There are all kinds of beauty “rules” that women are taught to follow, dictating everything from where we should apply perfume to exactly how much shimmer is acceptable, depending on age. (Is there a mathematical algorithm for that?) What will happen if break one of these rules? Will there be mass chaos and rioting in the streets? Hardly. The worst-case scenario is that you don’t like the result, in which case you simply don’t do it again. But you just might discover that you love the way you look! These “rules” are ready to be broken for good.
1. Rule #1: Focus on Eyes Or Lips—Not Both
The traditional advice is that you should always pair a smoky eye with a nude lip, and pair a statement-making lipstick with understated eye makeup. But unless your idea of a “smoky eye” is three pounds of thick charcoal shadow (in which case you might want to take it easy in general), there’s no reason you can’t have both. Frankly, to focus only on one feature tends to make the rest of the face look a little unfinished. There’s nothing wrong with dramatic dark eyeliner and look-at-me-red lips inhabiting the same face during a night out on the town.
Rule #2: Always Match Your Lipstick to Your Nail Polish
Well-meaning grandmothers have been encouraging well-bred young ladies to coordinate their makeup this way for generations, but the matchy-matchy look isn’t just out, it’s totally over—and shows no signs of ever coming back. Unless you want to look like you just stepped out of a cotillion (or if you work on Capitol Hill), makeup colors should be complementary, not identical.
Rule #3: Never Let Your Roots Show
Here’s a news flash for the root police: No one’s hair is exactly the same color from root to end. So if you color your hair, subtle darkness near the scalp looks more natural than obsessive touch-ups—even the blondest hair tends to grow in a little dark and then lighten up. For the past few seasons, two-tone and ombré hairstyles have dominated the runways and the streets, so don’t be afraid to duck your colorist’s calls for another few weeks.
Rule #4: Don’t Tweeze Above Your Eyebrows
Yes, the bulk of the clean-up work should still be done below the brow, but there’s no reason not to pluck the random stray hairs that grow from above, too. Go easy on the above-brow area, because overzealous plucking can lead to thin, unnatural shapes, but when hairs above the brow are long, unruly, or growing outside the natural definition of the brow, get rid of ’em.
Rule #5: Your Eyebrows Should Always Be Perfectly Manicured
We’re not suggesting a Frida Kahlo-style unibrow, but full, almost bushy, brows have replaced the painstakingly thin eyebrows of the early 2000s. Clean up stray hairs as desired, but don’t feel the need to shape your brows into an arch of constant surprise. Thick, almost straight brows have proven just as beautiful on and off the runways for a couple years now.
Rule #6: Only Wear Either “Warm” or “Cool” Colors Depending on Your Skin Tone
Your skin’s undertones are a big factor in choosing foundation and concealer, as well as coloring your hair, but when you’re picking out mascara or eye shadow, anything goes. Work with your skin and hair color, but don’t get hemmed in by the arbitrary distinction between “warm” and “cool” colors or get too wrapped up with what shades are in your color wheel.
Rule #7: Don’t Wear Eyeliner or Mascara on Bottom Lashes
Some conventional wisdom warns that dark eyeliner or mascara on the bottom lash line can age a face. Unless you have unusually small or very deep-set eyes, this rule is nonsense. When applied properly (in the right color, without clumping or smearing), there’s nothing about lining or tinting your bottom lashes or lash line that brings out crows’ feet or baggy eyes. Invest in a mascara with a fine brush that will let you precisely shade each lash—like Benefit They’re Real! Mascara—and if pencil eyeliner looks too harsh, go with a soft powder liner instead.
8. Rule #8: No Red Lips for Redheads
Famous gingers from Amy Adams to Emma Stone have proven just how false this severely outdated rule is. You just need to know how to work with your skin tone: Fair-skinned, natural redheads should choose an orangey or coral-tinged red to offset pink undertones in their skin. If your red comes from a bottle, or if you have darker skin, a more burgundy or blue-red might look better. Just don’t try to match your lips to your hair.
Rule #9: Always Layer Your Perfume
Who doesn’t love getting complete sets of your favorite scent in everything from body wash to eau de parfum? But that doesn’t mean you should use all the products all at once. Trust us—after you get done washing with perfumed body wash, using perfumed lotion, and applying the perfume itself, the effect is going to be less “long-lasting, but subtle scent” and more “roadside bordello.” Perfumed lotions, washes, hair sprays, and deodorants are great for imparting a tiny kick of fragrance, but wearing them all at once is overkill. If you want your fragrance to last longer, upgrade from an eau de cologne to an eau de parfum.
Rule #10: Fair-Haired Women Should Wear Brown Mascara
The point of mascara is to emphasize and darken lashes. Black mascara does that more effectively than brown mascara, no matter what your hair color is. How many times have you seen a woman and thought, “She’d look great if only her eyelashes weren’t so long and lush”? Never? Thought so. Most people—even many blondes—have naturally dark lashes anyway, so black is the natural choice.