10 Expert Beauty Tips Every Woman Should Know

Tricks of the trade

by Syden Abrenica

What do real women do to look beautiful? To find out, we went online and asked our favorite bloggers for their best beauty secrets. Here are their top, go-to strategies for gorgeous hair, glowing skin and marvelous makeup. Thanks, ladies

Dunk nails to dry

“If you have no quick-dry products lying around, dip your painted nails in a bowl of ice-cold water to help them dry faster. It really works!”

Coat cuticles, avoid a mess

“I rub olive oil around my nails before I embark on a nail-art design. It makes removing excess polish way easier

Hide chips with textured polish

“Unlike regular lacquer, the glittery kind is supposed to look sort of uneven, so it’s great for fix-it situations. When a nail chips, instead of removing all my polish and starting over, I’ll just slap on a coat of sparkle over my current color. And when I (inevitably) get another chip, I paint on a little more. You can keep a manicure going indefinitely

Steam nails for a matte look

“If I’m making soup or boiling pasta, I’ll put on two quick coats of nail polish. While they’re still wet, I’ll hold my nails for three seconds over the steam coming from the simmering food, keeping them about 5 inches above the water. Then I watch the magic happen: My glossy painted nails turn matte-sexy

Topcoat your decals

“When I opt for nail stickers, I always seal them with a clear topcoat covering the tip of the nail, too. It discourages edges from peeling, makes the decals last longer and gives an authentic painted-on look (so you can pretend you have crazy nail skills!)

Take off glitter with felt

“I love sparkly polish, but it sticks to your nails like crazy. To remove it, I use felt instead of a cotton ball—it works like a gentle Brillo pad.

Cocktail your concealer

“I like my cover-up to float on the skin and hide imperfections rather than sink in and accentuate them. My latest trick: I first dab my ring finger into an eye balm (I love Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Eye), then swipe it over a solid concealer and dot it on. The creamy texture blends in very smoothly and doesn’t settle into little lines. So nice.

Perk up foundation with face oil

“Instead of layering on powder before happy hour, press a few drops of face oil over your cheeks to refresh your foundation and create a super natural glow

Dot your eyes

“I have the least steady hands on the planet, but I love the way my eyes look when they’re tightly lined. I’ve learned to hold a liquid-liner marker pen horizontally, so I’m using the broader side of the tip instead of the fine point, and press it into my lash line. This way I can line my eyes in three to four quick stamps instead of trying to draw a straight line—which is nearly impossible!

Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Ear Candling Claims

What Is Ear Candling?

Ear candles are hollow cones made of cloth (or other material) covered in paraffin wax, beeswax, or soy wax. One end is tapered or pointed. This end is placed in the ear. The other end is a little wider and is meant to be lit. Most ear candles are about a foot in length.

Proponents of ear candling claim that the warmth created by the flame causes a suction action that pulls earwax and other impurities out of the ear canal and into the hollow candle.

To perform this technique, you lie on your side with one ear facing down. Then the practitioner (esthetician, or a friend) actually inserts the pointed end into the ear hole, adjusting it to create a “seal.” You can perform the procedure yourself, but this is especially dangerous and not recommended.

In most cases, a circular guard of some sort is placed about two-thirds of the way down the candle to catch any dripping wax. These are often flimsy, made of aluminum foil or paper plates.

Cautious practitioners will cover your head and neck with a towel for more protection. Guidelines also suggest holding the candle straight so any drippings roll down the side rather than dropping into the ear or onto the face.

The candle is allowed to burn for about 10 to 15 minutes. During that time, the burned part of the cloth is supposed to be trimmed to prevent it from contaminating the tube. The procedure continues until only about 3 to 4 inches of the candle remain. Then the flame is extinguished carefully. Blowing it out while it’s still in the ear can increase risk of flying burning ash.

What Is Ear Candling Supposed to Do?

Marketers of ear candles advertise them as treatments for the following:

  • earwax buildup
  • earaches
  • swimmer’s ear or ear infections
  • tinnitus
  • hearing problems
  • sinus infections or other sinus conditions
  • symptoms of a cold or the flu
  • sore throat
  • vertigo or dizziness
  • stress and tension

After the procedure, the practitioner usually cuts the candle open vertically to show the patient the material that was drawn out of the ear.

But is that really what that dark-colored matter is?

Part 3 of 5: No Evidence

The Science Says “No”

Scientific studies have found no evidence that ear candling creates a “vacuum” in the ear that pulls out debris. There’s also no evidence that it pulls residue out of the ear canal.

In a 2004 study published in The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, researchers concluded that the mode of action “is implausible and demonstrably wrong.” They added that there was no evidence to show ear candling was effective for any condition, and that it should not be used for any reason.

