I have round, full cheeks that make me look about five years younger than I actually am. I don’t wear a lot of makeup because many people have told me, my face “can’t handle a lot of makeup.” Everyone always tells me how “sweet” I look without me even opening my mouth, and it’s really irritating. How do I use makeup to look more like a badass and less like an unintentional baby angel? —Micah, 20, Boston, MA

My unintentional cherub! As I’ve endured three decades of people giving me their unsolicited opinions on how “innocent” I look, I understand and feel your frustrations. The definition that all the adults in my preteen life said would come to my moon face never appeared, and I think it’s safe to say that my baby cheeks are here to stay. But just because everyone goo-goos you doesn’t mean you can’t toughen up your look. There are three ways to about this. One is to go VERY VERY DARQUE—think Fairuza Balk as Nancy in The Craft:

Still from The Craft via Styleite.

Still from The Craft via Styleite.

For a Fairuza-style don’tfuckwithmei’mawitch lip color, I really like OCC Matte Lip Tar in Black Dahlia. Urban Decay also does a really pigmented, rich dark lip, their Revolution Lipstick in Shame. (Bonus: It’s vegan!) Black eye liner and smudgy dark eye shadow complete the “Who ya calling baby?” effect. Even though this is technically a Halloween makeup tutorial, I think it can also double as a guide to achieving the perfect tough-girl look.

Option two is to go airy space-alien magick baby. Colors that are pale as a fresh snowfall after the apocalypse are good tools for correcting anyone treating you like a doll: If you’re going to be a doll, then at least you can be a creepy doll! Even though she’s not round-faced, I like to peruse pictures of Tilda Swinton looking like an ice-encrusted Hans Christian Andersen snow queen for inspo. The main elements to consider here are white mascara, white or silver eyeliner, and a really severe, pale pink lip.

Finally, don’t be afraid of experimenting with freakier looks! Björk is another one of our brethren who will likely be infantilized no matter how powerfully she conducts herself in the world because the way she looks reads as cutesy and child-like, but her thing (makeup-wise and life-wise) is: Fuck your beauty standards, I WILL DO AS I WISH. This pic of her with rainbow-colored parrot under-eye eyeshadow is gorgeous:

When I look at Björk, I see a creature who intentionally doesn’t subscribe to the idea that makeup is meant to correct or hide our “flaws,” and rejects conventional femininity. Anyone who treats makeup as an opportunity for performance like that is pretty tough, if you ask me.

Remember that your face can handle anything! No one gets to tell you otherwise. Just because other people see you as cute and sweet doesn’t mean you have to see yourself that way. Makeup can be a fun performative mask, but true grit comes from inside. What you choose to display on the outside is only a courtesy to the rest of the world. If you feel like a badass who can’t be fucked with, then you are! —Jenny

I have a new obsession: PUBE SHAPING. How do I create a lovely, heart-shaped bush? —Mia, 16, Portland, OR

I tend to ditch razors, waxes, and all other depilator for an au naturel pube look, but when the mood strikes, I like to have what I think of as an art show in ma pants. I’m a staunch advocate for experimenting with as many shapes, styles, and lengths as possible, pubic hair–wise, but one my favorites happens to be the Heart-Shaped Bush™. Sweet and sexy, it’s MUCH easier than you might think, given you have the proper tools for this little art project! Let’s go through what these are and how to put ’em to work.

Choose your desired shape of heart. There are LOADS of different types, but if you’re just starting out, go with whatever feels easiest to draw on—because, yes, you will be sketching out a heart out on your actual body before removing any hair. Washable markers, eye liner, and lipstick are all fine stencil utensils, but my personal favorite is the cheap lip liner you can find at many pharmacies, drugstores, and supermarkets—any color and brand will do. As you use one of these options to draw your heart, you can make sure it isn’t lopsided by sketching it in front of a mirror. An even more precise way of going about things? Print out your preferred shape and trace around it. Drawing a perfect heart upside-down is by no means easy!

Now determine which method of hair removal works best for you. I’ve always loathed dealing with nasty razor burns, uncomfortable bumps, and the general fear of having a blade so close to such a sensitive part of my body, so I prefer waxing to shaving, but if wax seems too complex (and painful!), here are special razors made specifically for depilating your “bikini area,” aka yr pubes, and here’s an illustrated guide on how to do it (there’s nothing graphic at this link, but you still might not want to open it in your school library). Do what that guide tells you everywhere except your outlined heart!

If you decide to follow my lead and wax off your bush, using hard wax is best for sensitive areas because it clings to your hair rather than your skin. It also eliminates the tedious task of applying paper strips on top of soft wax before stripping away. Following the steps on the box, heat it up, apply to the area around the heart, and remove it by stripping it away against the grain of your hair growth. Waxing kits often come with little lotion wipes or cooling gels to apply to the area that has been waxed. These have never really worked for me, so I invested in an aloe vera and coconut oil (which, by the way, has SO many other uses; it’s also moisturizer, make-up remover, and even helps get rid of cold sores—here’s how to make one yourself, too).

Hopefully this helps you on your Heart-Shaped Bush™ adventure, and may the bush goddesses be with you! —Mads

I have a haircut coming up and am looking for hair inspiration websites. I’m personally looking for cute bobs. Any ideas? —Kerry

I’m about to show you something that is TOO GLORIOUS, but first, a couple of caveats about this site:

1. It’s as if my mother built it. And that is not a knock to older folks, but to my particular mom—a person who literally calls on the telephone on a regular basis to ask for my help in POSTING TO FACEBOOK. So, in other words, this site is a little Space Jam. Sors.

2. Most of the natural black hairstyles are grouped under “ethnic” or are searchable by color, and that color is usually black. There are a lot of options on this tip, if that’s what you’re interested in—they’re just filed in a way that is sometimes like, “Guys. Come on.”

That being said, the website is UKHairDressers.com. I cannot even recall how I stumbled upon this site many years ago, but it’s a super-searchable database of basically all the hairstyles in the land. Not only do salons and stylists post pro photos of whatever is *happening* in hair at the moment, but seasonal campaigns by haircare companies like AVEDA and Vidal Sassoon are also featured.

Here’s a “hairstyle finder” where you can filter by color, length, gender, and texture. You in particular, my dear, can scroll for days through 1,147 of the world’s most incredible bobs. I’ve made a collage of my faves, which I admit I found entirely in the first 10 pages because my clicking finger got sore…but this is about you, not me. If this were about me…BOOM, OK? Anyway:

Bobs from UKHairDressers: Top row, from left: purple bob; shoulder-length bob; flapper bob; center row, from left: asymmetrical bob; blue bob; wavy bob; bottom row, from left: high-low bob; chin-length bob; blunt bob.

Top row, from left: purple bob; shoulder-length bob; flapper bob; center row, from left: asymmetrical bob; blue bob; wavy bob; bottom row, from left: high-low bob; chin-length bob; blunt bob.

Hope this helps! —Jane Marie

I have elusive dreams of long, healthy fingernails. What are some inexpensive methods for saving my nails from splitting/cracking/getting all gross at the tips?

These dreams of yours don’t have to be elusive! You can totally get dem witchy nails you so desire. Let me help you with my special tipz (nail pun, AHEM)!

  • Eating nutritious food means your outsides will be as healthy as your insides. Nails are made out of keratin, which is a type of protein, so the first thing you can do is make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. If meat and eggs aren’t your thang, beans, tempeh, tofu, spinach, lentils, and quinoa can help you maintain a healthy amount of protein in your bod (teenage girls should generally get 46 grams a day, according to this article).
  • Keeping your nails and cuticles properly moisturized is a good way to prevent nail breakage. Use a cuticle oil, like CND Solar Oil Skin and Nail Conditioner, before you go to bed each night. Massaging that area also helps with circulation, which can help your nails grow. If you have coconut oil in your cupboard, this works well too—and is plenty inexpensive! Use a couple of drops on your clawz to keep your cuticles soft.
  • Always keep a nail file handy in case you get a snag (e.g., a thin chip or bend in your nail). I am totally guilty of not always attending to my snagged nails, which usually leads to them breaking. SO ANNOYING!
  • When you do file your nails, don’t saw them back and forth like secretaries do in ’80s movies—this can actually weaken them! File your nails from the corners to the center in one direction. You should also try using a buffer (like this) to get rid of any snags and help make your nails shiny and smooth.
  • While acetone nail polish remover can remove old paint quickly, it can also leave your nails and cuticles dried out and remove their healthy natural oils. Instead, opt for a non-acetone remover like this one! It contains gentler solvents and usually has moisturizers built in. I’ve switched to non-acetone myself recently (unless I have especially hard-to-remove glitter polish on my nails—then I use acetone, but sparingly).
  • Keeping your nails painted can actually help them stay strong. I’ve learned that my nails don’t break as fast if I keep them painted and purdy. If you’re not feeling a color manicure at the moment, use a clear top coat, like this one. But…you can also use nail health as a good excuse to try all of our DIY nail art tutorials!

Good luck, nail avenger! —Marie ♦
Are you stumped about how to adorn your face and bod with various tinctures/potions/hair gels? Email Amy Rose and her beautiful bevy of broads [email protected], and be sure to include your name/nickname/initials, age, and city.