Between all the mulled wine and mistletoe madness, you've probably been thinking over your New Year's resolutions. Yes, every January, you plan to up your fitness regimen (or, perhaps, begin a fitness regimen), drink less, curse infrequently, and perhaps even be nicer to your mother. It's all very Bridget Jones. And, lo and behold, by February 1, those resolutions are all but a fleeting memory. We've had it with unrealistic resolutions, the kind that inspire our January to March selves to be a veritable genetic mutation of our April to December ones.
But, that said, the biggest room of all is one for improvement, right? To make 2014 the year of your best skin, hair, and makeup, we've compiled a list of beauty-inspired resolutions. We're here to help you break free from a beauty rut, quit your bad grooming habits, and try some new things.
From assassinating dead skin cells (we know they're already dead so you can't John Wilkes Booth it, but you can still eradicate them from your epidermis) and incorporating gel into your follicular repertoire without channeling your inner Jessie Spano, to dropping pounds (at least virtually) by getting your contour A-game up to par: Here are your beauty resolutions for 2014. Cheers to your prettiest year yet.
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Make Dead Skin Cells So 2013
You may be exfoliating, but with what? And, how often? Should you make it a chemical or, to be very Olivia Newton-John about it, a physical thing? Says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, cosmetic dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center, "A chemical exfoliator would include products containing retinols, or AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). A physical exfoliator example would be the Clarisonic skin-care brush or some kind of scrub. The issue with chemical exfoliators, such as retinols or glycolic acid, is that they tend to dry out the skin and can leave it very sensitive, so they are not for everyone."
If your skin is more high-maintenance, Dr. Frank advises this: "Using a washcloth daily offers a more natural approach to exfoliation and one best for sensitive skin types. If you choose to use a chemical exfoliator, it is best to limit it to one or two times a week. They also tend to leave the skin more sun-sensitive, as they are stripping the top layer of skin leaving it more sensitive to UVA and UVB rays."
Bust Out Of Your Eyeshadow Rut
It's easy to fall into a rut when it comes to eyeshadows. Says NARS Director of Global Artistry James Boehmer, "Most women have an over abundance of brown or neutral shadows that they apply without much thought because they are barely there or invisible on the lid, which takes all of the fun out of wearing eye makeup."
Snap! He does have a point. "If you are going to use a single shadow on the eye, go for something that will complement the eye color and wear it simply on the orbital part of the eyelid, blending from the lashline up into the crease," suggests Boehmer. "As long as the edges are blended, you virtually cannot make a mistake! If you use a larger, soft, dome-shaped brush, the color will be more transparent and edgeless than if you apply with a firmer, stiffer brush."
Break Free From Your Irrational Fear Of Gel
Like Doc Martens, scantily clad Kate Moss, and brown lipstick, gel is '90s fabulous and more importantly, back. Here are some tips on using it without looking like an extra from 90210 (the original, not the remake).
Says celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa, "I love gel! Years ago, I would say to stray far away from the product unless you were wanting to 'gel' your hair up for your Halloween costume, but the good news is that gels have been re-formatted! Think of a glass bottle vs. a plastic bottle. The old gel was like the glass bottle in that it would 'shatter' if you ran your fingers through it to break it up. The new flexible gel formulas are similar to a plastic bottle, as when you run your fingers through the product, it just bends with the hair and won't 'break.'"
Potempa offers this tip: "On wavy hair, consider scrunching your hair with a gel to enhance the wave. Aussie has a flexible gel called Miraculously Smooth Tizz No Frizz Gel that will add shine and take the wave up a notch. Apply onto a large-toothed comb or a paddle brush and then brush through the hair," she says. "This will help distribute the product and leave the hair feeling smooth."
Got straight hair? According to Potempa, gel can be used to give "insane volume." She advises applying it directly to the root, section by section, and blowdrying up with a round brush immediately after applying. "This will change the direction of the hair to increase volume and the gel will make [that volume] last days."
Invest In A Wardrobe Of Foundations For Different Seasons
To determine the correct color, Boehmer says to apply a few shades to the cheek area, blending down towards the jawline. "The center of the face is where we need the most coverage, so the correct color will be the one that appears the most invisible or traceless on the skin." And, like a connection with that dude on Tinder, you can't force it. "You shouldn't have to overwork a complexion product," Boehmer explains. "The right shade and texture will blend effortlessly into the skin and will create the illusion of beautiful skin, not beautiful makeup."
The right texture of foundation is equally important. For skin that doesn't need a lot of coverage, Bohemer likes to use a lightweight liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer. "These are great finishes for skin that appears a bit dull or is slightly dehydrated," he says. "NARS Sheer Glow and Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer offer a more luminous appearance and bounce light away from the skin. Although these finishes are sheer and easy to apply for most skin, they can sometimes illuminate or highlight problem areas."
For skin that needs more coverage, Bohemer prefers matte finishes, to create the illusion of smoother skin. "A powder foundation is great for skin that is broken out or has uneven texture," he explains. "Liquid foundations and tinted moisturizers are best applied with the fingertips as the warmth from the hands will give the product a more transparent feeling."
