Azelaic Acid Is the Underrated Acne Ingredient Beloved by Derms—Here’s Why

product bottle

When you think of acne treatments, azelaic acid might not be the first ingredient to come to mind—or, let’s be honest, even the fifth ingredient—but it should be. Whether you use it as a cream, gel, or foam cleanser, this treatment may banish bacteria and reduce redness brought on by different skin conditions.

Azelaic acid is a favorite of dermatologists for its gentleness and versatility (it helps with way more than just acne breakouts), this skin care ingredient deserves a little more respect and recognition than it gets in the beauty world. To thoroughly explain the full range of benefits of using this overachieving skincare ingredient, we turned to the pros.

Meet the Expert

  • Francesa Fusco, MD, an NYC-based dermatologist who specializes in dermatologic surgery.
  • Gervaise Gerstner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist for over 17 years specializing in laser treatment, microneedling, botox, and fillers.

Keep reading to see what the experts say about azelaic acid, what makes it so good, and how you should use it.

Azelaic Acid

Type of ingredient: Acid/Exfoliant

Main benefits: Fights acne, treats rosacea, lightens dark spots, and removes dead skin cells.

Who should use it: In general, anyone with acne-prone, rosacea-prone skin, and hyperpigmentation. Fusco says azelaic acid is recommended for all skin types and is even safe for those who are pregnant.

How often can you use it: It is safe to use twice a day (morning and night) or once every other day for those with sensitive skin.

Works well with: Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), and retinol.

Don’t use with: Azelaic acid is safe to use in conjunction with most, if not all, ingredients.

What Is Azelaic Acid?

In short, Gerstner says azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that helps exfoliate the skin and is synthesized by yeast naturally—but it can be derived from several places. “Azelaic acid is produced naturally on your skin by yeast, but you can also make it in a laboratory, and it can come from grains and cereals,” Fusco says. In addition to being comedolytic (meaning it prevents comedones – blackheads) and working to exfoliate deep within the pores, Fusco says azelaic acid is also keratolytic (decreases keratin), anti-inflammatory, and has antioxidant properties. Like we said, it’s an overachiever.

Though Fusco and Gerstner recommend a prescription form of azelaic acid to their patients (either Finacea or Azelex) in a strength of 15 percent to 20 percent respectively, it's also available over the counter in a lower strength of 10 percent or less. Azelaic acid can be found in leave-on topical treatments and comes in gel, foam, and cream forms, which are designed to be used on different areas of the body. For instance, the foam version is better suited to cover a larger area like the back than a small cream or gel would be.

woman's azelaic acid before and after photo

Byrdie editor Holly Rhue's skin difference after three three months of azelaic acid use

Benefits of Azelaic Acid for Skin

Azelaic acid is a multifunctional skincare ingredient that tackles a multitude of concerns related to breakouts and inflammation:

  • Gently exfoliates: It goes deep within the pores and removes dead skin cells that cause dull skin tone and clogged pores.
  • Fights acne: It has antibacterial properties, and according to Fusco, it’s reported to be bactericidal to P. acnes, which leads to acne.
  • Reduces inflammation: Azelaic acid soothes irritation and helps to improve red bumps caused by inflammation.
  • Evens skin tone: It inhibits tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that leads to hyperpigmentation. It’s effective on post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne breakouts and can affect melasma as well.
  • Treats rosacea: Azelaic acid could help with pore-clogging, inflammation, and secondary infections caused by rosacea: “It’s a less irritating option, which is why we use it for rosacea because the skin tends to be very sensitive,” Gerstner says.
  • Is safe for pregnant women: Fusco says azelaic acid is one of the few treatment options for acne, rosacea, clogged pores, or pigmentation that is generally safe for pregnant women.
  • Is gluten-free: Despite being wheat-derived, Fusco says most gastroenterologists agree that it likely can’t be absorbed significantly enough through your skin to trigger a gluten sensitivity or reaction.
  • Could be helpful with alopecia: “There have been some reports suggesting that it could help treat alopecia or hair loss,” Fusco says. “Some doctors are having pharmacists incorporate it into their hair products because it might help to grow hair.”

Side Effects of Azelaic Acid

It is possible to experience slight irritation, such as stinging or tingling, when using azelaic acid. If the side effects get severe, including swelling of the face, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and hives, it should be brought to the attention of your doctor as it may indicate an allergy.

Overall, Fusco and Gerstner say they do not find that their patients have adverse reactions to it and that by and large, it's a mild type of acid.

How to Use It

Whether you’re using an OTC formula or a prescription, Gerstner suggests applying a thin layer of the product to clean, dry skin twice a day, morning and night. For someone with sensitive skin, she recommends using it once every other day.

For any type of azelaic acid product you use (foam, gel, or cream), apply it to your face and neck using a pea- or marble-size amount spread evenly over the area after you finished cleansing.

To help the azelaic acid absorb and perform even more effectively, Fusco recommends applying your AHA (like glycolic or lactic acid), BHA (salicylic acid), or retinol first to open up the skin and accept the azelaic acid more readily. Then, follow with a hydrating moisturizer and a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 in the morning.


  • What is azelaic acid used for?

    It's been used to treat both acne, the swelling caused by acne, and rosacea.

  • Can you use azelaic acid every day?

    According to our experts, it's best to incorporate azelaic acid gradually, to ensure your skin isn't too sensitive to it. If you aren't experiencing side effects, azelaic acid can generally be used daily up to two times per day (morning and evening). Use as directed by your dermatologist.

  • How long does it take to see results from azelaic acid?

    Research has found that a 20 percent azelaic acid cream can decrease mild to moderate acne by around 53 percent after 12 weeks.

Article Sources Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem compound summary for CID 2266, azelaic acid. Updated January 22, 2022.

  2. Bisht A, Hemrajani C, Upadhyay N, et al. Azelaic acid and Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil co-loaded vesicular carrier for combinational therapy of acne. Ther Deliv. 2021;10.4155/tde-2021-0059. doi:10.4155/tde-2021-0059

  3. Chilicka K, Rogowska AM, Szyguła R, Dzieńdziora-Urbińska I, Taradaj J. A comparison of the effectiveness of azelaic and pyruvic acid peels in the treatment of female adult acne: a randomized controlled trial. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):12612. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-69530-w

  4. Schulte BC, Wu W, Rosen T. Azelaic acid: evidence-based update on mechanism of action and clinical application. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(9):964-968.

  5. M, Sharad J, Kadhe G, Ahirrao P, et al. Evidence-based treatment for melasma: expert opinion and a review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2014;4(2):165-186. doi: 10.1007/s13555-014-0064-z

  6. Hashim PW, Chen T, Harper JC, Kircik LH. The efficacy and safety of azelaic acid 15% foam in the treatment of facial acne vulgaris. J Drugs Dermatol. 2018;17(6):641-645.

  7. Canavan TN, Chen E, Elewski BE. Optimizing non-antibiotic treatments for patients with acne: a review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2016;6(4):555-578. doi:10.1007/s13555-016-0138-1


30 Easy On-the-Go Hairstyles for Naturally Curly Hair

Woman with curly hair

Curly hair is a blessing, but it's not always easy to manage. Once you've mastered what works for your curls, it can be tempting to stick to one or two basic styles—but you certainly don't have to. Need proof? Just take a cue from each of the looks below. Each of these red-carpet-worthy styles is easy to replicate.

Curious to see which celebrities and influencers have inspired us with their effortless 'dos for curly hair? We've found you a wide variety of looks to choose from and chatted with hair experts Philip Downing and Kali Ferrara to get their tips on how to achieve them.

Keep scrolling to check out 30 easy curly hairstyles to do on the go.

Meet the Expert

  • Philip Downing is an expert stylist and creative and education director for TIGI.
  • Kali Ferrara is a hairstylist and colorist at The Salon Project in New York City.

01 of 30

Romantic Updo

Easy On-the-Go Hairstyles for Naturally Curly Hair Romantic Updo Jasmine Sanders

This updo looks romantic, but it's quite simple. Even better—it requires zero heat styling. "I love to see a loose and carefree style to naturally curly hair, so the hair still moves and has personality," says Downing.

  • After letting hair air-dry and applying a curl-defining cream of your choosing, gather hair into a ponytail halfway between the nape and crown of the head.
  • Wind the ponytail around the base of the hair tie to form the bun.
  • Use three to four bobby pins to secure into place before misting with hair spray to lock everything in. (Don’t worry about the hairline—flyaways make the look more relaxed, i.e., romantic).

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Sky-High Pony

Easy On-the-Go Hairstyles for Naturally Curly Hair High Ponytail Rihanna

According to Downing, taking inspiration from the '90s for updos is trendy. The beauty of this hairstyle is how easily you can dress it up or down depending on the event. Pair it with a bright lip and some overalls for a funky, casual look. Or go the evening route with a clean cat eye and an LBD. Either way, the style takes about three minutes to execute.

  • Tease the hair if you need to create more lift and volume at the crown. “Teasing the hair to intentionally give that ‘bedhead’ feeling is what really progresses the updo,” says Downing.
  • Gather your hair into an ultra-high ponytail at the crown of your head and secure it with an elastic.
  • Stick two or three vertical bobby pins on the underside of the ponytail to keep the elastic lifted.
  • To keep your curls nice and bouncy, enhance the ends with a curl-defining cream.

You can also prep damp curls with a curl-defining cream if you plan to wash it before styling.

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One-Minute Side Braid

Amber Heard Side Braid

Don't be intimidated by how pretty this half-back hairstyle is. It takes 60 seconds.

  • If you're starting with freshly washed hair, grab a curl-enhancing wave spray, scrunch through damp hair, and then let air dry.
  • Part your hair naturally. Then grab a small section of hair on just one side of your head and begin braiding back toward the crown of your head.
  • Once you've gotten to the back of your head, pin the section of hair to secure the style before pulling top layers of your hair over it, so the pins are camouflaged by your curls. Voilà! You've got a model-worthy hairstyle à la Amber Heard.

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Sleek Updo

Easy On-the-Go Hairstyles for Naturally Curly Hair Sleek Updo Lupita Nyong'o

This effortless style perfectly suits a summer party or festival. (Plus, your bone structure will really shine.) To make it even funkier, secure with a chic, elevated scrunchie like Lupita Nyong'o did on the red carpet.