In a 2011 study, scientists noted the experience of a 33-year-old lady who came to an ear clinic because of pain inside her ear. After doctors examined her, they found a yellowish mass in the ear canal. She mentioned that she had recently undergone an ear candling procedure at a massage center. Doctors determined the mass was formed from candlewax that had dropped into her ear. When they removed it, the woman’s symptoms went away.

The researchers went on to state that though ear candling was used in ancient China, Egypt, Tibet, India, and other locations, research from the late 1990s showed that it doesn’t actually work. On the other hand, it does send a number of patients to their doctors every year with candlewax-based injuries.

What about the debris patients see when they cut open the candles? Is it debris pulled from the ear? According to studies, it’s not. Scientific measurements of the ear canals before and after candling showed no reduction in earwax. In many cases, they found an increase in wax because of that deposited by the candles.

Part 4 of 5: Injuries

Risk of Injuries with Ear Candling

While there is no reliable evidence showing any benefits of ear candling, there is plenty showing its potential risks and harms.

In February 2010, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers and healthcare providers not to use them because they could cause “serious injuries,” even when used according to directions.

The administration added that they had found no “valid scientific evidence” supporting the effectiveness of ear candling. They had, however, received reports of patients suffering burns, perforated eardrums, and ear canal blockages that required surgery as a result of using them.

Ear candling increases risk of the following potential injuries:

  • burns to the face, outer ear, eardrum and inner ear
  • burns resulting from starting a fire
  • candlewax getting into the ear and causing a plug or inner ear damage
  • damage to the eardrum
  • hearing loss

Most concerning is the potential damage that can occur to small children. The FDA noted in its warnings on ear candling that children and babies are at increased risk of injuries and complications from ear candles.

Part 5 of 5: Worth It?

Is It Worth the Risk?

If you’re careful when going through ear candling, can you enjoy the idea that it might be helping you, even if there is no scientific evidence behind it? Some people go through the process without significant injury, but the practice requires time and money, and there is substantial long-term risk.

Possible complications of candling include:

  • ear canal occlusions
  • ear drum perforations
  • secondary ear canal infections
  • hearing loss
  • ash coating the eardrum

Rather than ear candling, it may be best to consider other options for removing wax buildup, such as:

  • earwax softening drops, available at local pharmacies
  • flushing the ear with warm water (Check with your pharmacy for a bulb-type syringe that makes the process easier.)
  • asking your doctor for other approved treatments

Choosing a Healthy Facial Moisturizer

Why Use Moisturizer?

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Moisturizer acts as a protective barrier for your skin, keeping it hydrated and healthy. While there tends to be confusion about the need for moisturizer in the first place, most experts recommend using it on a daily basis. In addition to maintaining good diet and managing stress, the Mayo Clinic advises using “a moisturizer that fits your skin type and makes your skin look and feel soft” for an effective skin care regimen.

Learn more about going from sallow to dewy, glowing skin. 

What’s Your Skin Type?

A good skin-care regimen includes daily moisturizing and sun protection to fight free radicals and fend off ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends moisturizing after bathing so that your still-damp skin will seal in moisture.

Based on a variety of reasons, including genes and (more manageable) factors like diet, your skin type falls into one of five categories. The most common type in women is combination.

It’s important to know your skin type to make sure you’re putting the right stuff on your face. Very dry skin probably won’t benefit from a water-based product; drier skin will appreciate heavier moisturizers to soak up as much moisture as possible.

Determine your skin type:

  • Dry (will benefit from a heavier, oil-based moisturizer)
  • Oily (will benefit from lighter, water-based moisturizers)
  • Mature (will benefit from oil-based moisturizers to preserve moisture)
  • Sensitive (will benefit from soothing ingredients, like aloe, that won’t be harsh on the skin)
  • Normal/Combination (will benefit from a lighter, water-based moisturizer)

If you’re not sure of your skin type, you can take a simple test. All that’s required is a few sections of tissue paper and a couple minutes of your time. After pressing the paper to different areas of your face, you can determine your skin type, based on how much oil the paper has picked up.

FDA Guidelines for Cosmetics

What separates a pricey, prettily packaged product from the $10 version found on your local drugstore shelf? Sometimes, not much. Don’t believe that price tags determine quality. It’s the ingredients that matter. A good moisturizer protects you and contains no harmful ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t wield a tight fist over cosmetics, which makes it tricky to trust which products to use for your face.  While cosmetics don’t have to be FDA-approved to go on the market, there is a silver lining: the FDA requires manufacturers to list ingredients on the label “to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.”

