Beauty Fix: A foolproof way to curl your hair, a better way to exfoliate and other reasons to switch up your beauty routine

We’ve all been there: Just when you think you’ve worked out the perfect beauty routine, something changes. It could be the season, it could be age, or it could just be time to try something new. But when you’re used to your tried-and-true favourites, how do you decide what makes another product worth the switch? This week, we have the answer to five questions that ask just that—from exfoliation troubles to curling iron frustrations, we’re here to help you make the switch.

Read on for all the answers! »

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Why-oh-why can’t I figure out how to curl my hair without forming a crimp at the ends?
A stylist friend of mine filled me in on a few tips that are pretty practical but overlooked if you’re in a rush. For starters, your hair should be completely dry before the iron touches it. If it’s even a little wet, the direct heat, when applied, will cause your cuticle to expand and puff up at the tips, making smoothness impossible. Secondly, after sectioning your hair into one-inch pieces, the iron should be clamped down very close to the scalp before rolling it gently towards the tips until they’re completely tucked in. Even if only a few ends escape the barrel clasp, they’ll form an obtuse angle and drive you nuts all day. You can either fix that mistake by wetting the section and starting again or prevent it altogether with the Rowenta Curl Active iron ($179, at salons), which has a minimal clasp, resizeable for your teeny tips—which guarantees you’re curling the ideal size of strand—and a barrel that rotates automatically with the touch of a button. Besides its awesomeness—it’s the lazy-lady’s iron—I found the automatic movement helpful in making sure every piece of hair was accounted for. Traditional irons can lose little bits as you open and close the clamp along the length of your hair. My final tip is to use a serum or thermal protector and set the iron at a moderate temperature, not the highest setting, to ensure you’re heat styling without harming to your hair.

I think it’s time for a new shampoo/conditioner routine for my fine hair—it’s been flat all winter but has starting showing signs of summer frizz. Help!
The way I see it is that the ideal hair care system is a trifecta phenomenon: shampoo and conditioner in first and second place, and then a styling product in third. Styling products could be compared to a makeup primer—they’re both not necessarily necessary, but there are benefits aplenty, and it’s well worth the extra effort to use them. For example, Dove Style+Care Frizz-Free Shine Cream Serum ($6, at drugstores) can be used on its own in wet or dry hair and has a unique cream-and-oil formula that alters in consistency depending on your needs. Its creamier side will calm frizzy hair when it’s hot and humid outside, or you can emulsify it between your hands into a serum-y paste to add shine and texture when your hair is flat and lifeless. And for added volume, it blends well with mousse or spray. Let’s say this: It’s as versatile as your hair is confused and offers a solution no matter the season.

I think my exfoliating scrub is making my sensitive skin irritated. Is there a better option?
You’ll still need to exfoliate in order to rid your skin of unhealthy cells and make room for new ones to grow, but you can definitely switch up your tool. While rigid exfoliants, like peach pits and almonds, are what most of us go for when we want that “deep clean” feeling, we should really be using something way softer on our skin to avoid rubbing our complexions raw. Put down the crushed nuts and sub in a complexion brush like Shiseido‘s Cleansing Massage Brush ($26, If its name didn’t give it away already, this tiny addition to your face-washing regime will work with your cleanser to scrub and slough in the gentlest of manners. The bristles feel soft like a kitten’s whiskers, save for five round rubber ones that are still gentle but dig a little deeper—they help work your cleanser into a lovely lather, too! Bonus: Washing your face with a complexion brush feels way more elegant anyway.

I’ve tried it, but have yet to succeed. Tinted moisturizer just looks too sheer on my skin!
I’ve gone through bouts of this same sad reality: There are times when tinted moisturizer can seem too sheer or just not at all effective. This malady seems especially prone to occurring after a bad breakout or on those nights when you’re aiming for a “flawless face” look. However, if you don’t want to graduate to a full-blown foundation, there’s a new player in town that may be just right. It’s called beauty balm, also known as B.B. cream, and it’s a lovely midpoint between the sheer coverage of tinted moisturizer and the full coverage of foundation. The consistency is only a little thicker than what you’re used to, and there’s an extra kick of coverage. The B.B. cream claim to fame is that they prime, protect, moisturize and perfect your skin in a single step. Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm SPF 15 ($42, takes it one step further by adding a luminous veil to its finish. And, hey, if you want even more coverage, your B.B. cream can easily be worn under foundation. Really, it’s a win-win.

Is it better to cut my cuticles when they’ve grown over or should I just push them back?
There are differing opinions on this subject: Some experts think you should never cut cuticles, others think it’s totally fine. Personally, I’m against cutting cuticles because, much like painting my own nails, I can’t get exact precision when the tool is in my non-dominant hand, and I risk removing healthy skin. I’d rather approach this step with a less-aggressive gel-based cuticle remover. Essie Disappearing Trick ($8, at Shoppers Drug Mart) uses oils and vitamin E to soften and loosen excess skin after thirty seconds or so. It’s important that your formula is gel-based because it’ll leave your nail dry and primed for painting after you rub it off, unlike most other oils and creams that will saturate your nail with moisture and leave it too slick for polish to stick.

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