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How to cure bad grooming habits

| Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Pretty up your daily routine with smart products and techniques for curing bad grooming habits.

Don't wash your hair daily. Your scalp constantly produces oils that nourish, moisturize and protect hair. Unless your lifestyle requires you to sweat a lot (marathon runner, hot-sauce tester), there's no need to strip your tresses of a healthy amount of grease daily. “The less product you use, the longer you can go without washing your hair,” says Marla Beck, co-founder of the Washington cosmetics emporium Blue Mercury (Bluemercury.com).

The Fix: Ojon's Rub-Out Dry Cleansing Spray ($24, Sephora.com) keeps hair fresh between showers. Made of oil from a nut found only in Central American rainforests, the stuff is safe for colored locks.

Don't pump your mascara. Repeatedly drawing the wand in and out of a mascara tube to get more product allows air to enter the container, which can dry out your lash-luxing formula and shorten its lifespan. “You had to do that in the old days because the packaging was thick at the bottom and narrow at the top,” Beck says. “But now mascaras are designed to be long and narrow for maximum coverage on the brush.”

The Fix: If your Diorshow or Great Lash has lost its luster, add three to four drops of hot green tea to the bottle. The warm liquid loosens up the contents, and the antioxidants in tea just might promote lash growth.

Don't rub wrists after applying perfume. Perfume is a delicate combination of scented oils and alcohol. Spritzing it on and smashing your wrists together creates friction between the oils in your perfume and those in your skin, which can distort the sillage (the scented trail left after applying a fragrance). It won't necessarily make your Chanel No. 5 smell like Eau du Dumpster No. 12, but it will result in a slightly different waft than the maker intended.

The Fix: Spray each wrist separately, along with your décolletage. If you overdo it, smear a little rubbing alcohol on the application points to dilute. Or, for a fool-proof option, gently dab on fragrance using a roll-on. Try Marchesa's parfum d'extase roller ball with hints of lilac and star anise ($25, Sephora).

Don't think red lipstick isn't for you. “Playing with makeup is half the fun of being a girl,” says D.C. beauty blogger Lara Ramos of Theglossarie.com. “Just let loose.” Perhaps the most feminine beauty product out there is a tube of bright-red lipstick. While you may initially balk at the “Look-at-me!” Marilyn Monroe-meets-Gwen Stefani vibe, Ramos thinks true reds work for every skin tone. Not ready to take the plunge? Use your finger to dab a little red on and top it with a sheer gloss.

The Fix: True reds — the unshaded hues of stop signs, cherries and fire trucks — are universally flattering. We're sweet for Illamasqua's matte lipstick in Box ($24, Sephora); Ramos swears by Maybelline's Red Revival ($8, CVS).

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