Rock SPF All Day, Ev'ry Day
It's great that you've been reapplying SPF when you're at the beach. We'll text you the emoji gold star for that, but what's vital is rocking UV protection any time you can see your hand in front of your face outside. Adds Dr. Frank, "Wearing SPF all the time is ideal. In the winter, choose a moisturizer with SPF or layer it underneath moisturizer." And, those brush-on sunscreen powders aren't going to cut it, alas. "The SPF product should always be closest to your skin so a powder one on top of makeup is not suggested," explains Dr. Frank.
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Keep Your Color Looking Fresh Longer By Extending Your Blowouts
To make second-day hair work, Potempa recommends The Double Shampoo. "Cleaning out your roots of the natural oils can help add volume to your style and make it last. The goal is to have lots of moisture throughout the hair, but keep the ends clean and voluminous," she says. "A double shampoo can ensure that you clean the roots. Apply the first shampoo to the roots and sides and the second to the base and back of the hair."
It's also important, per Potempa, to keep the shampoo focused on the roots and condition only the ends. Creating a good foundation is key: "When styling the hair for a blowout that lasts, you must create a foundation with prep products before blowdrying. A root volumizer that can be brushed out with a round brush and blowdryer is best."
Last, hairspray, that polarizing product, is one Potempa wholeheartedly recommends, but with this caveat: "'Flexible' is the key word when looking for a hairspray to help make your style last. Spritzing a mist on dry hair before styling is best to lock in the look."
Heed The Late, Great Nora Ephron's Advice & Don't Neglect Your Neck
There are a myriad of creams designated for the neck and décolleté. But, according to Dr. Frank, a regular skin cream is fine, too. "Whatever you use on your face, use it on the neck as well."
But, don't give it too much credit, while it is important. Explains Dr. Frank, "While it may have an immediate aesthetic effect, in the long run there is no guarantee that they will help the typical signs of age. What is important, however, is to reduce pigmentation on the neck, which is an area typically forgotten about. A product such as Elure Advanced Lightening Cream is a great investment for the face, neck, and chest. "
Embrace Your Natural Texture
We sprunch-sprayed, gelled, and curled obsessively in the '80s; flat-ironed to death in the '90s; and then Kardashian curling-ironed everything into oblivion in the early '00s. Now, beautiful hair is all about incorporating the perm (or lack thereof) that the great stylist in the sky (God) gave you.
For those with curly hair, Potempa says that "the best way to preserve natural curls and reduce frizz is to limit the amount of brushing or combing on the hair." She advises bringing a large-toothed comb into the shower and detangling right before a cool rinse. "Then lightly towel dry and spritz a spray gel, which evenly distributes the product through the curls so you don't have to separate them like when using traditional gel," notes Potempa.
Got waves? Potempa says your undulating strands "can be enhanced with the right product to look like you curled your hair!" Her favorite product for this hair type is Aussie Sprunch Mousse + Leave In Conditioner. "This soft and moldable product, combined with a bun maker like The Wrap-Up can give you the look of hours in the salon. Apply the mouse to almost-dry hair, wrap it up for the night, and remove in the morning for gorgeous, voluminous locks," instructs Potempa.
And, for those with straight hair, Potempa says it's all about investing in a good paddle brush. "This will help detangle the hair and also provide an applicator for your product," she advises. "Apply a volumizing mousse directly on the brush and brush through starting at the roots. This will add volume and shine to the hair without using a flat iron."
Master (Easy) DIY 'Dos
The good news is that they only have to take minutes. Here, Potempa breaks down three easy, on-trend styles in four steps or fewer.
1. Do a traditional three-strand braid with a large section in the front of your hair.
2. Pull two of the three strands over to the left.
3. Slide the two strands up for a super-cool looking braid.
4. Pin in place.
Braided Flower Bun
1. Pull hair into a ponytail and apply a smoothing creme.
2. Three-strand braid and secure with an elastic.
3. Pull out the left side of each turn of the braid to create a flower look.
4. Fold over the braid and secure with bobby pins to create a bun.
Chignon With The Wrap Up
1. Brush hair into a clean, low ponytail.
2. Apply Aussie Miraculously Smooth Tizz No Frizz Gel.
3. Pull hair through The Wrap Up, pinch closed, slide down, and wrap the hair up.
4. Bend both sides in to secure the bun without bobby pins.
Contour, But Don't, You Know, Kontour
Bohemer says the most salient thing to remember when it comes to contouring is where you apply contouring makeup. "You can create dimension with blush, bronzer, creams, gels, even eyeshadows," he explains. Contouring with a shadow, it's all so beauty MacGyver!
As for finishes, Bohemer says that matte textures will create more depth to the areas where you apply it. "Shimmery textures will attract more light so they work perfect on areas that you want to bring forward or highlight," he explains. "Typically, I prefer a matte texture for contouring and a slightly shimmery or reflective finish to use as a highlight."