  • Start by brushing your hair to ensure a smoother texture. Like with look #2, you can tease the crown to create a lift.
  • Brush up into a high ponytail and secure with an elastic.
  • Divide the ponytail in half and twist those two sections into a thick, messy twist.
  • Use bobby pins to secure the bun to your head and adjust the shape and size. Add the scrunchie and wrap it around the bun until it’s secure.
  • Smooth down any flyaways with styling gel. Mist all over with an oil like Bumble and bumble’s Invisible Oil UV Protective Dry Oil Finishing Spray ($34) for shine.

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Messy Half-Bun

Easy On-the-Go Hairstyles for Naturally Curly Hair Half Bun Leona Lewis

Half-buns somehow look good on every hair texture and length, which is probably why the look isn’t going anywhere. To get the look, follow Ferrara’s advice:

  • "Gently gather the hair curl by curl starting from the center top of the head down to where both ears are, to the center of the head just below the crown."
  • "Make sure to keep an eye on the silhouette to keep it balanced from side to side and to avoid having uneven bumps throughout."
  • Don't worry about keeping it too neat, and "make sure to have no hard lines or partings when pulling the hair back to keep the look looking messy and effortless."
  •  Twist the ponytail around itself and then coil it toward the base until you have your bun. Ferrara suggests using a clip or barrette to secure. "A hair tie or scrunchie would work to fasten the hair, but it could cause the style to lose its messy or looser look."

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Low Bun With Braids

Easy On-the-Go Hairstyles for Naturally Curly Hair Low Bun with Braids Yara Shahidi

Here's a genius hairstyle that's especially great for those with curly hair and natural texture. Yara Shahidi epitomizes this look beautifully.

  • Start with braiding your entire head of hair. This style makes use of cornrows, which may require a salon trip if you're not an advanced braider.
  • Next, pull braids into a low ponytail or bun, leaving a few out before securing.
  • Wrap the left-out braids around the base of the bun.
  • Lock it in with a couple of bobby pins.

07 of 30


Easy On-the-Go Hairstyles for Naturally Curly Hair Headband Ruth Negga

We're consistently inspired by Ruth Negga's minimalistic approach to gorgeous curly hair. Here, she proves you don't necessarily need a lot of length to elevate your look.

  • Let your hair air-dry before prepping it with a curl-defining cream. Moroccanoil’s Curl Defining Cream ($36) is a well-loved favorite and also happens to smell amazing.
  • Now all you have to do is add a headband of your choosing! (We love the subtle camouflaged vibe of Negga’s.)

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French Twist

Easy Curly Hairstyles French Twist Zendaya

Despite appearances, it doesn’t get much easier than Zendaya’s eye-catching French twist. This style is great, as it works better with unwashed hair. The rules stay the same regardless of texture—be it curly and thick or straight and fine.

  • Apply a dry shampoo (Like Bumble and bumble’s Prêt-à-Powder, $28) throughout the hair—especially at the root to maximize volume and body.
  • Then rake strands back into a mid-height ponytail, stuffing it into a French twist. Secure with three large hairpins at the top, middle, and base of the twist.
  • Use your fingers to deconstruct the look a bit, tousling some flyaways and tendrils at the nape of the neck and around the hairline. Leave as is or finish with a spritz of flexible-hold hair spray. (We like Bumble and bumble’s Spray de Mode Flexible Hold Hairspray, $32.)

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The Classic Slick-Back

Easy Curly Hairstyles Slicked Back Shay Mitchell

Surprise: A sultry slick-back doesn’t require slippery straight locks. We think the look is even better paired with curly hair and natural texture. We’re inspired by Shay Mitchell’s approach, as it’s the quintessential style when you’re looking for a hit of glamour sans the fuss. Plus, it couldn’t be easier.

  • Let hair dry, and then grab a high-quality boar bristle brush.
  • Work a styling gel through strands and simply brush back to smooth and slick back curly hair.

10 of 30

Faux Bangs

Long curly hair gives you the unique opportunity to fake a fringe. This tutorial by hairstylist Irinel de Leon shows you how to get the look:

  • Pull your hair up into a high ponytail, securing it with a non-damaging hair tie.
  • Bring most of the hair from the ponytail forward so that it drapes across your forehead.
  • Roll up a silk scarf or bandana and tie it around your head so that the knot is in front. This bi-sects the hair, intensifying the pseudo-bang effect.
  • Use your fingers to adjust any stray pieces, misting the hair with water in areas that need reviving.

11 of 30

Wide-Brimmed Hat

Easy Curly Hairstyles Hat Janelle Monae

Tucking your curls under a hat like Janelle Monáe does here may seem like an easy fix on bad hair days, but be careful. "Hats are so tough when it comes to curly hair because you feel like you have to fully commit to one to shade your eyes or keep your head warm," says Ferrara.

  • "For a summertime look at the beach, pool, or golf course, visors are back in style and can shade the eyes but not squish the hair. There are some cute ones out there."
  • "For the winter, a warm hat like a beret is a great option to keep your curls from getting squished like it typically would underneath a beanie."
  • A wide-brimmed hat that sits more lightly on top of the head and doesn't flatten your curls too much is another stylish option.

12 of 30

Banded Ponytail

The banded ponytail is a cute style for natural curls. Follow this tutorial from Laulanne Cecilia:

  • Start with completely dry, clean hair.
  • Apply a little bit of gel around the crown of the head, brushing it through.
  • Comb the top half of your hair back into a high ponytail, leaving the rest down for now.
  • Then create a second ponytail lower down on the scalp, attaching it to the first one.
  • Repeat this one more time until you have three linked ponytails connected by a bubble of hair.
  • Continue adding elastics to the bottom of the ponytail every few inches until you reach the end.
  • Fluff out the bubbles between bands to create volume.

13 of 30

Sleek Pouf

Easy Curly Hairstyles Pouf Logan Browning

In a pinch, Logan Browning's pouf is a super easy updo to recreate for formal or casual occasions. Take Downing's advice for copying the look:

  • “Work with a smoothing oil such as TIGI Copyright Lustre Oil ($18),” says Downing. He says to distribute the product from roots to mid-lengths.
  • Then, “with a soft brush, gather all the hair from roots to your opposite hand positioned at the high crown.”
  • “Neatly gather the hair to this point, secure with a hair tie, then visually dress the bun and pin back onto itself,” says Downing. Touch it up using your fingers to make sure the hair lays the way you want it to.
  • Finally, “secure with Bed Head by TIGI Masterpiece Extra Strong Hold Hairspray ($20).”

14 of 30

Voluminous Half Up

Easy Curly Hairstyles Half Up Vick Hope

A messy half-up/half-down style hinges on choosing the right products. Follow the instructions for #5, but be sure to back comb the areas you want volume before securing your hair back. In terms of products, use a generous coat of texturizer like the Ouai Air Dry Foam ($28) as well as a statement-making accessory, if you so choose.

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Deep Side Part

Easy Curly Hairstyles Deep Side Part

Romantic waves with a dramatic side part is a look that never fails. To DIY, follow Ferrera's tips:

  • "For curly hair, use your natural texture to your advantage," says Ferrera. "Use a curling iron or wand to enhance parts that may have fallen flat, flip over and spray with flexible hairspray for some added volume."
  • Adding more flexible hold hairspray, "use a boar bristle brush to lightly brush out the curls."
  • "On the shallow side of the part, you can fasten the hair behind your ear with pins or a comb with some sort of embellishment."

16 of 30

Frizzy Half-Up/Half-Down

Kerry Washington half-up, half-down natural hair

Brush out your curls before pulling them back into a half-up/half-down using the steps from #5 for a trendy frizzed-out look.

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Dainty Headband

Easy Curly Hairstyles Dainty Headband Julia Garner

A dainty headband a la Julia Garner is the perfect match for a flirty, curly bob. Similar to look #7, this is mostly about taking care of your cut. Follow Ferrara's tips for taking care of chin-length curls:

  • First, get the right haircut. “Layers are important for the curl pattern to form, whether you want more of a shag (short layers) or a bob (long layers),” Ferrara says. ” A one-length style will not well work for this length because the silhouette often turns out looking like a triangle on your head.”
  • “To style these looks, it all depends on if you love to embrace your volume or if you want to have it more streamlined.”
  • “Apply product all over the hair that has been only wrung out from the shower (to get better slippage for the product to be distributed).”
  • “To get more volume, a curl mousse, light hold gel, or cream are best (I like the Oribe Curl Mousse, $39, or the Vicious Curl Curl Cream, $22), to have more controlled and polished curls, a gel is best (I like the Oribe Curl Gelee, $44).”

"A good stylist that knows your hair type will know what your hair needs and can do, and it is important to know and understand that with curly hair, there is no one-size-fits-all haircut," says Ferrara.

18 of 30

Double Buns

space buns

Space buns are very simple, with a Downing-approved '90s vibe that's both trendy and timeless. To get the look, follow his advice:

  • “Product is key, and using the appropriate styling & finishing products will give the best texture to the curls.” First, apply Bed Head by TIGI’s Back it Up Texturizing Cream ($20) to wet hair.
  • Next, dry your hair using your preferred method. “When drying, the trick is to try and achieve as much volume and texture as possible. This will help with the longevity and support of the buns.”
  • Part your hair. Downing suggests either a center part or zig-zag.
  • “Visually check in the mirror for bun placement and balance,” which will depend on your face shape and structure.
  • Once you’ve decided on placement, create the buns by “gathering all the hair to the specific point of the head shape, tie with a hairband, if needed tease and backcomb for further volume/texture.”
  • “Then spray Bed Head by TIGI Headrush Superfine Shine Spray ($20) and tease out to give a more natural feel.”

19 of 30

Sleek High Ponytail

If you have long hair, you can get this chic high pony following this tutorial from influencer Joyjah Estrada:

  • Start with cleansed and dried curls. Using a spray bottle, mist a little water throughout to make the hair easier to work with.
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner like Kiss Colors & Care Argan & Macadamia Leave-In Conditioner ($9).
  • Brush your hair back into a high ponytail at the back of the head, secure with an elastic, and add some gel to control flyaways.
  • Add some hairspray for a bit of oomph and volume.

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Slicked-Back Low Ponytail

Yara Shahidi Slicked-Back Ponytail

Yara Shahidi's slicked-back ponytail is similar to the high pony from look #19, only it sits lower on the back of the neck. Slick back the hair at the crown of your head with gel, brush through, and leave the rest loose and curly. Affix with bobby pins or an elastic to keep the style in place.

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Scarf Braid

Easy Curly Hairstyles Scarf Braid

Weave a scarf through your braid for an instant upgrade. Follow this Kristin Ess tutorial for best results:

  • Take your scarf of choice, making sure that it's not too thick. Fold it in half and use an invisible hair elastic to create a small loop.
  • Start at the crown of the head, slipping a piece of hair through the loop and tightening the scarf to keep it in place.
  • Then, braid the hair along one side, incorporating the scarf as you would a third section of hair and working down the crown of the head.
  • Use the excess scarf to tie the rest of your hair into a low bun, winding the fabric around and leaving the ends dangling.
  • Secure with bobby pins to make sure the scarf stays in place.

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Bantu Knots

Yara Shahidi wearing bantu knots

Bantu knots are an amazing protective style for natural hair. Not only is this style super chic, but it’s also healthy for your curls. They look complicated, but Bantu knots are pretty easy to do at home with some practice.

  • Section your hair in the places you'd like the bantu knots.
  • Twirl each section of hair until it's rope-like, then wrap it onto itself to create the knot.
  • Secure with a bobby pin.

23 of 30

Mermaid Waves

Gisele Bundchen beachy waves

Gisele Bundchen's soft mermaid waves are beautiful on their own or paired with a hair accessory. Follow Ferrara's advice for getting this look:

  • To begin, take stock of your hair texture. This will factor in when you decide how to approach these loose waves.
  • “If you have a smaller coil, then a blowout will have to come first and then a styling wand to get the looser mermaid waves.”
  • “On wavy hair, let it air dry with a product of your choice (I like Oribe Matte Waves, $42), then pin up the strands and use the wand for more definition.”

24 of 30

Slicked Side Part

Nathalie Emmanuel

A little gel added to the part line creates an edgy structure to tightly spiraled curls, as seen on Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel.

  • Style as usual with your preferred products and drying methods, parting the hair to one side.
  • Take a flexible hold gel, like Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel ($26), and apply generously to the area on either side of the hair part and along the hairline.
  • Brush the gel through to distribute. You can also add a few bobby pins to further secure.
  • Style your edges if you wish.

25 of 30

Finger Waves

Easy Curly Hairstyles Finger Waves Rihanna

Finger waves look amazing on any length of hair. They take a bit of patience, but the results are worth it. This tutorial by stylist Ted Gibson shows you how:

  • Using ample gel and a comb, create the S-shaped waves on damp hair.
  • Gently clip finger waves into place with metal salon clips.
  • Braid the rest of the hair to encourage a looser wave pattern.
  • Either air dry or use a blow dryer to speed up the process. Then, take down the braids and clips.

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Brushed Out

Easy Curly Hairstyles Brushed Out Kelly Rowland

Take a page of Kelly Rowland's book and embrace a bit of sexy frizz by brushing out your curls.

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High Half Ponytail

Easy Curly Hairstyles High Half Ponytail Joan Smalls

Joan Smalls' super high half ponytail will probably require some extensions to get the full length. Follow the steps from #19, placing the hair at the crown of the head rather than the back.

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Vintage Scarf

Easy Curly Hairstyles Vintage Scarf Alia Shawkat

Channel Betty Boop like Alia Shawkat with a fire engine red scarf—the perfect style for a short crop. Follow Ferrara's advice for styling a scarf with curly hair:

  • "Grab a square scarf, fold it diagonally, starting from the longer end of the triangle."
  • "Fold the scarf down into 1-1.5-inch folds until the point is the top layer."
  • "Put the part with the point at the nape of your neck and then tie it at about an inch from your hairline on top of your head."
  • For short hair like Shawkat's, you don't have to do much. If it's longer, "slick it back with a middle part, gather the ponytail, then place the scarf around it until the whole scarf is almost an extension of your hair, then twist as you would to make a bun and use a hair tie to fasten—your bun will look like the scarf!"

29 of 30

Unraveled Braids

Easy Curly Hairstyles Unraveled Braids Tessa Thompson

Unraveled braids like these seen on Tessa Thompson are a great option. A few things to keep in mind:

  • "The braids pictured are woven tightly from the scalp with the woman’s natural hair and includes human hair extensions," says Ferrara.
  • "When the braids are unraveled like this, it is usually a hair extension that has likely been treated by a relaxer to keep it as the texture you see pictured."
  • "To have an unraveled look like this, smaller braids are a must, depending on your hair texture as most hair won’t stay braided with one or two large braids."

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Pinned Back

Easy Curly Hairstyles Pinned Back Blake Lively

Loose, romantic waves can be held off the face with artfully placed bobby pins, as Blake Lively demonstrates here. Using the same steps from #15, change up the placement of the barrettes to alter the look.

  • What's the fastest way to style naturally curly hair?

    Simply air-dry your hair and add a texturizing product to show off your natural texture.

  • Can those with naturally curly hair still rock a short do?

    Absolutely. Pixie cuts (or everything from a bob to a lob) all look great with the added texture of natural curls

  • What's the easiest way to enhance natural curls?

    Use a curling iron only in some sections of the hair (to lift up what may have fallen and add extra definition). For further volume, add hairspray.


Hair Rebonding: Is the Smoothing Treatment Safe?

woman with smooth long hair on silky background

For those of us with curly or wavy hair, creating a sleek, straight appearance requires a fair amount of blow-drying, heat styling, and protection against the elements. Somewhere between a keratin treatment and Japanese straightening lies the hair rebonding method, a chemical process that creates a straight texture, maximizes shine, and imparts an overall lower-maintenance end result if a long-lasting smooth finish is your thing. 

Here, we spoke to pro hairstylist Jamie Wiley and celebrity hairstylist and colorist Jonathan Colombini about the hair-smoothing treatment, how it works, and safety precautions. Keep reading to learn more.

Meet the Expert

  • Jonathan Colombini is a celebrity hairstylist, colorist, and creative director of style and color at L’Oreal Paris. He is the owner and founder of John Henry Salon in Malibu, California. 
  • Jamie Wiley is a celebrity hairstylist who has worked on numerous Fashion Week shows and editorial shoots. She is the global artistic director at Pureology, and the founder of the Hairboss platform for beauty industry professionals.

What Is Hair Rebonding?

Hair rebonding is an in-salon chemical treatment designed to give hair a straight texture. “The treatment involves breaking disulfide bonds between amino acids and rebuilding them to permanently change the structure of the hair,” Wiley says. The process yields a significant difference for curly and wavy hair types (of course), but if you have a straighter hair, you can still prove to be a candidate if you're after a sleeker finish or want a blow-dry-and-go option to that flat-ironed look. Wiley notes that a single treatment can last anywhere between six to seven months, but you can opt to get touch-ups at the three to six month mark when your original texture starts to grow in at your roots.

Benefits of Hair Rebonding

A single rebonding treatment can immediately create a sleek texture that doesn’t change, even if you get your hair wet. Wiley explains that you'll see less frizz and a silky, soft appearance. If you’re constantly juggling heat tools to impart a smooth finish, you can expect that your styling time will be reduced significantly, which could mean less heat styling overall. “Additionally, because rebonding smooths the hair cuticle, you’ll notice a shinier appearance,” Colombini says.

How to Prepare for Hair Rebonding

Because there are different levels of rebonding solution that can be tailored to deliver your desired effect, Wiley notes that you should prepare by having a thorough consultation with your stylist, outlining your goals and hair history. “This will give your stylist the knowledge on what kind of rebonding solution they will use on your hair, or if there are any additional treatments needed beforehand,” she says. “Divulging your hair history prior to any chemical services—for example, how often you color it, or if you’ve done any chemical treatments prior—is crucial for best results.” 

While your hairstylist will prep your hair accordingly before applying the treatment, Colombini recommends washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo ahead of your appointment, and avoiding any additional product. “Make sure you eliminate any product build up or oils that would create a barrier to the chemical processing,” he says.

What to Expect During Hair Rebonding

A rebonding treatment is a multi-step process, and according to Wiley, can take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours depending on your hair density and length, so make sure to clear your calendar, or make it a work-from-salon kind of day. “You’ll start with a thorough wash and dry, and from there, your hair will be sectioned and the relaxant will be applied,” she says. “The relaxant is typically left on for about 30 minutes, and once it’s finished processing, your hair will be steamed.” Your hair will then be rinsed and blow-dried, followed by a keratin lotion designed to neutralize your strands. The formula will be left on for another 30 minutes, and after a final rinse and blow-dry, your stylist will apply a serum and flat-iron your hair to lock in the sleek texture. “It’s a process, so be patient, because the results can be a game changer,” Colombini says.

Hair Rebonding vs. Japanese Hair Straightening

While rebonding and Japanese hair straightening are similar in terms of technique and the end goal, the key difference is in the ingredients used in each formulation. “One main difference is that the Japanese straightening formula typically uses formaldehyde, when the rebonding treatment does not,” Wiley says. “Additionally, the rebonding treatment uses the keratin treatment lotion, which adds proteins back into the hair, which lasts 3 to 4 months and isn’t permanent, so it doesn’t change the bonds in your hair.” Japanese straightening, on the other hand, is a permanent process. While your hair will revert back to its natural state once the keratin in a rebonding formula wears off, you’ll typically have to cut off the processed length if you want to get rid of hair treated through Japanese straightening, as it stays straight until grown out.

Potential Side Effects: Is It Safe?

As with any chemical hair treatment, there are potential side effects, so finding a hairstylist who is skilled at rebonding is key in mitigating any risks. “Some of the most common potential risks are breakage and scalp irritation.” Wiley says. “Retouches over time may cause weakness in the hair bond and cause hair loss.” Additionally, because the treatment can be somewhat fume-heavy, Colombini recommends masking up so that you aren’t breathing in the chemicals.

The Cost

Prices can vary depending on the salon or stylist you visit, but both Wiley and Colombini note that you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 to $600.


Wiley recommends waiting at least 72 hours before getting hair wet. Additionally, you’ll want to incorporate bond-strengthening shampoos and conditioners into your routine, ideally formulas that are sulfate and paraben-free, Colombini says. 

The Final Takeaway

If a smooth, long-lasting finish is what you’re after, and you’re willing to put in the time at the salon, then you’d be a great candidate for a hair rebonding treatment. Because chemicals are involved, make sure you do your research on stylists who are skilled in the treatment so that you don’t run into any potential complications—this definitely isn’t a technique you’d try at home, or in the bathroom of your friend who swears they know what they’re doing. 

That said, the end result can be significant if you’re tired of fighting with heat tools to impart a straight texture, and the touch-up process is relatively easy, with most of the treatment concentrated around any new growth. During your consultation, make sure to be as detailed as you can with your stylist so that the right rebonding formula is chosen for you, and so that they can determine the best plan of action. “If it fits your wants, desires, and budget, and if your hair can handle the rebonding process, then I definitely recommend the treatment,” Wiley says. “If less frizz and less styling time is what you desire, then go for it.”


