25 Life-Changing Ways to Use Q-tips
Brought to you by the editors of Cosmopolitan: Did you know cotton swabs shouldn't be used for cleaning out your ears? Use them instead to apply perfume, to remove a pimple, to create the perfect winged eyeliner, and much more.
By Brooke Shunatona
1. Spray the ends of a few cotton swabs with your favorite perfume, and put them in a plastic sandwich bag before stashing them in your purse to touch up throughout the day.
Carrying around a bulky perfume bottle in your bag all day is impractical. But popping a few perfume-covered cotton swabs in a plastic bag (which will lock in the scents for several hours) is totally doable. That way, when you want to freshen up your fragrance midday, you just whip one out and run the scent-covered end over your pulse points (on the inside your wrists and elbows, the sides of your neck, and behind your ears and knees).
2. Mix baking soda, toothpaste, and hydrogen peroxide together to make a teeth whitening paste, and then apply it with a cotton swab.
Mix a dab of toothpaste, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda together until you get a paste-like texture. Then, use one end of a cotton swab to wipe down each tooth so it's dry and the other to apply the paste you just made. After one minute has passed, brush the blend off with a toothbrush. Repeat this a few times a week until you've reached the desired effect.
3. Outline your lips with translucent powder using a cotton swab to prevent your bold lip color from bleeding outside of your lip line.
No one likes when their lipstick bleeds, so to prevent that, dip the tip of a cotton swab in translucent powder, and sweep it along the perimeter of your mouth. The powder helps create a barrier around your lips, preventing any lip color from bleeding.
4. Touch up your roots in between dye jobs with a cotton swab dipped in eyeshadow.
Need to cover your roots in a pinch? Swipe a cotton swab over an eyeshadow that matches your hair color, and then run it over your roots to camouflage any regrowth.
5. Remove at-home hair dye drip stains with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and a cotton swab.
If you're dyeing your hair at home and the hair dye drips onto your neck or the side of your face, try an at-home hair dye removal paste made of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Mix the two ingredients together to create a thick paste, dip a cotton swab in the mixture, and rub it in a circular motion on the spot to remove the stain.
6. Clean the lint out of your hair dryer vent with a cotton swab.
To make sure your hair dryer is functioning at full capacity, regularly clean out the lint that is blocking the air flow in the back of the dryer with a cotton swab.
7. Use a cotton swab to buff out the self-tanner in spots that are prone to darken.
When applying a self-tanner, your cuticles, knuckles, knees, ankles, and elbows are likely to soak up more DHA (the ingredient that creates with the amino acids on your skin to make you tan), making you darker in those areas. To prevent this from happening, wipe away excess product before it has a chance to set it using clean cotton swabs and circular motions over those spots.
8. Stash a few cotton swabs in an old pill bottle for when you need them on the go.
Stick a few cotton swabs in an empty pill bottle that is small enough to fit in your purse and the perfect size for traveling.
9. Store your cotton swabs in an empty parmesan cheese bottle.
If you tend to spill your open box of cotton swabs, move them to an old plastic cheese shaker with an easy-to-open lid.
10. Fix a stuck zipper by rubbing shampoo on the area with a cotton swab.
Dip one end of the cotton swab in a little bit of shampoo, and rub the end along the area of the zipper that is stuck. The shampoo will act as a lubricant and will help loosen the jammed zipper.
11. Fix a scuffed patent leather shoe by rubbing a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover on top of the scuff mark.
If your patent leather shoes are scuffed, soak the end of a cotton swab in nail polish remover, and rub the end in a circular motion on top of the mark to easily remove it.
12. Pour a bit of nail polish remover into the cap of the bottle, dip the cotton swab in the lid, and use the end of the swab to remove any polish from around your nails.
For easier access to nail polish remover when creating messy nail art, use the tip of a cotton swab and the cap of a nail polish remover bottle.
13. Easily get rid of a pimple with two cotton swabs and hot water.
If you have a pimple that has come to a head, take a hot shower and after you've dried off and your skin is still soft and supple from the hot water, take two cotton swabs and gently press them against the zit toward each other. The contents of the pimple should come out with ease, but don't force it if it isn't ready.
14. If you're out of eye makeup remover, dip the end of a cotton swab in moisturizer and use it to remove your eye makeup.
Using your eye cream (or a lotion that's gentle enough to be used around the eye area), dip one end of a clean cotton swab into the moisturizer and apply it over the eyeshadow/eyeliner that you want to remove. Then, use the opposite end to clear away both the cream and the makeup residue.
