TIME beauty

5 Beauty Tips Women Can Learn From Dudes

man-groomed
Getty Images

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

When we’re looking for expert beauty advice, there are certain sources we always turn to. And, typically, the men in our lives don’t make that list. It’s not because we don’t trust them — it’s just that we don’t think they have any idea what they’re talking about regarding beauty (with a few notable exceptions, of course). Really, does your brother or boyfriend or best guy friend actually know the best way to craft a perfectly tousled beach wave?

While they might not know how to make Gisele hair happen for you, these dudes do prescribe to a few key beauty theories we might learn a thing or two from. We know. So, we quizzed three experts on some of the guy tips we can and should adopt. Ahead, what men do behind (closed) bathroom doors — the lessons you can take away may just surprise you.

Exfoliation

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Since men shave their faces, they’re getting regular exfoliation — without the extra step. “Exfoliation helps to get rid of the top layer of dead skin cells, called the stratum corneum, and in doing so, it helps to force the skin to turn over,” says Dr. Anthony Rossi, a New York dermatologist. “By shaving, men are actually causing slight trauma to their skin, causing it to repair itself. It’s just like what dermatologists do when they perform a dermabrasion or laser resurfacing — we’re causing a controlled trauma that forces the body to make new collagen to repair it.”

Is whipping out your razor the answer? Not exactly. (Though, it’s safe. More on that in a second.) Rossi does urge women to exfoliate regularly — even daily, if you can get away with it. “Try using an exfoliating beard scrub, like Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub. Products like this can really help women exfoliate — this one has vitamin C and menthol in it.”

Getting back to the topic of razors, Rossi says it’s perfectly fine to shave your face — there is no scientific evidence to show hair grows back thicker or faster. “Some patients may feel that, after shaving, the quality of the hair may change, but there has not been scientific evidence to prove this,” he says. “There is no proof that if you shave, it will come back thicker.” So, shall we finally put a pin in that complaint, ladies?

(MORE: Beauty Cheat Sheet: 10 Shortcuts For Lazy Girls Everywhere)

Keep It Classic

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Ever notice how there doesn’t seem to be a ton of variety with regard to dudes’ coiffs? “This isn’t a fact, but I think probably 80% of men’s haircuts are the exact same shape,” says hairstylist Ashley Streicher, who has worked on the manes of Jason Segal, John Krasinski, Andy Samberg, and more. “Sure, lengths and textures differ. But, a classic men’s haircut is usually the base of all haircuts.”

Keeping this in mind, Streicher advises women to stick to timeless haircuts. “I think that women can learn that timeless is pretty,” she says. “Rather than always fighting to be avant-garde, sometimes just a really well-done, classic haircut can be different and gorgeous, whether it be a bob, beautifully cut layers, or a blunt fringe.” When in doubt, stick with what never goes out of style.

Moisturize

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Slicking on some lotion after we shave is standard practice for us. But, men also hydratebefore their razors get anywhere near their skin.
“A preshave oil creates a barrier on your skin from the blade of your razor, preventing ingrown hairs, razor burn, and bumps,” says Tony Sosnick, founder of Anthony Logistics. “Women can really benefit from a good prehsave oil, like Anthony Pre-Shave Oil, which is formulated with essential oils and healing calendula, to achieve a flawless shave.” Not only will the oils soften your skin, they’ll also soften your hairs, which makes them easier to shave.

(MORE: The Korean Secret to Poreless Skin)

Go With The Flow

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Natural texture? Not something we ladies always like to deal with — as evidenced by the fact that we started straightening, curling, and beating our hair into general submission early on in life. But, Streicher says most men figure out the texture of their hair right away and then just learn how to deal. “They learn their texture and work with it,” she says. “Women are constantly fighting curls by blowing them straight. Or, if their hair is fine, they fry it with a curling rod.”

Basically, we’re never satisfied. So, instead of pulling out your tools every time you wake up with frizz, work with what you’ve got. Undone hair is pretty in right now, anyway, so you’d be doing yourself (and your hair) a favor.

Steamy

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Now, this doesn’t mean you should hop into a steam room daily. (Although, we admit that sounds heavenly.) “Men oftentimes use warm face towels to steam the facial skin to release trapped hairs and make it easier to shave,” Rossi says. “It’s a technique that’s been used by barbers for many years and gives a better shave.”

