Beauty Secrets Every Teen Should Know

Teen girl sitting on her counter doing her makeup

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Or, What We Wish We Knew When We Were Teens

YouTube vloggers haven't always existed, meaning plenty of people once only got their beauty tips from reading magazines. 

Still, the excess of Youtube beauty gurus are difficult to sift through. Especially because some are propped up by companies, and each has their niche. Not everything is going to work for your face shape, eye shape, or skin tone. Ultimately, it's important to know what's best for you, not someone else. 

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How Cool Contouring Can Be

Contouring, as we know of it today, has not always been common knowledge. It's easy to be tempted into overdoing it on the bronzer, particularly if you don't tan easily. Be careful though, you can come out orange instead of bronzed, particularly if your undertones are more red or pink than yellow or olive. But if you want to appear tan without the sun, bronzer is a really great product for that, as long as you blend it. Blush is the same deal—you just want to blend, a lot, and then when you feel like you've blended enough blend a little bit more. 

Now, there are so many ways to use bronzers and blush to highlight and give definition to your best facial bits while downplaying your worst ones. Who knew you could create cheekbones with a swipe of a fat makeup brush? Who knew you hide your weak chin or your big nose?

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How to Get Effortless, Choppy, LA Waves

There's a popular way to curl your hair these days, that takes a lot of effort to looking like you didn't curl your hair. It works on long bobs, choppy bobs, shoulder-length hair and long hair, and it's so worth it for anyone who wants to give their hair some texture.

There's a secret to this look: wind hair AROUND the barrel of a large curling iron, never clamping hair in. Then reverse direction for each 2-inch section (wind up for one, down for another).

  1. Working from one side of your head around to the other, take a 2-inch section of hair and spritz it with a holding or styling spray.
  2. Open the curling iron and wind hair around the barrel, making sure not to clamp hair down. Curling iron should have about a 1 or 1 1/2 inch barrel. I love the clamp-free curling irons. Make sure you wear the heat-protectant gloves that come with them.
  3. Work your way around your head winding hair in different directions so it looks natural. Make sure not to curl ends. You want at least an inch of hair on the bottom that's not curled.
  4. Do not touch curls. Let them sit there in ringlet-form until you're done.
  5. Once hair is all curled and cooled, break up the ringlets with your fingers. Never brush or comb hair.
  6. Spray hair with dry shampoo for added texture. Spritz with hairspray to hold the curl.
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Curl Your Lashes Before Mascara

It's so easy to skip this one. A great way to make eyes pop is by curling your lashes before applying mascara. There's simply no way to open up the eyes better. You can heat your curler for 3 seconds with a hair dryer to set the curl better, but make sure to test the metal on your arm first to ensure it's not too hot. You don't want to burn your lashes off.

For nighttime, you might consider adding a few false eyelashes, but don't go overboard or it'll look excessive. Don't do falsies if you're not going for a big makeup look.

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How to Properly Apply Foundation

In high school, most people wore a full face of foundation every day, despite the fact that some might have had pretty nice skin for a teenager. It's easy to be a victim of "cake face"—that matte look that screams to the world, "I don't know how to apply makeup."

It's normal, but here's a tip: the heavy, creamy foundations that you encounter are not meant to cover the entire face. And oily skin is much better off with an oil-free foundation or tinted moisturizer. Unless you're going in front of a camera or performing on stage, foundation should be used judiciously, to cover up only the uneven spots like the ones found down the center of your face. Cover up redness or dark spots around the nose and the chin. Everyone is different, but just cover up only where you need it. Many people leave their cheeks bare, but I tend to put a bit of foundation there. Once the foundation is in place, then you can then dot concealer on any spots it doesn't cover.

If your skin tans in the summer and is paler in the winter, you'll need two shades of foundation. You can even blend them during spring and fall. It's important to remember this, because you don't want to be wearing foundation that doesn't match your face.However, the most important thing to know is to avoid the tale-tell line at the jawline. Find the perfect color match to your skin and blend, blend, blend, into your jawline and down to your neck.

Foundation over patchy, dry spots is not good. Get rid of dry, scaly skin first by exfoliating, or using with a warm washcloth dipped in coconut oil. If you have oily skin, skip the heavy powders and use blotting sheets to soak up oils. Paper towels, or even toilet paper, will work in a pinch.

