15 Smart Beauty Tricks for Spring

Who wants to be high-maintenance? “Women today are too busy for labor-intensive, fussy beauty looks that are time-consuming and complicated,” says celebrity makeup artist Pat McGrath. This season, these smart and thrifty beauty tricks help you economize while you glamorize.

  1. Extend your color between salon sessions. Brunettes can banish annoying gray roots with a flick of waterproof mascara. Use brown mascara instead of black -- unless your locks are raven.
  2. Hydrate skin with “natural oils like grape seed, jojoba and sweet almond. Apply them head-to-toe to keep your skin soft and smooth,” says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home. Uses include bath oil, body lotion, eye makeup remover, cuticle cream and hair gloss.
  3. Augment your beauty with a perfect smoky-eye look cost-free by repurposing your darkest powder shadow. Mix in a few drops of water to create a creamy consistency; line lids with a brush or sponge-tip applicator. A second coat adds emphasis.
  4. Designer gift-ribbons make fashionable, fun hair accessories. Try wrapping a ribbon around a ponytail, plaiting into braids or tying on as a hair band (best anchored with bobby pins).

  5. Work some homemade body glitter when you’re showing decolletage. Apply rich lotion to your skin, and then pat or brush on a subtle sprinkle of sheer, sparkly eye shadow.

  6. Save nail polish. We all hate throwing away a half-full bottle of nail color that has thickened. Stop! Add a bit of polish thinner to renew the texture. (A small bottle of thinner will last for years.) Another smart beauty trick: Store your lacquer in the fridge to keep it fresher, says Jin Soon Choi of Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spa in New York City.
  7. Max out on your hair conditioner and leave it on for more than a minute. Shave your legs, wash your body and do your other shower stuff, then rinse out conditioner. The result: a shiny finish that lasts for days.
  8. A seemingly used lipstick is actually still viable. There’s about a third of the fill deep in the tube, in fact. Scoop it out with a toothpick, slim lip brush or cotton swab. Apply as is or mix with a dot of petroleum jelly to form lip gloss.
  9. For a new lease on your fragrance life, try mixing. Haul out the perfumes you’re tired of, and then make like a scientist: beauty division. Use a small funnel to experiment and mix two, or even three, scents.
  10. Get a sexy wavy-hair look without a visit to the salon. Mist your hair and make six to eight braids, starting high on your scalp. Either sleep in them or blow-dry, finger-comb and spray. You’ll have more waves than a surfing tournament.
  11. The fragrance strips that come in magazines and store catalogues make sense as sachets. Cut them out, fold back to expose the scented side, and fasten with tape. Stash in your drawers, luggage and shoes.
  12. If you use foundation, you don’t have to spring for concealer. Drip one drop of foundation onto a flat, nonabsorbent surface, such as your countertop. Let it evaporate and thicken for five minutes, then dab on a la concealer.
  13. You don’t need to pony up for blush, either. Lipstick makes an excellent cream blush if you use a light touch with a non-frosted rose or peach shade.
  14. Give your hands and feet a home spa treatment every week or two, says Choi. Before bedtime, scrub your hands using a loofah and scrub cream. Then coat your hands and feet in body lotion or petroleum jelly, pull on cotton socks or gloves and let your digits soften.
  15. Get whiter teeth painlessly and procedure-free. Look for naturally whitening toothpaste that is accepted by the American Dental Association. Some brands can remove 80 percent of tooth stains in just two weeks. Nothing beats a flawless smile!


Got more beauty tips? Share them below!


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Get Healthier, Whiter Teeth -- the Safe Way

In the 1990s, cosmetic dentistry was just taking off, and I wanted to be a part of it. It was exciting, the promise of porcelain: It would give everyone healthier, whiter teeth -- no matter how crooked their teeth were before the procedure. Only later did I discover that gorgeous smiles were sometimes being produced at the expense of people’s dental health.

The Dangers of Veneers
While cosmetic dentists may suggest veneers to cover up surface imperfections, the danger in this form of “instant orthodontics” is that healthy tooth enamel is drilled away and replaced with porcelain. This quick fix looks good in before-and-after pictures, but your previously healthy teeth are now permanently weakened, setting you up for such problems as nerve damage and cracked teeth later on.

Veneers are also quite pricey -- $1,000-$2,000 per tooth -- and are often done in sets of eight or 10. Sometimes, people are happy with the result, but other times they are dismayed with how yellow the rest of their mouth looks in comparison. Also, it’s easy to accidentally design teeth that are too bright, too big or too thick.

Better Alternatives for Healthier Teeth
Now, if you understand all the risks and your teeth are very worn down or heavily filled, veneers may be justified. Otherwise, I advocate “imperfect” as the new ideal. That’s right: Slight twists, a little space, and surface flaws that are almost unnoticeable at conversational distances are actually desirable.

