Discover which oft-repeated prettifying principles are doing more harm than good
There are certain mantras that turned out to be valuable truths to live by—you know, things like “Never go to bed angry” and “You look so much nicer when you stand up straight.” But when it comes to beauty, some of the wisdom passed down to us by our elders turns out to be—well, not so wise. Here are 10 beauty “rules” that you can definitely rebel against.
Rule #1: For healthier, shinier hair, run a brush through your hair 100 times before bed.
Perching on the edge of your bed and patiently counting brush strokes may be a relaxing ritual, but it’s not going to make your hair healthier. “Too much brushing will only lead to breakage,” says Miami-based celebrity hairstylist Raphael Reboh, who advises his clients to brush only as often as needed for styling and detangling. The p.m. hair rule he prefers? Wind your hair into a bun to protect it from sheet friction overnight, and secure it with a satin scarf, not a rubber band, which can also cause overnight breakage as you toss and turn.
Rule #2: Trace around your lipstick with matching liner to add definition and help the color stay put.
This may have been the purpose for which lipliner was intended/invented (and the reason it’s called “liner,” after all), but nobody really uses it this way anymore. The reason? You risk ending up with an unattractive darker outline around your lips once your lipstick wears off. The new rule: Color your lips entirely with the liner first, then layer lipstick on top for super-staying power. To make your lips look fuller or more defined, you can extend the liner ever-so-slightly outside the boundaries of your mouth.
Rule #3: Drink lots of water to keep your skin glowing and hydrated.
It’s true that being dehydrated does nothing pretty for your complexion, but drinking excessive quantities of water (beyond the eight or so glasses generally recommended) will only lead to superfluous bathroom visits, not plump, perky skin. A better way to prevent dry skin is to cut back on water—the scalding water in your shower, that is. “Though drinking water does offer plenty of health benefits, the best way to keep skin hydrated is by preventing evaporation,” advises Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD. “So avoid those long, hot wintertime showers, and whenever you do shower, moisturize your skin while it’s still damp.”
Rule #4: Keep lathering until your hair feels squeaky-clean.
That squeaky feeling just means you’ve washed away all the natural oils that give hair its shine and bounce. “I wouldn’t go with the squeaky-clean theory unless you’re washing dishes or the floor,” Reboh says. “The hair shaft is extremely delicate, and this can strip essential oils, which is damaging.” His hair-washing rules: Lather more than once only if you have serious product or grease buildup; aim to wash hair only three or four times a week; and choose a shampoo that’s not clear (clear formulas can sometimes be more drying).
Rule #5: File your nails only in one direction or you’ll weaken them.
Your nails grow and get their health from the base, not from the edge that extends beyond your fingertip and gets filed. If you sit there and really saw away at your tips with a rough file, you could create enough friction to impact your nails’ health—but generally speaking, as long as you don’t saw away too crazily, filing back and forth won’t weaken your nails. “It’s absolutely safe to file your nails in more than one direction if you’re using a file that’s fine, not coarse,” says Skyy Hadley, a celebrity manicurist who owns a spa in Hoboken, New Jersey. “Ideally, you should use a nail file that has at least 240 grits. And as long as you apply gentle pressure, filing your nails back and forth will not harm your nail bed.”
Rule #6: Dark roots on dyed hair look tacky—don’t let yours show!
It figures that now that there are jillions of excellent products designed to help you cover up those telltale roots, having visible roots is actually one of the biggest hair trends. The concept is called “ombre” hair, and it basically looks like you’ve waited a month or two too long between highlight appointments—the roots are dark but the hair gets lighter and lighter toward the ends. Sarah Jessica Parker and Hilary Swank both have the intentionally-dark-roots look going on right now. You may still prefer to have roots that match your ends, but don’t feel that this is the beauty must that it used to be.
Rule #7: If you have red hair, don’t wear red lipstick.
This is another long-running beauty rule that all of Hollywood seems to be breaking lately—and the results can be gorgeous. Flame-haired actresses like Amy Adams (a natural redhead) and Emma Stone (a bottle redhead) love to work the red carpet in fierce, fiery red lipstick. Red hair itself is also a huge beauty trend this season—perhaps because it no longer has those uptight old makeup rules associated with it? “Redheads can definitely wear red lipstick,” says Los Angeles makeup artist Kayleen McAdams. “The trick is to choose the right shade of red. Select a true classic red—no pink or blue undertones—and it will suit your complexion perfectly.”
Rule #8: Only pluck hairs from below your eyebrows, or you’ll ruin your arch shape.
Go to any tweezing, waxing or threading place, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that your aesthetician will remove hairs from above your brows. “Removing hair above the brow line helps to create a more defined shape,” says Shobha Tummala, a New York City–based hair-removal expert. True, at home it’s easier (and pretty klutzproof) to just clean up the strays between or below your brows, but don’t be afraid to tweak hairs from above, too. A trick for making sure you don’t pluck too many: “Using a brow pencil, fill in the area of the brow that defines your ideal shape, then remove any hairs that fall outside these parameters,” Tummala says.
Rule #9: Eating chocolate will give you pimples.
Your waistline is much more likely to benefit from a no-chocolate rule than your skin—the idea that the sweet stuff is an acne culprit is a common myth. Clinical studies have failed to show that any food can actually cause acne (though in some rare instances, various foods might exacerbate existing acne). “Any correlation between chocolate and breakouts is limited,” Dr. Hirsch says. “Eating a well-balanced diet, which includes the occasional chocolate treat, is the way to look and feel your best.”
Rule #10: Cosmetic colors should be chosen based on whether you have a “warm” or a “cool” skin tone.
Can you honestly say you’ve figured out which tone you are—and what that means in terms of which eyeshadow, blush and lipstick hues you should choose? “Warm and cool is really most important when you’re picking foundation and concealer,” explains New York–based makeup artist Fiona Stiles. “Most fair-skinned people fall under the ‘cool’ category because they don’t generally have golden undertones. But you can break the rules with colorful makeup,” like lipstick and blush. Her example: An African-American woman with a very warm complexion might find that a dark lavender lipstick—a very “cool” shade—looks fabulous because of the contrast with her skin tone. So if you think a color looks great on your face, go ahead and give it a try!
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