Vow to take care of your skin, hair, and nails this year with these beauty goals.

New Year's resolutions can be life-changing (and skin-transforming, and hair-enhancing) if you stick with them. But excuses not to wash your face every night come easily when you're exhausted—and wearing SPF daily is a challenge when you have an underwhelming formula. We went to the experts to learn smarter strategies and to find the superlative goods that guarantee follow-through. Make these essential pledges—first up, refresh that makeup bag and forge ahead.

makeup bag next to beauty products
Credit: Johnny Miller

Starting with that makeup bag, it's out with the old! Empty your cosmetics case, and toss out anything past its prime. "Oil-and liquid-based makeup can harbor bacteria after exposure to air, fingers, and brushes," says dermatologist Mona Gohara, and that can lead to breakouts (or worse, an infection). Liquid foundations last three to four months, powders up to a year. Mascara needs to be swapped most frequently, about every two months. A new one to try: Maybelline New York Falsies Lash Lift Mascara ($11, walmart.com). For a quick reference, check the "period after opening" code on the product (a tiny jar icon with a number of months, like "6M" or "12M"), which indicates how long it will last once open. Bottom line: If your makeup starts to smell, or change color or texture, pitch it.

Now, in with the new. Clean brushes, and replace any frazzled ones. Makeup artist Moani Lee suggests looking for a set with cruelty-free bristles. We're fans of Ilia's ($28, iliabeauty.com). Then commit to cleaning them weekly, says Gohara. No special technique needed—just lather them against a bar of gentle, fragrance-free soap, like Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar ($7.99, target.com). Rinse and lay flat to dry overnight.

Ahead, six more beauty resolutions you should consider adopting this year.

I Will Wash My Face Each Night

Cleansing is critical to remove pore-clogging dirt, oil, and sunscreen, says Leslie Baumann, a dermatologist. Consider washing your face right when you get home in the evening—and pick a hydrating formula you'll look forward to using, like skin-nourishing One Ocean Beauty Purifying Ocean Mist Cleanser ($38, oneoceanbeauty.com). Stash good facial wipes, such as Almay Biodegradable Micellar Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes ($6 for 25, walmart.com), in your nightstand as a backup plan.

I Will Wear SPF Daily

News flash: To get the UV protection some tinted moisturizers and foundations with SPF promise, you'd need to apply nearly seven times the amount you usually do, says Baumann. Better idea: Start with a vitamin C serum that helps neutralize free radicals. Try Circumference Vital-C Antioxidant Day Serum ($80, circumferencenyc.com). Then smooth on a lotion with broad-spectrum SPF 30, rain or shine. Neutrogena Bright Boost Facial Moisturizer ($19.99, target.com) fits the bill in featherweight form.

I Will Exfoliate

You could resolve to get monthly facials (dreamy, yet costly). But you can also get glowy skin by sweeping away that top layer of dead cells each week. The simplest way is to massage your face with a washcloth when you cleanse. The Rikumo Claire Cloth ($15, rikumo.com) has a soft, nubby side that sloughs off dryness effectively, and a cushiony side for the delicate skin around your eyes.

I Will Stick to a Retinol Regimen

The skin-smoothing ingredient remains the gold standard for preventing fine lines and wrinkles. Gohara prescribes it to patients in their 20s and up. It can, however, be irritating—and that's why people abandon it. A soothing solution is Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer ($38.99, ulta.com). Build up from a pea-size amount every other evening to a dime-size portion each night.

I Will Take Care of My Nails

Two words: cuticle oil. For 100 percent compliance, keep it near your keyboard and kitchen sink. Massage a few drops in once or twice a day to heal hangnails, hydrate beds, and prevent picking. We like super-soaking Bio-Oil ($9 for 2 oz., amazon.com). Then stay chip-free with a pretty, low-maintenance hue, like Essie Expressie in Crop Top & Roll ($9, essie.com).

I Will Treat My Hair Right

Regular conditioning sessions are your ticket to shine and strength, says hairstylist Jennifer Albert. Start with dry hair (damp strands dilute potency), and let a cream, such as Together Beauty Dreamer Overnight Repair Mask ($28, sephora.com), soak in for at least an hour. Luckily, these treatments are made for multitasking—comb one through and pull your hair into a loose bun before a yoga class or TV show catch-up.

Our Experts: New York City hairstylist Jennifer Albert; Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann; New Haven, Connecticut, dermatologist Mona Gohara; NYC makeup artist Moani Lee; and Los Angeles makeup artist Stephen Sollitto.


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