(MORE: 44 Magical Beauty Buys That Will Sell Out)

You can certainly get steamy by making your own barbershop towel at home, but there’s an even easier way. “If you don’t have time for a hot towel, shaving in the hot shower can produce a very similar effect,” Rossi says. Just be careful not to stand in the direct stream of hot water — it can scald your skin and dry you out.

 

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Skin Whitening Candy Is Coming

Want to keep your skin safe? You can glug a glass of drinkable sunscreen—which, yes, is a real product that had experts raising their eyebrows back in May.

If slurping SPF isn’t your bag—or if you’ve already got some sun damage you’d like to undo—you’ll also be able to kick things down a shade by popping skin-whitening candy, according to the maker of a new dietary supplement maker called Melagenol, based in Spain. It promises lighter skin with a daily 300-500 mg swallow of plant extracts claiming to interfere with melanin formation. By sucking on a candy or downing a pill or capsule containing melanin-inhibiting extracts, you’ll get “lighter skin from within,” the press release promises, banking on its lab study that found melanin-producing cells made less when the formula was applied.

The skin whitening and lightening industry, which, critics contend, prey on insecurity and the idealization of pale skin, will be worth nearly $20 billion by 2018, according to an estimate by Global Industry Analysts, fueled mostly by whitening creams sold in Asia. “Asian people are very much concerned about skin lightening,” Fernando Cartagena, marketing manager for Monteloeder, tells TIME. “They like to keep their skin as light as possible because it’s a way to show your class.” Even though the product isn’t yet on the market, he says he’s gotten calls from companies that want to carry it in Malaysia, Taiwan, South Africa, and Australia, a country that sells to many countries in Asia. (No bites yet from the United States.)

This won’t be the world’s first oral skin whitener—similar tablets are already sold in Japan—but the market is growing. Cartagena says his company came up with the idea for oral skin whiteners earlier this year. “We received a lot of feedback from the Asia office telling us that there’s a huge demand for these kinds of products,” he said.

As skin whiteners grow in popularity, so does the backlash against them. Groups like Dark Is Beautiful in India try to combat the obsession with fair skin and whitening products by raising awareness. The safety of these ingredients when ingested is not currently known.

Cartagena says he hopes we’ll be seeing a product with Melagenol on shelves—“especially in Asia”—within four to six months.

TIME beauty

Why Taylor Swift Looks So Perfect Post-Workout

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - July 22, 2014
Singer Taylor Swift is seen outside her "GYM"on July 22, 2014 in New York City. Raymond Hall—GC Images

Seth Meyers: "I picture you in the locker room taking up a lot of space."

Last night, T-Swift tried to explain to Seth Meyers how she looks so darn good after she exercises.

The Late Night host presented the pop star with several paparazzi pictures of her exiting her gym (like the one on the right) in which Swift’s hair looks perfectly coiffed, her clothes immaculately pressed, her iconic red lipstick on her lips.

“I picture you in the locker room taking up a lot of space,” Meyers joked.

“I like to bring a change of clothes,” Swift said defensively. “I bring a hairbrush with me.”

Swift is clearly doing a bit more than running a brush through her hair. Having a body guard to help carry your things probably helps: most people are still a little flushed after leaving the gym, juggling purse, gym bag and water bottle. But even compared to other celebrities post-workout, she looks curiously flawless. Who can wear such high heels after a run? T-Swift can, that’s who.

TIME beauty

How The Media Makes Men Hate Their Bodies Too

Man lifting weights at Kent and Sussex Crossfit.
Man lifting weights at Kent and Sussex Crossfit. Andrew Errington—Getty Images

Celebrity body envy isn't just for women any more.

The grocery store checkout seems specifically designed to make you hate yourself. So many magazines on the shelves, so much focus on fixing our flaws.

If you’re female, you’re too fat, and for the fellas, we’re not nearly buff enough. Have you noticed that for men it’s about adding, and for women subtracting?

Magazines targeted at women want them to “lose” or “trim” or “tighten,” whereas for the men’s magazines it’s “adding inches” or “bulking” or “building.” Even when it comes to weight loss, males are sold on how to “get” ripped abs. Interesting side note: this bigger vs. smaller mentality also applies to genitalia. Men are marketed to being bigger, and for women it’s is all about trimming away “excess” in even the most intimate areas. Geez.

