Even the most seasoned beauty pros sometimes mess up—you just don’t see it in YouTube videos or perfectly filtered and flawless Instagram selfies. From regrettable haircuts to self-tanning accidents, experimenting with beauty means that sometimes things just don’t go according to plan, and honestly? That’s part of the fun!
Beauty blunders can teach us valuable lessons about ourselves, like how we react to accidents and impulses and what’s just a smidge too far out of our comfort zones. (As someone who has dyed her signature blonde hair chocolate brown on impulse a few times, I know what I’m talking about—and I now know how to talk myself out of doing it again!) If you mess up, don’t freak out! You can fix even the worst problems with a little bit of patience, trust, and time.
A bad dye job.
Maybe you and your stylist just didn’t see eye to eye at your last appointment, or perhaps you went a little too far with the pastel or vibrant rainbow tones at home and now you’re stuck looking like you worked at Hot Topic in high school.
If your color came from the salon, give them a call and let them know you’re not happy with the end result. Though it may feel awkward sharing such info, salons and stylists appreciate knowing how their clients feel and often jump at the chance to make things right. You’ll likely be scheduled for a follow-up visit where you and your stylist can talk through what worked and what didn’t.
If your color came from an at-home color conditioner you saw on Instagram, you have two choices: Let it fade naturally and speed the process with a clarifying shampoo or DIY a solution to rinse the color out faster. One of my go-tos is mixing crushed up vitamin C tablets with a gentle but clarifying basic shampoo to scrub out the color. Be sure to use a deep conditioner after, as this can be drying.
A haircut you hate.
You decided to cut off your hair on impulse and now you’re regretting it, or maybe that new chop just doesn’t work with your natural texture and you’re tired of styling it every day. If you aren’t a fan of the cut from the moment you leave the salon, let the stylist know right away so they can fix it. Did you try a new stylist or salon and you’re not happy with the experience? Consider going to a new location or reaching out to a stylist you trust for insight.
If the grow-out period is driving you up the wall, try breaking out of your usual styling routine and trying something new. Maybe this cut works better air dried than blown dry. Maybe you need to do a little zhushing with a curling iron or flat iron, or perhaps you’re going to have to get creative with topknots or braids. Just remember that your hair will grow out and be patient!
Too much perfume.
Did you get a little heavy-handed with the fragrance this morning, and now you’re feeling nauseous and overwhelmed by your personal aroma? It happens! If you don’t have time to shower and start over, try calming down the scent with a makeup or baby wipe or a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. (Yes, I know that sounds weird, but it works!) You can also try applying unscented lotion over the fragrance to soften it.
A disappointing product.
You coveted said product for weeks, read all the reviews, and finally took the plunge and bought it. Now you’re less than thrilled. What do you do? If you’re using a skin-care product, remember that you need to give it several weeks to start working, especially if it’s targeted for acne, dark spots, or fine lines and wrinkles. No product can change your skin overnight, no matter what marketing copy may say!
If you’ve given the product time and you’re still not happy with the results, check the store’s return policy. Stores like Ulta, Sephora, and Nordstrom have excellent return policies for beauty products, so you should be able to swap it for something more suitable. If you’re not able to return the product and don’t feel like finishing it, maybe give it to a friend who you think would enjoy it. You could also consider swapping it in an online beauty group if you feel comfortable doing so.
What is it about bangs that makes them so tempting? The urge to chop comes on strong, and sometimes you don’t realize that a fringe is not the look for you until you’ve actually done the cutting. (Please don’t drink a bottle of champagne and decide to cut a new set of bangs, as I have done in the past.) If you gave in to the siren song of bangs and now hate them, join the club! All you can do is deal until they grow out.
What is it about bangs that makes them so tempting? The urge to chop comes on strong, and sometimes you don’t realize that a fringe is not the look for you until you’ve actually done the cutting.
A few tips to get you through: Style them first when your hair is wet, especially if you have curls or waves and wear the bangs straight. Immediately reach for the hair dryer and start forming them into your desired shape. Get really into hats or sparkly hairpins and barrettes—indulge your inner child with something shiny! Embrace the bang and roll with it until you can push them off your face once more.
A huge, attention-grabbing zit.
One of the most important lessons I learned while dealing with a year of horrible hormonal acne is that you can slather on concealer to your heart’s delight, but you really can’t hide those big, pulsating zits. Why not have a little fun with them? Starface Hydro-Stars make acne cool with their cheeky yellow star shape, but they also help shrink those giant zits by absorbing fluid and protecting them from bacteria. Your selfies just got a lot more fun.
Incorrect foundation matching.
It’s so hard to find the perfect shade for your skin tone, especially if you’re shopping online. If you ended up with a product that’s just a shade or two lighter or darker than your skin, don’t fret—you can totally make it work. Is the color too light? Use blush and bronzer to restore dimension and color to your face. Is it too dark? Try mixing a drop or two with your moisturizer for a sheer finish.
Super dry, flaky lips.
In my experience, there are few beauty ailments worse than dry, flaky lips, especially in the coldest months of winter. However, overapplying lip balm can actually make things worse! Find a thick, emollient balm and try to use it only once or twice a day. My go-to of many years is Malin & Goetz’s Lip Moisturizer, which treats lips to essential fatty acids that hydrate all day. I apply a thick coat before bed and rarely have to apply again throughout the day. Another winter favorite is Lansinoh’s Lanolin Nipple Cream, which is meant for breastfeeding mothers but works great as a balm!
For flakiness, wet a toothbrush or washcloth with warm water and gently exfoliate your lips, then slather on your balm of choice. Don’t pick or pull at flakes—that only makes things worse! Remember, you can’t fix many common beauty issues overnight, but you’ll soon see the end result staring back at you in the mirror!
Kara Nesvig grew up on a sugar beet farm in rural North Dakota and pretended to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz for about three full years. Things haven’t changed much, except she now lives in an adorable ’20s house in St. Paul with her husband, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dandelion and many, many pairs of shoes. Kara is a voracious reader, Britney Spears superfan and copywriter — in that order.