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Use a Highlighter Pen to Bring Light to Parts of Your Face

Ok, so Kim Kardashian's now-famous highlighting lesson was a bit much. If you want to, though, go for it. Just know you don't need that much highlighter. Still, contouring via a highlighting pen or an illuminating cream really can dramatically change your appearance.

Draw a skinny line down the center of your nose to make it appear thinner, or dab a bit of shimmer cream above the brow to make your skin appear dewy. Use a bit of pink luminizing cream on your cheeks instead of blush for a really dewy look, or apply just a dot above your cupid's bow on your lips and blend—these are all amazing tricks that can just be done with the right illuminating makeup. Saint Laurent's Touché Eclat, $35, is a legendary favorite.

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You Pat Concealer In, You Don't Rub it In

When I was younger, I used to slather concealer over the spots I wanted to cover because tap, tap, tapping it in seemed like such a waste of time. I was wrong. Tapping in it leaves your face looking much more smooth and uniform. To properly do it, put a bit of concealer on the pad of a finger (or use a concealer brush) and pat it in. Never rub. Got acne? Gently tap the concealer over the blemishes and then set it with powder.

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Play up Your Lips or Your Eyes, Not Both

Ever notice how people with heavy eye makeup and heavy lips can look overdone? It just feels like a little too much? When it comes to making up your face, it's better to decide to play up either your eyes or your mouth, but never both. Beauty rules don't exist, but there are plenty of people who have wished they knew this when they were teens.

If you wear a smokey eye, go for nude lips with just a bit of gloss. Prefer the drama of dark lipstick? Keep your face light (stay away from heavy blush) and only wear mascara on your eyes, and maybe a light eyeshadow. Don't heavily line your eyes. Play up both, and you'll look like a clown. 

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Press a Bit of Light Shimmery Eyeshadow Into the Inside of the Eye

Another great makeup artist trick that should be on every tips and tricks list, is the great eyeshadow-in-the-inside-corner-of-the-eye trick. Basically, you press the inside corner of your eye a bit of light, shimmery eyeshadow into the inner corner of your eye. If you have an eyeshadow palette at hand, it would be the lightest shimmery color in your palette. It will make your eyes pop.

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Less Is More During the Day

Ever notice how you might feel some of your friends look their best with no makeup at all? No matter your age, there is such as thing as too much. Leave the heavier makeup to the evening and formal occasions, and tone it down during the day. All you really need is a great mascara, concealer for blemishes, and gloss for a natural look—just add a pop of blush in winter. However, you don't have to go natural-looking during the day; just try to cut down on the amount of products you're using.

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Don't Overpluck Your Brows, Seriously

Fuller brows are almost always in, super skinny brows go in and out of style. If you are ever, ever tempted to shave or pluck all your brows hairs for the sake of a trend or a whim or a dare—don't. Or at least really consider whether it's what you want. Because, as you may know, if you overpluck your brows, they might never grow back.

Do keep your brows manicured by either getting them done professionally or tweezing stray hairs below and yes, above the brow line and in between. If your brows are on the thinner, non-existent side, use a brow pencil to fill them in. Choose a shade that's as close to your brow hair color as possible.

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Oily Hair? Dry Shampoo to the Rescue

It might feel like you have to wash your hair every day or it'll look greasy. But it turns out that washing your hair every day is awful for it, and you shouldn't be doing that. You can get by on the days in between using dry shampoo (or baby powder) that I apply at my crown and roots and brush through. It soaks up excess oils like nothing else. 

Baby powder also works in a pinch, but isn't advisable. But it's best for blondes or girls with light brown hair. If you have dark hair, you might be better off with a dry shampoo crafted for any hair color.

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Bye-Bye Bad Hair Color

Ever see those girls with naturally dark hair and super blonde, spaghetti-looking highlights? It's as if someone painted little lines in their hair—which is actually what they did. It's not ideal. The secret to great hair color is hair that looks like you didn't pay to have it done. That said, some of the best hair colors are so obviously not natural (think platinum) but instead are so cool that everyone wants them. Either leave people guessing, or leave them dying to ask where you get your hair done.

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Do Your Own Hair Color Properly

So when should you do it yourself, and when should you head to a salon?

