Ask a Beauty Expert
Hair Expert: Eva Scrivo
Eva Scrivo, owner of Eva Scrivo salons in New York City, answers three commonly asked hair questions.
Q: Is it better for your hair to change the shampoo and conditioner you use every few months?
Only if you are unhappy with how your hair looks or feels. Hair is reactive to products in general, so changing your shampoo and conditioner can create a different effect. For example, if you want more smoothness, try a hydrating shampoo, which deposits moisturizers that close the hair cuticle. But if you are using hair care that you love, there is no reason to make a change.
Q: What are some easy tricks that will help me pick a natural-looking color for an at-home hair dye?
ES: Match the color to your eyebrows. Your brows are always a guideline to what looks natural and what would be a complimentary base color. This works even when you are going gray, since brow hair typically doesn’t lose melanin and therefore doesn’t go gray at the same pace as the hair on your head.
Q: What’s the most universally flattering hairstyle for a woman over 40?
ES: A side-swept bang with soft layers around the face. It softens the neck and strengthens the cheekbones. The A-symmetrical line of a long bang pushed to the side also slims the face.
Q: What can I do to help stop my haircolor from fading?
ES: Start by prepping your hair. Right before you color (grays in particular), wash with a clarifying shampoo to remove oils, dirt, and product residue, which can all prevent dye from penetrating. Afterward, wait 72 hours before shampooing. Color's most susceptible to leaching in the first few days, and washing too early will rinse the color away and fade it faster. Since heat expands the hair cuticle, causing more of the dye molecules to wash out, keep the water tepid when you shampoo and rinse to help your color stay vibrant.
Q: What shampoo will keep my hair from getting frizzy? I don't use conditioner because it tends to increase my hair's oiliness.
ES: The best way to tame frizz is with your hair's natural oils. Try shampooing less often; skipping one or two shampoos a week will help maintain more of the oils at the scalp. And invest in a boar-bristle brush: It distributes the oils down the hair shaft, coating and smoothing the cuticle. You should also use conditioner. If you believe that's what's making your hair oily, it's likely you're using too much and/or applying it too close to your roots. Divide your hair into four sections and use a pea-size amount on each, only from mid-shaft to the ends. Our Pick: Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner ($3.50 each, drugstores)
Q: What is a fast, easy way to get volume?
ES: The number one culprit behind flat hair is the wrong haircut. Styling products that offer a lot of volume usually deflate in a few hours anyway, so if you don't have the right style to begin with, chances are any fullness or height you get will be short-lived. The right layers are essential to creating volume: Short layers cut into the top or crown of your head will make the rest of your hair look flat and stringy. Ask your stylist for long layers, which are cut into the ends of the hair to create movement and volume. Once you have the right cut, you can add more oomph with mousse. The key is to apply it when your hair is about 75% dry. Applying product to sopping-wet hair makes hair stick to your head and look flat. Hair naturally starts to lift as it dries, so using a styler at that point will give you maximum fullness. Our Pick: Dove Style+Care Nourishing Amplifier Mousse ($4, drugstores)
Dermatologist: Dr. Amy Wechsler
New York City dermatologist Dr. Amy Wechsler answers three commonly asked skincare questions.
Q: Between a cleanser, moisturizer, night cream, and eye cream, where does it make sense to spend the big bucks?
Amy Wechsler: You definitely don’t have to spend big bucks to get quality skincare! You can find lots of great options for cleansers and moisturizers at the drugstore, but if you are going to splurge on one product, consider buying a pricier antioxidant serum. A good serum requires a high concentration of antioxidants — highly effective anti-agers that boost the price — so I tell my patients this is one product that’s worth the extra bucks.
Q: Do I need to change my skincare routine seasonally?
AW: You don’t need to change it completely, just make a few minor tweaks. For example, in winter you may need to moisturize more because dry air, central heating, and wind can dry out or chap your skin. In summer, add a toner with salicylic acid to remove the layer of dead skin cells on the surface that hold onto oil; it will prevent shine, make you look refreshed, and provide a natural glow.
Look for one with no more than 0.5 percent salicylic acid to avoid over-drying your skin.
Q: Do I need to exfoliate? If so, how often and with what?
AW: Yes, but the answer really depends on your skin type and age. Exfoliation is something you want to start in your teens, and for sure by your twenties and thirties. By the time you reach your thirties, your skin begins to thin and becomes more vulnerable to the environment. At the same time, the natural enzymes in your skin begin to remove dead skin cells less efficiently, so they hang on and prevent your skin from reflecting light. As a result, you look ashy. Start by using an exfoliating cleanser once or twice weekly. Look for ingredients like sugar, oatmeal, or small synthetic beads (all of which are found in common exfoliating products). Or, if your skin is particularly dull, flaky, or red, try a cleanser with salicylic acid, which is less irritating than other chemical exfoliators.
Q: What's the best cream for wrinkles around the eyes?
AW: Dry skin accentuates fine lines and wrinkles, so look for an eye cream with hydrating ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, and natural oil (for example, sunflower or almond). Avoid products with potent anti-agers like AHAs or glycolic acid; they can irritate thin, delicate eye-area skin. Instead, pick a formula with an antioxidant like green tea, which is gentle but has been proven to help prevent signs of aging. And use your eye product at night: You want to slather it on, and if you do that during the day, it may look thick or greasy and interfere with your makeup. Our Picks: Dr. LeWinn by Kinerase Under Eye Recovery ($25, Walgreens); Kinerase C8 Peptide Under Eye Treatment ($68, Ulta)
Q: Can you suggest a good anti-aging moisturizer for combination skin? I'm 42 and have dry and oily skin that's prone to breakouts.
