly (or do what I do: use the thicker product buildup in the cap of your foundation) and, using a patting/dabbing motion, carefully apply directly to your blemish, blending the color out. When you’re done with this step, your spot should be mostly invisible (look, I’m aware that you know it’s there and are hypersensitive to its presence. By this I mean that the average observer shouldn’t be able to see it). Don’t let your makeup get too cakey! It’s better to do multiple thin layers of a lightweight product than to do only a few with a thick product.
  7. Let the makeup on your skin dry – you can work on other aspects of your makeup, like your eyes, while waiting.
  8. Apply a loose powder to set the concealer using a fluffy brush.
  9. Ke$ha Makeup

    I had a pimple when I wore this makeup. Can you tell where it is?

    Depending on where the pimple is, you might want to wear a little bit more blush than usual. If you’re really self-conscious about it, you can always wear more makeup to focus the attention to other areas. For example, if the pimple is on your chin, you could wear a smoky eye. If it’s on your forehead, wear a bright lip.

  10. Go out and have fun! Your pimple doesn’t look that bad, I swear.

That’s all, everyone! Not too difficult and it definitely makes you feel way more at ease with your appearance. Do you have any pimple-hiding tricks? Let me know in the comments.

The Importance of Being Exfoliated: How To Exfoliate

8 Aug

Hey there! How’s your Monday afternoon turning out? I feel like I have a case of the Mondays, actually. But I’m here to tell you something about important today – the importance of exfoliating. Being earnest is certainly important too, and I am darn earnest when it comes to beauty and skincare. So let’s hop to it!

So what is exfoliating? It’s scrubbing that top, dead layer of skin off to reveal the shiny new skin that was trapped underneath.

Why should you? Because not only does new skin look brighter and healthier, you can prevent enlarged pores and breakouts by getting rid of that old layer. It’ll also make hair removal easier, which is why men should exfoliate too. Polishing off that top layer of skin can prevent ingrown hairs (which often lead to infection). Whether you shave, wax or tweeze your unwanted hair, you’ll benefit here.

You might be wondering when you should exfoliate. I like to slough off all that dead skin in the shower (post-shampoo, pre-shave), but I don’t recommend that you do this every day – especially not your face, as over-exfoliation can lead to wrinkles (make sure to moisturize after your shower!). Three to four times a week is a good number to aim for. It’s also necessary all year round! You’ll have a lot of dead skin buildup in the winter, as your skin will be drier, but summer is also a big deal – if you tan, especially using something in a bottle, your skintone will be uneven and patchy if you don’t scrub first.

So how do you want to do this? It’s up to you. You can use a washcloth, but that isn’t abrasive enough for my skin. I’ve found my match in a pumice stone. I don’t recommend this for everyone (though it’s particularly great on feet!), but I’ve self-diagnosed myself with KP, or keratosis pilaris – aka chicken skin. Skin is made up of keratin – with KP, you have too much keratin and it builds up in your hair follicles. It’s harmless, but kind of annoying to deal with. I’ve found that scrubbing my legs with a pumice stone a few times a week helps keep mine at bay. For those with normal skin, I recommend a bath pouf, as it can hold on to the shower gel of your choice and really help it lather up. (Both Dove Men+Care and AXE make manly loofahs if you’re a dude and are anxious about having one. I particularly like the Dove one – which they call a shower tool! – seen here.) You can also try Lush‘s Porridge soap, which has little pieces of oatmeal in it to boost its scrubbability. If you’re into gourmand fragrances, you will love this soap. (I think it smells strikingly similar to Aquolina Pink Sugar.) It’s also vegan, if that makes a difference to you.

Lush Porridge Soap

Lush Porridge Soap, picture from lush.com

Like I said, you really don’t want to overdo it on your face. I alternate a cream cleanser with a face scrub to balance things out. One I especially like is Clean and Clear‘s In-Shower Facial – you spread it all over your face, leave it on for a little while as you condition, shave, etc., and then massage it in/wash it off.