The general rule of thumb is to do your own hair if you are going only a shade or two darker darker. Anything more than that and you need a professional's help. Going from dark to blonde is a complicated process, and a dangerous one for your hair. You'll first have to strip hair of its natural color by bleaching, then the stylist will color your hair blonde and maybe add a few highlights to give hair definition. This is not something to try at home. But if you're dying a few strands blue or a couple shades darker, you can do it at home.

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Vaseline Is Your Best Friend

It's normal to have grown up around some form of Vaseline. It's a great product to have on hand for 2 reasons: it's a great eye makeup remover in a pinch and used with a toothbrush, it's the best lip exfoliator ever. Slather on a bunch of Vaseline, then use a toothbrush to massage your lips. Wipe the excess off on a tissue. Your lips will be smooth and soft.

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Now Is a Great Time to Experiment

Right now, teens are way more comfortable experimenting with their hair than peer pressure might leave you feeling. Your hair is a great form of self-expression, and don't waste your time trying so hard to fit in that you never considered playing with your hair length or even color.

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Acne? Get to a Dermatologist, ASAP

Biggest mistake people with bad acne make? Not going to a dermatologist. Forget those $150 jeans you've been looking at for days online. Getting rid of those pimples will be the best investment you'll ever make. And the most likely way that you'll be able to do it is with a dermatologist.

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Spend Money on Key Beauty Products

There's no need to spend a lot of money on cleansers, makeup removers, polish removers and anything that doesn't stay on your face for very long. Unless your skin is super reactive, you don't need to spend $60 on a fancy cleanser that touches your face for 1 minute a day. You can also find affordable moisturizers that won't break the bank but will leave your skin feeling soft and supple, although it's more advisable to invest in moisturizer.

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Buying Color Cosmetics? Test Them First

There are some beauty products you simply must try out at a department store or Sephora before you buy. These include foundation, lipstick, blush, and powder.

Buy these products in a grocery store, and you'll be lucky if you picked the right color for your skin tone. What you can get away with without testing: Mascara, eyeliner, and most basic eyeshadows.

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Always Wear Sunscreen

The first beauty product you should apply every day is sunscreen, even if it's cloudy or rainy outside. Good habits start young, and if you use sunscreen now, you'll have gorgeous skin when you're 50, 60, 70. Not to mention the fact that, the sun's UV rays can penetrate clouds and car windows.

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Self-Tanner Will Always Stink

Unfortunately, even the best self-tanners smell. Your best bet to avoid the stench is to apply self-tanner a good 24 hours before an important event and take a shower (obviously don't loofah) to wash off any smell. For really big events like a dance or wedding, consider a professional spray tan. They're pricey and don't last long though, so make sure to do it a day before the big event. And don't overdo it.

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Don't Let Nails Go

Not into manicures and pedicures? No worries. Just make sure to keep your nails clean and the same length. If you do want to paint them, don't just keep the polish on until half of it's chipped away. When it starts chipping noticeably, take it off. Also, there are few things worse than overly-long toenails. Keep nails clipped between pedicures! People will sometimes judge others by the care they put into their hands and feet.

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Don't Line the Inside of Your Eyes

Of course, you CAN line the inside of your eyes, also known as the waterline. There's no one stopping you. But understand that if it's a dark shade, it's going to make your eyes appear smaller, which is something you probably don't want. Instead opt for a liquid liner on the top lid and a smudged pencil line on the bottom lid.

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Shave Legs at the End of Your Shower

Cut down on nicks and cuts by making shaving the very last step in your shower or bathing ritual. Hair will be softer by this point.

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Play up Your Best Feature

What feature do people comment on most? Figure that out, then play it up. If you're told you have Angelina Jolie lips, make sure to wear gloss and play with bold lipstick colors. If it's your eye color people love, find eyeshadow colors that complement it and make sure to wear mascara. Also, know what color shirts look best on you, and go shopping accordingly.


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Save Money by Making Your Own Scrubs and Face Mask

Why buy a $60 scrub or face mask when you can't afford it? All you really need to slough off dead skin from your face and body is a homemade scrub made of 1 part oil and 2 parts sugar or salt. As for face masks, there are dozens of recipes for all skin types.

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Remember: Beauty Does Come From Within

Think about someone you know who doesn't follow all the "beauty rules," yet is undeniably attractive. Why? Because they're confident. If you aren't wearing makeup and your toes haven't been repainted in weeks, then you will still be 10 times prettier than someone uncomfortable with themselves sitting next to you in class, if you're happy and smiling.