AdviceStyle + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle Roundup, Beauty Tips Edition

Dear Belle,

My wedding is in two weeks and I have a huge pimple forming on my cheek, deep under the skin.  What would Belle do?


Well, Belle would do one of two things.  One, you can go to the dermatologist for a cortisone shot, which will shrink it down to nothingness quickly.  Or, two, if doctors aren’t your thing, I would apply some black drawing salve (smells AWFUL, works great) to the blemish using my tips from this post.  Though I no longer use Prid’s drawing salve since Dr. Christopher’s is much more effective.


I have been using the Jergens Natural Glow Gradual Self-tanner.  At first I thought it was great, I really liked the gradual tanning as it seemed more natural for my tan to develop over a week rather than a day and it helped me avoid streaking.  However after a few weeks I started to notice blotchiness.  A few of my friends have complained about the same problem.  So I am wondering is it possible to keep the tan looking even over a long period of time? If so, how?  


I guess my first question would be, are you exfoliating regularly?  When using sunless tanner, even a lotion, it’s important that you exfoliate on a regular basis.  Otherwise your tan will become patchy-looking.

The easiest method is to keep a pair of exfoliating gloves in your shower and give your body a light scrub once per week.  You can also use a body polishing scrub, or a loofah mitt.


I’m looking for a set of good makeup brushes.  I am open to buying a really nice set, but something cheaper would be ideal.  

Thanks, Abbie

Over the years, I’ve learned that buying a brush set isn’t always better than buying individual brushes.  Sure, you get six or eight brushes for what feels like a reduced price, but how many of those brushes do you really use?  I’ve never used a lip brush and I apply my eye makeup with my fingertips.  So I advise that you buy only the brushes you know you’ll need.

Plus, different companies have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to brushes.  So why buy a blush brush that sucks because their powder brush was great?

For concealer brushes, Laura Mercier makes the best ones.  I like her spot corrector brush and her flat brush for under-eye areas and blending.  I like the Sephora complexion brush for powder and a buffing brush for a smooth foundation finish.  Bobbi Brown makes the best blush, so it stands to reason she makes the best blush brush.

Also, before you spend a fortune on MAC brushes, check out Sigma brushes.  A few of my brushes (highlighter, etc.) come from them, and the quality is as good, if not better than MAC, for less money.  I especially love their Sigma Dry n’ Shape, which allows you to dry and reshape your brushes in half the time.

Dear Belle,

You wrote once that you do your own manicures and pedicures.  How do you deal with the cuticles?  That’s the one thing that I can never get right.


For softening the cuticles, I like Essie’s Apricot Cuticle Oil.  This keeps them from drying out and splitting.  As for removing them, I take a bit of a strange approach.

When I’m about to step out of the shower, I use my bath towel or my fingernail to wipe away the excess cuticle while it’s super soft.  You could also use an orange stick for this.  And if I get a bad spot, I just take a nail nipper to it and trim it slightly.  (You can read more at home mani/pedi tips here and here.)


I moved to D.C. last summer, and since then, blackheads have taken over my nose and chin.  I tried the Aztec clay you recommended, but it didn’t really do much for the blackheads (it did clear my whiteheads, so thanks).  Do you have tips for those of us who suffer from an ugly case of blackhead infestation?

Love the blog! Kali

Blackheads are the worst.  For those of you who don’t know the difference between a blemish and a blackhead, most acne forms under the skin and the clog that caused it is covered.  But with a blackhead the clogging material forces the pore open and remains visible, oxidizing in the air and darkening.  Awesome, right?

I’ve tried every blackhead strip and cream on the market, but the one I think works best is Mario Badescu Silver Powder ($12).  Mix the powder into a paste, and then apply to the area for a few minutes.  Remove with an astringent, I like Clinique clarifying lotion, and you’ll be well on your way toward cleared skin.

Also, sometimes increased exfoliation can help prevent blackheads from forming.  So a device like Clarisonic can really keep the clogging to a minimum, but even a nubby rag and some gentle-scrubbing soap can make a difference.



  1. Jenn L. says:

    Blackheads are an enigma. I recently learned, however, that not all of what we THINK are blackheads are actually blackheads. Many of us, myself included, have been mistaking what are called sebaceous filaments, for blackheads. They look similar, but a sebaceous filament is not actually acne. There’s plenty of info on this, google can help.

    I won’t stop trying to minimize their appearance, but I certainly do feel better about my efforts.

    July 8, 2013/Reply
  2. Katy says:

    My miracle blackhead cure is BHA (salicylic acid). My fave products are Paula’s Choice, but Neutrogena, ProActive, and Clearasil also make a few products that work. Gel or liquid/toner formulas are best; cleansers don’t stay on long enough to work.

    July 8, 2013/Reply
  3. Lexi says:

    Highly, highly recommend Real Techniques brushes. They’re cheap and very good quality synthetic material; I actually prefer to use them over more expensive brushes. They’re sold at Ulta, Amazon, Target, WalMart, etc.

    July 8, 2013/Reply
  4. Anon says:

    For cuticle control and removal, I recently came across a tool for the purpose – like this one: The soft end ppushes the cuticle back and the v-shaprd metal part slides along the endge of the nail and trims off the surplus. It works brilliantly – on feet as well as hands.

    July 8, 2013/Reply
  5. Anon says:

    Do the cortisone shot before the wedding! Save the topical stuff for everything else, but for this you have to bring out the big guns. I was so glad I did it– I got one of my stupid mid-cheek super deep ones that was threatening to make a mess of my whole face. Must be the stress.

    July 8, 2013/Reply
  6. Ginger R. says:

    I mix that Jergen’s self-tanner with body lotion. I put a dab of each into my palm and mix them up, then apply. I think it helps the tanner smooth on more evenly. I like the Jergen’s because it’s inexpensive and doesn’t smell but I did find that it dried my legs out. So extra moisture and using a washcloth or loofa before you apply may help smooth out the color.

    July 8, 2013/Reply
  7. Justine says:

    I’ll vouch for EcoTools brushes, which are easy to find at retailers:

    July 8, 2013/Reply
  8. Jes says:

    For brushes — I rec

    Coastal Scents

    I used to have a bunch of Laura Mercier/Smashbox/MAC brushes but I lost them and heard about Coastal Scents. They’re AWESOME. The Bionic Flat Top Buffer is my ultimate brush for liquid application. Its all pretty cheap too. Just don’t forget to wash before you use. They also make these crazy big palettes that look low quality but actually have really good color payoff.

    July 8, 2013/Reply
  9. ~M says:

    same story, moved to DC, lots of blackheads, and now that I’m on fertility treatments, it’s insane! I’ve been using this twice a week as a mask, and it seems to help quite a bit.
    Good luck.

    July 8, 2013/Reply