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Bust Out of Your Beauty Rut

See how a few simple changeups helped four readers rehab their routines and get prettier results.

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Jack Miskell
Jack Miskell
Elchim 2001 hair dryer
Jack Miskell
Jack Miskell
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Get a More Professional Look

"My minimalist makeup look needs to be more working-girl."
-- Chigozie Amara Ozor, 26

Pretty Plan: Chigozie went to her hometown Sephora, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to chat with lead makeup artist Sarah Walton.

Lesson 1: Embrace Base
Consumed with grad school and sports, Chigozie reserved foundation for special occasions. "I'm too busy to reapply after sweating it off," she explains. Walton started with Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light ($36, sephora.com), which "grips foundation like Velcro," then used a brush to apply Make Up Forever High Definition Foundation in #177 ($40, sephora.com), evening out Chigozie's skin. "Fingers can deposit oils, causing base to slide off," says Walton.

Lesson 2: Walk the (Straight) Line
"I don't wear eyeliner often," says Chigozie. Using budge-proof Sephora Keep Kohl! Waterproof Liner in Black ($8, sephora.com), Walton made small hash marks close to Chigozie's upper lashes, then smudged the line smooth. A thin layer of cream shadow, such as Laura Mercier Metallic Creme Eye Colour in Alloy ($22, sephora.com), brightened her eye area.

Lesson 3: Get Your Shine On
Chigozie has always gravitated toward matte blush and lip colors. However, "a little shimmer will highlight her beautiful bone structure and lips," Walton says. On cheeks, she applied Korres Blush in Peach ($22, sephora.com), which gives a soft glow without looking greasy. Hourglass Extreme Sheen High Shine Lip Gloss in Verse ($28, sephora.com) lets lips sparkle, plus it moisturizes like a balm.

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Repair Sun Damage

"I've had my fun in the sun, but I'm worried about wrinkles."
-- Erica Miller, 27

Pretty Plan: Erica visited Kenneth Mark, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University, for skin advice.

Lesson 1: Use SPF, Every Day
Erica's light hair and eyes make her prone to skin cancer -- and sun damage, says Dr. Mark. In addition to recommending sunglasses, he advised her to start each morning with Z-Silc Sunblock SPF 30 ($30.80, beautybridge.com), a zinc-based blocker that helps preserve collagen. He also suggested swapping her plain-Jane lotion for one rich in wrinkle-preventing antioxidants, like Ren Vita-Mineral Radiant Day Cream ($45, renskincare.com).

Lesson 2: Customize Your Skincare
Erica and her boyfriend share an exfoliating face wash that's too harsh for Erica's sensitive skin. "Inflammation can spur lines and wrinkles," says Dr. Mark. The fix: a moisture-packed cleanser that doubles as a makeup remover, such as Neutrogena Ageless Essentials Continuous Hydration Cream Cleanser ($7.99, drugstores). Hydroxy acids, like those in MD Skincare Alpha Beta Peel ($78, mdskincare.com), an affordable alternative to a $300 professional peel, are a gentler way to slough at night.

Lesson 3: Shelve the Gels
To ward off squint lines, Erica uses eye gel, which is less moisturizing than a cream. "Dryness contributes to crow's-feet," says Dr. Mark. Multitaskers with peptides like KMMD Tighten & Lighten Eye Cream ($64, call 888-999-5293 for info) smooth lines, de-puff, and lighten dark undereye circles.

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Get Low-Maintenance Hair

"My hairstyling collection is pricey. With a new baby, I need to save money and time."
-- Jennifer Horovitz, 37

Pretty Plan: Jennifer met with Charles Baker Strahan, an Herbal Essences stylist in New York City, to cut some corners.

Lesson 1: Read Labels
"Pricey salon products smooth my hair while leaving it bouncy," Jennifer says. Less expensive options can do the same thing if they contain silicones (ingredients ending in -cone), Strahan says. Two that do: Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Finishing Touch Cream ($5.49, drugstores) and Dove Curl & Sculpt Defining Mousse ($2.98, drugstores). Mix equal dollops of each, apply to damp hair, and use a round brush to blow-dry.

Lesson 2: Update Your Tools
Jennifer's hair dryer, too weak for her long hair, increased her drying time. "She needs 1,700 watts or higher," says Strahan, who recommended the Elchim 2001 ($98, blissworld.com). In addition, her curling iron didn't get hot enough to bend her coarse-textured hair. The one-inch barrel of Hot Tools Gold Curling Iron ($35.99, ulta.com), ideal for loose waves, curls in three seconds flat.

Lesson 3: Style While You Sleep
When crunched for time, Jennifer should wash her hair at night, infusing strands with a hydrating product like Sexy Hair Curly Moisturizing Conditioner ($13.95, sexyhair.com for locations), which will help nix frizz. Strahan suggested creating two low braids and sleeping on them after air-drying for 15 minutes. "Unravel in the morning for natural waves and body."

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Care for Sensitive Skin and Breakouts

"Help! I have scaly arms and legs but get breakouts on my back."
-- Katie Chiki, 26

Pretty Plan: To get her finicky skin back on track, Katie visited Nancy Silverberg, MD, a dermatologist in Newport Beach, California.

Lesson 1: Stop Being Sensitive
Katie lathered up with body wash made for sensitive skin -- great for her chronically dry arms and legs, but not strong enough to zap her bacne. A gentle bar soap, like Purpose Gentle Cleansing Bar ($2.45, drugstores), removes sebum without drying out the rest of the body, says Dr. Silverberg. After showering, Katie should use a salicylic acid spray, such as Rodan + Fields Unblemish Salicylic Acid Body Spray ($35, rodanandfields.com), on her back to further reduce breakouts.

Lesson 2: Choose Creams, Not Lotions
To ease the itch of dry skin before bed, Katie used a lotion with menthol, which can irritate. Instead, she should try a gentle cream, such as Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Cream ($9.99, drugstores). "Creams contain ingredients like petrolatum, which lock in moisture, stopping the itch," Dr. Silverberg explains. A 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, like Cortaid ($9.99, drugstores), will control her patches of more severe eczema.

Lesson 3: Go OTC
For years, Katie has applied a prescription exfoliating lotion made with lactic acid after her morning shower to dissolve the buildup of dry skin. She liked the results but not the hefty price tag; it can run more than $100 a bottle. Dr. Silverberg suggested AmLactin XL Moisturizing Lotion ($29.99, drugstores). "It has similar active ingredients and will produce just as effective results."

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2009.

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FITNESS Magazine July/August 2009
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