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Your Biggest Beauty Secrets, Spilled

FITNESS asked 1,006 women for their top beauty secrets and questions. Want to know the secret to wearing makeup at the gym without breaking out? Find the answer, plus loads of other ways to look your best.

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The Truth About Tanning, Sunscreen, and Skin Cancer

You got that right!
Seventy-eight percent say sunscreen is the one product they'd want if stuck on a desert island.

Now work on this...
64 percent have never seen a dermatologist for a skin exam.

Why you should get a skin exam:
One in five people will get skin cancer, the most common cancer in the U.S. But it's so preventable (wearing SPF is the most important step) and so treatable if caught early -- that's where the derm comes in. Once a year, see one for a pro skin check. It takes five minutes, is usually covered by insurance, and helps ensure that you stay healthy all over.

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Fake, Don't Bake

Thirty-nine percent say they feel comfortable without makeup only when they have a tan.

Repeat after us:
A tan is the ultimate sign of skin damage. The more you sun yourself, the sooner you'll see wrinkles and brown spots. If you want a little color, take 30 seconds to fake it with bronzer. For the most natural look, apply where the sun normally hits your face -- your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin -- says Emily Kate Warren, a makeup artist in New York City.

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No More Bad Hair Days

Forty-one percent of women say a bad hair day lowered their self-confidence one to three times in the last month. Look and feel your best, no matter what the state of your strands, with these fast fixes.

For Short Hair
Heat can work wonders on dry hair, Wright says. Blow unruly areas and pull them into position with fingers or a round brush. When all else fails, secure strands with a headband. "Place two thin ones side by side for a modern look," says Theodore Leaf, a celebrity stylist in L.A.

For Long Hair
If frizz is your mane issue, open a vitamin E capsule and rub the oil onto strands to smooth flyaways, Wright says. (Hand cream works too.) Or style hair in a loose bun: Make a ponytail at the base of the crown and pull hair only halfway through the elastic, letting ends stick out.

Choosing Hair Over Health
Fifteen percent of women have skipped a workout because they just had their hair done. If you can't hit the gym pre-salon, toss a sweatband in your bag. Place it at your hairline to prevent frizz and keep hair off your face. "It won't cause creases like a headband," says stylist Johnny Wright of Frederic Fekkai Salon in Los Angeles. If you prefer a ponytail, secure yours low on the head with a snag-proof holder such as Goody Ouchless Hair Elastics, $2.99, drugstores. "They have a looser grip than regular bands, so they won't ruin your style," Wright says.

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Skip the Shampoo

Top stylists advise skipping a shampoo whenever possible. This prevents strands from drying out and buys you time between color appointments (washing hair can fade its hue). Most of you are listening: Fifty-six percent go three or four days without lathering up. For the other 44 percent, we offer this excuse-proof advice.

You say: "I feel dirty when I don't take a shower."
We say: It's possible to come clean without getting your hair wet. Before stepping into the bath, pull strands into a ponytail, secured at the crown of your head. Hold back bangs and wispy hairs around your face with a headband (the terry-cloth Tassi, $14.99, tassicompany.com, wraps around the hairline, keeping water out), and wear a shower cap.

You say: "Skipping a wash makes my roots too oily."
We say: That's what dry shampoo is for! Aerosol versions (such as Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo, $24, sephora.com) absorb oil minus the mess powder can make, stylist Johnny Wright says. To apply: Hold the can 6 inches from hair and spray small sections from ear to ear. Fluff hair with fingers to remove residue, and go.

You say: "My fine hair falls flat if I don't wash it daily."
We say: Part it on the opposite side to add instant volume. Your usual part is naturally flatter because hair is trained to fall into the same position every day, Wright says. Option two: Wear hair in a ponytail (it looks chicest secured high on the crown or low at the nape). "No one can tell if hair is full or flat when it's pulled back," Wright explains.

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Secrets to Smooth, Clear Skin

Thirty percent of women work out wearing base, lipstick, mascara -- the works!

The secret to breaking a sweat without breaking out: Be sure your makeup is labeled "noncomedogenic" -- code for non-pore-clogging -- says Brian Adams, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Cincinnati. (Surprisingly, "oil-free" products can still contain pimple-causing ingredients.) Makeup made of minerals, such as Maybelline New York Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Foundation, $9.99, drugstores, typically fills the bill.