The weight loss claims are all in the realm of science fiction, promising more than a pound of fat lost per day, often adorned with a celebrity doctor’s visage to lend credence to a proclamation that defies the first law of thermodynamics (unless you weigh more than a NFL lineman and are chained to a treadmill while fed only small amounts of broccoli and boiled chicken breasts). By comparison, your perfectly reasonable dropping of one pound per week makes you a total failure.

Then you compare yourself to the Photoshopped actors and feel even worse, until you see the “celebrity body disasters” issue of a gossip rag. In it you’ll see paparazzi-snapped photos of a “Sunken stomach!” and “Man Boobs!” and “Skin disease!” as well as a “Freaky facelift!” and a “Belly nightmare!”

It’s worth noting that those “worst beach body” issues now include male celebrities too. Yes, men are starting to get their fair share of fat shaming. No longer can our culture’s leading entertainers put on a few extra pounds over the top of their board shorts and escape the media’s cruel “beach body” eye. Chris Brown was recently called out by TMZ for his post-prison belly, and the gossip site also called out celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Simon Cowell for their “man boobs.”

Disgusted, you turn away … and are faced with row upon row of chocolate bars and potato chips. You just can’t win.

But it’s not just the tabloids at your local market. The Internet wants to make you feel bad about the way you look as well, often so they can sell you a solution. Surely you’ve seen the poorly drawn cartoon ad of the woman grabbing her belly fat in disgust, and don’t forget the guy selling a “shortcut” to seeing your abs who shames you for being “weak and puny.” The solution usually involves “one weird trick,” and that trick is recurring charges to your credit card.

Turn on the TV and you’ll see fitness star Jillian Michaels berate obese participants on the train wreck game show The Biggest Loser. And instead of being vilified for her fat shaming, she nets fame and riches, earning the moniker “America’s Toughest Trainer” while promoting bias against the overweight.

But maybe those fatties just need a bit of shaming to get off their expanding butt cheeks to get in shape? After all, don’t we live in a nation where more than half the population is obese or unhealthily heavy?

Uh, no. In reality, facing stigma over one’s weight actually increases stress and is detrimental to mental health. What’s more, discriminating against people for being obese doesn’t lead to weight loss, but the opposite: it causes them to gain weight.

And it’s not just fat that’s shamed. Now people are targeted for being “too thin,” and some say bodybuilders “look gross” and “must be on steroids.” Perhaps they are chemically enhanced, but why all the hate?

Hate sells. It’s the marketing strategy of “You are broken, but I can fix you. Buy my product.” In order to get you to fork over mega bucks for some miracle weight loss aid, wrinkle remover, muscle maximizer or genitalia grower, marketers must first make you feel bad enough about yourself that you’ll reach for that credit card to solve a problem you didn’t know you had.

A desire for self-improvement is admirable, but be careful where you look for it, whether you’re male or female. And don’t start from a place of self-loathing and celebrity envy; start from one of aspiration. You can aspire to be your own version of awesome, without having to listen to any advertiser whose shtick is all about heaping criticism.

James Fell is a syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. He blogs at www.SixPackAbs.com. You can follow him @BodyForWife.

TIME allergies

The Hair Dye Allergy You Should Know About

hair dye
Marc Vuillermoz—Getty Images/Onoky

Not a natural blonde or brunette? You might want to be more cautious about coloring your hair. Turns out some people can be extremely allergic to hair dye, as NCIS star Pauley Perrette found out last week when she landed in the hospital with a severe reaction to the stuff.

“Was in ER. Just got home from hospital. Awful. My head swelled up huge like a melon,” Perrette tweeted after posting a photo of her swollen face. Now the star is urging others to read up on hair dye allergies themselves.

“The most important thing to me is that anyone out there that dyes their hair, particularly black, you need to be aware of the symptoms,” she told a local CBS station in Los Angeles.

The actress, who’s a natural blonde, had been dyeing her locks jet black for more than 20 years without incident. Then about six months ago, she developed a rash on her neck and scalp which got worse with every coloring.

Health.com: 16 Hair Myths You Need to Stop Believing

An allergy to hair dye is quite rare, affecting about one in 250,000 people, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. Still, it can prove to be just as serious as a nut or shellfish allergy, especially if you’re someone who’s prone to allergic reactions. And while some people may see symptoms the first or second time they use hair dye, it may not happen as fast as you think.

