Beauty flub #1
Applying too much perfume. Many women dab their necks, wrists, cleavage, and behind their ears and knees. And woe to anyone stuck in an elevator - or in the same time zone--with the olfactory aftermath. But the spray-the-air-and-then-walk-through-it method is just a waste of fragrance.
So how to get your scent application just right? French perfumer Frederic Malle, who recently created his own perfume line, Les Editions de Parfums, reveals the insider's approach: There's no need to stray far beyond your neck and chest. "These areas tend to be exposed even when you're dressed, so any scent you apply there will get noticed," says Malle. "The wrist thing is unnecessary; it's a holdover from the days when women routinely got their hands kissed." When applying perfume, hold the bottle at least ten inches away from you - far enough so the fragrance is dispersed over the target area, but not so far that the air benefits more than your skin does - and give yourself one or two spritzes. Should you accidentally overapply, swab the offending areas with a cotton ball doused with rubbing alcohol.
Beauty flub #2
Over-exfoliating. Just about any slougher, if used improperly, can go too far, taking skin past the smooth stage into raw and defenseless. "Exfoliants can strip away the protective barrier on your skin's surface," explains Ronald Moy, M.D., president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. And the results can include dryness, redness, and irritation.
To avoid overexfoliating, heed Moy's advice: "Because the ability to handle exfoliants varies according to age, body part, even climate, you should do trials to test your skin's tolerance." Start exfoliating every second or third day, and go easy on thin-skinned parts, like your neck and eye area (AHAs are safe to use around the eyes). If you do scrub too much, first try treating the area with a bland moisturizer or Vaseline, says Moy. If you don't experience relief within a couple of days, switch to an over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to calm inflammation and redness. In the unlikely event that you still don't see improvement within three to five days, consult a dermatologist for stronger soothers.
Beauty flub #3
Attempting at-home hair removal when you don't know jack about wax. Almost everyone's had a waxing mishap - a newly declared colony of ingrowns, an asymmetrical bikini line.
To sidestep "waxidents," follow these tips from Ann Marie Cilmi, senior manager of education for Bliss Spas: "For an even bikini line, use an old pair of panties as your stencil," says Cilmi. You'll want their front panel to be slightly skimpier than your bathing suit's, to guard against visible escapees. Next tuck in the "keepers" and remove the remainder in thin strips (the larger the strip, the more painful the yank). Always stay close to the skin when pulling, to prevent bruising. Also be aware that waxing leaves your follicles open - and easily accessible - to bacteria, which can lead to ingrowns when white blood cells flood the area to fight them. So use an antiseptic or an antibacterial soap to cleanse the area pre- and post-waxing. Should you get ingrowns regardless, slough with an AHA-based exfoliant, a gentle scrub, or an ingrown-specific product (like Tend Skin Lotion or Poetic Cosmetic's Ingrown Eliminator).
Beauty flub #4
Thinking you don't need a license to operate heavy-duty haircolor chemicals. One of the most common mistakes? "Rinsing highlights out too soon," says Don Brooks, colorist and "Mr. Fix-It" of home dye jobs at the Gavert Atelier in Beverly Hills.
"Hair usually goes through an orangey stage as pigment is being lifted. People think they're turning into pumpkin heads, freak, and rinse out the product before it's fully processed." If you fall into this trap, get a new box of the haircolor you used the first time, re-highlight the orangey sections, and wait ten to 15 minutes, says Brooks. Another common dye disaster isn't so easily fixed at home: straying too far from your current haircolor - going too dark or too light - and ending up a surprising shade of, say, violet. To prevent this sort of thing, stay within two levels of your current color, advises Brooks. (The darkest is level one; the lightest is level ten. Check the box to find out what level your color is.) If you still end up with the wrong hue, seek professional help.
Beauty flub #5
Heavy-handed makeup application. The number one makeup mistake? Too much base, says celebrity makeup artist Vincent Longo, whose clients include Mira Sorvino and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
"Foundation should go only where you have redness, blemishes, or an uneven skin tone," says Longo. The chin, undereye area, and around the nose are the usual suspects. For easier blending and subtler coverage, apply foundation with a damp sponge, says Longo, and start with a small amount of product. Another of Longo's hints: Apply concealer only after you've applied foundation. "You'll use less and get a better result - a cleaner - finished face that doesn't look overdone," he says. If you go too heavy on foundation and have no time to start from scratch, press your face into a cool, damp washcloth. Repeat as necessary to tone down cakey areas.
Beauty flub #6
Using enough gel, mousse, or hairspray to render hair solid and immobile. Many of us fall into this category, says New York salon owner Rodney Cutler, so ease up on the product.
There's no official limit to how many styling aids you can safely use, but one prep product (such as gel) and one finishing product (such as hairspray) should suffice. "Apply product underneath your hair first, then work in the remainder by going upward and out," says Cutler. Why? "Most of it will fall where you first place your hands," he explains. "So if you start underneath, even if you're using too much product, your shiny or sticky mistake won't show." If it does, try this: If the offending product is oil- or cream-based (pomade, styling cream, etc.), sprinkle a bit of talc or shampoo powder on your hands, then run them through your hair. If the culprit is sticky (volumizer, gel, hairspray), mist your hair with some water and blow-dry again. An even easier fix: Pull hair into a low ponytail or brush it out and tuck it behind your ears. Either way you'll look sleek and chic.
Here are a couple more looks to try: