We’ve all been there. You swear you had SPF 30 on the whole time (yeah, yeah). Now, you’re red as a lobster. Put down the aloe bottle (for a moment) and try one of these crimson-ridding remedies.

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1. Black Tea Soak: Black tea is full of antioxidants and contains tannic acid that draws heat from the burn to restore the skin’s acid balance (thanks, Martha).

The key here is the tea-to-water ratio. The blacker the tea, the better. Twenty bags of tea for every 2 or 3 quarts of water should do it. Once you’ve brewed the tea until it cools, soak a washcloth in it and place on the burnt skin. Let it sit and soak in. This will have an instant cooling effect and reduce redness in 8 to 12 hours.

2. Food Compresses: Three to try. First, lettuce water. Boil lettuce leaves in water, strain (saving the water), refrigerate the liquid, and dab over burned skin. Next, potato poultice. Grate a cold, raw potato into a mush, spread it into a clean dish towel, apply to affected skin, and wrap the area in plastic wrap. And thirdly, milk. Soak a cloth in iced milk and hold it over the burned skin for 5 to 8 minutes. The cold will reduce swelling while the anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain. Try one of these, and report back.

3. Oatmeal Bath: If you were born before 1995, you (and your mom) are familiar with this one. Scoop a cup or two of breakfast oats into a running bath – or use a colloidal oatmeal from the drugstore – to soothe a red, itchy burn.

4. The Moisturizing Method: This may sound obvious, but then, so is putting on sunblock at the beach. After a harsh burn, apply a healing moisturizer at least twice a day. This will soothe the skin and postpone – if not prevent – peeling. Note: shelve those fancy anti-aging creams for now. They often contain chemicals like retinol or hydroxy acids that dry out the skin and increase redness.

And, of course, drink plenty of water, try not to scratch, and for the sake of your future (i.e. much older) self, wear sunscreen.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Document your go-to remedy, then use #ruehowto on Instagram or tweet us at @ruelala. And check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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July 10, 2013

I’ve done a fair amount of looking around when it comes to ideas for July 4 shorts. You could deck out the front pockets, dip-dye them, or paint on simple stars and stripes. Ultimately, I decided to cut my own stencil (not necessarily the best decision), and spray-paint the back pockets. Here’s how.

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Continue reading “Rue How-To: DIY American Flag Shorts” »

July 3, 2013
Mug collector? Me, too. I have boxes and boxes of old mugs from college visits, vacations, and gift shops – all stowed away, no longer worthy of my crowded kitchen cupboards. But why relegate them all to the basement? Pull out a couple of plain white ones and grab a handful of Sharpies. With anything from inspirational quotes to Rueisms to your own made-up witty phrases, you can bring an old mug out of hiding and back to life. This one took about two-point-five seconds of effort (plus an easy 30 minutes of bake time).

 

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Tip: If you make a mistake before you bake, use soap and water to wash off the marker. Make sure to always hand-wash your DIY Sharpie dishes.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Questions? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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June 26, 2013

The key to a beauty routine that endures? Being prepared for mishap after mishap – and having a few quick tricks up your sleeve. And since I’m not one to hold on to a good secret, I’ll let you in on a couple of mine.

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Green skin, be gone.
This beaming five-karat rock? That’s five karats of plastic. And the band, well – let’s just say there’s no Tiffany & Co. inscription hidden on there. For four bucks it was too flashy and fabulous to pass up, but unfortunately, there’s a not-so-fabulous green ring around my finger by the end of the night. The solution? Clear nail polish (not just for runs in your tights). Paint one coat around the inside of your costume jewels, let it dry, and your wicked-witch skin problem is solved.

The lipstick trick.
We’ve all been there. You’re in a cab, it’s dark, you try to freshen up your lipstick, but instead, you twist it into the cap. A perfectly good piece of makeup, ruined – or so you think. You’ve had a few Um… yes answers to Is there food in my teeth?, so you should have mini dental floss in every handbag. Pull out a small piece, twist the lipstick down so the broken part is the only part exposed, hold the tube firmly, and glide the floss flat across the top. Voilà! You’re ready to reapply. Left your floss behind? Use a piece of hair. I swear, it works.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Questions? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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June 19, 2013

A regular old manicure? It’s like the VCR: you only choose it if there are no other options. When the gel manicure snuck its way into nail salons across Boston, needless to say, I was pleased. However, I have thin nails and a habit of peeling off polish – a combination that does not bode well for my nail beds. In an effort to save the five to eight bucks it costs to have the gel removed, I take ten minutes and do it myself.

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The key to getting all of the gel off in one try is the first step: filing the tops of your nails. This process breaks though the clear coating and helps the acetone soak in. Make sure you’re using pure acetone, as regular old nail polish remover will not work. The petroleum jelly will protect your skin from the acetone – this works wonders, especially for those with sensitive skin.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Questions? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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June 12, 2013

Achieving a streak-free sunless tan? It’s no easy feat. We’ve all made the rookie mistakes that result in orange hands or splotchy knees. But, as an avid collector of these products – with a strict UV-free policy – I have created a system to swear by. For best results, start the process before you head to bed and then shower in the morning.

