Beauty Tips From Bobbi Brown
Bobbi's beauty secrets
Want whiter teeth? How about a longer-lasting manicure? Celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown answers your questions and shares her secrets for looking fresh and beautiful in any situation.
How do you keep your teeth so white?
— Min Polley, Sherman Oaks, CA
Bobbi: A bright smile can really make you look young. I had my teeth whitened professionally years ago. But these days, it's my regular habits that help. I go to the dentist every six months, brush with my fave Tom's toothpaste, and rinse after drinking anything colorful, like coffee or red wine. I also carry those tin floss picks everywhere. Another good portable idea: disposable toothbrushes. A little makeup helps, too—a blue-based pink (think berry or fushia) lipstick adds instant sparkle.
What's the best way to pluck your eyebrows?
— Lynda Farrington, Wellington, FL
Bobbi: Some brow experts say never to pluck above your brows, but I say you have to tweeze strays wherever the pop up. You don't want to take too much off the top though, because that changes the brow's natural shape. To avoid overdoing it, go back and forth between the left and right eye. Keep in mind, as you get older, brows don't grow back as thick, so pluck conservatively. In my 20s, I was an early Brooke Shields with my full brows, but I would tweeze them skinny—now I miss that strong brow. The upside is there's less upkeep!
What's the best way to prevent eye puffiness in the morning?
— Hannah Weller, New York City
Bobbi: Avoid eating anything too salty before you go to sleep. My weakness? Edamame! If you're going to indulge, drink a lot of water before you go to bed (and sleep with your head elevated). In the morning, use a gel eye mask or make your own by filling a Ziploc bag with ice and resting it on your eyes for five minutes. Finally, massage in an eye cream that contains de-puffing caffeine to reduce any swelling.
My nails look yellow without polish. How do I lighten them?
— Christina Paonessa, Philadelphia, PA
Bobbi: It’s smart to take a break from polish, especially darker shades: Keeping nails covered for long periods of time can cause discoloring. When yellowing becomes a problem, I whiten my nails with a solution of 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide combined with 2 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda. Apply the paste-like mixture onto each nail with a cotton swab, and let it sit for five minutes before rinsing. Then buff your nails to get rid of any remaining discoloration.
How do you get ready when you're in a rush?
— Heather Epstein, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Bobbi: When I’m really in a hurry, I throw on a pair of sunglasses and grab a cream blush that works on both cheeks and lips. I also swear by my favorite hair accessory—a thin brown elastic headband. I can wear it to the gym, to the office, even to a black-tie affair. The headband should match your hair color so it works with every outfit. Finally, in the shower, I apply a rich conditioner to my hair and my legs (it doubles as a shaving cream).
Great deal: Goody Colour Collection Headwrap in Blonde and Brunette ($5 for three; Target)
I can't stand my coworker's perfume. What should I do?
— Stephanie Hoitt, Boston, Mass.
Bobbi: A touchy, touchy subject. Pull her aside and politely ask her to not wear her scent to work because it gives you a bad headache (or triggers your allergies). Strong fragrances can be offensive, so I like single-note scents (such as vanilla) that have a subtle smell and don’t invade anyone else’s space.
Soft scents: Lavanila Healthy Fragrance in Pure Vanilla($39; sephora.com); Clean Cotton T-Shirt Eau de Parfum ($38; ulta.com)
What's the best way to use an eyelash curler?
— Joanne Ferrara, Mantua, N.J.
Bobbi: Place the curler as close to your lid as possible without pinching the skin. Look into a mirror, and lift your lid a bit; press gently for 10 seconds. Don’t have a curler? Apply mascara and, while lashes are still wet, curl them with your index finger. It really works!
Sally Hansen Flirty Eyes Classic Eyelash Curler ($5; drugstores)
What's the best way to sharpen an eyebrow pencil?
— Nicole Kruse, New York City
Bobbi: The problem could be that your sharpener is the wrong size, so make sure you keep the one that comes with the pencil. If yours didn't have a sharpener, buy one that fits from an art-supply store (they tend to have better blades). Also, clean the blades frequently. The easiest way is to use a cotton swab with most of the tip removed, so it's small enough to get in there and clean out debris. Never use water—that could make your sharpener blade rust.
What's the easiest way to freshen your makeup in the afternoon?
— Mindy Marranca, Buffalo, N.Y.