If you’d still rather fix these imperfections, instead of shelling out $40,000 or more for a single complex smile makeover, talk to your dentist about more conservative and less expensive treatment options that preserve the integrity of your teeth while giving you a beautiful and healthy smile. I recommend the following:

  • Shorter-term braces (straight teeth in as few as three months!)
  • At-home teeth whitening
  • Clear aligners, such as Invisalign
  • Composite fillings that look like teeth
  • Re-contouring of the gumline

Sure, you or the dentist may have to put in a little more effort, but your teeth (and checkbook!) will benefit.

Have you ever gotten veneers or undergone dental procedures that backfired? Tell us below or tweet us @Completely_You

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Food Treats for Beautiful Skin

Chocolate. Nuts. Coffee. Sugar. Salt. If we were playing “The $20,000 Pyramid” right now, you might reasonably guess, “Things that are good for you in moderation.”

Wrong answer. The truth is, there’s nothing remotely moderate about, say, being covered then cocooned in molten chocolate. Yet this increasingly common spa treatment couldn’t be better for you: Think radiant, smooth, absurdly soft skin -- to say nothing of chocolate’s antioxidant and anti-irritant properties.

Point is, no matter what the ingestible versions of these treats do to your weight, blood pressure or bone density, the topical versions induce zero guilt -- and serious beauty benefits. And some of these mesmerizing goodies even offer teeth-enhancing benefits if you do choose to please your taste buds. So it’s certainly time to indulge.

Chocolate

Let’s start with the granddaddy of all treats (or great-great-great-granddaddy, if you consider the millennium-traversing history of chocolate consumption in Mesoamerica). “Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which can help reverse free-radical damage,” says New York City dermatologist Doris Day. “In addition, the inherent caffeine content has anti-irritant properties.” Hence cacao’s ever-increasing presence in body butters, balms and lotions.

But this treat is best served warm and liquid, massaged into your limbs, back and torso at a spa. One delicious interpretation is the Chocolate Experience at the Marquis Los Cabos resort in Baja California, Mexico. The highlight of this 80-minute treatment is a peppermint-infused chocolate envelopment that promises to increase endorphins.

Can’t get South of the Border? Slather on a cocoa-infused body butter after a warm shower to enhance absorption.

Coffee

Caffeine in coffee beans relieves skin irritation, just like chocolate. But coffee beans’ primary benefit to your skin is exfoliation -- at least when they’re ground up and massaged on to your extremities, notes Day.

The most indulgent variation on the theme? The Xocol-Ha Wrap and Coffee Scrub at the Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where Veracruz-grown beans are ground to skin-stimulating perfection.

At home, look for natural scrubs featuring coffee extracts. Or make your own: Combine 2 cups of coarsely ground coffee, 1/2 cup of cup raw sugar or sea salt, and 3 teaspoons of massage oil. Rub it across your body in circular motions to stimulate blood flow.

Sugar and Salt

Sugar and salt are excellent exfoliants, but the sweet stuff is better for sensitive-skinned people. “It simply dissolves as you scrub,” according to Day.

Salt treatments, by contrast, can dry you out, and are consequently good for oily or acne-prone skin. Psoriasis sufferers can benefit from salt as well. “Simply -- and gently -- working some coarse sea salt over pre-moistened skin in the shower should help,” says Day.

For a far girlier take on getting gritty, check out the Magnolia Sugar Scrub at the Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, where the granules in question are bathed in magnolia essence and various botanicals. Drug-store brand sugar scrubs can be used daily in your own shower for similar benefits at a little less indulgence.

Nuts

“Nut extracts can be very hydrating to the skin,” says Day. Macadamia and almond -- two of the most easily absorbed nuts -- figure into many scrumptious skin treatments. One standout is the Ho'ala (renewing) service at the Four Seasons Maui, where your limbs are plied with a macadamia- and sweet almond-infused lavender body butter, among other delicacies.

At home, look for lotions or, if you have dry hair, conditioners that contain nut extracts. For a DYI take on conditioner, combine 3 ounces almond oil with 2 ounces olive oil and five drops of lavender oil in a bottle. Shake until the ingredients are well blended. Before you shampoo, apply as much of the mixture as necessary to coat your hair from mid-strand down. After five to 10 minutes, without wetting hair, apply shampoo directly to your hair to break up the treatment. Last, add water, suds up and follow with your usual conditioner. Repeat weekly or twice per week in case of seriously sapped strands.

Bonus!

It may be hard to believe, but science has found that some delectable treats can also improve your smile. Check out these fun facts:

  • Coffee drinkers are less likely to have a specific type of plaque built up on their teeth. Italian researchers point to the liquid’s tannins, which may act as a powerful plaque-blocker.
  • Cocoa contains a nutrient that can act as an inhibitor to plaque build-up, according to a landmark Japanese study.
  • Nuts contain natural fats, proteins and vitamin D that may fortify teeth and gums.

So eat up -- in moderation.

Look Fabulous in 10 Minutes -- or Less

In today’s zip-zip world, slicking on some gloss and getting out the door in less than an hour seems like a miracle -- never mind having to primp for a party. In actuality, all you need to get fete-fabulous is a few minutes, some key wardrobe pieces and a couple of hair and makeup tricks up your sleeve -- no on-call glam squad required.