That said, reading the ingredients can be as complex as deciphering ancient Greek. Becoming ingredient-savvy can help you understand what’s in the bottle or jar before you decide to put anything on your face.

Fragrance-Free vs. Unscented

Fragrance-free typically means just that: no fragrances have been added to the product. However, even fragrance-free products are not always fragrance free. A natural ingredient or essential oil, acting as a fragrance, might not be listed as such. Many fragrances are synthetic, and mask toxins that could contribute to skin reactions and allergies.

Unscented products might include a fragrance as well. To mask unpleasant chemical odors, products may include additional synthetic fragrances that could trigger allergic reactions. Many “natural” ingredients may also be lurking on ingredient labels disguised as fragrances.

Active vs. Inactive Ingredients

Active ingredients, put simply, make the product do what’s it’s intended to do. A moisturizer that blocks UV rays may include titanium oxide, acting as the principal sunscreen agent. The inactive ingredients help out, but they don’t fight the sun’s rays, in this case. Inactive ingredients assist in creating the final product (whether that’s in pill, liquid, or cream form).

Non-comedogenic

A product listing this term on the label claims to be non-clogging, or oil-free. Essentially, it means that while the product will break down excess oil, it won’t strip your skin of moisture.

Hypoallergenic

Hypoallergenic refers to a product causing less allergic reactions in consumers. Seeing this word on a package, however, doesn’t guarantee a stamp of safety compared with products not marked as hypoallergenic. Since the cosmetic guidelines are not rigid, manufacturers may claim a product to be hypoallergenic—but the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to provide support for these claims.

So, what can you do? If you’ve had a reaction from certain ingredients in the past, check the label for these allergic substances—manufacturers are required by the FDA to list all ingredients on the packaging. 

Natural vs. Organic

Natural products use ingredients that come from botanical sources (and may or may not use chemicals). Organic products claim to have ingredients that are grown without chemicals, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers. Unfortunately, the loose FDA guidelines make most products vulnerable to misleading labels, and natural and organic products are not necessarily any better.

To cut through the confusion, you can read an overview below of the USDA organic guidelines for certified organic products:

  • 100 percent organic:  it’s optional, but these products are qualified to use the USDA Organic Seal; products bearing this seal must use organically-produced ingredients (not counting water and salt). 
  • Organic:  products marked “organic” contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients (not counting water and salt) and can display the Organic Seal; as for the rest of the ingredients, they must be from approved, non-agricultural substances, or from non-organically produced agricultural products. 
  • Made with organic ingredients:  contains at least 70 percent organic ingredients but products cannot use the USDA Organic Seal; these products are allowed to list “up to three of the organic ingredients or ‘food’ groups on the principal display panel.” 
  • Less than 70 percent organic ingredients:  products cannot use the organic seal or use the word “organic” anywhere on the main product package (organically produced ingredients can be listed).

Broad-Spectrum

This means that the product blocks both UVB and UVA rays from the sun. While not all moisturizers contain sunscreen, many products now offer this two-in-one blend. If you don’t use a moisturizer that fights the sun’s rays, apply your moisturizer first then follow up with sunscreen.

Parabens

Parabens are preservatives that give cosmetics a longer shelf life. On the label, you may see these commonly used parabens in cosmetics: methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, all deemed “safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25 percent” according to The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR).

Used in a variety of beauty and skin care products, parabens have been studied for their potential health risks, based on concerns that they mimic estrogen, which in turn could lead to cancer. Since parabens are not listed on the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) list, they may still be included in products marked as organic.

Currently, the FDA maintains that parabens do not pose a serious health risk to require their removal from cosmetic products. Based on studies, the FDA claims, “Although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much less estrogenic activity than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen.” Parabens are considered safe at low levels, according to the CIR, ranging from 0.01 to 0.3 percent in cosmetics.

Phthalates

Phthalates are found among a wide variety of products—from fragrances, lotions, and deodorants to toys and food packaging—and have raised concern about potential health risks, including impaired fertility. Due to increasing public anxiety, progress was made to push for testing and federal regulation. A 2008 follow-up study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics showed that a portion of the cosmetics industry has lowered its use of phthalates in products. This widely used and widely researched chemical has been studied mainly in rodents, and in limited volunteer studies in humans. According to the American Chemistry Council, findings suggest that cancer-causing concerns in phthalates are more unique to rodents than to humans. Reports by the U.S. National Toxicology Program on six of the seven phthalates that it reviewed found the risk to human reproductive and developmental health to be “minimal.”

Exfoliative Dermatitis

What Is Exfoliative Dermatitis?

