Whether you came out of the womb with a tube of lipstick in your hand or just do the basics, you’ve likely had a few beauty questions in your life. “Why does my hair color fade so quickly?”, “What on Earth is a serum?”, “Is luxury makeup any good?”—these are just a few that have made my Google search lists in the past. I mean, they have all the answers, don’t they?
Now that I’m a beauty editor, I spend my day answering these exact questions over and over, giving beauty tips and tricks along the way. And I figured it was time to do so in writing. The next time someone asks me a question, I’m sending them this: the most Googled beauty questions and, finally, their succinct answer.
1. What is the correct order to do your skincare routine?
“What order to apply skincare” very well might be the most Googled skincare question of all time, and listen, we get it. We have all these products but have absolutely no idea how we use them in tandem. Simply put, it all comes down to thickness. “In general, products are best applied in increasing order of thickness,” said Rachel Maiman, MD, board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist.
She recommended that if you’re just starting out, use a cleanser and moisturizer day and night and add an SPF to the end of your routine in the morning. A serum would be applied after cleansing and before moisturizer, and oil and sunscreen are always applied as the last step of your routine.
2. What does retinol do?
Dermatologists, estheticians, beauty editors, and skincare enthusiasts alike swear up and down: You need retinol in your skincare routine. But why? “Retinoids encourage skin cell maturation and boost cell turnover, removing superficial dead skin and flattening the top layers of cells, leaving skin looking smoother, luminous, and more even-toned,” said Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills, California. It’s a form of vitamin A that exfoliates and resurfaces skin, making it the gold standard for anti-aging, acne, hyperpigmentation, and textured skin.
But all these magical benefits come at a small price. Retinol is historically a bit irritating, so start small with a gentle formula only a few days a week.
3. What is the best skincare line?
Although there are skincare products one might prefer over another, there’s no way to tell what line or product is “the best.” Skincare is so personal; what works for me might not work for others, depending on genetics, skin type, preferences, and skin issues.
1. How to cut hair at home
While cutting your hair at home is certainly the economic choice, we’re not so sure it’s a smart one. If you have the option to go into the salon, don’t waste your time potentially ruining your haircut at home. However, there will be a time when you desperately need a trim and getting to the salon just won’t happen.
If you’re cutting at home, hairstylists recommend blow drying your hair until it’s completely dry. You’ll have a better idea of your length and won’t accidentally cut too short.
2. How to do knotless box braids
Knotless box braids are a favorite protective style amongst many because they’re so versatile. You can style them for fancy occasions just as easily as throwing them up two minutes before your Zoom meeting. But we’d be lying if we said doing them on your own is easy.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and skip the stylist, the key to this style is smoothing your hair and parting it in sections. Make sure your hair has a liberal amount of gel or smoothing cream so you can stretch out your curls and easily work with the hair. Then, you’ll want to section off your hair into pretty small sections, and from there, you’ll create square sections of the hair to braid (hence, “box braids”!). Using a rat tail comb will help create sleek, clean lines. For a better look at how to section and how to add in extra hair, this tutorial is a step-by-step and includes a lot of tips and tricks.
3. How to maintain color-treated hair
Celebrity hairstylist Michael Dueñas said to first check up on how often you’re washing your hair to maintain your color. If you’re lathering up more than a few days a week, that’s likely contributing to your hair color fading. Try washing your hair every other day or even two or three times a week to keep your color on lock. You shouldn’t wash more than that unless you’re working out a lot, Dueñas said. You can also use a color-depositing conditioner once a week. This will slightly re-dye your hair every time you wash to keep it looking fresh until your roots grow out.
He also recommended using products with UV protection, as the sun can fade your hair color and lead to dryness.
4. Why doesn’t my hair hold a curl?
You spend all this time curling a head of perfectly coiffed curls—all for them to fall flat in just a few hours. What gives? If your hair doesn’t hold a curl, there are a few tips and tricks to help. First of all, make sure you’re using a high-quality tool that’s fit for your hair type and length. If your hair is super long and thick, you’ll want a bigger, longer barrel. Short hair benefits from a smaller barrel to get the same look. Don’t be afraid to create really tight curls first thing, as they’ll naturally fall and loosen up throughout the day.
You also should make sure to prep your hair with heat protectant and a gel, mousse, or dry texture spray to add a natural hold before you even begin your style. Then, always finish your style with a holding product. We love using a dry texture spray because it adds the grit without feeling sticky.
