Rut Busters: 12 Ways To Refresh Your Beauty Game

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This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

In terms of clothing, it’s common for people to adopt “uniforms.” You could, for example, be the girl at the office who sports a version of the silk-blouse-pencil-skirt combo every day. It’s even more likely for us to adopt beautyuniforms. Whether you’re known for the consistent blowout, top knot, red lipstick, or crazy nail art, you probably have a “thing” going. Hey, that’s great. But, sometimes, this type of dedication can feel uninspired. Why not switch it up from time to time?

Ahead, nail artist Dawn Sterling, makeup artistMoani Lee, and hairstylist Alfredo Llamas identify 12 common beauty ruts, and offer easy and majorly gorgeous ways to fix them. Your new look awaits. 


Nothing says “instant chic” like a dressed-up ponytail paired with a plum smoky eye. Good thing this look is so easy to pull off.


The Rut: The same old smoky eye
The Fix: Purple shadow

“We have been seeing a redefined smoky eye on all the runways, from Vera Wang to Matthew Williamson,” Lee says. “It’s a beautiful haze of plum smoke, blended with taupes and mauves — a total departure from blacks and browns.” Instead of convoluting the smoky eye with a billion colors, Lee keeps it tightly edited. “It’s easy!” she promises.

“Start with a plum eyeliner and roughly sketch along the top and bottom lashlines — don’t beprecious; it doesn’t need to be perfect,” she instructs. Then, smudge your work using either a warm fingertip or a short, dense eye brush until there’s a wash of color on the lid and underneath the lashes. “Take a fluffy eye brush and blend a smoky, purple shadow all over that application.” To finish, apply a few quick coats of mascara.

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Purple, $4.49, available at Target; Hourglass No. 9 Domed Shadow Brush, $28, available at Bergdorf Goodman; Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palette, $58, available at Sephora; Hourglass No. 4 Crease Brush, $30, available at Hourglass; Guerlain Maxi Lash, $30, available at Sephora.


The Rut: The lazy ponytail
The Fix: Dress it up!

“This look has been all over the runways,” says Llamas of the pony cuff, spotted everywhere from Helmut Lang to Jason Wu to Philosophy. Again, this couldn’t be an easier way to update your style — we grabbed some ribbons from a local fabric store and went right to work.

“The key is to keep the pony low on the head, rather than up high,” Llamas explains. (Think more Gwyneth Paltrow than Ariana Grande.) “Pull the hair into a low pony, tie it off with an elastic, and then wrap your material around that. I actually used double-stick tape to hold the fabric tightly and set it with a bit of hairspray.” (You could easily use a bobby pin instead of tape.)

“The fabric detail will amp up this look in a big way — it gives a graphic appeal, which is chic and clean,” says Llamas.

L’Oréal Elnett Hairspray, $14.99, available at Ulta.


The Rut: Crazy nail art…again
The Fix: Outline it

If you’re still on the nail-art train, you may want to consider something new. The days of overly embellished tips are falling (way) behind us, and being replaced by negative-space manicures. But, that doesn’t mean your tips shouldn’t stand out.

“The outline couldn’t be easier to accomplish,”Sterling says. “All you have to do is take a striper and paint across the tips of your nails. Then, do the same at the base of the nail. After, connect each side from top to bottom, creating a square.”

It’s low-touch, dare we say easy, and surprisingly graphic: the kind of fresh, modern statement we can get behind.

Essie Matte About You Matte Finisher, $10, available at Ulta; Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art Striper, $3.19, available at


Think this feels too “runway model?” Think again: This is low-maintenance beauty anyone can do — provided you’re brave enough to try the whole “wet look” thing. Sherica is wearing a polished face of foundation and a whole lot of one hair product.


The Rut: Nail-art newbie
The Fix: Mylar tape

“This is the easiest way to create shapes on your nails — it’s also super contemporary-looking,” Sterling says. “All you have to do is prep the nails and apply your basecoat, so the tape will last. You can either apply the tape in fun designs to bare nails, or you can add color. I applied color to half of the nail or just a small side, and then I put the tape around it, which straightened out the lines.” You have to trim each strip with a tiny pair of scissors, which will probably be the most labor-intensive part of this look — but you’ll end up with a statement mani, without the agony.

Chanel Protective Base Coat, $26, available at Nordstrom; Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer in Massai Red, $27, available at Sephora.


The Rut: A lackluster BB cream
The Fix: Upgrade your foundation

“There has never been a season that’s been more about gorgeous, completely flawless skin,” Lee says. But, only practice makes a perfect complexion — and it’s not as easy as gliding on a quick coat of BB cream and calling it a day. Surprisingly, this is the most difficult of the makeup looks to achieve — but it’ll last you forever if you have the patience. “Luminous skin will never go out of style,” Lee adds.

Start with an epic moisturizer. Lee massaged an ultra-rich lotion into our model Sherica’s face. Then, she applied a couple dots of an oil-free foundation into the middle of the face, blending outward with her fingertips. She hid spots and circles by feathering concealer into the skin with a fluffy brush and pressing it into the face with her fingers. “Most importantly, you want to finish with skin-like highlights on the tops of the cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, and the Cupid’s bow for a fresh, healthy glow,” she says.


The Rut: Greasy, second-day hair
The Fix: Just go with it

Sure, it sounds gross, but sometimes all we can do is work with what we’ve got. If you don’t have time to beat those greasy roots after you’ve hit the snooze button a few times, why not join ’em?

“Wet-look hair has been in for quite some time now,” Llamas says of the style seen everywhere from Prabal Gurung to Proenza Schouler. “But, for the everyday, you want to amp it up a bit — give it a part and don’t make it too glossy.” In other words, it should look neat and slick.