Bobbi: Most of us think lipstick is the answer, but you’ll get more of a beauty boost with concealer. Just smooth a creamy concealer (like Clarins Instant-Light Brush-On Perfector ($32; clarins.com)directly beneath your eyes. (If your skin is dry, smooth on a little eye cream before applying.)
Does my outfit affect how my makeup looks?
— Ruby Chapman, Bensalem, Penn.
Bobbi: Absolutely! Don’t try to match your makeup to your clothes, just find a “nude” (not naked, just natural) look that works when you’re wearing basic black. When you have on bright colors, a soft blush (like NP Set Baked Powder Blush ($20; target.com) that mimics the natural color of your cheeks is best. On days you wear pastels or white, apply a brighter blush so you don’t look washed out.
My face is puffy and bloated. Can makeup help?
— Beth Scarnati, Los Angeles
Bobbi: When this happens to me, I make a green juice with cucumber and parsley in my juicer. Putting good stuff in my body makes me feel better all over, and the water in the juice seems to flush away bloat. Also, skip shimmery makeup and light colors, which can make your face look even puffier.
How can I stop biting my nails?
—Kristen Cappello, New York City
Bobbi: Trim and buff your nails to a short length so youâ€™re not tempted. Then apply a bad-tasting top coat ($10, Amazon.com). To break the habit, find something else to do when youâ€™re nervous. Breathing exercises help me, but if you need something to do with your hands, get a strand of worry beads that you can fiddle with.
How can I leave the gym looking fresh?
— Lisa Welsh, Ramsey, N.J.
Bobbi: Don’t apply moisturizer or foundation at the gym—your body needs to cool down before you use any type of lotion, or your makeup won’t last. Just wash your face, dry it, then dot concealer under your eyes and apply mascara and a lip gloss. You’ll have a nice glow from working out, so skip blush. Before you leave the locker room, dab away any sweat or oil with blotting papers ($10, sephora.com).
What's the best way to look good fast?
— Kerrie Slattery, Atlantic Beach, Fla.
Bobbi: My trick is pretty simple: a great pair of sparkly earrings ($45; jcrew.com). Seriously! Just pull your hair back, throw on a pair—I love anything from J.Crew—and your whole face lights up. You can also do lip gloss and blush, but you won't need lots of makeup once the earrings are on.
My makeup bag is a mess. How do you organize yours?
— Laura Foust, Charlotte, N.C.
Bobbi: Inside my zippered nylon bag I carry a mini brush set and a personalized palette that I make by scooping a little bit of myregular cream products (concealer, blush, lipstick, etc.) into a refillable compact ($18; beauty.com). For everything else, I try to stock up on those deluxe samples they give out at beauty counters.
How can I make my manicure last longer?
— Emily Berry, Scottsboro, Ala.
Bobbi: First, keep your nails short so they're less likely to knock into anything. Second, use a good-quality polish. (I've never had a problem with Essie polishes.) My manicurist, Roza Israel, also suggests reapplying a top coat every night before bed to make the polish last longer and keep it looking shiny, too.Try Essie Super Duper Top Coat ($8; ulta.com)
What's the best way to remove coffee stains from teeth?
— Alanna Smallwood, Linwood, N.J.
Bobbi: Between pro bleaching treatments, I swear by whitening toothpastes made with gentle abrasives—I like the ones with little grains in them. And once a week, I rub on Supersmile’s bleaching gel (it comes in little swabs). I’ll also wear a pink lipstick with blue undertones when my teeth need brightening.
I have one great eyebrow and one unruly one. Help!
— Marissa Brockmann, Charleston, S.C.
You're not alone. Every woman has differences in the shape of her brows; I've never seen a perfectly symmetrical pair. The key is to work with the one that's more troublesome—whether it's thinner or shorter—to help it match the stronger brow. I use a slanted brush dipped in powder shadow to fill in, but a pencil also works. A touch of hairspray keeps brows in place (just spritz on your finger, then apply). You might want to visit a pro for a shaping, then maintain at home by plucking strays.
My legs are on display this time of year. How can I get them to look great?
— Elyse Cordova, New York City
People forget that exfoliating and moisturizing really make a difference in how silky legs appear. You could try self-tanner, but I've seen more bad applications than good. To get it right, moisturize legs a day or two in advance to prevent streaks. And start with a thin amount (no globbing it on!). A less risky strategy is to use a bronzing oil or gel. It provides an instant tan, and if you don't like the result, it washes right off.