Numbing Creams For Tattoos Are Trending—But Are They Safe?

numbing cream on top of arm tattoo

Getting a new tattoo is exciting, especially if it's your first. Everyone warns you that getting a tattoo hurts, but what's a little temporary pain for a lifetime piece of body art, right? Spoiler: Getting a tattoo is typically more than a little pain, especially in areas where there is less flesh between skin and bone. In recent years, numbing creams have become popular for their use during and after getting a tattoo in order to ease the pain of the process.

There is a ton of information and advice on what to do and what not do when it comes to tattoos and it can be overwhelming to determine what advice is actually approved by a professional. Numbing creams may be available over-the-counter, but that does not mean that they are safe in all situations. It's important to understand what active ingredients are in the specific cream that you intend to use during or after your tattoo treatment, but there are some general dos and don'ts when it comes to numbing cream.

Meet the Expert

  • Sarah Gee, MD, is a Harvard-trained board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of Austin Skin.
  • Morgan Rabach, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical.
  • Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery.

In order to understand the safety and efficacy of numbing creams for tattoo recipients, we turned to three dermatologists for their expert advice. Keep reading for the complete guide to tattoo numbing creams.

What Are Numbing Creams?

Skin-numbing creams are topical anesthetic creams that can be applied to help to numb an area of skin. According to board-certified dermatologists Sarah Gee, MD, and Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, lidocaine is the most common ingredient found in numbing agents. "This topical anesthetic works to block sodium channels in our cells and prevent nerve transmission, which effectively reduces pain signals," explains Zubritsky. Compounded and prescription topical numbing agents also contain other anesthetics. When compounded and used in-office, Gee says lidocaine is often combined with benzocaine or tetracaine for maximal effect. 

"For example, one of the most effective numbing creams is BLT cream, which contains 20 percent benzocaine, six percent lidocaine, and four percent tetracaine. These ingredients together are much stronger at anesthetizing than when used alone," she adds.

Numbing Creams for Tattoo Treatments

Tattoos are notoriously painful both during and after their application. It's easy to see why tattoo recipients might want to seek out numbing creams in the hopes of reducing their pain—but can they actually help? "Skin numbing creams can definitely help minimize the pain from tattoo treatment and I do recommend them," says Gee, but she adds two caveats: First, understand that the topicals will decrease but not eliminate pain. Second, opt for a prescription numbing cream applied in the office as they are most effective.

Zubritsky agrees. "Numbing cream is typically considered safe to apply before tattoo treatments, especially in areas that are particularly sensitive," she says. "However, the numbing cream may or may not be effective depending on the type of ingredients used. Furthermore, numbing cream starts to wear off as soon as it's wiped away, so it may not last the entire treatment duration."

Prescription Versus Over-the-Counter

There are many over-the-counter pain creams available, so what is the difference with prescription creams? The first and most obvious is the strength of the formulation. "The maximal lidocaine concentrations in over-the-counter formulations is four percent. The maximal lidocaine concentration in a prescription dispensed by physician for home application is five percent. Many dermatology offices acquire compounded topical lidocaine to help minimize procedural pain to 23% and they often combine it with tetracaine for maximal effect," explains Gee.

Zubritsky agrees and adds that prescription numbing creams are significantly more potent and effective. "These contain other ingredients or are compounded with stronger percentages of active anesthetics," she says.

Lidocaine alone as a topical agent (especially in low strengths) isn’t great for numbing for surgical procedures or tattoo treatments, shares Zubritsky. So why not just give the strongest possible numbing creams to patients to bring to their tattoo appointment? It's unfortunately not safe, shares Gee. "These are applied in the office so the patient can be monitored and it can be applied safety and properly. As the lidocaine percentage and body surface area of application goes up, so does the risk of toxicity so it is very important that these are used correctly," explains Gee.

How to Use Numbing Cream

It's important to use numbing creams properly in order to avoid any potentially dangerous side effects. These creams, if used correctly, can be great for numbing the skin before and after a tattoo, as well as before and after a laser tattoo removal. Our experts gave general advice for numbing creams, but all cautioned that directions can vary depending on the concentration and type of numbing agent used. No matter if you are planning on using over-the-counter or if you are hoping to get a prescription strength cream, you should consult your dermatologist to determine if numbing creams are right for you.

  • Follow application instructions: Whether you use over-the-counter or prescription cream, it's important to read the dosage instructions. Board-certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach and Zubritsky add numbing cream should be used once a day.
  • Give it time to take effect: The effects of numbing cream are not immediately felt. "Numbing cream is best applied 30-60 minutes prior to any procedure," explained Zubritsky. Rabach agrees and also recommends applying it about 30-60 minutes before you want it to work.
  • Cover after application: Many numbing creams stop working once they are wiped off . If you're hoping to have it help with the pain of getting a new tattoo, you'll want to keep the cream on until the last minute before the tattoo artist needs to clean and prep the area. To do so, Rabach recommends covering the cream. "They take 30-60 mins to work, so it is best to put on ahead of time and then cover with an occlusive dressing or cellophane," she sayds.
  • Don't apply with your fingers: This may seem fairly obvious, but numbing cream will numb whatever skin it comes into contact with so it's important to avoid getting it on any skin you do not need numbed. Zubritsky says a thin layer is all that's needed and it should always be used under the supervision of a physician using a glove or tongue depressor.

Potential Side Effects

With all the potential benefits of numbing creams, there are certain individuals who should not use them. "People with an allergy to lidocaine, people with a condition called methemoglobinemia, and people with certain cardiac conditions especially a 'heart block,'" cautions Gee. "Also, if you have severe liver disease, you will not be able to metabolize the medication properly, so it has to be avoided or used with extreme caution. They need to be used in caution in children."

There are some mild side effects that may accompany numbing cream use. The most common side effects include irritation, redness, skin discoloration, or mild burning, according to Zubritsky. Gee adds that side effects may also include ringing of the ears, lightheadedness, blurry vision and nausea. The main thing that is dangerous is using too much of the over-the-counter numbing creams because too much lidocaine can get absorbed into the bloodstream, explains Rabach. "There are reports of this mostly in people using numbing creams on large surface areas of the body—like numbing cream for legs before laser hair removal. But since tattoos can be large and take up large surface areas, this is applicable here too," Rabach shares.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While some side effects are mild, numbing creams can cause severe damage if used improperly. Severe toxicity includes seizures, hallucinations, and even death, cautions Gee. "Lidocaine toxicity at high doses can be fatal. If you are experiencing tingling of the mouth area and or any symptoms as listed above you need to seek immediate medical attention. In fact, many cases of tattoo removal and laser hair removal that have caused in severe disability and death do not involve the laser but rather lidocaine toxicity," shares Gee.

Side effects that may be indicative of numbing cream being absorbed systemically leading to lidocaine toxicity include irregular heartbeat, numbness or prickling around the mouth or tongue, dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, agitation or muscle twitching, says Zubritsky. Rabach agrees and adds that fast, slow, irregular heartbeat, passing out, dizziness and seizures, changes in mood or awareness, and changes in breathing are all symptoms that warrant evaluation by a doctor.


Why Salicylic Acid Is Recommended For Clear Skin Too

woman apply salicylic acid to face

Unlike some of the questionable acne remedies found on the Internet, an exhaustive amount of research exists to support salicylic acid as an effective acne treatment, which is why this is probably not your first time hearing about the ingredient. If you’ve ever dealt with acne, we’d be willing to bet you’ve even tried a salicylic acid-based product before. But because acne is a very complicated topic, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to treating it.

So to find out if salicylic acid will work for you, your skin type, or your type of acne, you first have to understand how it works. We took all our questions about salicylic acid straight to the experts to find out what makes the ingredient so impressive and how it contributes to clear skin.

Meet the Expert

  • Ellen Marmur, MD, is a dermatologist at Marmur Medical and MMSkincare in New York City.
  • Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, is a dermatologist based at Mudgil Dermatology in New York City.

Keep reading to see what they had to say about all things salicylic acid.

Salicylic Acid

Type of ingredient: Exfoliant

Main benefits: Sloughs off dead skin, removes excess oil, and reduces whiteheads and blackheads.

Who should use it: In general, those who have oily skin and are looking to treat superficial acne, like whiteheads, blackheads, and small red pimples, according to Mudgil.

How often can you use it: Marmur says salicylic acid should be used in moderation until you know your skin can handle it without irritation. If your skin tolerates it, you can increase the frequency to twice a day, unless you know you'll be getting direct sun exposure, then it should only be applied at night.

Works well with: Marmur recommends using the acne ingredient along with ingredients that soothe the skin, like Canadian willow herb, and calm any irritation that the salicylic acid could potentially cause.

Don't use with: Although salicylic acid can be combined with other exfoliating ingredients, Mudgil says that in order to avoid irritation, it's best to stick to only one exfoliant at a time.

What Is Salicylic Acid?

In the world of exfoliants, you’ve got more than a few options to choose from based on what your skin needs. Salicylic acid, an ingredient extracted from willow tree bark, is one type of chemical exfoliant called beta-hydroxy acid (aka BHA). Before explaining exactly how salicylic works, here’s a quick refresher on how breakouts form: when bacteria, debris, sebum, and dead skin cells mix together, a clog forms inside your pores. Unlike the chemical exfoliants called alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are water-soluble and ideal for surface exfoliation, salicylic is oil-soluble, which makes it capable of cutting through oil and exfoliating deep within your pores to remove blockages.

Marmur explains it further: "It works by increasing the amount of moisture in the skin and dissolving the substance that causes the skin cells to stick together. This makes it easier to shed the skin cells." It now makes sense why the ingredient is a longtime favorite for those with oily, acne-prone skin, right?

You might be most familiar with salicylic acid as an acne spot treatment, but the ingredient is also found in many other forms, like cleansers, toners, serums, and peels, which can all be beneficial to the skin in their own right. “Each vehicle uses salicylic acid in its own special way and is targeted for certain use in specific people, depending on their skin issues,” Marmur explains. The caveat is that some cleansers, peels, and toners can be too harsh, according to Marmur, and should be avoided.

