Damage control! Naughty-to-nice your beauty routine

Repair the damage to your hair, face and body with this no-fail, no-fuss guide to beauty perfection, by beauty editor Sarah Brooks-Wilson.

When it comes to your looks, it’s easy to slip into bad habits, going overboard with products, treatments and generally not doing the right thing in your routine. Well it’s time to break the bad with these three-step programs to put you on the road to beauty recovery just in time for the festive season.

The blow dry devotee

You’re naughty when…

  • You’re in the salon every week having a blow dry.
  • Your hair is starting to feel dry and lacks shine.
  • Your hair falls out after brushing.

Reality check

If the slightest sign of frizz sends you to the salon, it’s time to rein yourself in. “The combination of extreme heat, tearing and pulling is brutal for those who blow dry daily,” says De Lorenzo education manager Megan Yabsley. Excessive styling can lead to “burnt hair, breakages and frizz, not to mention dry, damaged locks,” she says.

Three-step rehab

  1. Protect strands
    After washing, coat damp hair with a primer like De Lorenzo Defence Extinguish Spray, $26. This will help to reduce heat damage, smooth the cuticle with emollients to strengthen, protect against breakage and lock out the blow dry-ruining humidity you face every day.
  2. Make it last
    Combat limp locks by going to the root of the problem. Dose them with a dry shampoo like Batiste Dry Shampoo, $9.95 and gently brush out the starch particles that have soaked up the heavy oil from your scalp. Say hello to clean hair again.
  3. Switch it up
    Sexy waves and luscious buns are both clever ways to conceal strands slightly past their prime. Twist sections around a straightening iron, or pull them up through a handy foam bun tool to make a perfect topknot first try. Easy party hair in no time.

The sun worshipper 

You’re naughty when…

  • You’ve started to get pigmentation on your face.
  • Skin is dry to the touch and fine lines are starting to appear.
  • Skin has lost its radiance and looks dull.

Reality check

While lying in the sun makes you feel amazing and the vitamin D does your body good, too much sun plays havoc with your skin and increases your risk of skin cancer.

Three-step rehab

  1. Start using antioxidants
    “When skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun, free radical molecules are created which damage the structure of the skin,” says Emma Hobson from the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica. Add antioxidants to your skincare routine to help neutralise them. Look for vitamins A, C and E, coenzyme Q10, idebenone and botanicals like green tea, coffee and berries. Try a lightweight gel under your moisturiser like Environ Intensive Antioxidant Gel, $65 and Dermalogica C-12 Pure Bright Serum, $141.50.
  2. Boost hydration
    Sun damage can dehydrate your skin. “Hyaluronic acid is the star ingredient when it comes to replenishing lost moisture,” says Hobson. Applying a booster serum under your daily moisturiser plus a regular face mask containing this skin plumper will get you back on track. Try Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster, $69 and Skin Republic Hyaluronic Acid Face Mask Sheet, $9.99/sheet.
  3. Fade freckles
    UV light causes pigment cells to go into overdrive, leaving freckles or large patches of discolouration on the skin. To help fade them, use a salicylic acid or glycolic acid-based cleanser like Swisse Olive Leaf Gel Cleanser, $9.95 and a serum like SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector, $142 every day to help fade pigment and brighten the skin.

The hair colour fanatic

You’re naughty when…

  • You can’t bear to see your roots.
  • You could have bought a small boat with how much you’ve paid your colourist.
  • You describe your hair as any or all of these: a) dry, b) straw-like, c) Brillo pad.

Reality check

Colouring changes the structure of the hair shaft, which weakens the integrity of your strands. While conditioners help conceal the damage, they won’t reverse it. Every process after the next leaves hair dull and prone to major splitting and breaking.

Three-step rehab

  1. Minimise the fade factor
    Every time you wash your hair, pigment is rinsed out. Get the most out of your dye job: shampoo no more than three times a week and use a dry shampoo on off-days.
  2. Get a colour boost
    A shampoo that deposits colour back onto the hair shaft is ideal. Choose a non-stripping, sulphate-free formula like Pure Hair Food Tone Your Hair Blonde Shampoo, $28.90 which enriches tones with the help of colour-balancing pigments.
  3. Go the touch up route
    If you’re wearing a colour that is drastically different from your base shade, make an appointment every six weeks, but extend the time between touch-ups with an at-home kit like Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Root Touch-Up, $12.49.

The skin nitpicker

You’re naughty when…

  • You have magnifying mirrors all over the house.
  • You have so many products you can’t remember what you’re using.
  • Your ideal date? A mask, facial and a peel.

Reality check

Pampering your complexion is a good thing, but trying every product and treatment available can leave your face inflamed and vulnerable. Sometimes the best routines are the simplest.