Faux Fur
A jacket or sweater trimmed with fake fur adds instant glam to any outfit, says Julie Chen, founding editor of ThePleat.com. Wear one over a simple day dress or a body-hugging cocktail sheath for a classic party-perfect look. In a pinch, wrap a faux fur scarf around your shoulders. To avoid visual overload, pair it with lightly textured pieces. “The key is not to mix with sequins or beading," says Chen. "The fur is the statement, so keep the rest simple."

Sparkly Scarves
A scarf is an inexpensive way to infuse color and French sophistication, says Desiree Marr, co-founder of ThePleat.com. For a little p.m. pizzazz, choose a scarf with some sequins or beading. Drape it over a basic shift or a white T-shirt and jeans combo, she says. And scarves aren’t just neckwear anymore: Wrap one around your waist to punctuate a plain black dress, or belt it through the loops on a pair of wide-legged pants.

Oversized Jewelry
Last season’s oversized jewelry trend is here to stay. “There are so many great statement necklaces, chunky cuffs and big cocktail rings in all price ranges,” says Chen. Just slip on a couple of pieces with an all-black ensemble, and you’ll be ready to go from office to cocktail party in 10 seconds flat. “And the best part is one size fits all,” Chen says.

Smoldering Eyes
Getting glam eyes takes only two simple steps, says New York-based makeup artist Quinn Murphy, who’s worked with America Ferrera and Adriana Lima. Make your peepers really pop by curling your lashes. “Be sure to get every lash into the curler -- especially those on the outer corners,” he says. With a creamy pencil, trace along the top lash line and lightly smudge to create the illusion of fuller lashes and “done” eyes.

High Ponytail
A high ponytail is a classic look that works on any type of hair, says Creative Director Kevin Lee of the Kenneth Salon in New York City. “It’s a great look for business to evening,” he notes. Tease at the crown for some big-night sophistication, or wrap the tail under itself to create a chic chignon.

Simple Smile
Flash your pearly whites and you’ll look more beautiful in seconds. Red lipstick amps up glamour and makes your smile appear shinier, says Riku Campo, a Los Angeles-based makeup artist and author of Best in Beauty. Choose cool-toned reds with words like “cherry” or “cranberry” in the name. “A semi-matte formula adds just the right amount of color and shine,” he says.

Wear Red Lipstick With Confidence

Too shy to wear red lipstick, even for Valentine’s Day? Don’t be. Nothing says elegant, sophisticated, chic and romantic like scarlet or poppy lips. But with such a bold color, finding the right red for you can be a little daunting. Here’s how to take the guesswork out of the process.

Red Lipstick Tip No. 1: Find the right color.

The key is to match the undertones of your skin with the undertones of your red lipstick (blue to blue, golden to golden). “Fair skin with pink undertones looks best with blue-based cool reds,” says Brett Freedman, a Hollywood makeup artist who has worked with Vanessa Hudgens, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jessica Biel. Go for lipstick shades with pinky-blue undertones and names such as scarlet, cranberry or magenta.

Medium skin with yellow undertones looks great with a red that has a touch of gold, like orange-reds and corals. Choose shades called coral, poppy or tomato, says Freedman. Those with darker skin should try a terra cotta tone with an orange base. Cinnamons and bricks fall into this category.

If you’re still not sure which to wear, Freedman suggests pulling five red lipstick colors you like and lining them up. You’ll start to notice the cool and warm tones in each.

Red Lipstick Tip No. 2: Try it on.

It’s not enough to look at the right colors and swipe them on your hands. “You really need to try the nominees on your face,” says Freedman. His no-fail trick? Take out your cell phone and snap a few photos. You’ll know immediately if you’ve found the right red lipstick.

Red Lipstick Tip No. 3: Prep properly.

The key to making your color last is starting with a slough. For an even finish, gently exfoliate your lips with a washcloth. Lip balm acts as a canvas to anchor color.

Red Lipstick Tip No. 4: Pick your potion.

A red lip can be bold or demure, depending on the formulation you choose. For daytime (especially if you’re a nude-gloss kind of girl), a sheer glaze or stain is the way to go. It’s subtle and won’t be overpowering, says Freedman. For a big night out, wear it bold. Choose a moisturizing lipstick with a satin finish. Prep with a touch of concealer around the lip area to help the lipstick last longer and prevent color from bleeding and feathering, he says.

Red Lipstick Tip No. 5: Keep the rest simple.

Your pretty pout will get all the attention, so it’s best to keep the rest of your makeup more subdued. For blush, “try something fleshy with a touch of sheen,” says Freedman, who also likes a sweep of champagne cream along the cheekbone. For the eyes, try a pale sweep of shadow and an application of mascara. To dress up the look, apply liquid liner. Be sure to keep liquid liner close to the lash line.

Do you wear red lipstick? Tell us below or connect with us @Completely_You