News Flash!
Sixty-five percent of women would rather be 30 pounds overweight and wrinkle-free than thin with crinkly skin.

Keep Skin Smooth
Try: Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Pro Deep Wrinkle Roller, $16.99, drugstores.

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Declutter Your Makeup Bag

Can't zip up your makeup bag? Maybe that's because one women in four stuffs hers with 10 or more products. There's no need to lug around a too-packed pouch. Pare down with these two-in-one whizzes.

Instead of foundation and concealer...
Stock up on Cargo OneBase, $24, sephora.com. This moisturizing cream, rich in avocado oil and vitamin E, blends to a sheer finish to even your tone and camouflages imperfections like a cover-up.

Instead of mascara and a lash comb (for definition)...
Stock up on Rimmel London Glam'Eyes, $7.25, drugstores. The brush is made of staggered short and long bristles. The short ones thicken roots with mascara; the long ones separate lashes.

Instead of eyeliner and shadow...
Stock up on Black Radiance Mineral Shimmers Shadow & Liner, $4.99, drugstores. The sponge-tip applicator deposits color along the lash line (use wet for more drama) as well as all over lids.

Instead of blush and lipstick...
Stock up on Pop Apples of the Cheeks, $18, sephora.com. Apply this no-mess gel to cheeks to add a rosy glow, then to lips for a natural, just-bitten effect. Bonus: The reddish pink shade is universally flattering.

Instead of brow pencil and gel...
Stock up on Laura Geller Brow Tint and Tamer, $21, sephora.com. The dual-ended stick fills in sparse spots with a colored formula and sets hairs in place with a clear gel.

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Your Guide to Buying Makeup

More than 66 percent of women nab the majority of their beauty supplies at discount venues and drugstores.

With thousands of options, budget-friendly retailers are ideal for scoring bargain finds for hair and skin. But makeup, particularly foundation, can be a guessing game when there are no try-before-you-buy opportunities. Three strategic ways to shop:

  • Target has an exclusive selection of makeup brands, including Pixi, Napoleon Perdis, and Jemma Kidd, complete with sample testers.
  • CVS, Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, and Ulta offer no-questions-asked, money-back guarantees, even on opened makeup. (Bought the wrong shade of base? No problem -- you can still return it.)
  • Beauty 360 outlets are opening across the U.S. this year. Attached to select CVS stores, they offer 30-plus lines of skincare, makeup, and fragrance with testers, plus consultants to help you sort through it all (beauty360.com for locations).

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Your Guy and Your Beauty Products

When it comes to sharing beauty products with their guy, 44 percent of women offer him only the basics -- shampoo, conditioner, body wash.

But get this: Nine percent give him the full treatment -- moisturizer, bronzer, and concealer!

Guy buy: Axe Hair shampoos, $4.99, drugstores, come in five formulas to keep his strands (and your supply of suds) in check.

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Get the Spa Treatment at Home

If they could have a free beauty treatment anytime they wanted, 41 percent of women would choose a massage over a hair coloring, a facial, a mani-pedi, or a blow-out. While we can't provide you with a complimentary rubdown seven days a week (sorry), we can give you these DIY de-kinking techniques.

For Your Back
Place a tennis ball between a wall and your upper back, and push sore areas against it. Bend legs a few inches, then straighten them, to distribute pressure along muscles. (Steer clear of your spine.) For lower back, lie on the floor, knees bent. Place your fists, knuckles up, under tense areas, and rock knees back and forth.

For Your Shoulders
Tension between your blades often results from poor posture, says Margo Hanson, massage director at Topnotch Resort and Spa in Stowe, Vermont. Lean against the corner of two walls and push shoulder muscles (not your spine, which can cause injury) against it for 20 seconds. Next, rub the fleshy areas of one shoulder with the index, middle, and ring fingers (they exert the most pressure) of your other hand; finish by switching sides.

For Your Arms
We carry a lot of tension in our forearms (blame your texting habit), Hanson says. To relax, place your forearm flat on a desk, with your palm down. Gently knead tense, fleshy areas using your opposite elbow. Switch sides and repeat.

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Bikini Waxing Secrets

Um, thanks for sharing...

Ninety-one percent of women say they would never dye their hair "down there."
(The others have some explaining to do!)

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2009.

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