11 beauty resolutions to make this year
Take off your makeup every single night
Ask any dermatologist: Cleansing your face on a daily basis is crucial for a clear complexion. If left on overnight, makeup and free radicals (from bus exhaust, the sun, germs on your cell phone) cause dead skin cells to build up, clogging pores and creating an uneven canvas for makeup application. Instead of waiting until you're half-asleep and the bathroom feels miles away, wash your face as soon as you get home. And because we're all about shortcuts to success: Keep cleansing wipes in your bedside table as an insurance policy for even the latest nights.
Start using retinol
This ingredient, a vitamin-A derivative, packs a major anti-aging punch: It fights wrinkles, dark spots, dullness, and more. It boosts collagen and makes your skin cells turn over more quickly, making skin plumper and fresher-looking. So slap some on right after you cleanse your face every night. (The ingredient makes skin more sun-sensitive, so it's best to sleep in it, not wear it during the day.) We like Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer and, to fight off undereye crepiness, RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream.
Wear SPF every day
Sunscreen is hands-down required for everyone, year-round, whether you're inside or out: Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect skin from skin cancer and aging (UVA rays) and sunburns (UVB rays). The simplest way to get accustomed to using SPF (you need one of at least 30) consistently is to work it into your regular morning routine by using a moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen. We like Best of Beauty winner Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion.
Try a skin brush
The air has much less moisture come winter, and the same goes for your skin. So this time of year, exfoliators (scrubs, peels) might become irritating. The solution? An electronic brush like the Clarisonic Aria or the Olay Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System. It might sound counterintuitive, but the brush heads are gentler than harsh scrubs and leave skin smooth, not raw. And keep on using it year-round: Brushes leave skin cleaner than typical splash-and-rinse washing
Wear BB cream
The newest "tinted moisturizers on steroids" live up to all the hype. New shade ranges mean that they're no longer one-size-doesn't-really-fit-all. These light-coverage hybrids even out complexions and, depending on their ingredients, may treat the skin with antioxidants, vitamins, or broad-spectrum SPF. (We've been reaching for Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm Multi-Benefit Skin Care Makeup SPF 20 each morning.) As an added bonus, many pack an extra punch with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
Test-drive a new color each month
With all the beautiful shades out there right now, why stick with your same old neutral brown shadow and dark berry gloss? Ease in with a purple cream shadow. "Violet makes brown eyes richer, greens greener, and blues more intense," says makeup artist Tom Pecheux.
Shimmery blue-green eyeliner is equally versatile at night—Nars Larger Than Life Long Wear Eyeliner in Abbey Road glides on smooth and flatters every eye color. Experiment across the board, using Pecheux's rule of thumb: The darker your skin, the deeper the shade should be.
Try glossy eye makeup
New high-wattage "topcoats" can be layered over any naked lid or shadow. Prep the skin with a primer, like Estee Lauder's Double Wear Stay-In-Place Shadow Base, then press the shadow into the crease. Squeeze a dab of eye gloss onto your finger (Jane Iredale's Eye Gloss in Champagne Silk complements every skin tone) and smear a thin coat from lash line to crease. The primer grips the gloss, preventing major smudges.
Find your perfect blush
"The whole idea is to mimic a healthy glow," says makeup artist Laura Mercier. Fair-skinned women should pick apricots or pale pinks; beige-roses and tawny shades flatter medium complexions; and punchy fuchsias and tangerines warm up deeper complexions. Cream blush is best for dry skin—it almost acts as an extra layer of moisturizer; on oily skin, a powder formula will last longer. Experiment with matte formulas to find the right shade (we love Smashbox Blush Rush in Radiance)—shimmery pigments can be tough to match to your skin tone.
Upgrade your blowout
Let go of Kardashian hair, those perfectly symmetrical curls that curve away from the face. Instead, get inspired by a picture of Erin Wasson or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and create loose waves of different sizes. A flatiron will give hair a gentle, asymmetrical bend, says Francesa Demauro of Bumble and Bumble Salon in New York City. She recommends styling air-dried strands—anything too silky-smooth could crease under the iron's heated plates.
1) Grab the top two thirds of your hair around your head and pin it up.
2) Then, section by section, flatiron the hair. For each two-inch section, slide the iron halfway down the shaft before angling the iron in toward your head. This will push the hair outward and create a bend as you pull the iron through to the ends.
3) Repeat for the bottom and middle layers, taking extra care around the face-framing pieces.
Even butterfingers can try the new styles—the best braids are a bit messy, mussed up, and sexy. Hairstylist James Pecis prefers a casual deconstructed braid, which can be as easy to create as they appear. "Using the right products to give hair texture beforehand is important," says Pecis. (Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray, this is your moment.) No matter the style, the key is to keep the braid soft and loose; and pulling hair too tight only frustrates tresses that aren't used to being woven. Because braided styles can weigh on your roots, get extra lift with Tigi's Bed Head Queen for a Day, a wet-or-dry mousse.