AW: Read the label on your moisturizer carefully and make sure it says "oil-free" and "noncomedogenic," which means it won't clog your pores. As long as it meets those two criteria, you shouldn't have a problem with greasy skin or breakouts. While you're at it, check the label for "broad spectrum SPF 30" to protect your skin from sun damage and help prevent wrinkles. And if you'd like additional anti-aging ingredients, peptides are a good option, as they won't increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. Our Pick: L'Oréal Paris Youth Code SPF 30 Day Lotion ($25, drugstores)
Q: How can I get my fingernails to grow? They split in every direction possible and break with the slightest pressure.
AW: Start by keeping your hands out of water as much as you can — that means wearing gloves when you do the dishes. Water dries out nails, making them more likely to break. You can also try taking biotin, a B vitamin that helps promote healthy nail growth. Take a 5-mg supplement every day, and you should see an improvement in a few months; you'll notice that your nails grow faster and get stronger. If you don't see a change, it's important to make an appointment with your doctor to rule out a medical condition like anemia or hypothyroidism, either of which can cause nail-growth problems.
Q: Is there anything to watch out for when mixing and matching skin-care lotions and potions?
AW: It's usually fine to mix products, but two caveats: First, don't use two products that contain the same active ingredient — for example, a retinol-based serum and a retinol-based night cream; doubling up on an anti-ager that way can often cause irritation. And second, if you layer products from two different companies and a lotion or cream starts to ball up or pill, it just means the formulas aren't compatible and you shouldn't use them together.
Makeup Expert: Mally Roncal
Makeup artist and president and creator of Mally Beauty Mally Roncal answers three commonly asked makeup questions.
Q: No matter what I do, I can’t cover up my dark under eye circles, any tricks or new products?
Mally Roncal: A good trick for camouflaging under eye darkness is to brighten the outer corners of the eyes, where we all tend to have a bit of darkness and discoloration. Apply highlighter by sweeping it in a C shape from the corner of your eyelid, to the top of your cheekbone. It really opens up the eyes.
Q: What are the top three essentials I need to have in my makeup bag?
MR: My top three must-haves: concealer, mascara, and blush. Concealer and mascara can immediately light up your eyes, and blush will perk up your complexion. Choose cream formulas of concealer and blush, and you won’t even need to carry a brush with you. Using your fingers is the fastest and easiest application method, and the best way to help blend the product seamlessly into skin.
Q: How do I choose among the many foundation formulas out there?
MR: Use your skin type to guide your foundation choice. For example, if your skin is oily, then opt for a powder foundation. If you have dry skin, I would recommend trying a cream foundation instead. You know that old school rule about matching your foundation to your neck? Your neck is in a perpetual shadow, so it tends to be a bit paler than the rest of your face. Instead, match your foundation to your collarbone, which is on the same plane as your face and will give you a more accurate shade!
Q: Should I use a primer? What's a good option for oily or combination skin?
MR: Yes! A primer is a one-step product that seals in moisture and creates a smooth surface for makeup to adhere to so it stays on longer. If skin is oily, a primer can also help minimize shine. Just make sure you use one that feels dry and velvety, not tacky or slick, as it goes on. Most stores will let you test before you buy, but a good rule of thumb is to look for one that makes "pore-minimizing" or "mattifying" claims on its label. Our Picks: Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12-Hr Perfecting Primer ($30, Sephora); Mally Beauty Perfect Prep Poreless Primer ($35, mallybeauty.com)
Q: What can I do to keep my skin from being so shiny? I've tried all kinds of powders, but each lasts for about an hour.
MR: Lose the powder. Even the translucent kind is heavy and can actually clog pores, which will just cause your skin to produce more oil. A better idea: Use a mattifying primer under your makeup (see left). Then, if you see that your skin's getting oily during the day, try using a big, fluffy brush to dust a powder foundation over any shiny spots. Powder foundations are lighter and have more pigment than regular powders, so they won't look cakey or chalky. If you're in a pinch, separate a two-ply tissue and gently pat one layer on any shiny spots. This helps absorb excess oil without lifting your makeup the way blotting papers sometimes do.
Q: My mascara always runs within an hour. I've tried them all...waterproof, expensive products as well as cheaper ones. Help!
MR: The problem isn't your mascara. The key to preventing smudges is making sure that the area around your eye is completely dry before you apply the mascara. Rule one: Never use an eye cream in the A.M. One of my favorite tricks is to take an eye primer (or a mattifying primer used for the face) and apply it all around the eye--underneath, on the lid, and up toward the brow. Then I like to dust a flesh-colored shadow on the eyelid and use a cotton swab to smudge it along the bottom lashline. These two steps ensure that there's no oil or wetness to interfere with the mascara and make it run. Curling your upper lashes can also help; when they're lifted, they won't hit your bottom lashes every time you blink. You can use a waterproof mascara if you'd like, but with this prepping, even a regular formula should stay put. Our Picks: Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Foxy ($18, Sephora) and Make Up For Ever Eye Prime ($22, sephora.com)