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Use these derm-approved tricks to solve these common skin, hair, and nails bummers.

September 04, 2015

In a perfect world, you'd never wake up too late to wash your hair, and you'd be able to pack your whole bathroom seamlessly every time you go on a trip. But, alas, in the real world, alarm clocks fail and there's that whole "size restriction"-thing airlines insist upon. No worries.

Learn these derm-approved hacks now so the next time you're in a beauty pinch, you'll know exactly what to do.

Aspirin for acne

Zits are the pits, especially if you don't have your regular arsenal of pimple treatments on-hand. The nonexistent sleep you get on red-eye flights (and general stress), for example, causes a surge in blood cortisol levels, which makes us more prone to blemishes. There aren't photo filters in real life, but there is aspirin (thank goodness) to help get rid of that untimely whitehead.

Aspirin is made of something chemically similar to salicylic acid, a common over-the-counter acne remedy. If you feel a breakout burgeoning, crush one aspirin, add a bit of water, and put it on the pimple for 15 minutes. "This paste makes an uber anti-inflammatory for on-the-go zit zapping," says Annie Chiu, MD, an attending dermatologist at Cedar's Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It also takes down the swelling and redness, just as it would if you popped one for say, sore joints.

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Eye drops for dark under-eye circles or bags

Too much partying, savory eats, and a lack of sleep equals a one way ticket to #bagsville. A nice afternoon snooze and loads of H20 may be helpful, but if those two aren't in the cards, grab some Visine ($7, amazon.com). The culprit, again, is cortisol, which leads to water retention and blood vessel dilation, most obvious on our thinnest skin, the eyelids. Visine constricts those vessels, Dr. Chiu says. This lightens the circles and squeezes fluid away from the eye. Douse a cotton ball and swipe it gently over the area starting at the center and moving outward. The swipe also helps to encourage de-puffing.

Teeth whitening strips for minor cuts and scrapes

Nick your leg while shaving? Do not fear, teeth whitening strips are here. Okay, it sounds weird, but they work in a pinch. The strips are made of peroxide, which is much better than water at cleaning out bacteria. (Using peroxide repetitively to dress a wound can be damaging to the skin, but once is just fine.) Simply place the strip, and some manual pressure, on the area for five minutes, then remove and cover with a band-aid, suggests Rebecca Tung, MD, a dermatologist at Loyola University in Chicago. That short amount of time is usually enough to stop bleeding and ensure cleaning.

Super Glue for a split nail

When daily life leads to a nick in that perfect nail art, reach for the glue: "It acts like a liquid band-aid, and a temporary fix for nails tears," Dr. Chiu says. Put a tiny (size of a pinhead) dab on the affected area, and hold for 15 seconds while it bonds. You will be pleasantly surprised with what you can salvage.

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Fabric softener sheet for frizzy, greasy, or even stinky hair

These are an all-around fixer: whether you're traveling (and you've picked up the ever-so-sultry eau de airline), dealing with major humidity, or you don't have time to wash, it can help. Reach for a nicely scented dryer sheet, and rub it gently along your hair to tame your mane. The smell rubs off, plus its smooths frizziness, thanks to the sheet's static.

Chapstick for hang nails

Stress can lead to nervous tics, such as picking cuticles or hangnails. If your hands are looking a little beat up, rub on some Chapstick to lubricate the area, Dr. Tung says. This helps to soothe and protect from further damage. Note: Just toss the tube and don't reuse on your lips.

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Mona Gohara, MD, is an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.

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