9 Beauty Tricks You Should Be Doing Now

Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
There are some products you just know how to use, without having to decipher tiny directions on the bottle. Take shampoo, for example: You squirt out a handful of the sudsy stuff, lather throughout your hair, and rinse. Or foundation: You smear and blend a blob all over your face, right? Well, technically you'd be correct on both counts, but according to experts in the biz, you might not be getting your true money's worth with these slather-and-go techniques. In fact, every pro we spoke with said there are smarter ways to use even your most basic beauty products — without doing a ton of extra work.

To get the inside scoop, we tapped makeup artist Anna Webber, hairstylist Casey Geren, and aesthetician Kerry Benjamin for their tricks to turning everyday makeup, hair-care, and skin-care products into serious workhorses. From a genius mascara hack to the all-new SUPERSTART Skin Renewal Booster, a skin-care-regimen game changer, these nine tips will make your existing products work harder and more effectively, all while saving you time and effort.

Read on, because you won't find these how-tos on any product label.
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
Shampoo & Conditioner
We tend to go through shampoo and conditioner at lightning speed — using more product means cleaner, smoother hair, right? Not so fast. According to Geren, you need only a quarter-sized amount of shampoo and just a dime-sized amount of conditioner. Instead of adding lots of product, it's more about targeting the areas you apply it.

Concentrate shampoo solely on your oily roots, says Geren. The water will carry the cleansing agents through your strands, therefore washing the rest of your hair with no extra suds necessary. Conversely, conditioner should be applied from the middle of the shaft to your ends, where your hair is usually driest.

For an easy way to enforce this less-is-more rule, Geren says to decant your hair-care products into travel-sized bottles. You'll be able to see exactly how much you're using (and how quickly), while saving precious bathroom space.
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
Facial Cleanser
Normally we squeeze a glob of cleanser into our hands, lather up, and finish with a splash of water to rinse off the suds. That's a fine routine, but, according to Benjamin, there's a way more effective method.

Using your fingers as a cleansing tool isn't wrong, but Benjamin prefers a damp washcloth or facial towel. The texture helps remove dirt more effectively than your hands can; plus, it wipes away suds faster and more easily than forever splashing water on your face. Bonus: You won't wind up with puddles on your bathroom floor.

Another good rule of thumb: "If you’re using up your facial cleanser in a month, you’re probably using too much," Benjamin says. "A six-ounce cleanser should last you four, five months." Like shampoo, more isn't necessarily better.
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
Skin-Care Treatment
You've likely read at length about the benefits of serums — they infuse a large dose of active ingredients into your skin, and you can tailor them to your unique needs.

That said, sometimes those trusty elixirs alone just can't get the job done. If your skin doesn't seem to be cooperating, layer a boosting agent, like Elizabeth Arden's SUPERSTART Skin Renewal Booster, underneath your regular serum or moisturizer. It helps skin look healthier by fortifying its natural ability to repair and renew, all while amping up the benefits of the rest of your regimen to make it more effective. Think of it as the skin-care equivalent of an extra shot in your morning latte.
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
Sheet Masks
Cotton or paper masks are ubiquitous these days — they're cheap, they're effective, and they make for the perfect Insta pic. What makes them so amazing is that they're essentially drenched in different serums, and those active ingredients have nowhere to go but right into your skin.

While it's true that a mask does a good deal of work, there are things you can do pre-mask to better absorb its benefits. The first is to make your face a clean canvas by exfoliating, says Benjamin. This rids your skin of dead cells, making it more receptive to all those potent, good-for-you ingredients. A 10-minute steam beforehand can also work your mask to its max. It'll hydrate and soften your skin, so it becomes more receptive.
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
According to Webber, the first rule of foundation isn't even about the makeup itself — it's timing. "Make sure you allow 5 to 15 minutes for your skin-care products to soak in," she says. "If you apply foundation right [on top of] your skin-care products, it’s gonna slide right off."

To get the most out of your foundation, warm a dime-sized amount between your fingers so it spreads easily. Then use a combination of swiping and patting movements, starting from the center of your face and working outward. This directs the most product where skin tends to be uneven, like around the nose and under the eyes. Which leads us to...
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
Not everyone needs or wears concealer, but if you do, Webber recommends using it after you've applied some sort of base makeup. That initial layer of coverage helps you figure out if you actually need more, says Webber, which also means you're not wasting any product.

To get the most from your concealer when you do apply it, warm it up on the back of your dominant hand to make it less viscous, then use the ring finger on your non-dominant hand to gently pat it on in thin layers where you want it.

For rougher areas like a blemish, scab, or dry skin, Webber suggests using a small fluffy brush for application. The soft bristles will hit all the raised, uneven spots better than your fingertip can, so you won't end up over-applying.
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
Thick, voluminous lashes are the look du jour, but you don't need to glob on 10 layers of mascara to get the effect. Save your product (and your time), and heed Webber's advice: Apply mascara from the underside and topside of your lashes to give them a full, 360-degree coat. You'll get the same lush effect but with way less work.

For the inner and outer corners of your lashes, flip the wand vertically to grab every last lash. Just make sure to blot that little bit of mascara on the tip of your wand to keep things clump-free.
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
Dry Shampoo
Have you ever ended up with a white or gray cast to your hair after applying dry shampoo? That likely means you're either using too much or doing it incorrectly. And more often than not, it's a combination of the two. (Guilty as charged over here.)

To get the most out of your dry shampoo, back away from your roots. Geren suggests an initial mist six inches away from your head, aiming it along your hairline and crown, where your scalp tends to get oiliest. Let the starch work its magic and absorb for a few minutes, then use your fingertips to zhuzh it along your part and blend in any lingering product.

If you think your strands could use another spritz, lift random sections of hair and hit the underside, rather than the top layer again. This distributes the product evenly and avoids that ashy look.
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Illustrated by Isabel Castillo.
Texturizing Spray
When it comes to texturizing spray, on the other hand, you can (and should) go in close. To get that cool-girl, bedhead texture, mist a lightweight spray from the middle of your strands to the ends. Then, concentrate the product just at the very ends to achieve a piece-y, rumpled finish.

You can also double up and use your texturizer in place of a volumizing spray. Flip your head over to mist the underside of your roots, muss it up, and go.

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