“To be allergic to something, usually your immune system has to come in contact with it and decide it doesn’t like it,” Dr. Jaliman says. “Depending on how sensitive your system is, the allergy may develop more slowly than others.”

That means if you start to see signs of redness, swelling, itching, or burning after several uses of hair dye, don’t write it off. This is your body’s way of telling you an allergy is building up, and continuing to use the dye could actually be fatal. “If you develop a severe allergy, you could get blisters and hives and, though rare, difficulty breathing similar to an anaphylactic reaction,” Dr. Jaliman says. See an allergist or a dermatologist for advice on how to treat your allergy, whether that’s with topical creams or pills like antihistamines.

Health.com:11 Secret Allergy Triggers

If you’re allergic to hair dye, you can blame a chemical called paraphenylenediamine or PPD for your symptoms, Dr. Jaliman says. It’s in most commercial dyes you’d find at both drugstores or hair salons and it helps protect color from fading. Though Perrette called out black dye as being worse than others, you could get a reaction no matter the shade you’re using—or the original color of your hair, Dr. Jaliman says.

If you’re going to dye your hair for the first time, there’s an easy way to tell if you may be allergic. Before coloring your hair, do a skin patch test, typically recommended on most boxed hair color. Basically, you put a bit of dye on your skin and wait 48 hours to see if a reaction develops. If you pass the first time, it’s likely you’re in the clear whether you color at home or the salon, Dr. Jaliman says, and you shouldn’t need to do the test again.

If you do develop an allergy, there are other ways to color your locks safely. Dyes like henna or the line from EcoColors are great natural and non-toxic solutions, she says. Even highlights could be better for you as most use bleach and don’t add color, Dr. Jaliman says. Ask your colorist what formula would be used on your hair.

Health.com: 20 Ways to Stop Allergies

One thing’s for sure: even a mild reaction to hair dye could turn serious. “I wouldn’t be looking into putting chemicals in your hair if you have a history of allergies,” Dr. Jaliman says. “It would probably be best to switch to a chemical-free dye because you don’t want it to escalate into a life-threatening situation.” As for Perrette, she says she’s going to look into natural dyes or wigs.

The Hair Dye Allergy You Need to Know About originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Body Image

Harvard Women’s Rugby Team Wants You to Know Strength Is Beautiful

Lydia Burns and Shelby Lin

"Ripped," "so strong" and "fearless"

Amid movies and advertisements that promote stick-thin women, and even fitness magazines that focus on “lean” and “toned” bodies, the Harvard women’s rugby team has an important message: strength is beautiful.

The team staged a photo shoot in which they all wore matching sports bras and spandex and wrote empowering messages on each other’s bodies. “Powerful,” reads one girl’s knuckles. “Ripped,” says another’s bicep, and “Beautiful & Fierce!” announces another girl’s stomach.

“I think the notion of strength being beautiful is so overlooked in our society because strength is historically associated with masculinity, and women are taught that they must be strictly feminine to be beautiful,” player Helen Clark told TODAY.com.

The photos were published in June along with an essay in the Harvard Political Review, and have gone viral in recent weeks.

“We hope seeing our photos will encourage women to go out and find a space like rugby where their bodies are celebrated for their inherent strength and power,” Clark said, “Rather than just for how they look in a bikini.”

TIME beauty

#SkinnyDays: Kim Kardashian Says She Misses Her Pre-Baby Body

And gets #OnTheTreadmillRightNOW

Locked in a race with herself, Kim Kardashian tweeted that she was running #OnTheTreadmillRightNOW in an attempt to slim down her body to what she called her “skinny days,” before she gave birth to a 4 pound, 15 ounce girl, when she could still shrink wrap herself into this skin-tight leotard/dress:

Kardashian tweeted the picture of herself, circa 2010, along with the unforgiving caption, “Throwback to a few years ago .”

Her followers responded with a mixture of disbelief (“are you kidding me?), sudden pangs of insecurity (“If she’s currently fat, than idek what tf I am”) and shameless marketing (“Get Your Dress $32.99 Sizes S-2XL”).

Kardashian’s post-baby body dilemma began little more than a year ago on June 15, with the birth of a baby girl and the subsequent public scrutiny of her body in a two-piece swimsuit five months later.