1. How to fill in eyebrows
No matter the eyebrows you’re rocking, it’s no secret that they shape your face. So when they look good, you feel like a million bucks. The easiest way to get perfect brows sans grabbing the tweezers is to fill them in with a pencil, pen, or pomade.
Depending on your brows and skill level, choose whether you want to fill in with a pencil/pen, pomade, or powder. According to celebrity eyebrow specialist Joey Healy, a pencil/pen is the easiest way to add hairlike strokes to your brows in a precise way, making it good for those with sparse brows or gaps they need to fill in. On the other hand, pomades are great for people with already thick brows who want to just keep volume and fill in any gaps. Powders, however, give a really soft appearance and fill in holes and gaps in a natural way.
Once you have your product, always use a light hand, as it’s easy to go overboard on your brows. Create hairlike strokes to make your brows look fuller using a pencil/pen or an eyebrow brush dipped in powder or pomade. To avoid block brows, never “color in” sections of your brow. And you can always swipe a gel or wax over them to keep them in place all day.
2. How to clean your makeup brushes
Cleaning your makeup brushes can seem like a major chore (and it is), but dirty, gross makeup brushes and sponges are one of the biggest culprits of acne and clogged pores. Make it a bit easier on yourself by carving out a standing day once a week to give your brushes a bath.
Set all of your brushes out next to a sink, and turn the water on to lightly wet them, avoiding the ferrule as much as possible (getting water under there can often make the glue come apart in cheaper brushes). Pour a little bit of a lightly cleansing brush cleanser (or even baby shampoo) into the palm of your hand and swirl the brush around a few times. After thoroughly covering the brush in cleanser, keep it under the water to rinse clean. Et voilá—clean brushes! Leave them out to dry overnight, and they’re as good as new.
3. How to get the no-makeup makeup look
The “no-makeup makeup” look somehow seems like one of the most complicated looks to achieve, but it actually just takes a few simple steps (and omitting some too). Make sure to start with your morning skincare routine so your skin is in tip-top shape. Then, you’ll want to focus on thin layers of product to avoid cakiness. If you want tinted moisturizer or foundation, it can look natural if applied in a thin layer, but the easiest route is just using a concealer where you need it and letting the rest of your face breathe.
Then, we recommend opting for creams for the rest of your face. Cream blush, bronzer, and highlighter will blend seamlessly into the moisturizer or foundation on your skin. Lastly, make sure to brush up your brows with a gel to give a natural, bushy appearance.
4. How to apply eyeshadow
The easiest way to apply eyeshadow is by opting for a shimmery shade you can place all over the lid with your fingertip or a brush. This will give a natural yet striking look to your eyes in less than a minute.
To add dimension, use a slightly darker matte shade just in the outer corner of the eye and blend it into the shimmer with a fluffy brush. Eyeshadow is all about creating dimension, so you can add a few shades ranging in depth to create more contrast and help blend the other shades together.
1. How to remove gel polish at home
Gel nail polish is probably one of the greatest inventions of our generation—perfectly manicured nails that dry in less than a minute and last weeks at a time? Count us in. But once the painful aftermath of a gel manicure sets in—cracking, chipping, overgrowth—you’re readier than ever to get that off your nails, pronto. It’s possible to remove gel polish at home instead of going to a salon. To remove your no-chip, you’re going to need a nail buffer or file, an acetone nail polish remover, aluminum foil, cotton balls, and a nail stick.
- Buff the top layer of your nails so they’re matte
- Soak half a cotton ball in acetone and place it over your nail, wrapping it up with a strip of aluminum foil
- Sit for about 15-20 minutes while the acetone does its magic
- Remove the foil. If the polish looks cracked and ready to come off, use a cuticle pusher to scrape the remaining polish off. It should come off fairly easily—if it doesn’t, soak them for five more minutes and try again.
- Wash your hands and finish with a cuticle oil and nail strengthener
2. What is the difference between dip and gel polish?
Although they have a similar look on the nails and last a long time, dip powder and gel polish are not the same. When you get a dip manicure, you’ll dip your nails into a jar of powder (or brush the powder on the nails if you’re going to a salon), sealing it in with a layer of clear sealant. Gel (also sometimes referred to as “no-chip”), on the other hand, requires a UV or LED light after each layer to harden.
A gel manicure lasts between two to three weeks, while dip powder lasts up to a full month. Because of this, dip powder is a bit more costly, ranging anywhere from $5 to $10 more than gel. Dip powder also has a slightly more laborious removal process, requiring a bit more time to dissolve.