The first “grown-up” makeup I ever bought was a Cover Girl eyeshadow trio of shimmery earth tones. At the age of 15, I just followed the directions on the package: Dust the lightest shade from the lash line to the brow, the middle shade along the crease and the darkest shade along the upper and lower lash lines. Voila! So simple, so classic.
A couple years later, I graduated to department store beauty counters where I learned all the fundamentals from the nice ladies at Clinique as they treated my skin to the brand’s signature three-step system, and the artists at Estée Lauder who masterfully brushed full-coverage foundation onto my teenaged face.
As invaluable as these lessons were, eventually I started to wonder who made this stuff up. It must have been sometime between when I realized I wanted the brow hairs I plucked away to grow back, and the moment I discovered that oil—not oil-free cleansers and lotions—could be the unlikely hero my acne-prone skin had been waiting for all my life.
My point is, when it comes to beauty, you shouldn’t be afraid to think out of the box. Here are 10 beauty rules that are meant to be broken. But of course, there are also a few worth following.
Which Rules to Break:
Rule No. 1:
Use oil-free products if you have oily skin.
I’m calling shenanigans on this one first and foremost because breaking it was such a game changer for me. The ’90s were not a friendly time for oil, which was largely considered the pore-clogging, acne-causing devil. But the truth is, certain types of oils can actually help balance sebum production by keeping the skin adequately moisturized. Turns out oil-free cleansers can strip pores and stimulate them to overproduce oil in order to compensate.
After Miranda Kerr herself waxed poetic to me about the virtues of rose hip seed oil, do you think I hesitated to snag a bottle that same day? Ever since, my shiny T-zone and acne have diminished. Argan, jojoba and grapeseed oils are also great options, but it depends on your skin. Some people with oily skin swear by coconut oil, but for me it’s a breakout waiting to happen. A little experimentation might be necessary to find your beauty-oil soulmate.
Rule No. 2:
Choose a concealer one shade lighter than your skin tone.
The notion that a lighter concealer could brighten up your eyes and your complexion seems to make sense in theory, but instead, this hack tends to create ashy-looking spots. Concealer should blend into your natural skin tone. If you want a little luminescence, no problem—highlighters are all the rage right now for a reason.
Rule No. 3:
Don’t match your lipstick to your eye shadow to your blush.
Why not? There’s no good reason. This rule was probably invented by the same person who said not to wear white after Labor Day. It’s totally arbitrary and breaking it doesn’t mean you’re going to look like you’re trying too hard. Monochromatic makeup can look very modern and cool—just ask Gigi Hadid, Rihanna and Olivia Palermo.
Rule No. 4:
Pair dramatic eye makeup with nude lips.
Sure, the contrast of a smoky eye and nude lips will probably forever be a classic. To update the look, try an MLBB lipstick shade. And if you feel the urge to go bold, do it! Deep red-wine lips won’t distract from smoldering eyes—they’ll only amplify the drama, which is not a bad thing.
Rule No. 5:
Dark lipstick is aging.
Ah, brown lipstick—another nostalgic ’90s trend. Searching for the perfect chocolate shade was a personal mission back in the day, and yes, part of the goal was to look older. I never would’ve predicted that dark lips would come back in such a big way. Burgundy, brown, black—anything goes. But it doesn’t have to be so high-key; for a more subdued take on the trend, try Glossier’s Generation G lipstick in Leo, which is more of light nude brown and looks fresh and youthful.
Rule No. 6:
Shampoo your hair.
Remember the no poo method? Confession: I haven’t used shampoo in months. Instead, I co-wash (wash with conditioner only) every other day. The other days, I let my hair be. I know you have questions about this rogue method because everyone does. Yes, my hair looks and feels just as clean as if I used shampoo. No, my head is hardly ever greasy. Yes, my hair was oily and weighed down at first, but only for a few weeks as I weaned it off of shampoo. In fact, the one time I tried shampoo again, my head was a greaseball within one day. So maybe, just maybe, those suds are a dirty trick. On days where you are short on time or simply too lazy, dry shampoo is a simple potion to create second day hair everyday!
Rule No. 7:
Don’t sleep with wet hair.
If you’ve ever heard that going to bed with wet hair can make you catch a cold or even cause your hair to fall out (thanks, Grandma, for that one), you’re being duped. Not only is sleeping with wet hair a pretty benign habit, but it can even spare you the need for a blowout. To pull off the best kind of bedhead, work some leave-in conditioner into just-washed, combed hair, running fingers through to create volume. Sleep with your hair splayed up and over the pillow, then wake up with effortlessly cool, tousled tresses.
Rule No. 8:
Tweeze your brows.
It’s almost becoming a rule now not to tweeze since that Brooke Shields look has made such an epic comeback. But of course we had to throw this in here as a reminder. If you missed the memo though, it’s not too late—microblading can bring your brows back (sort of).
Rule No. 9:
Keep your nails squoval-shaped.
Nail Design & Art
The classic squoval shape (to be honest, I had never heard this term until a few days ago) is pretty much what it sounds like—a clean hybrid of square and oval. Many manicurists have defaulted to this shape for decades, but make way for a way sexier shape that’s decidedly not square: almond.
Rule No. 10:
Trying new beauty trends can be fun, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to skin care and makeup. Personalized looks on the catwalk recently at Marc Jacobs and Prada show that individualism is a beautiful thing.
When to Fall in Line:
Don’t go to bed wearing makeup.
Don’t even think about hitting the hay without washing your face. Save yourself the breakout (and fine lines and dullness) and keep this as an unwavering aspect of your routine.
You’ll never stop hearing this because it’s good advice, people. UV exposure equals wrinkles, and so you must protect with SPF.
Wear as little or as much makeup as you want.
Finally, stepping out without a lick of foundation is the new normal. It takes a lot of pressure off of low-maintenance gals. But even if the “no-makeup” look is having a moment, it doesn’t mean you have to hop on the bandwagon if you feel most confident and beautiful with a full face on. Do your thing. Gwen Stefani is!
If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Accentuate your best features. If you have glorious eyebrows, don’t be afraid to play them up even more. If you’re blessed with high cheekbones, dab a little highlighter on top of them. If you have full lips, reach for that red lipstick. Give ’em all you’ve got.
Drink lots of water.
People often try to debunk drinking water as beneficial to your skin. Whatever the science says about H2O’s direct effects on your complexion, hydration is absolutely essential to keeping every part of your body functioning well (not to mention keeping you alive). And when you’re healthy, your skin shows it. Period.