Three-step rehab

  1. Return to basics
    All you really need is three products: a gentle cleanser, a daily moisturiser with sunscreen and a night cream. These are the backbone of a solid skincare routine. Apps like mySkin can give you recommendations from users with complexions like yours.
  2. Target problem areas
    Whether its acne or anti-ageing, find a single treatment that addresses your biggest issue and stick to it. Treatments take a few weeks to have an effect, so be patient.
  3. Invest in a fix-all
    You may benefit from at-home red light therapy. The collagen-stimulating device will improve pore size, skin tone, texture and wrinkles. Try Racinne Lady S Home Spa Device, $299.

The self tan-a-holic

You’re naughty when…

  • You wouldn’t consider wearing a strapless dress without getting bronzed first.
  • You’ve actually forgotten what the natural colour of your skin looks like.
  • You’ve grown to love the signature smell of a spray tan.

Reality check

There’s no nice way to put it: too much fake tan doesn’t look good. Your face will look muddy and the skin on your body will start to become dry and scaly, and even after a tan the colour looks patchy and uneven.

Three-step rehab

  1. Build it up
    The most natural way to look sun-kissed is to use a daily moisturiser that contains the tanning molecule DHA for a healthy, streakless glow. Try Jergens Natural Glow, $10.99.
  2. Be strategic
    Parts of your body get more sun than others, which is why a uniform tan looks fake. Add two coats of spray tan to areas like the shoulders, décolletage and the tops of your thighs. “Using a darker shade sculpts areas and gives the illusion  of more definition,” says Beach Street Salon co-owner Lauren Capelin.
  3. Dress wisely
    Whites, brights and neons make your skin look darker, so save on the spray and dress smart. For a boost, bronzing gels yield instant results and wash off in the shower.

The gel mani-ac

You’re naughty when…

  • You can’t remember the last time you saw your real nails.
  • New polish colours don’t interest you, unless they come in a gel.
  • Your nails have weakened “a bit” (you can’t peel a sticker off an apple).

Reality check

Gel manicures pose two risks: UV exposure from curing lights and peeling nails from acetone removers. Take a break from the salon every now and then.

Three-step rehab

  1. Become a DIY diva
    Gel polish is a pain to remove. Speedy manicurists often soak nails in harsh drying acetone and then scrape off the colour. Take your time with removal with an at-home kit to gently lift the polish.
  2. Take a break
    Alternate a gel mani with a regular one. Go six weeks on, two weeks off and dose nails with a nourishing conditioner like CND RescueRXX, $34.95, which mends with keratin, jojoba and almond oils and will dramatically reduce peeling and repair the nail health.
  3. Wrap ‘em up
    Nail polish appliques are nearly as durable as gels and give you colourful nails quickly. Even better, they don’t require UV light or acetone. Try Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips Kit, $14.95.

The party animal

You’re naughty when…

  • The dark circles and swelling around your eyes gets bigger by the day.
  • Your skin looks tired and grey.
  • Your face is showing more lines and furrows than it ever did.

Reality check

Scientists now believe that skin cells regenerate while we sleep, so when you miss your beauty slumber, your skin will suffer. Sleep also relaxes your face so that lines and furrows soften by morning. If you’re up all night, your skin will definitely look craggy.

Three-step rehab

  1. Reduce eye bags
    Place cold tea bags on each eye for 10 minutes. The caffeine will help draw out extra fluid and the cold will reduce swelling by constricting the blood vessels, which show through the skin as dark circles. Apply an eye gel containing vitamin C, cucumber or chamomile to soothe and reduce dark circles. Try La Mav Anti Dark-Circle Eye Gel, $34.95.
  2. Brighten the complexion
    To brighten a sallow complexion, start with an alpha-hydroxy acid scrub, rinse off with cool water and follow with a revitalising face mask like The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask, $35. A moisturiser like Natio Glow skin Brightening Face Balm, $17.95 will bring back vitality.
  3. Fake it
    Faking a good beauty sleep is always easier with a little makeup. Use light reflecting concealers and foundations like Clinique Even Better Glow Light Reflecting Makeup, $55 and Maybelline New York Dream Brightening Concealer, $15.95 to bring back the glow.

The fake lash addict

You’re naughty when…

  • If one falls off on the pillow, you’re straight back in the salon for fillers.
  • You pre-book your lash appointments for the year so you’re never caught without them.
  • You haven’t seen your real lashes for some time.

Reality check

While they’re great if you’ve inherited sparse, barely-there eyelashes, wearing lash extensions all the time can weaken your real lashes and cause allergic reactions.

Three-step rehab

  1. Save for special occasions
    If you must go for in-salon lash extensions, wear them only for special occasions to give your lashes a break. A good set can last up to three weeks and when they do start falling out, get them removed professionally to avoid natural lash breakages.
  2. Go DIY
    Try the at-home version, including strips or individual lashes that glue on. Makeup artists love them, as they’re an instant way to thicken your lashes but far less damaging. Try Glam by Manicare 04. Elle, $12.99.
  3. Invest in a good mascara
    A volumising, lash-boosting jet-black mascara will give your lashes an instant boost without the damage. Mascaras now contain lash-building ingredients to nourish and keep them healthy. Try Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara, $47.