When it comes to style hacks and broad beauty claims, I am the most skeptical person I know. As such, I refuse to believe that you can solve all of the world's problems with clear nail polish and a Pinterest account, and I would actually only recommend beauty hacks and tricks that I've actually tried and found successful. Luckily, as someone who is interested in beauty and beauty products, I've also spent plenty of time experimenting. That means I've come up with several hacks of my own. These are tried and true beauty shortcuts and improvements that I can promise you actually work.
Something to keep in mind: When people read the word "hack," they often automatically assume it refers to a brilliantly clever way of doing something that no one has ever thought of before, and which will most likely involve a mason jar. This might be true when it comes to home improvement, but it's simply not the case with beauty. Instead, beauty hacking is all about finding new ways to use products, simplify your routine, and look as ravishing as you possibly can with the least amount of effort. Here are nine ways to do just that.
1. Use Dry Shampoo To Blend Your Extensions
Most of the bottom half of my hair in the above photo is actually comprised of clip-in extensions. While it's virtually impossible to find extensions that match your hair exactly (unless you've got the money to shell out for custom clips), there is a foolproof way to give your locks the same texture and shine as your real hair: Spray your extensions with dry shampoo. It helps reduce the fresh-out-of-the-package shininess of the extensions, and makes them an even better dupe for your real hair. Here's my favorite brand:
2. Exfoliate Your Lips
If you like wearing bold lip colors, I can't stress this enough: Your lipstick will look infinitely better if you exfoliate your lips ahead of time. Additionally, you'll get fewer of those nasty gobs of pigment and skin on your lips over the course of the day. This Korean brand leaves my lips feeling silky smooth and moisturized.
3. If You Like To Drink, Keep A Few Of These Around
I love red wine, but most people who feel the same can tell you that drinking just a little bit too much of it will leave you shriveled up like a hopeless raisin the next morning. I can't tell you how many times these collagen eye masks have saved my life on hungover mornings. They feel amazing, and the psychological benefits of being able to replenish your parched skin with moisture are well worth the effort. The collagen in the masks feels amazing, reduces puffiness, and adds a much-needed hit of moisture to your skin. This is a great brand of collagen eye masks for the wine lovers out there:
4. Don't Underestimate The Power Of Vaseline
Seriously, Vaseline is good for everything. I use it on my lips, to create a dewy sheen on my eyelids, to enhance the effects of my highlighter, to moisturize my cuticles, and to protect the outer rims of my nostrils during cold winter months. In a pinch, I even leave a thin layer of it on my face overnight, and wake up with baby soft skin. Do not sleep on this old-school beauty classic. It's been around for years for a reason.
5. Skip The Hair Hassle In The Morning
This one time, after I complained about how long it took to dry my thick hair in the morning, my hairstylist told me about a hack that would change my life.
She told me to shower at night, allow my hair to dry (or blow dry it myself), then in the morning, only blow dry the top three sections of hair: A layer on the right, a layer on the left, and a layer in the back. Everything else underneath basically doesn't matter. This has saved me some serious sleep time. The photo above is a result of her technique.
6. Embrace The Power Of Peppermint
After tons of experimentation, I've come to the conclusion that most lip plumpers are a waste of money. Instead, invest in a little bottle of peppermint oil, and add a drop or two to a gloss of your choosing. You can even put it over lip balm, and the result will be plump, tingly lips that smell like candy canes and make you look awesome.
7. Use Exfoliating Toner Instead Of Harsh Scrubs
I used to be a huge fan of the iconic St. Ives Apricot Scrub, but as I've gotten older, my skin has simply gotten too sensitive for harsh scrubs and exfoliants. Instead, I've switched to exfoliating toners, which harness the power of glycolic acid to leave your skin smooth and radiant. Pictured above is the popular Pixi Skin Treats Glow Tonic ($29.49 on Amazon), which I ran out of in approximately two weeks. I'm also a fan of this incredible all-natural product. An important note for those interested in trying this: Do a patch test on your skin first. Everyone reacts to glycolics in different ways (particularly those with sensitive skin).
8. Blast Your Eyelash Curler With A Hairdryer
On days when I don't want to wear makeup, all I do is slap on some lip balm and curl my eyelashes. In order to make sure that my lashes are at their most open and curled, I hit the curler with about 10 seconds of blow dryer action to heat it up. Warning: Heating your eyelash curler for more than 10 seconds means you run the risk of burning your skin. If you're uncomfortable with taking that risk, try running your curler under hot water instead. Either way, you get the added benefits of a heated eyelash curler without spending the extra cash.
9. Skip The Salon And Use Glue On Nails Instead
This is quite possibly my favorite beauty hack — so much that when people compliment me on my nails, I almost hesitate to tell them my secret. Today, I'm ready to crack. But first, a little backstory: For my entire life, I've had garbage nails. I've tried everything, from changing my diet to taking supplements to making sure not to bite. Eventually, I caved and started getting fiberglass extensions, a process that took ages and was far too expensive for my writerly budget.
It was then that I discovered the modern truths of drugstore glue-on nails. Gone are the days of cheap square-tipped French manicure falsies (the kind that don't really fit and look way too shiny to be even remotely human). The new glue-on nails are super sturdy, cut to natural lengths, fully paintable, and stay put for at least a week. The best part?: They're six dollars (and the kit is good for about five manicures).
With these hacks in your arsenal, you may never visit a salon again.
Images: Amanda Richards; Courtesy Brands