5 Beauty Tips and Shortcuts

Ericka McConnellEricka McConnellCut corners -- and look good doing it

The Fastest Way to Dry Nail Polish
Dunk your hands in a bowl of ice-cold water.

"The cold water freeze-dries polish, sealing and hardening it quickly," says Belinda Rivera, a nail specialist in Austin, Texas.

Allow nails to air-dry for two minutes, then submerge in ice-cold water for three minutes, which is enough time for the polish to harden completely.

Another option: Blast nails with cool air from a hair dryer in between coats. This helps each layer of color dry as you go.

Quick tip: Old nail polish can take forever to dry, since time can turn polish gooey and thick. Toss bottles when the polish begins to change color or separate. At that point, the lacquer has probably thickened and become unusable.

Check out The Best Nail Tools from Real Simple.

The Fastest Way to Minimize a Facial Flush
Place a cool, wet towel on the back of your neck.

"When your face flushes during exercise, it's a normal physiological response to your body overheating," says Lydia Evans, a dermatologist in Chappaqua, New York. "Your blood vessels dilate and increase blood flow to the surface of the skin to cool it, which gives it that red appearance."

A cold towel on the back of the neck constricts those blood vessels, numbs the nerve endings there, and helps lower your body temperature quickly, says Debra Luftman, a cosmetic dermatologist in Beverly Hills.

Splashing cold water on your face will have the same effect.

Quick tip: Carry a spray bottle filled with cold water to the gym. When you feel your face getting warm, spritz it with water. This will help keep the redness to a minimum.

The Fastest Way to Depuff Eyes
"Wrap a bag of frozen vegetables in a thin towel and place it over your eyes for 10 minutes," says Debra Luftman, a cosmetic dermatologist.

A night of sipping Champagne or eating salty foods can lead to fluid retention around the eyes. The cold of the bag stimulates circulation under the eyes, which helps bring down that fluid. (Why a bag of vegetables? Because it conforms to the contours of the face. Peas or corn works best.)

A soft washcloth soaked in cool chamomile tea will also do the trick, since chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties.

Quick tip: If you know you'll be drinking alcohol or eating salty foods, be sure to drink lots of water. You'll be less likely to puff out the next morning.

Quick tip: To help prevent puffy eyes, prop up your head on two pillows when you go to sleep. Gravity is your friend when it comes to fluid retention.

See Real Simple's Dress Up Your Eyes.

The Fastest Way to Soothe Post-Waxing Irritation
Apply a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, which calms inflammation, quells itchiness, and reduces redness.

The force it takes to pull hairs out from the roots can inflame skin. Lydia Evans, a dermatologist, says, "Since coarse and thick hairs are more stubborn to remove, you'll probably experience more redness in areas where they grow," such as the bikini line and the underarms. Delicate spots, like the brows, are also prone to irritation. Apply a pea-size dab of hydrocortisone cream to red zones right after waxing.

Quick tip: Don't schedule a waxing within three days of the start of your period, when skin tends to be extra sensitive.

The Fastest Way to Repair a Torn Nail
Patch it with a tea bag.

Nails can tear for many reasons: They're weak; they're soft; they've been soaking in water for too long, which softens them further.

Whatever the cause, cut a tiny piece of paper from a tea bag (it should be big enough to cover the entire tear), apply a bead of nail glue to the paper (Krazy Glue works in a pinch), then press it on top of the tear, says Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie Cosmetics.

Allow the glue to dry, then gently file the top of the paper so that it is smooth and flush with the nail. Finish with a layer of base coat, two coats of nail polish, and a topcoat.

Quick tip: Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes or using cleaning products. Water and chemicals can weaken nails and make them more likely to tear.

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