1. You rarely--okay, never--clean your makeup brushes. "Bristles collect a lot of bacteria, which can lead to clogged pores," says product developer Trae Bodge of Three Custom Color Specialists. Our no-more-excuses solution: a spray-on sanitizer like Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser (right), $13, or wipes like Sephora Make Up Brush Cleansing Wipes, $9. Both instantly kill germs. Clean your most-often-used brushes once a week if your skin is oily or combination, and twice a month if skin is dry, says Bodge.
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2. When you have a honking zit, you attack it. As tempting as it is, resist the urge to pop, says Jeannette Graf, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. "Squeezing a pimple can make the skin red for days afterward, and even cause a scar." Instead, put ice in a paper towel, hold it on the spot for several minutes, then remove for one minute; repeat this a few more times. "This shrinks the cyst and shortens its duration," says Graf. Then, dab on an acne treatment containing salicylic acid and (if you can't stand the sight of it) a bit of thick, creamy concealer.
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3. You gnaw on your nails. "Nail biting is a form of self-comfort," says clinical psychologist Mary C. Lamia, Ph.D. These soothing strategies have helped her patients quit: When you feel the urge to nibble, massage your hands or rub a lotion on them that's scented with a smell you love. "This interrupts the emotional cycle that triggers biting," she says. So does grabbing your guy's hand, since "it calms the anxiety," says Lamia. Nice for him, too!
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4. You're wearing makeup purchased during the Bush administration. If a makeup formula starts to crack or separate, or the color seems muddy or uneven on your skin, toss it," says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer, who adds that expired makeup often harbors bacteria that can lead to eye infections or skin breakouts (ack!). Here's when to restock...
Mascara: It has the shortest shelf life, because the wand carries bacteria back into the tube with every use. Replace it every three months.
Creams (including shadows, blushes, concealers, and foundations) and glosses: These formulas all contain a lot of water, which makes them magnets for germs. Replace every six months.
Powders and sealed, unopened makeup: Powder makeup can trek on for up to two years, thanks to low moisture levels. Ditto for unopened makeup that's been stored in a cool, dry place.
Lipstick: It's good for up to a year. "But if the formula feels dry or hard, it's conking out," says Hammer.
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5. You torture your hair daily. Take a break from style by fire! "Blow-dryers and hot tools fry hair and fade color," says hairstylist Tommy Buckett, whose clients include Emma Stone and Molly Shannon. "If you can avoid putting heat on your hair just one day a week, it'll do wonders to improve its health."
Don't skip conditioner. A Procter & Gamble-commissioned study found that 71 percent of women feel that conditioner sometimes weighs down their hair, but "even pixie-short hair needs nourishment," Buckett says. If you're a dodger because you fear it'll flatten your style, try Pantene's new Aqua Light Conditioner (right), $3.99. It contains half the amount of silicone of most conditioners and rinses out nine times faster, so no heavy buildup.
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Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.