“I used vegetable glycerin from Heritage for this look: It doesn’t dry out and it keeps the hair looking wet,” Llamas says. For an everyday approach, try using a fistful of your favorite hair mask, or even a baseball-sized amount of mousse. Comb it through and give it a direction that flatters your face — it’s as easy as that.

“This is a look that will definitely have people talking,” he says. “It can be very sexy.”

Heritage Products Vegetable Glycerin, $6.69, available at Ama


This may seem like a lot of look — like the girl spent hours perfecting that braid, those blue lashes, and that electric liner. Believe it or not, our team spent barely a half hour preparing the model for this shot (including nail art). Ahead, check out the tricks they used.


The Rut: Black eyeliner, every damn day
The Fix: Matching liner and mascara

“Designers for the spring shows were showcasing graphic liners and shapes, so it seemed apropos to give that eye focus a more everyday approach,” Lee says. Taking a cue from the Derek Lam show, where a haze of mauve shadow gave way to dark-purple lashes, she opted for a rhapsody in blues.

“Start with your favorite blue eyeliner on the inner corner of your top lashline. Extend that toward the center of your lashline, and then start from the outer corner and join the two,” she says. “Finish with a gorgeous blue mascara.”

Lee says this is an easy way to upgrade your typical browns and blacks. (You can try it with deep purples, or even navy, for a more subtle take.) “It’s monochromatic, so it’s chic and not overwhelming. It gives you a pop of color that’s unexpected,” she says.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Corrupt, $20, available at Urban Decay; Inglot Cosmetics Colour Play Mascara in Blue, $13, available at Beautylish.


The Rut: The French manicure
The Fix: Reverse it!

Let’s just call it like it is: Somewhere along the line, the French mani gained a ’90s-and-not-in-a-good-way reputation. Sterling insists that it’s time to turn that notion upside down — literally.

“The reverse French is an easy style upgrade — plus it’s consistently a big trend on the runways,” she says. “All you have to do is prep your nails, apply your basecoat, and then paint the nail in your accent color — I chose a silver metallic. Then, I painted the navy shade just in the center, leaving a slight trace of silver around the frame of the nail plate.” You could finish with your typical gloss, but since we were working with a metallic hue, Sterling muted it with a matte topcoat for a cool, suede-like finish. “Playing with texture keeps it chic,” she says.

Essie Matte About You Matte Finisher, $10, available at Ulta.

Sally Hansen Color Foil in Sterling Silver, $17.48, available at Amazon; Chanel Le Vernis Nail Color, $27, available at Chanel; EssieMatte About You Matte Finisher, $10, available at Ulta.


The Rut: The typical French braid
b Add a strand!

“This was something we saw on the runways at Donna Karan,” says Llamas. It’s not particularly revolutionary — so why don’t more of us try it out? Perhaps, this can serve as our gentle reminder.

According to Llamas, it couldn’t be easier: “You section the hair into four equally sized strands, and it’s just like weaving. You go over and under, over and under, and repeat.”

For an ultra-polished look, he prepped the hair with a little thickening spray, and then ran a grooming cream through the braid after it was secured to tame flyaways. “It just looks more modern and cooler than the French,” he says. (Luckily for you, we already have a video tutorial.)

Bumble and bumble Thickening Spray, $29, available at Bumble and bumble; Kiehl’sCreme With Silk Groom, $18, available at Kiehl’s.


You may be worried that an embellished updo and a slick of lip gloss feels a little too “lady.” The surprise comes with the manicure (oh, and the fact that this is a super quick morning routine).


The Rut: The usual red lipstick
The Fix: Go for gloss!

“I have always loved the matte lip look, but I think this season is about trying something different, and playing with glossy textures,” Lee says. Her instinct is right — many major beauty brands (Chanel, Estée Lauder) are launching “lip shines,” which are essentially glossy lipsticks, signaling a matte hiatus. “This is the most effortless, fun twist you can add to an everyday look.”

But, gloss comes with one major caveat: “Keep everything else neutral,” Lee cautions. “Then, choose a fun pop of color, like bright coral or fuchsia, and swipe on a couple coats for a gorgeous, juicy pucker.” You can use the brand-new lipstick-gloss hybrids, or simply find a full-color tube of gloss (which Lee used for this photo).

The best part? “This is the no-frills way of adding color to your lips…without committing to a lipstick for the full day,” says Lee.

MAC Pro Longwear Lipglass in Persistent Peach, $20, available at MAC.


The Rut: The top knot
The Fix: A chic, messy chignon

This season, take the top knot down. “I feel like every girl should be able to do this,” Llamas says. (Yes, even those of you with shoulder-length hair!) “It’s super simple and chic, and it can really change up any look.”

“I prepped the hair with a little bit of thickening hairspray, and then I rough-dried it with my fingers,” Llamas says. “Once that was done, I used a texturizing spray all over, and then I loosely pinned a chignon low on the head.”

That wasn’t all: “I finished with a couple of decorative bobby pins to add a little extra flair,” he says. See? Way dressier than your typical knot.

Bumble and bumble Thickening Spray, $29, available at Bumble and bumble.

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, $42, available at SpaceNK.


The Rut: You hate nail polish
The Fix: Make a statement of it 

Do you eschew polish and manicures altogether? Is it impossible for you to keep a decent manicure past a few days? This is easily the best mani of choice for you.

“The statement manicure is fun!” says Sterling. “It’s a cool approach for people who want to have a little fun without being perfectly finished. If you’re not into masterpieces on your nails, do something edgy! I basically just drew in letters — O, M, G on one hand, and F, U on the other — using a striper brush. It doesn’t have to be perfect…just fun.” 

Chanel Protective Base Coat, $26, available atNordstrom; Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art Striper, $3.19, available at








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