5 Beauty Mysteries, Solved

Beauty Mysteries, Solved1. If I get a bad haircut or dye job, am I entitled to a free redo?

You asked for "subtle golden highlights," and ended up Malibu Barbie blonde. Now you feel like throwing a fit worthy of John McEnroe. To get a "yes," not a "no way," channel your cool, collected side. "People understandably feel upset when a stylist or colorist doesn't get it right, but causing a scene won't help," says Helena Faccenda, a celebrity hairstylist based in New York City. Do speak up - calmly - right away; the longer you delay, the less weight your complaint will carry. And if you don't trust the person who caused the fiasco to fix it, ask the salon manager if someone else can help you.

2. Where can I find my favorite makeup once it's gone from store shelves?

First try the brand's Website. There's often a link to products that are being phased out. Estée Lauder's Gone but Not Forgotten hotline (800-216-7173) offers discontinued products from many of its brands, including Clinique. When all else fails, create a clone of the shade. Giella will copy a lipstick, lip gloss, or nail polish hue ($25 to $27, giella.com); Three Custom Colors Specialists can re-create any lip color ($55 for two tubes of lipstick, threecustom.com).

Related: 5 All-Time Best Haircuts

3. What's the best way to home in on flattering makeup at a drugstore?

Mass outlets are definitely starting to offer more try-before-you-buy opportunities. Target has sampling stations for three of its new makeup lines, and Ulta lets you try on Bare Escentuals and Smashbox makeup. If your local drugstore hasn't yet implemented sampling, "the smartest thing to do is to choose colors in the tones you already know work for you," says Los Angeles makeup artist Napoleon Perdis. You may get a second chance to get it right: CoverGirl will let you swap its new Simply Ageless Foundation ($14, drugstores) for a closer match at any store where it's sold. And many drugstores, including CVS, will take back or at least exchange makeup - even if it's been opened.

4. What can I do to look less tired?

Sleepless nights can remain your secret, thanks to an innovative product called a skin brightener. A distant cousin of bronzers, liquid brighteners come in skin-tone-matching shades like peach and nude that create a subtle, not sparkly, luminosity. To apply, layer a thin coat all over your face before foundation, or dab it just beneath the brow or on top of the cheekbones. Hide dark undereye circles with an eye brightener.

Related: 30 Best Beauty Buys For $10 Or Less!

5. How much time should I give a face moisturizer to work before I give up on it?

The answer depends on the special effects you're after. It can take just two to four weeks to see subtle smoothing benefits with anti-aging moisturizers and serums containing peptides, antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, and vitamin A derivatives. Sunspots are more stubborn; they may require up to three months to fade using hydroquinone and other skin lighteners. As a general rule, dermatologists recommend you give all creams at least 90 days to work, unless they are irritating your skin. "It takes time for a product to change the skin's underlying process and make it healthier," says Helene R. Rosenzweig, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. If, after 90 days, you're still seeing the same old skin, that's a signal to retool your regimen.

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