How To Master Product Cocktailing

Martinis, margaritas, cosmopolitans, mojitos, Long Island Iced Teas (shudder)… Our relationship with cocktails over the years can best be described as, “It’s complicated.” Product cocktailing, on the other hand? We’re much more enthusiastic about that one. A tactic used by beauty professionals for ages, product cocktailing involves mixing or layering multiple products together for a unique, enhanced effect.
Just how a splash of effervescent club soda and some ice cubes can give life to an unappealing shot of warm vodka (well, as much appeal as a shot of warm vodka can have), product cocktailing operates under the belief that a serum can enhance the effects of your leave-in conditioner or that a dab of moisturizer can change your foundation forever. Curious? Click on for eight expert-approved ways to mix your favorite beauty products — minus the next-day hangover.
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Berry-Stained Lips
The first moment we laid eyes on lip stain in all of its sheer, beautiful glory, we knew it was “the one.” But, just like all relationships, there have been downsides: flakiness, fading, dryness — all side effects of a mostly positive and fulfilling union, of course. For days when your favorite stain’s pigment powers simply aren’t pulling through, Beyoncé’s makeup artist Francesca Tolot suggests a different route: “Apply a dark red lipstick and wait a few minutes so it stains the lips. Then gently remove and apply a shimmery, clear gloss on top.” The result? A natural-looking, healthy tint to the lips with nary a flake in sight.
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Dewy Skin
It’s a tricky line between dewy “I woke up like this” skin and, well, looking like you just rolled out of bed. To achieve the former, Tolot uses two different product cocktails. “Apply another layer of your favorite moisturizer on top of your foundation,” she says. “Or, layer a shimmery bronzer over your foundation, then finish with a spray of La Mer The Mist.” Both methods will result in glowy fresh-looking skin — all the better to channel your inner ‘Yoncé with.
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Frizz-Free Curls
When it comes to cocktailing products for our locks, we turn to none other than Erin Anderson, hair guru and cofounder of bicoastal beauty apothecary Woodley & Bunny. According to her, the first step in cocktailing hair products is knowing the difference between “mixing” and “layering.” “Mixing means combining two products together before applying,” she says. “This is usually done to enhance product performance or dilute the intensity of one particular product.” Layering, on the other hand, involves applying two or more products one after another and addressing specific hair needs during each of the steps. For most of her clients, she does a bit of both to achieve optimal results.

When we asked her the cocktailing secret for curly haired girls, she said to always start with one thing: leave-in conditioner. “This will replenish moisture, detangle, and promote smoothness to the curls,” she says. Afterwards, she recommends mixing a dime- to nickel-sized amount of thickening lotion and a styling balm together in the palm of your hand. The thickening lotion gives support while the styling balm adds moisture and protects against frizz. Run this mixture through your locks, then layer a few drops of a shine to seal the ends, give separation, and add luster. Springy, frizz-free curls, coming right up!
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Healthy Hairstyling
If you want to start incorporating product cocktailing into your everyday routine, Anderson suggests three key products: leave-in conditioner (we’re starting to see a trend here), hair oil or serum, and dry shampoo. “A deep conditioner like Garrett Markenson Reverie MILK protects hair and scalp, promotes growth and restoration, and smells amazing,” she says. “Add a few drops of oil in or layer it on afterwards for shiny strands.”

Speaking of oils, she says that argan, jojoba, and macadamia nut-based hair oils are the ultimate layering products. Add a few drops to hair styling creams, mousse, and conditioners to increase hair health, replace lost moisture, and encourage shine. And, finally — our ultimate hair savior — dry shampoo: “Since you want to keep heat styling to a minimum, dry shampoo will help keep blowouts fresh and evolve hairstyles over a few days,” she says. “It will absorb oil and restore volume, give texture and support. It will also help anchor ponytails, top knots, braids, pins, and grips.” In other words, our supply won’t be running out anytime soon.
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Sleekified Strands
For our straight-haired sisters, Anderson starts again with a leave-in conditioner, then begins layering. First, she recommends running a smoothing shine serum through your locks, then following with a volumnizing spray. “The effect [of combining these two products] is a fast-drying, smooth, and bouncy blowdry.” Using a round brush and medium to high heat, she says to blowdry your strands with a little lift at the roots and curve at the ends. After your hair is dry, run a shine spray to give your locks a beautiful sheen.
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No-Makeup Makeup, Perfected
On days when foundation feels too heavy but your skin needs more coverage than a BB cream, Tolot suggests a product cocktail using three basic ingredients: moisturizer, foundation, and loose powder. “Mixing moisturizer in with your favorite foundation will give you a sheer, natural finish,” she says. To top it off, lightly dust a loose powder all over your face with a large, fluffy brush for a natural-looking airbrushed effect.
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A Truly Signature Scent
You never forget the first whiff your “signature scent” — on someone else. Cue the immediate existential crisis. The solution? Layer your fragrances. We’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up from the floor. Layering fragrances can mean two things: using products directly on top of one another or applying various scents on different parts of your body. We asked Harry Frémont, perfumer and creator of the iconic Ralph Lauren Romance, for his advice on the first.

“You need to consider that any other sort of scent will be directly involved in the layering process, so I suggest you choose wisely when you use products such as shower, soap, and body moisturizer,” he says. When it comes to fragrances, he advises the easiest way to layer fragrances is mixing two fragrances that are in the same scent family. For example, two perfumes from the citrus family or two perfumes from the floral family. He warns against getting too adventurous and blending two opposite scents (“like a fresh fragrance and an Oriental”) to avoid any awkward “What is that smell??” moments.

More adventurous noses may prefer the second method from By Terry cosmetics founder Terry de Gunzberg, who sees no wrong in blending opposite scents: “The scents that you cannot put together in a same bottle or formula [because] they are too extreme…can be wonderful when you blend them in a layering process!”

Her advice? Have fun with it. She recalls times when she wore three or more fragrances at once. “[I’ll spray] Ombre Mercure, a very mysterious highly sophisticated oriental floral, on my neck; Flagrant Délice, an addictive fruity floral with green fig and almond milk, on my wrists; Rêve Opulent with its rich floral heart in the inside of my elbows; and a cloudy spray of Lumière d'Epices all over my hair and clothes. It seems like a lot, but it will create an unforgettable seal,” she says. With our common noses, we’re not quite sure we’re ready to flaunt four fragrances at once, but we’ll definitely be conducting a scent study or two in the near future.
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Thick, Lush lashes
Ready to up your lash game? We got the scoop from Tolot, who suggests applying a lash primer like Clinique Lash Building Primer to your bare eyelashes, then combing through with a metal eyelash brush to smooth out any clumps. Finally, layer on your favorite volumizing mascara for full luscious lashes without the heaviness and flutter on!
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Grown-Up Glimmer
As we wait patiently for the winter to subside (and by “wait patiently,” we mean lust for all things pastel hued), we can’t help but yearn for spring to come just a little bit faster. Though wishing has yet been proven to have any effect on the harsh realities of time and space, we have found a way to bring a little glimmer of a sunnier season straight to your digits. “With spring approaching in L.A., I've been playing around with simple, chic nail art for the season,” says celebrity manicurist Kait Mosh. “[I love] using a topcoat with gold flakes; it gives texture without getting messy.” You can use any color as your base, but she recommends selecting pastels and nudes for a rich, elegant feel — her favorite is Zoya Blu. The inspiration for this layered look? “Earl grey macarons!”

Paint one coat of your favorite nail polish base then two thin coats of Zoya Blu. Follow with one thin layer of gold topcoat, making sure to cover the whole nail. If you want more gold flakes, wait a minute and paint a second thin coat. If you want to add a little extra pizzazz on a few or all fingers, glue on a tiny black stud near the cuticle.