Exfoliative dermatitis is redness and peeling of the skin over large areas of the body. The term “exfoliative” refers to the exfoliation, or shedding, of the skin. Dermatitis means irritation or inflammation of the skin. The skin peeling may occur with pre-existing medical conditions or medications in some people. The cause is unknown in others.

Exfoliative dermatitis, sometimes called erythroderma, is serious but fairly uncommon. Complications can include infection, loss of nutrients, dehydration, and heart failure, rarely leading to death.

What Are the Causes of Exfoliative Dermatitis?

The root cause of exfoliative dermatitis is a disorder of the skin cells. The cells die and shed too quickly in a process called turning over. The rapid turnover of skin cells causes significant peeling and scaling of the skin. The peeling and scaling may also be known as sloughing.

Underlying Conditions

Many people who already suffer from chronic skin conditions, including autoimmune diseases, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and eczema, can also develop exfoliative dermatitis.

Drug Reactions

Adverse reactions to a variety of drugs can also contribute to massive skin peeling. Drugs that may produce this condition include:

  • sulfa drugs
  • penicillin
  • barbituates
  • phenytoin (Dilantin) and other seizure medications
  • isoniazid
  • blood pressure medications
  • calcium channel blockers
  • topical medications (medications put on the skin)

However, almost any drug can cause exfoliative dermatitis.

Other Causes

Certain types of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma, may also accelerate the skin cell turnover rate. According to Merck Manuals, up to 25 percent of cases of exfoliative dermatitis are idiopathic. Idiopathic is when a disease or condition has no known cause.

Part 3 of 5: Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Exfoliative Dermatitis?

Skin and Nail Changes

Exfoliative dermatitis begins in most people with extreme reddening, which spreads over large portions of the body. This change in skin color is known as erythroderma. Erythroderma and exfoliative dermatitis are both names for this condition. Massive peeling of the skin follows the reddening and inflammation. The skin may be rough and scaly. The dryness and peeling of your skin can cause itching and pain. Your nails may also become thicker and more ridged.

Flu-Like Symptoms

People who have exfoliative dermatitis may also have flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills. This is because widespread skin peeling can affect your internal thermometer and cause heat loss from your damaged skin. Your body isn’t able to control its temperature well. Most people with exfoliative dermatitis also feel generally ill.

Complications from Skin Shedding

Those with this condition may also have a low blood volume. This is due to loss of fluid through the shed skin.

Skin shedding may start in small patches. Over time, it spreads to most of the body. Skin is made of mainly protein. It delivers nutrients to your other organs. The constant shedding of the skin can prevent your body from absorbing essential nutrients. You also lose protein and fluids from the sloughing. Dehydration and malnutrition are common complications.

Two important functions of your skin are providing a barrier to infections and other things in the environment, and protecting your inner organs. When your skin sheds significantly, it loses some of these abilities. This puts you at risk for serious infections and damage to underlying muscles and bones.

Severe Symptoms

Severe symptoms of exfoliative dermatitis can be life-threatening. Those who develop complications of infection, fluid and electrolyte abnormalities, and cardiac failure are most at risk of death. The most common causes of death in patients with exfoliative dermatitis are pneumonia, septicemia, and heart failure.

Part 4 of 5: Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Exfoliative Dermatitis?

You will probably receive treatment for exfoliative dermatitis in the hospital. Your doctor will work to correct any dehydration, low blood volume, heat loss, and electrolyte or nutritional deficiencies. Your doctor will give you IV fluids and nutrients to treat these complications.

Reducing inflammation and making you more comfortable are important goals of treatment. Supportive care includes warm baths, rest, and oral antihistamines. Your doctor may also prescribe medicated creams to moisten your dry, itchy skin.

Steroid medications treat severe or chronic inflammation and flaking of the skin. Some patients may benefit from phototherapy, treatments with psoralen, a photosensitizing agent, and ultraviolet A. Drugs that suppress the immune system can slow the rate of skin shedding, especially for people with chronic symptoms.

Infection can be a serious complication of this condition. Antibiotics can treat and prevent dangerous skin infections. Proper attention to wound care and dressings are also important to prevent infections.

Your doctors will also manage any underlying conditions. You will probably need to stop taking medications that could cause allergic skin reactions.

What Is the Long-Term Outlook?

The outlook for exfoliative dermatitis varies for each patient. Drug allergies are the easiest to treat. Your skin usually clears up within several weeks after stopping the allergy-causing medication, along with appropriate treatment. Managing conditions such as cancer and psoriasis can speed healing too. People with no known cause for the disease may have flare-ups throughout their lives. People who have had exfoliative dermatitis may have long-lasting changes in the color of the affected skin. They may also have problems with hair loss or nail changes.