Benefits of Salicylic Acid

Thanks to its unique properties, salicylic acid is used to treat a range of skin conditions outside of acne, from warts to dandruff. Here's a breakdown of exactly how salicylic acid works to benefit the skin:

  • Exfoliates dead skin: Marmur points out that salicylic acid is a keratolytic, and as such, it encourages cellular turnover and helps to slough off dead skin cells, which in turn can improve skin dullness and texture.
  • Softens the contents of clogged pores: The oil-soluble ingredient is able to penetrate the pores, loosen the “glue” that causes the skin cells to stick together, and remove the contents of clogged pores that lead to superficial acne, like whiteheads, blackheads, and small red pimples.
  • Removes excess oil: Marmur says since salicylic acid is oil-soluble, it can penetrate beneath the skin’s surface to clean out excess sebum from the pores and reduce oiliness. This can, in turn, also lead to an improvement in the appearance of pores.
  • Prevents whiteheads and blackheads: Not only does salicylic acid treat existing breakouts, but Marmur also says because salicylic acid targets whiteheads and blackheads directly, it prevents them from returning to the surface level of your skin.
  • Combats acne: Because it is lipophilic, salicylic acid can penetrate deep into pores to prevent acne from forming in the future.
  • Minimizes pores: As an astringent product, salicylic acid can tighten the skin, thereby reducing the appearance of pores.
  • Available over-the-counter: Unlike some super skincare ingredients, salicylic acid products are available in most beauty and drugstores.
  • Reduces inflammation: As Marmur points out, salicylic acid belongs to the same class of drugs as aspirin (salicylates). Because of salicylic acid’s anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to address irritation and redness related to breakouts.

Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl Peroxide

One ingredient that rivals salicylic acid’s popularity in the OTC acne treatment department is benzoyl peroxide. But this ingredient takes a different approach when targeting breakouts. While salicylic acid removes pore blockage, benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial ingredient that kills the acne-causing bacteria inside the pores. Infamous for bleaching pillowcases and towels, benzoyl peroxide is also less suitable for sensitive skin than salicylic acid, as its drying properties can lead to flakiness and irritation.

Side Effects of Salicylic Acid

According to Mudgil, salicylic acid is best suited for those with oily skin and superficial acne. For those with dry, eczema-prone, or sensitive skin, the drying ingredient could be too harsh and lead to irritation.

Marmur says that some of the most common side effects of salicylic acid include dry, burning, and overall irritated skin in the areas of application but adds that these side effects are more common at the start of treatment and should not continue. "If they continue or get worse, you should definitely contact your board-certified dermatologist to let them know how your skin is reacting," Marmur says.

Additionally, Marmur says salicylic acid can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and cause sunburn easily. Although you should always protect your skin from the sun, it’s especially important when using salicylic acid to limit your sun exposure as much as possible and always use and reapply sunscreen.

How to Use It

The recommended concentration of a salicylic acid product varies from person to person and should be discussed with your dermatologist, and the same applies to how often you use a salicylic acid treatment. In general, Marmur says to use salicylic acid in moderation until you know your skin can tolerate it. Start off applying it every few days, and take note of how your skin reacts after each application. "The key is to listen to your skin," Mudgil advises. "If it's getting irritated, you'll need to take a day or two off and perhaps be a bit more vigilant with moisturizing." As far as the amount used, Marmur stresses the importance of following the direction of your doctor. "Don’t do more or less, and don’t use it for longer than recommended," Marmur says. "Apply just enough salicylic acid to cover the affected area and rub it into the skin gently."

Although salicylic acid is a common ingredient that’s easily accessible and found at the drugstore, a lot of variables are at play when it comes to using the acne-fighting ingredient to treat breakouts, so it should still be approached with caution. According to Mudgil, the use of salicylic acid depends on one’s skin type, the underlying indication, and how severe the acne is. While salicylic acid is a reliable option for treating superficial acne, Mudgil says prescription medications, like oral treatments, may be necessary for targeting cystic acne, so it’s best to have a derm evaluate your skin to decide which treatment would be most effective. “Incorporating salicylic acid isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ situation,” Mudgil says. “It’s best to work with your dermatologist to optimize your regimen.”

The Best Products With Salicylic Acid

neutrogena oil free acne wash Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash $10.00

If you have oily skin and you're looking for a budget-friendly option, both Marmur and Mudgil recommend this classic favorite cleanser, which uses 2 percent salicylic acid to wash away dead skin cells. Dealing with back acne? You can also use this face wash as a cleanser for pesky body breakouts.

SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin $19.00

If texture is your main skin concern, Marmur suggests this moisturizing cream, which also contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. “The cream is salicylic acid-based and can aid in hydration for dehydrated skin,” Marmur says. “It can also improve the texture of your skin.”

paula's choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid $10.00

This exfoliating liquid might be simple, but it’s effective. It relies on 2 percent salicylic acid combined with soothing camellia oleifera leaf extract (green tea) to treat a number of skin concerns, like dullness, wrinkles, and acne. Not only is it one of Byrdie’s favorite salicylic acid treatments, but it’s also the top-selling product by Paula’s Choice. Are you sold yet?

Origins Super Spot Remover™ Acne Treatment Gel Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Treatment Gel $19.00

For the days when you wake up to find a spot has popped up on your face, turn to this acne spot treatment gel. It’s a Byrdie favorite because it contains 1.5 percent salicylic acid, witch hazel, and other plant extracts to not only fight blemishes but also fade the spots.

clean & clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment $7.00

If you're on the hunt for a more affordable spot treatment, try this classic drugstore option, which uses 2 percent salicylic acid and witch hazel to reduce oil and superficial breakouts.

cover fx mattifying primer + acne treatment Cover FX Mattifying Primer + Acne Treatment $38.00

This Byrdie-approved primer doesn’t just make your foundation look more matte—it also contains salicylic acid to gently buff away the top layer of dead skin cells throughout the day.

Mini supermud treatment Glamglow Mini Supermud Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask $25.00

If your skin can tolerate multiple exfoliants, try Glamglow’s cult-favorite mask made with charcoal and a combination of AHA and BHAs. Byrdie editors especially love it for targeting pimples, stubborn blackheads, and oily T-zones.


  • Is it okay to use salicylic acid every day?

    While it is okay to use salicylic acid every day, it could cause irritation. Many dermatologists, therefore, recommend using the acid in moderation, beginning by applying it three times a week and working up from there.

  • Can salicylic acid dry the skin out?

    Yes, which is why it's best to start in moderation and combine it with a more moisturizing product, like a lotion.

  • Can too much salicylic acid be a problem?

    If you have a persistent breakout that doesn't clear up even when using salicylic acid, it's possible the ingredient could be contributing to the problem. Talk to a dermatologist if the problem persists.

Article Sources Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Lu J, Cong T, Wen X, et al. Salicylic acid treats acne vulgaris by suppressing AMPK/SREBP1 pathway in sebocytes. Exp Dermatol. 2019;28(7):786-794. doi:10.1111/exd.13934

  2. Decker A, Graber EM. Over-the-counter acne treatments: a review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012;5(5):32-40.


Are Scalp Massagers Worth The Hype? We Asked Experts

woman with brunette hair rubbing pink scalp massager on head

Okay—we'll admit: We haven't always been the best at scalp care. With a focus and emphasis on hairstyling and appearance, it's easy to get carried away with your strands' lengths and skip out on its foundation. Still, scalp care is an essential part of any hair care regimen. 

If you have natural hair, like me, layering oils, conditioners, and styling products, paired with sebum and sweat from daily life, can create buildup or discomfort on your scalp. Thankfully the haircare aisle has evolved with a wide range of products and tools to help keep your scalp clean and healthy, and scalp massagers are at the forefront.

The tools have been popping up on shelves and in hair-focused content on the web, with influencers and experts touting the stimulating benefits of the tool. Some of my favorite brands like Rizos Curls and Brush With The Best have added scalp massagers to their product lineup, making me curious if it’s worth adding one to my routine. Ahead, we spoke to experts about the buzzy scalp tools.

Meet the Expert

  • Aleta Simmons, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Nashville, Tennessee. She serves as the Assistant Professor and Diversity Champion of Dermatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 
  • Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Florida and the creator of Specific Beauty, a skincare line designed to treat hyperpigmentation.

What Are The Benefits of Scalp Massagers?

Before diving into expert thoughts on scalp massagers, it’s important to note that there is little scientific evidence of their ability to grow hair. However, experts say that massaging your scalp can help increase blood circulation, positively impacting your hair and scalp. Think about that relaxing moment when your hairstylist takes extra time to shampoo your scalp at the bowl. The tension created by their fingers helps cleanse and stimulate blood flow. Scalp massagers provide similar relief. “Scalp massagers can cause mechanical stress on the scalp, potentially leading to alterations in gene expression,” Aleta Simmons, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, says. “These changes may lead to increased hair thickness.”

Beyond the claims that scalp massagers may enhance hair growth, they ultimately just feel really good. Many brands and experts encourage people to use scalp massagers in tandem with a scalp treatment to help product application and absorption. However, scalp massagers are great for relieving tension, itching, or incorporating another form of massage into your routine. 

How to Use Scalp Massagers

Using a scalp massager might sound as simple as rubbing the tool onto your skin. Still, Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, says it could damage your hair follicles if done improperly. With most beauty treatments, being gentle with your scalp is essential. You can use a scalp massager in gentle circular motions on wet or dry hair. It’s recommended to incorporate a scalp massager in your shower routine to maximize the benefits of products like scalp scrubs and serums.

How to Choose the Right Scalp Massager For Your Hair

We all have different hair textures and scalps, so finding the right scalp massager for you is key to getting the most out of the tool. The popularity of these handy tools means plenty of options to consider.

For example, using a brush with thinner bristle to quickly exfoliate the scalp like Tangle Teezer Scalp Exfoliator and Massager ($10) might work if dealing with regular product buildup. If you’ve experienced hair loss or have a sensitive scalp, Simmons and Woolery-Llyod recommend silicon bristles to help prevent breakage and reduce tangles or knots in the hair. We like Kitsch Pro Scalp Exfoliator, which has skinnier bristles to get in between thick strands. We also love Vegamour’s Revitalizing Scalp Massager ($18), which has sturdy bristles and an easy-to-hold design, so you can really get in there. I’ve found that the Maxsoft Hair Scalp Massager ($7) is a super affordable option that provides relief deep in my roots.

The Bottom Line

When building a routine for your scalp it's important first to assess your needs, then fit products that help accordingly. There's a large selection of scalp tools that claim to be the best, so reading reviews, consuming content, and asking an expert if you're unsure is the best route. Still, if you've just taken down a protective style, feel some trapped tension, or have an itch that fingers won't fix, a good scalp massage might be a game-changing part of your hair care routine.


