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How to look your best

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Don't pluck your eyebrows too close to the mirror. Sculpting your brows too close to a mirror means you can lose sight of their overall shape. “Eyebrows are so important — they frame your face. It's almost as impactful as having your hair colored,” says Marla Beck, co-founder of the Washington cosmetics emporium Blue Mercury (Bluemercury.com).

The fix: Get your brows groomed by a professional and maintain upkeep of strays, steering clear of the arch itself. No time to consult with the pros? Anastasia Beverly Hills' brow stencils provide an easy-to-follow blueprint for petite, slim, medium, high or full arches ($20, Sephora).

Do moisturize your neck. Cutting your skin-care regimen off at the chin is doing a disservice to your anti-aging campaign. Giving your neck attention could determine whether people believe you're celebrating your 30th birthday (again).

The fix: Extend a moisturizer such as Kiehl's new Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream ($52, Blue Mercury) to your neck. Looking for something lightweight? Beck recommends a serum. “Sometimes, people don't want to put moisturizer on their neck because they fear it'll get on their hair and clothes. A quick-absorbing serum is a good alternative.”

Do apply a top coat to your nails. Rushing your paint job and failing to apply a top coat leaves your digits susceptible to chips and dings. Take an additional five minutes to seal your polish with a long-lasting top coat that will save you time in the long run.

The fix: Illamasqua makes a high-gloss, non-yellowing top coat that dries evenly in as little as five minutes ($12, Sephora). The heavy-duty varnish can extend the life of your manicure for up to two additional weeks.

Do wash your makeup brushes. Using a dirty brush is like applying makeup with the bottom of a shoe. “When you're putting something on your face, you want to make sure it's clean,” says D.C. beauty blogger Lara Ramos of Theglossarie.com. “Brushes carry a lot of gross bacteria because they're sitting in your bathroom or floating around your makeup bag collecting germs.” Maintaining brush cleanliness extends their life and keeps evil, acne-causing organisms away from skin.

The fix: Beck recommends disinfecting brushes at least every three months. Swirl damp buffers in Sephora's Purifying Brush Shampoo ($6, Sephora) before letting them dry. You'll return to clean bristles minus the buildup.

Don't wash your face in the morning. Like your hair, your face benefits from a healthy amount of naturally secreted oils. Cleansing skin at the end of the day strips it of environmental factors such as pollution and dirt buildup as well as makeup. But washing it again in the morning is overkill and just dries it out.”

The fix: Trade harsh cleansers for a warm washcloth or gentle wipes such as Korres' Milk Proteins Cleansing & Make-up Removing Wipes, which nourish and refresh a sleepy dermis ($12, Sephora).

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