How to Grow Out Your Bangs Gracefully

It’s a pattern as regular as the tides: in spring, we commit to getting bangs…and by Fall, we’re officially over them. But it’s way easier to cut a fringe than it is to grow it out, as anyone who’s ever done it knows all too well. But you don’t have to suffer through awkward hair stages anymore—we’ve put together the ultimate guide to how to grow out your bangs quickly, easily and gracefully.

1. Get a trim—and commit to getting them regularly.
We know—it seems a little counter-intuitive to advise you to get haircuts as you’re trying to grow your bangs out. But trust us: getting your bangs trimmed regularly is not only a good way to keep your hair healthy, it helps blend your fringe into the rest of your hair far more easily.

2. Sweep them sideways.
The easiest bangs to grow out are side-swept bangs—not only do they blend into your hair beautifully, they’re also far less annoying than trying to cope with hair slowly growing down straight into your eyes. Part your hair to either the left or the right (depending on your preference), comb your bangs straight forward from the crown, then swoop them to one side like Zooey Deschanel has done here

It may also help to dampen them, then blow them out with a round brush to help “train” them into their new direction. It may help to comb a little bit of hairspray through them, too, especially if you have issues with cowlicks or flyaways.

3. Embrace accessories.
The hardest thing about growing out bangs is that your newly long hair gets in your eyes and drives you nuts—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Bobby pins and barrettes are great ways to keep your fringe pinned out of your face; we especially love these Scunci No Slip Grip Oval Bobby Pins ($2.99, drugstore.com) for their sleek, non-basic looks AND the way they grab—and hold—even the slipperiest bangs. Simply swoop your fringe to the side, add some pomade or hairspray to keep the hair in place, then slide in a pin to keep it in place.

You can also embrace our favorite classic accessory, the headband, to keep those bangs pushed up, up and away—like Kristen Bell is doing. Make sure the band you choose isn’t too tight—that way lies headaches—and stick with dark colors for a grown-up look. We love these ribbon-look headbands from Sweaty Bands ($15, sweatybands.com); not only are they the perfect width, they stay put like a dream.

You can also get into wearing scarves in your hair, which is always a gorgeous look. Use a rectangular scarf (or fold a square scarf into a long band) to push your bangs back, then adjust it so that the scarf sits about two inches back from your hairline, and tie it at the nape of your neck. Let the ends hang long for a retro-inspired look, or tuck them underneath for a sleeker style.

4. Use lightweight (but hardcore) styling products.
You don’t have to shellac your hair down to keep your fringe under control—being selective with your products will really help. Use a light pomade concentrated at the ends to give definition and hold without lacquering your locks to your forehead. We swear allegiance to R+Co Pomade Mousse ($29, neimanmarcus.com), which gives great hold to even fine hair without weighing it down or gluing it together.

If you have thicker hair, or you’re prone to flyaways, hairspray is a great bet. Spritz it through your bangs and comb them into place if you have a lot of short, recalcitrant ends, then finish with a final blast to seal everything in place. We love Kerastase Lacque Noire Hairspray ($37, kerastase-usa.com) because it never feels crunchy or hard in our hair—but does it ever keep it in place!

5. Embrace dry shampoo.
Not only does dry shampoo keep your hair grease-free, it also adds texture and hold—which is exactly what you want when you’re growing out a fringe. Spray a little dry shampoo through the lengths of your bangs, then style as normal; you’ll be amazed at how much more obedient they are!

6. Twist, tease and braid.
Pins and headbands aren’t your only fringe-styling options. Once they’ve gotten long enough, you can also braid your bangs to keep them out of your eyes, like Carey Mulligan did back when she was growing out her bangs-heavy pixie cut

You can also twist them to one side and hold them in place with a bobby pin. Another easy trick for styling growing-out bangs is to lightly tease them at the back to make all the hair stick together, then pin the hair to one side in a retro-inspired miniature pompadour. Simple, elegant and chic!

7. Be patient!
When you have bangs, it feels like they grow insanely fast—you have to trim them every other week to keep them in check. But when you’re trying to grow them out, it seems like it takes FOREVER for them to grow half an inch. Don’t despair! The no-bangs life is worth living; it just takes a few months for your hair to reach a noticeably longer point. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen…we promise. In three months, you’ll barely remember that you had bangs at all!

Your Ultimate Day Of Beauty

  • Your beauty-boosting day

We all know the classic definitions of a beautiful day. Some may say it’s spent at the beach. Others may say it’s spent in the sack. Some may say it must involve some sweat or a salmon dinner or a round of 18 at Pebble Beach. Others may say that the minimum requirements for a beautiful day should include the word pedicure. Any of those things may very well fit your criteria for a beautiful day. Now, however, we’re going to present you with a different kind of beautiful day—a day in which the things you do reflect on the core of improving your inner and outer beauty. A beautiful day doesn’t have to be a day in which you’re removed from reality; it can be a day in which you’re immersed in it. 