9 Places You Should Never Forget to Apply SPF

Up close of a woman's arm with a swatch of sunscreen

Here’s a sobering fact: skin cancer is the number-one type of cancer in the United States. With summer in full swing, it’s more important than ever to have sun safety top of mind. We’ve got you covered when it comes to all things sun and skin here at Byrdie HQ, whether you’re curious about the best SPF products on the market or what it’s really like to get a skin check.

Summer is here, promising beach days, backyard BBQs, rooftop happy hours, and weekend getaways. In other words, plenty of occasions to make the most of the sunshine—but just as many chances to put your skin in harm’s way. We could speak endlessly about the importance of protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, but even the most diligent sunscreen appliers could be making some mistakes that leave their skin unprotected.

Proper sunscreen application goes beyond your face and body and there are places that need sun protection that you’d never expect. These neglected regions aren’t spots we necessarily consider until it’s too late and we’re left with burns and damaged skin. To ensure we’re ready to take on summer while keeping our skin healthy and protected, we had skin experts reveal all the places we overlook when considering sun protection—from head to toe.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Lian Mack, MD, is a board certified dermatologist.
  • Dr. Corey L. Hartman, MD, is a board certified dermatologist and the Founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL.
  • Dr. Kan Cao, phD, is a skin expert with a phD in Biology. She is the founder of skincare brand Bluelene.
  • Leila Aalam is an esthetician and founder of Beuti Skincare.
  • Sarah Akram is a celebrity facialist and esthetician.

01 of 09


“We often spend most of our time protecting the skin on our face and body and forget about the most vulnerable area—our head and scalp,” observes Dr. Kan Cao, scientist and founder of Bluelene. Board certified dermatologist Lian Mack, MD, echoes this. “People fail to remember this location and are not attracted to the idea of putting a thick cream or sticky spray on through their hair to get to the skin of the scalp,” he says. “Products like Jane Iredale’s Powder-Me SPF Dry Sunscreen offer a cosmetically elegant, effective delivery system to prevent sunburn.”

Hair is not always going to be the best protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays, warns Sarah Akram, a master facialist and esthetician. “Make sure to wear a hat or remember to apply sunscreen to your scalp,” she advises. “There are spray or mist sunscreens designed for scalp and hair protection.” One of our favorites is this mineral part and scalp powder.

02 of 09


Even though we're usually good about applying sunscreen to our faces, the ears are an extension we often miss. "The ears are a common area where skin cancer is found," warns Leila Aalam, esthetician and founder of Beuti Skincare. "When you apply your daily SPF to your face, also add to your outer earlobes."

Hartman suggests reapplying sunscreen to your earlobes “every two hours that you are exposed to intense sunlight, and especially between peak hours of 10am and 2pm.”

Cao adds that you should opt to wear a hat if you are planning on being outside for an extended period of time.

03 of 09


We know that the neck is one of the first places to show signs of aging, so protecting our neck and décolletage from the sun is crucial. "When you apply your daily SPF in the morning to your face, make sure to extend it to your neck and decolletage," advises Cao.

04 of 09


Yes, eyelids. "Eyes can be a tricky area because most sunscreens can be irritating to the eyes," says Akram. "My recommendation is to remember to grab a pair of sunglasses and a hat."

If you do plan on going the sunscreen route near the eyes, Hartman has some tips. "Sunscreen should be applied to eyelids after all skincare is applied and as a final shield against UV light,” he says. “Choose a physical sunscreen with few active ingredients as eyelid skin tends to be more sensitive."

05 of 09


According to both Mack and Akram, lips often get skipped when it comes to sun protection. "A good lip balm that contains SPF will protect your lips," says Akram.

Be sure to carry an SPF-spiked lip balm when you're outdoors and reapply as necessary—just as you would with sunscreen. "Keeping your lips moist will help to protect from sun damage," Akram adds.

06 of 09


"Within my practice, patients consistently ask me how to reverse signs of aging on their hands," admits Mack. "Most patients are protecting their face with an SPF, but they neglect the top of the hands."

How often do you apply sunscreen and end up washing your hands shortly after to get rid of the greasy feeling? It's something many of us are guilty of, but it's not doing any favors for our hands. "Sunspots or age spots on your hands are an area where we can see some of the first signs of aging," explains Akram. "When you wash your hands, you are removing any product or protection. It is important to apply sunscreen on the palms and back of your hands."

07 of 09


"During the summer months, we often cover most of our body but forget the edges around our buttocks," says Aalam. "Swimsuits are getting smaller and smaller, so make sure to apply sunscreen before you head to the beach." She advises applying sunscreen on your entire butt to ensure coverage under your swimsuit.

08 of 09


Just as knees are an easy body part to miss when we shave our legs, they're an easy body part to miss when we're applying sunscreen. “Knees are as susceptible as other areas for being sunburned,” says Hartman. “However, sunscreen applied to the knees may be more easily rubbed off inadvertently as one moves around on a blanket at the beach.”

Cao says to make sure to wear SPF and apply regularly, especially if you are going to be in the water. "Of course, another option is to wear a long skirt or coverup," she says.

09 of 09

Toes and Feet

"This is another common area to find skin cancer," reveals Aalam. "Yet again, we often are wearing sandals during the summer months so we automatically think they are covered and protected—which is not true." To be safe, Aalam recommends applying sunscreen to the top and bottom of your feet and on your toes.

Article Sources Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin cancer facts & statistics. Updated January, 2022.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. The best skin care ingredients for your neck. Updated September 27, 2021.


How to Air-Dry Hair, According to Stylists

Woman combing her wet hair in her bathroom.

At its simplest definition, the term "air dry" is very self-explanatory. If all you want is for your hair to dry without using a dryer, all you need to do is walk out of the shower and wait for the air to do its job. Many even consider air-drying to be a good "break" for their hair between blow drys. However, the time it takes the hair to dry, how it looks when it is dry, and even the benefit that skipping heat styling has for the hair can vary wildly depending on how you air-dry your hair.

Believe it or not, there are right and wrong ways to air-dry hair—both for the health and appearance of your hair. Additionally, the "right way" to air-dry hair may also differ from one hair type and texture to another, which only makes air-drying seem more complicated. In order to set the record straight, we turned to two hair experts, hairstylist Michelle O'Connor and trichologist Rochelle Hunter Mosley, for their advice on the best way to air-dry your hair.

Meet the Expert

  • Rochelle Hunter Mosley is a certified trichology practitioner, StyleSeat hairstylist and colorist, and the owner of Salon 804 in New York City.
  • Michelle O’Connor is a professional hairstylist and the artistic director at Matrix.

According to our experts, air-drying's main benefit is that it spares your hair from the potential heat damage caused by blow dryers. Mosley shares that textured, wavy, and curly hair are often better suited for an air-drying technique, but that these hair types do require more hair product for a successful air-dry than straight hair. According to O'Connor, air-drying is preferable if you live in warmer climates and if your hair isn’t low porosity; "Living in Miami affords me the luxury of air-drying," she says. No matter the hair type, both of our experts agree that there are certain steps you can take to ensure a successful air-dry.

Keep reading to find out how you should be air-drying your hair.

01 of 06

Start With Thoroughly Cleansed Hair

The biggest concern that many people have with air-drying their hair, regardless of hair type or texture, is frizz. If you are planning on air-drying your hair you need to ensure that you thoroughly cleanse the hair in the shower, as product buildup will prevent the moisture of your conditioner or leave-in product from reaching your hair. Mosley explains that hair must be adequately moisturized to successfully air-dry and hair that has not been fully cleaned may not benefit from the effects of conditioner and leave-in products.

If you know you have a lot of product or buildup in your hair, it may be the right time to use a clarifying shampoo. These shampoos are tougher on dirt and oils but can be too harsh to use regularly on dryer hair and scalps. Depending on your hair type and the styling products you use, you may only need to clarify once a week or even once a month.

02 of 06

Condition, Condition, Condition

Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Hair Treatment Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Hair Treatment $21.00

No matter your hair type or texture, moisture is the key to a successful air-dry (though this is especially true when air-drying curly hair). "The first step in prepping to air-dry is to ensure you have adequately conditioned. The lack of heat on your hair can often let frizz run free, and conditioning before this drying process, as well as using a leave-in conditioner, helps to lock in the moisture your hair is lacking," explains Mosley.

Start with a moisturizing conditioner in the shower and then apply a leave-in moisturizer afterward to your wet hair. Straight or wavy hair runs the risk of falling flat from air-drying, as Mosley explains that fine and straight hair often get weighed down by the water. Use less product with these hair types and try to avoid applying it to the roots. O’Connor recommends the Matrix Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Hair Treatment as a leave-in.

03 of 06

Brush or Comb Only When Wet

The number one priority while air-drying is minimizing frizz. Those with curly hair almost always only brush or comb their hair when it’s wet to avoid disrupting their curls and creating frizz. “For curly hair, avoid brushing your strands while hair is air-drying. This will loosen the curls and create uneven definition throughout the hair,” explains Mosley. O’Connor agrees, adding “curly and coily hair shouldn’t be brushed dry, especially without some type of hydrating or moisturizing aid.”

While there is often debate about whether straight hair should be brushed when wet, the rules are a bit clearer when it comes to air-drying. Once the air-drying process starts, any manipulation of the hair is going to create frizz—even touching it with your hands. O'Connor says that there should be minimal touching until the hair is at least 75 percent dry. 

Both experts also share that the type of brush or comb you use on wet hair is important. O’Connor recommends detangling brushes such as the Denman or the Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush, your fingers, and wide tooth combs for wet hair. Mosley recommends any Wet Brush with more flexible bristles, as this ensures no tugging for fragile strands.

04 of 06

Apply the Right Styling Products

Cool Wind PH Perfect Air Dry Creme R+Co Cool Wind pH Perfect Air-Dry Creme $32.00

In a process that curly-haired people will be familiar with, you will want to apply the styling products to wet or damp hair. The right type of air-dry styling product will vary based on your hair type, as many curly products are interchangeable with air-drying or diffusing. For curly hair, O'Connor says you'll likely need a leave-in moisturizing product (as mentioned above), followed by a gel, cream, or foam.
For straight hair, it's important not to weigh the hair down with product.

When it comes to air-drying products, Mosley had several recommendations. She first recommends the R+Co Wind pH Perfect Air-Dry Creme, as she says it’s a great product for air-drying because it helps to tame frizz, hydrates, and softens for easily styling. Second, she recommends the JVN Air Dry Cream ($24) for curls and waves as it’s buildable and has a touchable hold that truly lets your natural texture come through. Finally, she says the Odele Air Dry Styler ($12) is another great leave-in conditioner that works for all hair types and is proven safe for color-treated hair.