Clean and Clear In-Shower Facial

Clean and Clear In-Shower Facial, picture from drugstore.com

If you’re looking for lotions that will assist in naturally exfoliating while giving you the added bonus of moisturizing, look for buzzwords like AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid), lactic acid, citric acid, glycolic acid, and urea or uric acid. If you see a product that says “skin renewal,” “evens skin tone,” or “brightening,” it’s highly likely that one of these acids will be an ingredient. I’m no scientist, but I do know from working in labs and using different skincare products that these are natural acids that break down proteins and can help rehydrate your skin. If you also have KP, check out Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Body Creme – it has urea as its first ingredient. It’s really thick and sticky, so I recommend applying post-shower and then just hanging out naked for a while so it can soak in.

Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Body Creme

Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Body Creme, picture from drugstore.com

Moisturizing is just as important to your skin as exfoliating, because the skin cells need to renew themselves – not to mention you’ll prevent wrinkles! However, I highly recommend applying sunscreen if you’re going to use any products containing any of the above – they make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure.

Thank you for reading my article about exfoliating! Do you exfoliate on the reg? What tools do you use? Have any products you recommend?

Reader Request – How To: Take It Off

3 Aug

Good afternoon, everyone! I got a great reader request, so I’m pushing a few other posts aside so I can respond.

Jackie asked: It’s a giant pain to remove glitter polish – I practically have to scrub my nails off. Any recommendations?

This is an awesome question, and something that took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out. While I admittedly try to wear glitter polishes less frequently because of the removal process, these tips should make things easier.

  1. Apply your glitter polish over another polish, such as a creme or a jelly. Not only will this make it easier to remove your glitter coat, it can add some dimension to your look. While many glitter polishes are intended to be thickly applied, some are not, and benefit from a different color beneath. Below is a picture of Deborah Lippmann‘s Happy Birthday (on ring finger only) over Essie‘s East Hampton Cottage. You can see the Essie shade underneath the glitter – I think it gives a little somethin’ somethin’ to an otherwise typical manicure.
  2. Essie East Hampton Cottage Nail Polish and Deborah Lippmann Happy Birthday Nail PolishSo you want to take it off? Okay. (It WILL take you longer than your average polish removal, but I’ve found this process cuts back on time.) Now is not the time to be stingy with cotton balls – though I often play “how few can I use?” when I usually take off my polish! One per finger at LEAST is my suggestion. Using acetone-based nail polish remover, soak a cotton ball and apply it to your nail. Don’t start removing yet! Press the ball to your nail and LEAVE IT. Do this for each finger on that hand. (The manicure that I’m demonstrating with was not done over a base color.) When you’re done, it should look something like this:
  3. Glitter Nail Polish RemovalNow that you look like some sort of cotton-claw monster, let that sit for at least thirty seconds. Really. When you’re ready, press your cotton ball firmly to your nail and rock it from side to side horizontally to ensure that the acetone is really doing its job. Then push the ball straight off your nail. A lot of the glitter should have come off, but if it’s not all gone, don’t worry – use the other side of the same puff and only remove in one direction, instead of scrubbing up and down. Glitter is not so gentle on the nails (not to mention it will try to stick to everything). Here’s what my nail looked like after using this technique:
  4. Glitter Nail Polish Removal Step Two(Not bad, right? I’ve found that clusters of big pieces like these tend to cling on more than little flakes of glitter. You can come back to this one later with a clean cotton ball.) Carry on with your removal process. It’ll take about fifteen minutes. When you’re done, tend to your nails with a nail buffer – the surface may be scratched from those huge chunks of glitter, which will not benefit any future manicures.

I hope that helped you, Jackie, and anyone else who loves glitter! A glitter addiction is hard to break, but with these steps you don’t have to give it up. What are everyone’s favorite glitter polishes?

Disclosure: I purchased all polishes myself.

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