Editors Share Their Biggest Beauty Regrets

"Live with no regrets" is a mantra we aim to stand by. But still, there are some life events we don't look back on so fondly — and many involve our beauty routines. We're looking at you, every attempt at bangs ever.

If we rack our brains, we'll find a long list of cosmetic choices we wish we could take back (and most of them either took place in or were inspired by the '90s). But the silver lining in every regret is that it has taught us something about beauty, or about ourselves, along the way. At least, we like to hope it did.

Ahead, we asked 11 beauty editors to dish on their biggest regrets. Unlike among the celeb bunch, there isn't an eyebrow horror story in sight. Hair mishaps, on the other hand? Plenty. Click through to laugh, cry, and commiserate, and then share in the comments what beauty moment you'd like to delete forever.
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Simone Kitchens, Associate Beauty Director, Glamour

"If I could have a 'do-over' when it comes to beauty stuff, I would have skipped the whole keratin-blowout moment. I had a few back in the day, and — chemical warnings aside — it made for very boring hair. It’s taken me some time to get friendly with my curly hair’s natural (sometimes puffy) texture, but it’s the thing that I really love about it now. Every day, it air-dries a little differently — flyaways and frizz included — and I’m totally cool with that.”
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Lexy Lebsack, West Coast Beauty Editor, Refinery29

"A few years ago, I was on a quest to get rid of a few scars on my face and body — nothing huge, just flat, dark scars from years of playing soccer and a tumble on vacation. (I'm clumsy, what can I say?) I enlisted the help of a dermatologist, who put me on a topical regimen and then eventually used a few different lasers for the final treatment. A few weeks of healing later, the newest scars were gone (major success!), but something weird happened with one of the older ones on my knee: I developed an unexpected hypersensitivity that I still deal with today. (The skin is more sensitive, so it gets cold easily, and when I wear denim it feels like a sunburn rubbing against clothing.)

"After a lot of research — including talking to experts, seeing other doctors, and scheduling a follow-up appointment with the derm who did the treatment — I learned that a very, very small amount of people can have long-lasting hypersensitivity when certain lasers, like CO2, are used. The hypersensitivity has gotten better through time, and I am sure it will fade completely eventually, but until then you'll recognize me because all my jeans are either loose or are strategically ripped just on the left knee.”
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Emily Gaynor, Digital Beauty Editor, Teen Vogue

"When I was in college, I highlighted my natural brunette hair one summer. When I got back to school at NYU, I decided I hated the stripey, blond streaks and made the spur-of-the-moment decision to go back to dark. This was before I was a beauty editor, so I didn’t know the lay of the land in NYC, salon-wise. I just walked into a random salon in the East Village and told them I wanted the highlights out of my hair, STAT.

"For what I was willing to pay and how much time I had, they told me they could do a single process, but that they’d have to dye my hair black to fully mask the blond. I, for some reason, nodded my head in agreement. Hours later, my hair was jet-black with no dimension in the color. I actually decided I liked the severe statement — it worked with my Olsen-twin, going-to-college-at-NYU vibe. But, after a few washes, the raven shade ended up mostly down my drain and my unfortunate highlights peeked through. Not a good look.

"Now, I obviously know that dumping black dye over a full head of highlights is not the solution to getting out of a hair rut. In fact, it can lead to an even bigger one. These days, I’m in the hands of Aura Friedman, who never ceases to amaze me with what magical color concoctions she comes up with for me. But I still think it was pretty badass that I had the guts to go matte-black back in the day."
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Julee Wilson, Digital Fashion & Beauty Director, Essence

"Once upon a time (ninth grade, to be exact), I owned a pretty ridiculous collection of colored contacts. Not only did I have your classic blue, green, and hazel hues, I also had gray, turquoise, orange, and my all-time favorite: purple. They didn’t even have prescriptions (what the hell was I doing with contacts anyway?), and due to the extensive and oh-so-embarrassing array of colors, it was clear I wasn’t trying to make people believe that my vibrantly hued eyes were natural — this was purely a style play.