05 of 06

Only Use a Microfiber Towel

Using a microfiber towel will help to shorten your air-drying time without causing frizz. Traditional cotton towels can create more friction and are more disruptive to the hair. Mosley advises avoiding a harsh towel dry: “Rubbing your hair with a towel disrupts the hair cuticles and can lead to frizz and breakage.”

"Be sure to squeeze with a microfiber towel any excess water that may be dripping from the hair. This ensures a shortened air-drying time," explains O'Connor. Scrunching with a microfiber towel should be the last step for curly-haired folks, while those with wavy or straight hair may want to do it before applying product.

06 of 06

Don't Go to Bed With Wet Hair

After all your hard work to ensure a perfect air-dry, the last thing you want to do is go to bed with your hair still wet or damp. “To ensure successful air-drying, you want to make sure that you aren’t going to bed directly after washing and conditioning,” explains O’Connor. Even if you sleep on a silk pillowcase to reduce friction, you may put dents or creases in your hair by sleeping on it before it fully dries. Additionally, you will cause frizz with any movement you make while sleeping. Make sure that if you are planning on washing your hair at night, you leave enough time for your hair to fully air-dry.


Microbiome Diet 101: How It Works, Benefits for Gut Health

plate of food

Detoxing usually involves cutting out certain food groups, but before you commit to a liquid-only diet for seven days, consider a different type of cleanse: the microbiome diet. Natural health enthusiasts swear this anti-inflammatory food plan can help with skin a host of health concerns from acne to depression by rebalancing the bacteria in your digestive system in just a few weeks—no juicing required. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the microbiome diet and whether it really works to restore your gut health.

Meet the Expert

  • Daniela Turley is a medical herbalist with practices in New York and London. Turley sits on the board of The American School of Natural Health and is a member of The American Herbalists Guild and The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy.
  • Rachel Nazarian, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology who specializes in cosmetic treatments, skin cancer, and dermatologic surgery.
  • Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, LD, IFNCP is a functional medicine registered dietitian nutritionist and health advocate, on a mission to transform people’s health and change their lives through personalized nutrition. 

What is the Microbiome Diet?

The microbiome diet is a three-phase eating plan created with the goal of helping people restore gut health and lose weight. The diet was created by Raphael Kellman, MD, who developed the program based on his work with patients in his practice, the Kellman Center for Integrative and Functional Medicine. The diet was popularized by his 2014 book titled The Microbiome Diet.

Kellman is an integrative and functional medicine physician who specializes in gut health. The basic claim of Kellman's work and the microbiome diet is that eating the "right" foods will keep your gut happy, which in turn keeps the rest of your body at its best.

The microbiome in your gut is made up of bacteria and other microorganisms—trillions of them in fact—that are both “good” and “bad.” Physicians like Kellman believe that by eating certain foods and keeping the good and bad bacteria in your gut balanced, you can improve digestion, reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety, and improve brain function and mood. Kellman also claims that the diet can boost your metabolism and help with weight loss.

It's important to note that not all physicians are convinced of all of the lofty health claims made by proponents of the diet, but according to herbalist Daniela Turley, there does seem to be some good evidence supporting making such diet changes for acne.

Turley claims that frequent, painful breakouts can be due to yeast growing in unhealthy quantities throughout the digestive system: "High-sugar diets, antibiotic use, and certain diseases such as diabetes can make the gut flora more 'yeasty.'"

Turley says clients also often complain of bloating, digestive issues, lethargy, and foggy-headedness. While many naturally-minded and mainstream health pros maintain that a sensitivity to yeast and yeast overgrowth in the intestine can present in these chronic (and admittedly fairly nonspecific) symptoms, this theory has been largely rejected by mainstream science and medicine.

How to Follow the Microbiome Diet

The microbiome diet has three distinct stages. In stage one, you're undergoing the treatment phase in which you're introduced to what to eat and what to eliminate. In stage two, you begin to add some foods back into your diet. In the final stage, stage three, you're simply sustaining the diet over time and continuing to eat clean.

Proponents of the diet “also recommend adding certain supplements,” adds Titgemeier. Some of these supplements could include zinc, glutamine, berberine, caprylic acid, quercetin, garlic, grapefruit seed extract, wormwood, oregano oil, probiotics, and vitamin D. The claim is that by including supplements, you can potentially reduce inflammation, remove unhealthy bacteria, and improve gut health.

Key Ingredients

Quercetin is a plant-pigment and flavonoid found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and plants. It can be consumed orally as a supplement and applied topically through skincare products for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Stage 1

colorful salad

The first stage is the treatment phase during which certain foods are eliminated so the “bad bacteria” are “starved.” During this stage, which lasts 21 days, you’re encouraged to avoid a number of foods common to the standard American diet from cow’s milk to potatoes, and you’re meant to follow the “four R’s:”

  • Remove: Cut toxins and harmful chemicals that might cause inflammation or imbalance, including pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and certain medications
  • Repair: Get lots of plant foods and supplements meant to heal and support your gut
  • Replace: Eat herbs and spices to try to help improve the digestive process
  • Reinoculate: Eat probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods and supplements

Stage 2

In this stage, the goal is to build up good bacteria and heal the gut lining over nine days. Stage two is similar to stage one, but with more variety and a little more flexibility. It is in this stage that you can start adding some previously prohibited foods like eggs, potatoes, and legumes. While the diet still calls for some foods to be strictly avoided, others are simply limited.

Stage 3

The final stage is really just about maintaining the lifestyle of eating for gut health. Your diet is no longer as restrictive as it was in the first two stages, but it's not a "free-for-all" either. Experts like Turley suggest that by the time you're in phase three, the foods you ate during phase two should still make up 70% of your diet, but it is still "best to avoid unhealthy foods."

She advises continuing to avoid anything processed or packaged as much as possible, as well as high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, canned foods, soy, fruit juice, canola oil. She also recommends keeping gluten to a twice-per-week indulgence. Oh, and if you happen to take a course of antibiotics, you might have to start the whole diet from the beginning.

What Foods to Eat (and What to Avoid)

vegetable dish in a pan

What you're eating on the microbiome diet will depend on the stage you're in. In stage one, you're allowed beef, chicken, fish, lamb, and shellfish, and vegetables like artichoke, asparagus, beets, berries, black radish, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, capers, carrots, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, kale, and lettuce (except iceberg), apples, cherries, coconut, kiwi and nuts such as almonds and walnuts. Meanwhile, you are not supposed to have cow's milk, gluten, grains, corn and corn starch, eggs, trans fats, dried fruit, soy, deli meats, potatoes and sweet potatoes, beans, or alcohol.

"This phase is the most restrictive," comments Dr. Rachel Nazarian. It's in this stage that you are "removing most processed foods and increasing intake of prebiotics/probiotics/postbiotics, fermented foods, and sticking to a plant-based organic diet—eating foods such as berries, lean protein, avocado, leafy greens," she continues.

While you can’t have cow's milk, at any point in the diet, you can load up on probiotics by eating kefir, yogurt from goat's milk, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

By stage two, you can add eggs, gluten-free grains, potatoes, and legumes back into your diet. For example, for breakfast, you could poach a couple of eggs or mix fruit salad with goat’s milk yogurt (available at Whole Foods). Lunch options include chicken or egg salad, and for dinner, maybe cook up some fish or steak with salad or a stew with quinoa.

The Benefits of the Microbiome Diet

According to Kellman and proponents of the diet, the benefits of the microbiome diet can include an improvement of the digestive system and cognition, as well as improvements in clearing up cystic acne, and potential weight loss. “Eating foods that are beneficial for the gut is one of the most powerful ways to ignite the amazing potential of your bacteria living inside of you, which can translate to fewer GI symptoms, improved immune function, improved cognition and focus, better mood, clearer skin, and more,” comments Titgemeier.

Nazarian, however, advises that while "there is growing evidence that the microbiome of the gut may have a substantial impact on overall health…some of the claims made by this method have not been supported by medical literature, and are unlikely to be true, such as the claims that it may cure autism, cancer, and Lyme disease."

Possible Side Effects

Although the promises of the diet are certainly alluring, nutrition experts say that it's not for everyone as the restrictive nature of the diet can result in missing out on beneficial foods such as some fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, and some legumes. These foods are all part of a balanced diet because of the vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients they provide. It's also important to note that restrictive eating plans like the microbiome diet are rarely appropriate for people living with or in recovery from eating disorders.

calm portait

"There’s nothing dangerous or detrimental about engaging in this diet," Nazarian concludes, "but, expectations should be managed about what it will do for improving autoimmune, infectious, or neoplastic disease…because there is not enough evidence to support those claims."

The Final Takeaway 

Any diet plan will come with its pros and cons, but our experts advise us to be especially cautious of diet programs that claim to treat a host of chronic diseases or promise rapid weight loss. While the microbiome diet may have benefits with its focus on whole foods and supporting gut health, there are also some possible risks and it may be overly restrictive for some. You should always chat with a health professional before drastically changing your diet. Ultimately, following an eating plan that is best for your body and lifestyle is always better than following a fad.

Article Sources Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Ursell LK, Metcalf JL, Parfrey LW, Knight R. Defining the human microbiome. Nutr Rev. 2012;70 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S38-S44. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00493.x

  2. Cunningham E. Is there a diet for "yeast allergy"? J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(3):484. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2013.01.013


28 Gorgeous Photos That’ll Convince You to Get Short Hair With Bangs

ana de armas

The decision to cut off a sizable amount of hair or get bangs are separately two major hair decisions, but to do both at once is commitment. But sometimes you just need a change, and after (careful) thought, if you’re ready to go for it, we wholeheartedly support that decision. Especially when there are so many ways to wear short hair with bangs. Just ask celeb stylists Marcus Francis and Nicola Clarke who’ve shared their favorite looks with pro styling tips to match. From edgy pixies with baby bangs to classic bobs with eye-grazing fringe—and everything in between—let our #hairspiration gallery guide you.

Keep reading for our top short hair with bangs picks. 

Meet the Expert

  • Marcus Francis is a celebrity hairstylist. His clients include Julianne Moore, Emma Roberts, and Olivia Colman.
  • Nicola Clarke is a celebrity stylist and Virtue brand ambassador. She is based in the UK.

