It’s easy to get stuck in a beauty rut. We roll out of bed and slap on the same makeup day after day just to look presentable. We buy the same products over and over because we know they work, or choose one lipstick shade over another because someone complimented it once. Some of us are still using the colors we wore in high school. When you’re busy, sometimes it’s easier just to go through the motions.

Fashion magazines present a smorgasbord of beauty trends every season, but seeing a “golden smoky eye” or a “wine-berry lip” on a beautiful young Kendall Jenner is a lot different from trying them out ourselves — especially when we don’t look like Kendall Jenner. Plus, trends get recycled, so it can get a little cliché. Oh, wine lips for fall? How revelatory!

Why not try Instagram? You’re probably spending hours on it shuffling through photos of your friends’ wedding weekends and lake trips, so why not make it work for you and dig around for beauty inspiration? For people (like myself) who hate Pinterest, Instagram is a fast, consumable way to discover new tips, tricks, shades and styles. And the best part is that it’s all done on your phone.

“Instagram provides that quick fix for visual stimulation that immediately evokes emotion,” said Twin Cities makeup artist Julie Swenson (@julieswensonphd on Instagram). “I follow artists, brands and bloggers to learn and be inspired.”

During the busy bridal season, Swenson uses Instagram to keep up on new bridal beauty trends. She follows a whole host of Instagrammers, from nature photographers, to established makeup artists, to local bloggers and stylists. “I like how global it is,” she said. “The ability to share our lives via photos in real time will help us thrive as a species. Yes, I just credited Instagram as an app that will save the world.”

Figure out what appeals to you

Not into the full face of MAC makeup look? On Instagram, you don’t have to be. You can find anything you want, from organic, hippie-dippie beauty queens to naturalistas, who share a wealth of tips and tricks for caring for natural hair.

Follow the hashtags

Looking to add a little life and dimension to your hair color? Why not search “#balayage” and see what you find? Colorists and stylists love showing off their work on Instagram, because with a little hashtag or two it can be seen by thousands of people. Or try “#pastelhair” if you’re considering a magical makeover. Upgrade your basic braid by copying what you see under “#braids.”

Find the influencers

Do you admire a certain celebrity’s look? Maybe you really love the look of a friend of a friend who wears great lipstick shades. Follow those people. I promise, it isn’t creepy to comment asking which brand of eyeliner she’s wearing, or which red lipstick she loves. You can easily discover new favorite products just by following people whose aesthetic you admire. Fall down the Instagram rabbit hole and see what you find.

If you love the Kardashian look — no shame — check out the work of their makeup artists and hairstylists. The Kardashians love to tag the people who keep them camera-ready, and other celebrities including Lauren Conrad do the same. Actress January Jones just showed off her expensive skin care routine, and beauty editors such as Eva Chen are always snapping pictures of their latest favorites.

With Instagram, you can find a much broader scope of skin types, ethnicities, hair colors and body types than you’d see in a magazine. It’s an endless stream of content to dig through. There’s something new every hour, so you’ve got no reason to fall into a rut.

Test it out

So you grabbed a new lip color, something you’ve never tried before, because you saw it on Instagram. Awesome! Congratulations. Now apply it and take a selfie, Kim K.-style. Show it off and get those likes, because nothing can nudge you in a new direction better than a few compliments — or Instagram double-taps.


Kara Nesvig is a freelance writer and beauty blogger living in Minneapolis. Find her writing all over the Internet, especially at