How do I get rid of dark eyelids?
— Lynn Greenfield, Bethesda, MD
Bobbi: If you have dark lids, I'm willing to bet you see darkness under your eyes, too. The first thing you should do is lighten that up with a creamy concealer below your eyes and at the inner corners. Don't extend it up to the lid though, because concealers have oil and make shadow more likely to crease.
Instead, use a light bone-colored powder shadow or one with a bit of shimmer all over the lid. Another idea: My PR director has dark kids and she puts a dab of nonsticky, clear lip gloss on them. It brings a really nice sheen to her eye area!
How can I make my pedicure last longer?
— Anne Ludlow, Laguna Niguel, CA
Bobbi: I rely on a few tricks that help a lot. First, apply an oil to your feet before bed—anything from coconut oil to plain old olive oil is great for adding moisture and nourishing cuticles (top with socks). Then, once or twice a week, throw on a clear top coat to strengthen your nails and add shine. If your polish has already dulled or you spot a chip, just a single coat of a totally new color (it should be darker than the original) to make your nails instantly deeper or brighter. Voila—good as new!
How do I moisturize in the summer without feeling sticky?
— Shani Fisher, Los Angeles
It's best to switch to a lighter moisturizer, but few women think to make this change. Some just skip lotion completely, figuring it'll bring on grease. In fact, skin might actually need more hydration in summer (the sun and air-conditioning can be drying); it's about finding the right formula for the season.
I recommend an oil-free one, so it absorbs quickly. The result: You avoid putting makeup on a slippery surface and products set faster. To avoid a meltdown, it's still a good idea to do your face about 15 minutes before you head out the door.
Try: B.Kamins Matte moisturizer SPF 15, $50; bkamins.com.
I have thin lips. Can I still wear bold lip colors?
— Nicole McGovern, Levittown, N.Y.
Of course you can—especially the latest eye-popping-but-sheer lipsticks and glosses. They're the best of both worlds, providing a hit of color without making your lips look thinner, as a matte would. I love a hot pink or fun coral.
My trick is to swipe it on, then use a matching liner to fill in gaps and add definition. Just don't make the mistake of applying it outside lip edges in hopes of making your pout seem plumper. Honestly, it'll look fake. Your lips are what they are—go with them! And keep the rest of your face neutral; you never want two features to compete.
Try: Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede lipstick in Muse, $10; at mass retailers. BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie lip gloss in Hot Shot, $18; bareminerals.com.
My mascara always goes on clumpy. What am I doing wrong?
— Dennea Alcantara, Belleville, N.J.
Women who typically complain about this are the ones who wear thickening mascaras, like I do. You could try a lengthening formula, which tends to clump less. Thing is, I find that fuller, lusher lashes define my eyes better than longer ones do. My strategy is to keep the wand super clean, since product buildup can lead to blobs.
Try: Clump fighter: Twist the wand of Flower Zoom-In Ultimate mascara ($8; at Walmart) to curl, lengthen and separate.
What's a luminizer, and how do I use one?
— Hannah Blackwell, San Francisco
Luminizers bring light to an area of your face, typically cheeks and brow bones. Celebrities and models are loving the look; while dark and smoky used to be big, now it's all about brightness. Apply powder blush, then dust powder luminizer on the tops of cheekbones—the most beautiful part of the face.
My friend Katie Holmes (and the new face of Bobbi Brown) uses my Shimmer Brick in Rose all over and nothing else. Experiment with what works for you! Just avoid mixing liquid luminizer in with your foundation: You don't want to shine all over, especially in summer.
Try: Too Faced Sweetheart Beads Radiant Glow face powder, $32; sephora.com. Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Illuminating Powder Gelée in Heat Wave, $40; esteelauder.com.
Got any tricks for getting out the door faster in the morning?
— Christine Fanning, Fair Lawn, N.J.
It's all about using products that can each do a few things—you'll cut back on steps and save time just on opening and closing stuff. A good three-minute routine: Start with a tinted moisturizer with SPF for coverage and protection. Next, turn eye shadow (brown is my color of choice) into liner by applying it with an angled brush along your upper lash line, then smudge a bit onto lids before adding mascara. I use my Pot Rouge on cheeks and lips—easy and pretty. Quickest of all: Make like a makeup artist and fill an empty palette (find them at our counters or beauty supply stores) with your favorite eye, cheek and lip shades—it's a gift I love to give to new moms. Simply dot on with your finger and you’re done.