01 of 28

Choppy Lob and Bangs

Kerry Washington wavy lob with choppy bangs

Whether she’s rocking a pixie or embracing volumized natural curls, Kerry Washington can do no wrong when it comes to hair. Here, rather than wear just any old lob, she goes for an edgier interpretation. Francis explains, “The choppy bangs give another dimension to the choppy lob. It’s a youthful look, framing the face, but keeps its cool-girl touch with the length and texture.” To get her glossy tresses, he recommends Better Natured Shine Glaze ($22).

Keeping the ends of the bangs from feeling rounded or too “perfect” allows for the cool, effortless look of this cut. Flat iron S waves throughout the hair for an easy day-to-night look.

02 of 28


Ursula Corbero mullet

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, a mullet has made the number two spot on our list because, well, haven't you heard? Mullets are cool again. This look is flattering—and not just because of Úrsula Corberó's amazing bone structure—but also thanks to her soft and feminine bangs, notes Clarke. "You could take this look to another level and bleach the ends leaving the roots dark which would make it very rock," she adds.

03 of 28

Coily Volumized Bob

Soo Joo Park blonde curly bob with bangs

DJ and model Soo Joo Park opts for curls and volume with her blonde bob. In good form, she incorporates layers for added texture and movement. By leaving her hair straight on top, she emphasizes her coily bangs and mane below.

04 of 28


Bedhead hair

This undone curtain bangs cut captures the epitome of sexy bedhead hair: tousled, messy, and throwing just woke up vibes. While you may be tempted to replicate the look by sporting actual bedhead, we recommend Jen Atkin’s technique which is simple, yet effective. You’ll nail the perfect off-duty hair every time.

05 of 28

Updo With Blunt, Wispy Bangs

Sienna Miller ponytail with long, wispy bangs

Sienna Miller proves that bangs and updos are a match made in hair heaven. "These bangs are blunt, but styled in a wispy way," notes Francis. If you need to smooth out the texture a bit, he suggests using a medium-size round brush and even a mini flat iron at the roots.

Tapering bangs on the sides is the trick for having them feel soft yet sexy, connecting to the rest of the hairstyle.

06 of 28

Sideswept Bangs

Karlie Kloss

Thanks to their versatility and the fact that they require minimal upkeep, side-swept bangs are ideal for lazy girls—and those with diamond-shaped faces—while also adding depth to a short haircut. Combine with layers to pump up the volume.

07 of 28

Gray Mushroom Cut

KeKe Palmer gray mushroom cut

KeKe Palmer's thick mushroom cut really allows for her gray color to stand out. Bangs here are front and center, creating a look that is bold, sophisticated, and a surefire way to make a statement. By just barely brushing the tips of the lashes, these bangs also effectively showcase the eyes.

08 of 28

Bob With Ombré Bangs

Sofía Boutella bob with ombré bangs

Pictured: a flawless It-girl haircut on Sofia Boutella. This ombré style achieves a color-melting effect of dark roots to blonde bangs, mids, and ends that is ah-mazing. Work in some smoothing cream for a frizz-free finish.

09 of 28

Tousled Bob With Micro Fringe

Alison Sudol textured A-line bob with micro bangs

Micro fringes are trending, but are they easy to pull off? The trick is balance. Alison Sudol complements her bold baby bangs with a tousled A-line bob to create softness and not come off as being too severe.

10 of 28

Sleek Pixie

Cara Delevingne sleek pixie

Cara Delevingne has had some stellar hair moments, but we’re fawning over this understated chic pixie cut with bangs. And since it has a bit of length, you can play with ways to style it. It’s proof of how versatile a short hairstyle can be.

11 of 28

Bob With Long, Wispy Bangs

Nicole Richie blonde bob with long, wispy bangs

Although a short bob can appear severe at times, when paired with long, wispy bangs, it takes on a lighter tone. This take on Nicole Richie is undeniably sultry and makes us wonder why we never opted for this bob-bang combo sooner.

12 of 28

Shag With Thick Bangs

Ciara shag with bangs

Ciara’s shag with thick bangs is effortlessly cool and edgy. Texture is key when it comes to this mussy ‘do, so invest in a good texturizing spray like Verb Volume Dry Texture Spray ($20). Pair with the Huji filter and your layered look is insta gold.

13 of 28

"The Halle Berry"


Zendaya captioned this photo of her short hair with bangs “Halle Berrrrrrryyyyyyy Halle Berry” and tbh, that feels incredibly accurate. To emulate Zendaya—or Halle Berry—keep sides shorter and retain some length up top. This will give you more room to style as well as highlight contrast.

14 of 28

Curly Bob and Curtain Bangs

Halle Berry curly bob with curtain bangs

Speaking of Halle Berry, here she is with a gorgeous head of curls and curtain bangs to match. “The curtain bangs have such a ‘wow’ factor because they have so much versatility to them,” says Francis. To style, he recommends either parting bangs in the middle and blending to the sides or keeping them covering the forehead more to allow for natural movement while framing the face.

15 of 28

Soft Undercut

Profile of woman with soft undercut

A soft bob and bangs go together like coffee and oat milk. This haircut works great if you’ve got thick hair—wavy or straight—since it will remove some weight and add movement. We’re into how both bob and bangs work together to frame the face gorgeously.

16 of 28

Pixie With Choppy Bangs

Jennifer Hudson pixie with baby bangs

Jennifer Hudson keeps it short and sweet, serving up a contemporary bowl hairdo. She plays up texture with her choppy bangs, which work to soften her minimalist mushroom cut. Très chic, Ms. Hudson.

17 of 28

Short Pixie With Barely-There Bangs

Zoe Kravitz pixie with barely-there bangs

Super short bangs look super chic when paired with closely-cropped hair. Case in point: Zoë Kravitz (who else?). If your lifestyle is go-go-go, you may be tempted by this cut since it’s both low-maintenance and lovely. “Finish this look with a texturizing product to create definition on the ends,” says Clarke. Our recommendation? Oribe Rough Luxury Soft Molding Paste ($39) to texturize and tame.

18 of 28

Edgy Crop With Asymmetrical Bangs

Shannyn Sossamon crop with asymmetrical bangs

If you're not looking for anything serious, take a cue from Shannyn Sossamon and consider asymmetrical bangs. They're low-commitment, fun, and totally DIY. The best part? If you mess up, nobody will bat an eye.

19 of 28

Lob With Piece-y Side Bangs

Choppy gray lob

Expert celebrity hairstylist Ahn Coh Tran does it again with another hit look. This time it’s his modern interpretation of the classic lob. Piece-y side bangs and layers keep things fun and fresh, perfectly complementing the gorgeous gray color. 

20 of 28

Curly Bob And Bangs

Yara Shahidi natural curly bob with bangs

As mentioned previously, curly girls can wear bangs too, and Yara Shahidi is further living proof. She lets her natural curls do their thing à la a bob and bangs. And since curls need moisture, Clarke recommends starting with a mega treatment like Virtue ColorKick Restorative Treatment Mask ($15). She also notes that Virtue Un-Frizz Cream ($21) is a must, just simply apply to hair and twist in small sections.

21 of 28

French Bob

French Bob

Is Paris calling? Cut short near the jawline and paired with bangs at brow level, this French-girl bob is blunt on the cut and heavy on the texture. "The French girl chic effect has become such an enviable style choice for women around the world because of how it has a timely sexiness to it without a lot of fuss," says Francis. Francophile or not, this is a haircut that you will obsess over.

22 of 28

Updo With Heavy Bang

Taylor Swift updo with heavy bang

For those with limp strands and stubborn cowlicks, you’re in for a treat. According to Francis, “A heavy bang like this one on Taylor Swift creates a fullness at the top if you suffer from lack of volume. It is also great If you have a cowlick and want to wear bangs. It makes any updo look chic and pulled together.”

23 of 28

Shaggy Lob

Kiersey Clemons shaggy blonde lob with bangs

Kiersey Clemons may have been inspired by '90s alternative rock queen Courtney Love with this shaggy blonde lob and red lip. In keeping with the spirit of grunge, she lets her dark roots show and goes for an unkempt finish. Choppy ends and layering help her to achieve this style.

24 of 28

Chin-Length Bob

Alex Chung chin-length bob with curtain bangs

This chin-length bob is a trendy cut thanks to its effortless vibe. “Make sure the length is cut at the chin, keeping it layer free. Don’t fuss over the styling as it isn’t supposed to be worn as a sleek blowout, but rather a way to embrace the natural bends and texture your hair already has,” says Francis. “To keep hair healthy, consider using a conditioning treatment like Better Natured Hydrating Leave-In Milk ($22),” he adds.

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Blunt and Tousled Bob

Haley Bennett textured blonde bob with bangs

Can we talk about how perfect these blunt, tousled bangs are on Haley Bennett? They’re face-framing and flattering. Sprinkle with flowers for added whimsy or your hair accessory of choice. Since the color needs attention, Clarke suggests cleansing with Virtue Recovery Shampoo ($16) and Conditioner ($17).

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Curly Bob With Side Bangs

Nathalie Emmanuel curly bob with side-swept bangs

If you’re not ready to commit to full-on fringe, take a cue from Nathalie Emmanuel’s natural curly bob. Her side bangs are low-maintenance and simply put, don’t get in the way. A subtle detail that makes all the difference. To give your curls some TLC—and to keep frizz at bay—work a small amount of AG Hair Curl Re:coil Curl Activator ($24) into strands.

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Blunt Bob With Bangs


But seriously, the mod bob with bangs Rih wore way back when at the 2007 MTV VMAs is all kinds of perfection. It pays homage to the ’60s, which, if we’re being honest, is one of our preferred decades for sourcing hair inspo.

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Platinum Pixie

Katy Perry piecey platinum pixie

Pro tip from Katy Perry: A pixie with bangs looks incredible when you’re platinum blonde. This minimalist cut exudes confidence and lets you show off your face. Just be forewarned: “This needs high maintenance and TLC with regular cuts to keep the cut fresh and healthy,” says Clarke.

  • How often should you trim bangs when you have short hair?

    For a specific style, like a short, tailored bob with bangs, you probably need to get a trim or cut every three weeks. This will keep the ends polished and ensure the style remains precise.

  • How do you style a headband on short hair with bangs?

    The important thing when wearing a headband is to ensure the texture of the bangs and the rest of the hair match. So if you have curly hair, ensure the bangs are curly as well, and simply secure the headband on top (so the bangs are still visible, but not perfectly styled). With super-straight tresses, try wearing a stretchy headband above the bangs, wrapped around the entire head.

  • How should you wear bangs if you have short, curly hair?

    To match the texture and flow of the curls, bangs on short, curly hair should be wide (like a curtain style) or fall to one side. This will keep the entire look loose and cohesive.