TIME beauty

Other Women Don’t Like Your Sexy Profile Picture

"Sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive"

You might want to think twice before making that bikini shot your profile picture—you could be inviting other women’s scorn. A study released Monday by Oregon State University found that young women judged peers with “sexy social media photos” to be less attractive, less likable and incompetent.

“There is so much pressure on teen girls and young women to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive,” said psychology researcher Elizabeth Daniels.

Daniels and her team created a fake Facebook profile for 20-year-old “Amanda Johnson,” who likes Lady Gaga, The Notebook, and Twilight (don’t we all?). More than a hundred young women between the ages of 13 and 25 were randomly assigned to view Amanda’s profile with either a “non-sexy” picture (Amanda in jeans, a t-shirt and a scarf) or a “sexy” picture (Amanda in “a low-cut red dress with a slit up one leg to mid-thigh and a visible garter belt”). They were then asked to rate Amanda’s attractiveness, likability and competence on a scale from 1 to 7.

The results are depressing. “Sexy” Amanda scored lower in all fields. The largest disparity between the two profiles occurred in her supposed competence, meaning that the sexy picture particularly hindered other women’s perception of her abilities.

However, Daniels also pointed out the negative side effects of having a wholesome photo, such as missing out “on social rewards, including attention from boys and men.” (And that’s really a woman’s main motivator for everything, right?)

But, don’t worry, ladies: Daniels and her team have some keen suggestions on how to avoid others’ baseless assumptions. “Daniels’ advice for girls and young women is to select social media photos that showcase their identity rather than her appearance, such as one from a trip or one that highlights participation in a sport or hobby,” OSU writes.

An important lesson: When other people judge you (and your social media presence) unfairly, it’s up to you to change. Thanks, science.

TIME beauty

‘Skinny Girl’ Bethenny Frankel Wears 4-Year-Old’s Clothes

Instagram post was met with a horrified response from her followers

Bethenny Frankel, former reality TV star and owner of the “Skinnygirl” beverages line, has outraged her Instagram followers after posing in her four-year-old daughter’s clothes.

Frankel, 43, who became famous after starring on The Real Housewives of New York City, sparked horror online after dressing in her daughter Bryn’s pajamas.

She posted the photo Sunday morning along with the caption: “This is my daughter’s nightgown and PJ shorts. Think we’re ready to start sharing clothes yet?”

Most people online did not think that. User jenmo2222 wrote: “I’m sorry this isn’t cute…a grown woman shouldn’t be the size of a 4-year-old especially when they have admitted to having an eating disorder in the past…!”

Fellow Instagram user, nonniedidit echoed her sentiments, commenting: “Women shouldn’t brag about being as thin as a small child… Go eat a sandwich.”

Frankel, however, defied her critics on Twitter, tweeting Monday:

In response to a fan who offered their support Frankel wrote:

Frankel, who sold Skinnygirl in March 2011 for a reported $100 million, has admitted to struggling with her weight. In a 2010 interview with People magazine she confessed: “I was owned by dieting. “I hated myself. I was completely obsessed and consumed.”

 

TIME beauty

This Is the Age Americans Feel Best About Their Appearance

Senior Citizen Couple
An elderly couple is shown smiling in the snow. Matt Hind—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

And men are more confident in their looks than women

Your grandparents may feel better about their looks than you do. In a Gallup survey released Thursday, Americans aged 65 or older were most likely to “agree” or “strongly agree” that they always felt good about their appearance.

Sixty-six percent of the American seniors surveyed gave the two highest possible responses to feeling good about their looks, compared to 61% of 18-34-year-olds and 54% of 35-64-year-olds.

Gallup surveyed over 85,o00 adults to ascertain how Americans’ feelings about their physical appearance change over time. The results showed an overall dip in satisfaction upon entering middle age and a resurgence of confidence among senior citizens, but researchers also found variations regarding gender and race.

Men gave higher satisfaction rates than women at nearly every age, but the differential decreased later in life. African Americans (68%) and Hispanic Americans (67%) also felt more confident in their looks than white (55%) or Asian Americans (62%).

The survey did not, however, try to account for actual attractiveness among respondents, so any correlation between one’s confidence in their appearance and others’ perception of it could not be concluded. “However, older Americans’ looks are generally out of sync with the youthful standard of beauty that prevails in American culture,” Gallup said, “and yet they are most happy with what they see in the mirror.”

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