15. Dip two cotton swabs in eye cream, put them in a plastic baggy and freeze them, and then in the a.m., sweep them under your eyes to help deflate puffy under-eye bags.
First, make sure your eye cream contains caffeine, which will help tighten your skin, and cucumber, which will help calm any puffiness. Then, dip the ends of two clean cotton swabs into an eye cream and pop them into a plastic sandwich bag before putting them in the freezer at night. In the morning, run the ends with the eye cream from the inner corners outward, applying a little bit of pressure as you slowly glide the cotton swabs toward the outer corners. The gliding movement will help drain the fluid that's pooling underneath your eye, while the cold eye cream and its ingredients will help minimize any puffiness.
16. Dust translucent powder over your eyelashes between mascara applications to plump up your lashes.
Translucent powder or baby powder has grip, so it will stick to your lashes in between each coat of mascara, causing your lashes to appear fuller and thicker. Try out this tip using this tutorial.
17. Clean up any mascara mistakes with the tip of a cotton swab without having to remove your eyeshadow along with it.
If you've already applied your eyeshadow but accidentally got mascara on your eyelid, wait for the spot to dry, and then place the tip of a cotton swab on top of the spot and spin it clockwise until the dot is gone. If you try to remove it while the mascara is still wet, you'll smear the spot and make it difficult to remove. But this tip will allow you to remove the mascara and keep the rest of your hard work in place.
18. Apply eyelash glue to false lashes with the tip of a clean cotton swab.
To avoid a mess when applying eyelash glue to false eyelashes, squeeze some lash glue onto the tip of a cotton swab, and then evenly disperse it along the base of your falsies. Finally, wait a few seconds for the glue to get tacky, and apply as close to your lashline as possible to make them look natural.
19. Clean up and define the flick of your cat-eye with a precision-tip cotton swab dipped in eye makeup remover.
Because no one has a perfectly steady hand when creating a cat-eye, after you've applied your winged eyeliner, dip the pointy end of a Q-tip Precision cotton swab into eye makeup remover and straighten up any wiggly lines, making your cat-eye that much sharper.
20. Dip a Q-tip Precision Tip cotton swab in concealer and use it to cover eyeliner mistakes instead of using makeup remover.
If you've made a mistake while applying liquid or gel eyeliner, don't use makeup remover to fix it or you'll take off all of your concealer, eyeshadow, and foundation with it, leaving your skin splotchy-looking. Instead, use the tip of a cotton swab and a little bit of concealer to cover any stray marks.
21. Give yourself a smoky eye by lining your eye with a kohl liner first, and then smudging it with a cotton swab.
Line your upper and lower lash lines with your favorite eyeliner pencil, keeping it close to the lash line. Then, gently smudge out the lines using a cotton swab and side-to-side motions to create a smoky eye. Voila!
22. Tug the end of a cotton swab to give the tip a cotton candy-like texture, then use it to apply eyeshadow to create a quick smoky eye.
If you want a smudgy eyeshadow look, loosen the cotton at the end of the swab by gently tugging on it (This trick turns the Q-tip into a blending brush of sorts, leaving a softer look.), and then run it over your favorite eyeshadow shade. Next, apply the eyeshadow along the base of the lashes and up into the crease of your eye for an instant smoky eye.
23. Coat the ends of a few cotton swabs in your favorite eyeshadow shades, and then put them in a plastic sandwich bag when traveling to save packing space.
If you're going on a quick weekend trip and don't have a lot of space in your carry-on, roll the ends of some cotton swabs in a few different eyeshadow shades, covering them liberally with product. Then, use the cotton swab as mini eyeshadow brushes with built-in color to apply your eye makeup on your travels.
If you need to fill in sparse brows, use the pointed end of a precision-tip cotton swab to create hair-like strokes within your arches. Then, lightly blend with the rounded tip of a cotton swab to give your brows a softer, more natural look than if you would have used an eyebrow pencil.
25. Use a cotton swab to find your cheekbones and create a guideline for easy contouring.
To determine where you should be dusting on bronzer powder, line up a cotton swab right below your cheekbone. Once you've found the correct placement, lightly trace the line of the Q-Tip with another cotton swab tip coated in bronzer. After you've created a guideline, blend the bronzer in with another clean cotton swab tip (tugged on for that cotton candy-like texture) to diffuse the color for a more natural look.
Photo Credit: Kathleen Kamphausen