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1. Exfoliate. Shave your legs. Then scrub with bath salts. A smooth surface is essential.

2. Moisturize. Any lotion will do. Dry skin will cause your sunless tan to flake sooner rather than later. Wait 5 – 8 minutes for the lotion to dry.

3. Apply tanning lotion with gloves. (If you choose not to use gloves, be sure to wash your hands with scrubbing salts when you’re finished.) Using both hands, massage the lotion in a circular motion. Start above your ankles and work your way up. Ask a friend to help with your back. Areas to skip for now: feet, ankles, knees, elbows, neck, face. Let the tanning lotion dry completely before continuing.

4. Once the lotion is dry, use a tanning spray held 4 – 6 inches from your body to lightly sweep over your legs, midsection, arms, back, and the areas you skipped in step 3 (except your face). This will cover any spots missed by the lotion. Let it dry for 5 – 10 minutes before bed.

5. To add a little color to your face, incorporate bronzer into your makeup routine. Or, use a dab of face tanning lotion and mix it into your moisturizer or liquid concealer.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Questions? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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May 29, 2013

As summer approaches, the air changes – and our skin goes into its routine seasonal shock. Dark sun spots. Red pimples (curse the humidity). Freckles appearing as if from nowhere. And that natural, barely there look you were aiming for turns in to a cakey mess with the over-application of ivory concealers, nude foundations, and white powders.

Enter: The Color Correction Compact. The age-old theory is that the colors opposite each other on the color wheel cancel each other out. Here’s how it works.

1. Assess your face in the mirror and identify the areas that require coverage.

  • Red spots: pimples or rosacea
  • Brown spots: sun spots or scars
  • Purple or blue spots: veiny eyelids or circles under eyes
  • Orange spots: freckles

 
2. Use a color corrector liquid or powder compact (or both, depending on the severity of your spots) to dab away blemishes with their color opposites.

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Hint: Less is more. The advantage of this technique, as opposed to using cover-up, is that these colors disguise the blemishes completely. Try not to paint it on.

3. Use an allover white face powder after you color correct and before applying bronzer or blush.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Questions? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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May 22, 2013

Cheap. Easy. So fun. Wine drinkers? This one’s for you. Everything you need is in your house except for the knob that will top the stopper. Thankfully, you only need one – so spend $8 or so (love these) for the soon-to-be cutest wine stopper ever.

First, dig up a few old corks to practice. The trick to a successful stopper is a perfectly vertical twist through the cork – otherwise, the knob will not lie flat. If you have one of those handy-dandy mechanical wine openers, I encourage you to use it here. If not (I don’t), that’s what practice is for.

In terms of wine corks, synthetic is ideal. Not only do synthetic corks keep wine fresh longer by eliminating bacteria, they also make for a DIY wine stopper that you can use again and again (or give as a gift!).

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By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Questions? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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May 15, 2013

If you visited Rue La La at all last month, you probably saw our April login page. (If not, peep it here.) A personalized welcome mat? Needless to say, I was inspired.

One trip to Home Depot, a few printouts, and some work with an X-ACTO® knife later, my front porch has serious personality. Here’s how to create your own.

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What you’ll need:

  • Door mat (about $10 at Home Depot)
  • Black spray paint ($2)
  • Stencils – I printed mine on regular printer paper, in a few different sizes
  • X-ACTO knife
  • Scissors
  • Thumbtacks
  • Newspaper
  • Tape measure, if you want to be precise

 

How to do it:

  1. Print out your mat message. (Need an idea? How about a Rueism?) If you have heavier paper, it might make the cutting process a bit easier, but I used regular and it worked well.
  2. Decide what size your font should be by placing the pages on the mat and eyeing them from standing level. If you can’t read it clearly, it’s too small.
  3. Use the X-ACTO knife to carefully cut out the letters. Do this on a safe surface, like a thick piece of cardboard or magazine (I used an old Rue La La box). Make sure to save the letters that need fill-ins, like Es and Os.
  4. Go outside (inhaling toxins is no fun) and place your stencil plus fill-ins – tape measure optional – on the mat where you would like the message.
  5. Secure the pages and pieces with thumbtacks. Don’t be modest – the spray will cause lightweight paper to blow around a bit, and you want these as stable as possible.
  6. Cover the rest of the mat with newspaper to prevent the paint from spreading.
  7. Spray the stencils completely.
  8. Let dry for a minute or two, then reveal!

 

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

What will your welcome mat message be? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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May 8, 2013

If you’re determined to master the coveted cat-eye (it took me months), you’ll appreciate this DIY. Before you head to the makeup counter and spend upwards of too much money on liquid eyeliner, make your own out of eye shadow already in your arsenal.

All you need? Contact-lens solution. I used Bausch + Lomb ReNu® multi-purpose solution. You’ll need three or four drops at most. Keep it on the dry side – you can always add more when you’re ready to use it. If you’re not a contact wearer, steal some from a friend or head to the drugstore and pick up a travel-sized bottle.

Tip: Hesitant about mixing a whole palette? Try dipping your eyeliner brush into contact-lens solution before applying your shadow.

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By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Did you find this beauty tip helpful? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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May 1, 2013