As this industry is constantly changing—you, me, and the beauty trends—it's impossible to know everything there is to know. That's a given. But, over the years, I've grown, watched, and learned from readers, co-workers, and veteran experts to the stars. We've done research on everything from emotional eating, Korean beauty secrets, and the lipstick you should buy, based on your Myers-Briggs Personality Type. I even pretended to be Gigi Hadid for a day after I tried Bella's hard-to-handle diet. Beauty and all the elements that come with it is, and always will be, fascinating.
That being said, there are a few favorite lessons I've learned along the way. Keep reading to find out my best secrets.
1. It is essential to read the labels.
Get to know the ingredient lists for all your products. Marketing will boast a lot of exciting claims, but, without the ingredients to back them up, you're left with a hole in your pocket and skin or hair that hasn't improved. Say no to alcohol (but not cetyl or cetearyl alcohol) in skincare and sulfates in haircare. Check our list of nine beauty ingredients banned overseas (but legal in the U.S.), and six ingredients that should be in your skincare products for more details.
2. Your face starts at your nipples.
My former colleague had an esthetician tell her that once, and it's true. The skin on your chest and neck are just as thin and prone to sagging and wrinkles as the skin around your eyes. The problem is, barely anyone treats it as such. In the same way you care for your face, keep your skin below your chin in shape with anti-aging products and moisturizers for added hydration. I'm partial to Bioxidea Miracle 24 Breast Treatment ($59) and Bliss That's Incredi-Peel Glycolic Resurfacing Pads ($49) for my neck and chest.
3. Treatments don't have to hurt to yield results.
While some painful procedures really do work (micro-needling makes your skin look like a fresh flower, Skin Laundry treatments banish bacteria and tighten your skin, and the FasciaBlaster, $89, works absolute wonders on cellulite), there are others that are both effective and relaxing. Facial massage promotes lymphatic drainage, blood flow, and collagen production, and it feels divine. Drinking lemon water speeds up your metabolism without stepping foot inside a gym. Microcurrent facials, methodically administered by cult facialist Joanna Vargas, feels like a warm massage and visibly lift your skin. Read more about the at-home option.
4. You can slim and tone your body without working out.
Finding out this gem of a fact has been understandably life-changing. There are a ton of treatments (like the aforementioned FasciaBlaster) that will help keep your body tighter and smoother than ever before—and a few tricks to burn major calories no matter what you're doing.
5. Over-processed hair is a real thing.
I learned this the hard way. While my hair has always been curly, dry, and a little bit fried, this year, I went very overboard with highlights and a ton of hair broke off in the process. First, read what I did to fix it and then make sure to follow all those expert haircare tips before and after every appointment.
6. Waking up prettier overnight is possible.
All thanks to a few lovely ingredients called retinol, vitamin c, and glycolic acid. Your skin will look supple, brighter, tighter, and just better by morning. However, you do have to be careful with active ingredients—read about the skin ingredient combinations you should never put on your face.
7. What you put into your body really does make a difference in your overall happiness.
I'm the first person to admit I love eating comfort foods (and hate the feeling of restricting myself). However, if I've learned anything while writing about health and wellness, it's that healthy, clean foods don't only help you lose weight—they also make you happier. They make you feel better every single day. It's a bummer because cheeseburgers are so delicious. So, I learned another cliché to be true—moderation. Enjoy the things you love but take care of your body, too. Try these health supplements that work better together for nutrients that are necessary for your body.
8. The beauty industry is not vapid. Not even close.
I remember when I was freelancing, I was assigned a story that covered cancer survivors and how they regained confidence and felt sexy in their skin post-treatment. We took them all out to get their hair and makeup done, and I interviewed them while they sat in the chair. Watching each one of these women leave the salon—hair bouncing, smiles from ear to ear—I realized the very real impact beauty has on a woman. It's not always about this season's lipstick or learning to cover your flaws, but rather feeling good in your own skin and connecting with other women who have felt the very same way. That was a huge turning point for me. I love that our writing can actually help people, and since then, I've been trying to be as "real" as possible in my stories—whether it's about my hair (I wore extensions for nine years), skin (I developed stretch marks), or experiences with body image (I was a competitive gymnast at age 10, and now I'm dealing with the consequences). It's cathartic and readers seem to respond to it.
Do you have any beauty secrets of your own? Let us know in the comments below!