"I literally used to match my contacts to my outfit or the lip gloss I was rocking that day. Oy! Ultimately, I had to retire the contacts after realizing all my interactions with people included exhausting explanations of why I was walking around with wacky-colored eyes. And most importantly, my brown eyes are already pretty damn dope."
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Mi-Anne Chan, Beauty Editorial Assistant, Refinery29

“When I first started wearing makeup in the seventh or eighth grade, my product of choice was kohl liner. At the time (which was during my 'I only wear Hot Topic' phase), I thought it looked awesome to trace a smudgy line on my bottom lashline sans mascara or even liner on my top lid. Needless to say, the isolated bottom liner made my eyes look droopy, which made me look tired all the time. Plus, I didn't know what primer was. Heck, I didn't even know how to choose a long-wearing kohl pencil, so that stuff smudged all over my face throughout the school day. It was not cute.”
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Ashley Weatherford, Associate Beauty Editor, New York Magazine's The Cut

"You know what’s a really bad idea? Chemically relaxing your hair and then, a few months later, following up with a crappy dye job — from a box. But that’s where I found myself my sophomore year of college. You can guess what followed: Chunks of defeated strands snapped from my ends for months, and my hair felt as smooth as recycled wood. I did the best I could to give my hair even a modicum of reprieve. I deep-conditioned with coconut oil constantly. I splurged on Kérastase’s repair mask and slept in it once a week. I trimmed my ends like an obsessive nut every two months, and I stayed away from heat tools. These were the days before Olaplex, but if Olaplex were a thing then, you can trust I would have [slathered it on] by the pound.

"In the end, I learned that maybe relaxers weren’t such a great idea for the health of my hair, and that if I must color, I ought to leave that to the professionals."
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Julie Schott, Senior Beauty & Fitness Editor, Elle

"Every time I used to get eyelash extensions, I would vow to take care of them. But, three days later, they would end up a tangled, neglected mess and I eventually plucked them off with my fingers. It’s my biggest regret and secret shame! My natural lashes are pretty sparse now, so I’ve been using NeuLash, which disguises the thinning."
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Carly Cardellino, Senior Beauty Editor, Cosmopolitan.com

"I got a body wave in my hair a few years back, which is basically a nice way to say I got a perm. While I explained to the stylist that I wanted loose waves, after the service I basically looked like Shirley Temple. ‘Don't wash your hair,' the stylist reminded me before I headed back to my apartment, clearly holding back tears.

"When I got home, it dawned on me that the salon told me not to wash my hair because the curl would loosen or fall out. And that's when I heard the voice of Elle Woods in my head from that scene in Legally Blonde when she's trying to nail Chutney Windham for murder. 'Chutney, why is it that Tracy Marcinko's curls were ruined when she got hosed down?’ Elle asked. 'Because they got wet,' Chutney replied. 'Exactly, because isn't the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance that you're forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm at the risk of deactivating the ammonium thioglycolate?' Elle shot back. BINGO.

"Cut to me jumping in the shower, washing my hair with shampoo four times in a row. After the fourth time, I could tell that the curls seemed less tight and spiraled. Success. Moral of the story: Body waves aren't for me. However, if I do decide to do something else that drastically alters my hair, I need to take in a picture to show the stylist or colorist.”
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Maria Del Russo, Beauty Editor, Refinery29

“When I was in college and ombré was super-cool, I DIY'd my own color and it was horrible. My hair looked like I'd literally just dipped the bottom half in dye and let it cook for a while. I couldn't wait to cut it off — which, incidentally, led to one of the best haircuts of my life. Silver linings.”
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Megan McIntyre, Beauty Features Director, Refinery29

“I call my regret ‘the Ariel.’ I was seven when The Little Mermaid came out, and, like pretty much every other girl in my elementary school, I was obsessed with Ariel. This devotion kept up until the fourth grade — by which time I could, and still can, recite the French chef's 'Les Poissons' song in its entirety — and I began experimenting with my hair. Since I couldn't figure out how to get her red hair (pro tip: Gelatin powder does not make good hair dye), I decided instead to emulate her iconic, gravity-defying side-swept bangs. Having very fine, long hair, this meant taking a giant can of Aqua Net, using a comb to pull the front of my hair to the opposite side of my head, and spraying the bejeebus out of it with the sticky spray. I knew I was done when my hair was bonded together in crunchy, stiff clumps.

"You would think I’d have gotten over it by now, but my mother — who, like every proud mom, likes to display photos of her kids everywhere — has my school photo from fourth grade blown up, framed, and hanging prominently on the bookcase in our family room. And that, dear friends, is why I now refuse to use hairspray.”
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Kristie Dash, Digital Beauty Editor, Allure

“I regret very few things when it comes to beauty because, well, it’s my job to try weird stuff. But one thing I truly regret is that I tried really hard to be tan in high school. Around prom season, most of my friends hit the tanning-bed scene, and I got involved. It was bad on so many levels. It didn’t even look good because, genetically, I don’t tan. I burn. Plus, my dad had skin cancer (that was luckily detected early on), so I’m especially susceptible to it.

"Ever since I moved to New York City, however, I've embraced the fact that my skin is the palest shade of foundation for most brands. Defined eyes and a subtle swipe contour can do wonders for a pale girl.
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