So what you’ll find here is a sample day with some of our favorite tips and tricks. After all, routines are good because they’re automatic—ensuring that you’ll integrate good habits into your daily life, rather than struggling to do so

  • Wake up before your alarm clock.

That’s after seven to eight hours of sleep.* This is the amount of time your body needs to recharge; plus, sleep is the major stimulant for your own growth hormone (there’s something special about it not being from a vial). Your own growth hormone helps keep skin taut and vibrant. After all, nobody looks that beautiful with bags under the eyes. When you wake up, take a few minutes for an inventory of the way your body feels—specifically the minor aches and pains that may distract you from the focus of your life. Perform a few light stretches. Take just a few minutes to get your blood going, think about your breathing, and prepare yourself for your day. While you meditate to the sensations of your body, dream about one big idea you want to pursue today.

*Give or take a few hours or minutes, depending on your particular schedule and lifestyle. The average wake-up time in America is 5:47 a.m., so we’re giving you an extra 13 minutes for your, uh, beauty sleep.

  • Perform your morning beauty routine.
  • In the shower, rinse your hair (you can shampoo whenever you want, but don’t feel compelled to shampoo more than three times weekly) and wash your body. Blot your hair dry or use the cool setting on your hair dryer, but avoid the scorched-earth approach: heat can damage the delicate cuticles. Use a brush with smooth or rounded teeth or bristles, which will massage the hair and scalp without damaging them (here’s how to find the right brush for your hair). Remember, hair is most fragile when wet.
  • Wash your face and use a moisturizer that has vitamins B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin E, and alpha-hydroxy acids. You can also include various small-molecule antioxidants such as ubiquinone and ferulic acid. Remember to read labels on everything. Use a moisturizer that has UV protection. You want to protect your face during the day and feed it with nutrients at night.
  • Use deodorant, not antiperspirant. We believe you don’t need to stop the natural body function of sweat; simply use a deodorant to mask any unpleasant smells. (Some clothes that require dry cleaning can be ruined by sweat, so you might want to use antiperspirants when wearing delicate clothes).

 

  • Have breakfast

 

It may include 100% whole grains, healthy fat, fresh fruit, or a little healthy protein—such as egg whites, which contain skin-nourishing biotin. Some of our favorite options include steel-cut Irish oatmeal, Total with 2% fat yogurt without added sugar but with fresh berries, or 100% whole grain cereal with low-fat or hemp milk. And don’t ever think about fast food at breakfast time, since we find that most breakfast fast food violates every good nutritional guideline. (Need ideas? Try these 10 breakfasts for healthy skin.)

 

Pop these pills

Your morning supplements should include: half of a multivitamin (with at least 500 IU of vitamin D, 600 mg of calcium, and 200 mg of magnesium), 600 mg of DHA (omega-3 fatty acids, either by itself or in 2 grams of fish/cod liver oil), and 162 mg of aspirin (if you’re over 40 years old and have checked with your doc). Take with a full glass of water. These will help you with heart health, and keep this in mind as well: What’s good for your heart and arteries is also good for your brain, sexual function, and skin (prevents wrinkles).

 

 

Sneak in a mini-workout

 

Whether you’re getting to work or getting your kids to school, we know you’ll be spending a little travel time during the day, stuck in your car or a bus, or, if possible, on your two legs. Take the opportunity to practice some stealth Kegel exercises (squeezing the muscles that control your urine flow; here’s how to do them). The more they’re developed, the better your sex life.

Or, if you’re in line for your favorite morning caffeine-infused beverage (you’re going with the green tea, right?), try something different from eavesdropping on the two customers in front of you. Instead, spend a minute focusing on proper posture. Back straight, butt in, chest out, shoulders back, head high, jaw aligned, making sure your top and bottom teeth aren’t touching each other. Focus. Focus. Feel good? We thought so. Practice good posture every day (sitting and standing), and you’ll be amazed at the changes in how you look and feel.

Practice your smile

 

Make a note to greet everyone you meet with or talk to with a hearty smile—a genuine one. Upbeat people excel. Upbeat people have good relationships. Upbeat people feel good.

Have a midmorning snack

Try nuts or green tea (the polyphenols can help thicken the epidermis). Besides helping you stay satisfied, they contain biotin, which helps you metabolize fat and carbs. Add an apple or carrot—nature’s teeth whiteners.