Try: Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge forCheeks and Lips in Raspberry,$25; bobbibrowncosmetics.com.
How can I use makeup to look a bit more lifted?
— Carolyn Jurasko, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Master my makeup face-lift! Applying blush high on the cheekbones draws the eye upward. So does brushing pearly white shadow under brow bones and shadow that matches your hair onto brows (make upward strokes to emphasize the arch). At times I also press a little moisturizer onto my cheeks andtemples—it acts like a highlighter. And never underestimate the beautifying effects of vitamins, lots of water, healthy food and sleep.
Try: MAC Cosmetics eye shadow in Embark, $15; maccosmetics.com. Maybelline New York Eye Studio Color Tattoo Metal 24HR Cream-Gel shadowin Barely Branded,$7; maybelline.com.
All of a sudden, my skin's oily. What's going on?
— Samer Dilbeck, Marietta, Ga.
The usual culprits: You've switched to a product that's too heavy for your skin, or your hormones are acting up (common for women over 40). If you're using a cream moisturizer, try a lotion or serum labeled "oil-free." Since creamy washes can leave a film, pick a gel-based one. For extra grease control, try an oil-free foundation topped with a dusting of powder. My last resort is carrying around mattifying papers.
Try: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing lotion+, $26; clinique.com. Naturopathica Aloe Cleansing gel, $28; naturopathica.com. Ted Gibson Individual Color conditioner in Brazen Brown, $25; dermstore.com.
Any tips on how to camouflage my roots in between coloring?
— Orlagh Vagnoni, New York City
Yep, and I know them firsthand, because my hair grows really fast, revealing the beautiful white hair I inherited from my father. A hairstylist once told me not to shampoo the first few days after coloring, so the dye really penetrates the hair shaft. A color-depositing conditioner can also help; I mix a bit in with my regular kind so it gives my color a slight, natural-looking boost. For a quick disguise, I comb through my roots with my Brow Shaper, in Rich Brown, or apply gel liner with a finger or Q-tip. Once the liner dries, it lasts for days! In a pinch, try powder eye shadow: Use mahogany to cover gray if you're a brunette, copper shades if you're a redhead and champagne if you're a blonde.
Try: Estée Lauder Golden Alligator Slim Compact, $40; esteelauder.com.
Should I be layering my skin products?
— Lauren Hanson, Freehold, N.J.
The truth is, you don't always need to layer. If your skin is dry, you'll benefit from extra hydration. But if you're oily, there's really no need. Here's my routine: Apply eye cream first. Always. Then put on the rest of your products in order of consistency, starting with the lightest formula (usually a gel or a serum). If your skin feels soft and is gleaming, stop there. But if the product disappears in seconds, your face could use a boost. Something balmy, like a thicker moisturizing cream, will add an extra layer of hydration and help lock in everything you've applied—plus it plumps skin, filling in fine lines.
Try: Jurlique Herbal Recovery advanced serum, $54; jurlique.com. Grassroots Flowering Cactus Extreme Moisture cream, $36; kohls.com.
How can I keep bold lip colors from bleeding?
— Vicki Bibbo, Monroe, N.Y.
I know, lipstick on your teeth is not a great look. Super glossy formulas are especially likely to migrate because of their slippery texture—which is even more noticeable when you're wearing one of the bright shades that are popular right now (like raspberry, my current favorite). But you can keep color in place by lining lips right after you've applied lipstick, with a liner a the same shade. Or go for one of those big, fat lip crayons. They're wax-based and hydrating, so you get everything in one! A word of caution: Don't apply balm before puttin on lipstick; it makes lips way too gloppy—and color more apt to glide right off.
Try: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable balm lip stain in Crush, $9; at mass retailers.
How do I use an eye-shadow quad?
— Dakota Garilli, Pittsburgh
First, when you buy one, make sure the shades are all within a single color family. Ideally it should have a light, a dark and two medium tones. Start with the lightest; apply it from lash line to brow bone. The next shade goes just over your lower lid. Sweep your third color (the darker of the two middle tones) slightly above the crease to add depth. By the way, I use the brush the palette comes with and always smudge with my finger. Finish with the darkest color as a liner.
Try: Clinique All About Shadow quad in Smoke and Mirrors, $28; clinique.com.