Lunch break

Two good choices: an oil and vinegar-dressed salad topped with veggies and salmon, which contains carotenoids that improve skin elasticity so you don’t wrinkle. Or have a soup (not cream-based), which can help slow the time it takes food to travel through your system—keeping you fuller longer and helping protect against weight gain. Even if you’re rushed, practice slow and deliberate eating.

For the other 30 minutes of your break, take a walk. Put UVA and UVB sunblock on your face and the backs of your hands before you go. A little sun on your arms and legs helps generate vitamin D.

Notice the green

Whether you’re at home or at work, take a moment and notice the greenery around you (you do have some plants around, don’t you?). The feeling of living things (other than the next-door neighbor or backstabbing cubicle mate) can be healing, comforting, and empowering (which is especially nice in times of stress). Plus, they add oxygen to the environment.

Have one glass of alcohol with dinner

Our favorite is red wine; the alcohol has tremendous cardiovascular benefits, and the resveratrol (from the grape skins that give the wine its color) helps cells live longer. Lean toward a meal with healthy fat, protein, and fiber, and use small plates to help control portion size. Cover half your plate with vegetables. Notice that you’re eating early enough that the rich pharmacy of chemicals and calories in your food will be digested and won’t interfere with your sleep (or deposit themselves on your thighs).

Relax—but not completely.

You’re just in time for your favorite shows or enjoying your hobby, but stay active. Put a stationary bike or elliptical cross-trainer or rowing machine or treadmill in front of the tube so you can pedal or do other physical activity during your favorite shows, or do the plank position during commercials. Be demanding of folks who are entertaining you; don’t fizz out in front of the tube unless the material really warrants your attention. (Try this Couch Potato Workout while you’re watching TV.)

Get ready for bed

Prepare yourself for bed with any cleanup duties. Brush your teeth for two minutes. Wash and exfoliate your face (wash with fragrance- and residue-free soap), and use a moisturizer with vitamins A and C (remember, you’re feeding your face at night, when the sun cannot denature all the restoring antioxidant vitamins). Make sure the lights are dim and the room is cool so you can gently slip into restorative sleep rather than attempting to abruptly “fall” asleep after sending out a few e-mail blasts while watching the late shows.

Have sex

Feel beautiful. Tell your partner what you need (and ask your partner the same). On alternate days (days, not weeks!), you can read a few pages of invigorating prose.

Drift into sleep

With a peaceful meditation, thank your higher power of choice for the beauty of the day. Remember what made you most grateful today. Please note that you have nearly eight hours before you have to awaken.

Healthy Cosmetics

Using Healthy Cosmetics

 

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Everyone want cosmetics to be age-defying, glow-enhancing, acne-fighting,sun-protective, skin-nourishing, hydrating, weightless, kiss-proof, long-wearing and natural, too.

All this stuff matters for women and men, but it really affects women. Women use an average of 12 personal care products a day. Men use about half that many.

FDA, Labeling, and Beauty Product Safety

Many people seek out beauty products that are formulated from healthy, nontoxic ingredients. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy for consumers to recognize which brands are actually healthy for their skin. This is because the labels that claim the products are “green,” “natural,” or “organic” have no defined meaning.

There really is no government regulatory agency responsible for regulating the manufacture of cosmetics.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some legal authority over cosmetics. However, cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to “premarket approval authority” (with the exception of color additives). In other words, the FDA isn’t checking to see whether that sunscreen is actually “100 percent organic.” In addition, the FDA cannot demand a recall of a dangerous product.

On the other hand, the FDA does have the power to take regulatory action against a manufacturer that is selling adultered or misbranded cosmetics on the market.

Part 3 of 8: Cosmetics and Health

Cosmetics and Your Health

The FDA does not have the power to monitor cosmetics as closely as it does food and drugs. It’s important that you, as a consumer, take a more active part in making healthy purchasing decisions. Be aware that some of the chemicals contained in the products meant for you apply to your face and body may be toxic.

Part 4 of 8: Prohibited Ingredients

Prohibited Ingredients

According to the FDA, the following ingredients are legally prohibited in cosmetics:

  • bithionol
  • chlorofluorocarbon propellants
  • chloroform
  • halogenated salicylanilides (di-, tri-, metabromsalan and tetrachlorosalicylanilide)
  • methelyelene chloride
  • vinyl chloride
  • zirconium-containing complexes
  • prohibited cattle materials

Part 5 of 8: Restricted Ingredients

Restricted Ingredients

According to the FDA, the following list of ingredients may be used, but are legally restricted:

  • hexachloropherene
  • mercury compounds
  • sunscreens used in cosmetics

Part 6 of 8: Other Restrictions

Other Restrictions

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating consumers about what is actually in the products on the market. The EWG covers sunscreen, skin care products, makeup, toothpaste, baby products, and more. The EWG offers the following list of common ingredients to avoid:

  • benzalkonium chloride
  • BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
  • coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients (e.g., aminophenol, diaminobenzene, and phenylenediamine)
  • DMDM hydantoin & bronopol
  • formaldehyde
  • fragrance
  • hydroquinone
  • methylisothiazolinone and  methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • oxybenzone
  • parabens (propyl, isopropyl, butyl, and isobutylparabels)
  • PEG/ceteareth/polyethylene compounds
  • petroleum distillates
  • phthalates
  • resorcinol
  • retinyl palmitate and retinol (vitamin A)
  • toluene
  • triclosan & triclocarban

Part 7 of 8: Understanding Make-Up

Understanding the “Make -Up” of Make Up

To help you make wise decisions, below are the four key categories of ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products. Many of the unsafe ingredients listed above belong to one or more of these categories.

Surfactants

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, these are found in all products that are used for washing. They break up oily solvents produced by skin. When the oils are broken up, they can be washed away with water. Surfactants are combined with additives like dyes, perfumes, and salts in products such as foundation, shower gel, shampoo, and body lotion. They thicken the products, allowing them to spread evenly, and help them cleanse and foam.

Conditioning Polymers

Conditioning polymers retain moisture on the skin or in the hair. Glycerin, a natural component of vegetable oils and animal fats, is produced synthetically for the cosmetics industry. It’s the oldest, cheapest, and most popular conditioning polymer.

In hair products, conditioning polymers attract water and soften hair while swelling the hair shaft. They also keep the product itself from drying out. They stabilize fragrances and keep the scent from seeping out through plastic bottles or tubes. In products such as shaving cream, they make the product feel smooth, slick, and non-sticky in your hand.

Preservatives

Preservatives are additives that have been of particular concern to consumers. They’re used to retard bacterial growth. They prolong a product’s shelf life and keep it from causing infections of the skin or eyes. The cosmetics industry is experimenting with so-called self-preserving cosmetics, in which plant oils or extracts act as natural preservatives. Studies show that some of these botanical preservatives also have deodorant, anti-inflammatory, or antioxidant properties. However, they can also irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions, and many have a strong odor that some people find unpleasant.

Fragrance

While not the primary portion of what makes up cosmetics, “fragrance” can often be the most harmful part of a beauty product. Fragrance often contains chemicals that might cause an allergic reaction. You may want to consider avoiding any product that includes the term “fragrance” in its list of ingredients.

Part 8 of 8: Packaging

Cosmetic Packaging Concerns

Choosing healthy makeup also means opting for packaging that’s safe for you and healthy for the earth. Airless packaging, for example, creates an environment in which many bacteria can’t reproduce. Jars with open mouths can become contaminated with bacteria. Pumps with one-way valves, however, keep air from entering the opened package and make contamination more difficult. Careful manufacturing processes keep the product sterile as it enters the bottle or jar.

I Admit It I’m Vain

I’m Vain – Guilty as charged! 

I think every women is vain to some degree. Face it, the face is the first mark of aging, as aging is an irreversible process.

I care what I look like and how my skin looks. Like millions of other women, when I was in my 20s and 30s, I didn’t really appreciate how beautiful my skin was then. When I was in my 20s, forty seemed ancient to me, and 65 was unthinkable!  I looked at my mother, and other older women, and thought that I would never have wrinkles. Being vain doesn’t mean having a big ego. It just means that I care what I look like to myself and others.

I’m not vain because I’m beautiful – but because I’m not beautiful! I’m pretty average looking. However, I feel that since I am average-looking and in my “senior years”, I need to do whatever I can to keep those looks from slipping away into old age. I know, I know – I have to accept being a senior citizen! I must graciously accept it! I’m working on this, but I’m not going to go down easy! While some signs of aging are inevitable, there’s a lot you can do to look your best at any age.

I was a very lucky teenager, as I had very few pimples and had very clear skin. My hair was thick and wavy, and I hardly had to curl it to look great.

Every since I was in my 20s, I’ve been conscience that I needed to take care of my skin. I have very fair skin, and I have always been very careful what I used on my face. I was always getting compliments on my skin!

Into my 40s, other people were always saying I looked younger than I was. Of course I loved hearing this!

Then came menopause in my 50s! My doctor had me on hormones for several years, and I didn’t really notice much change. But, since taken off of hormones. changes have occurred! I looked into my mirror one day, and guess what – my neck turned into an old ladies’ neck! I can’t believe it – I am starting to look like my mother!  Check out Menopause and Weight Gain.

Skin Care – I definitely realize that every time you frown, smile, squint, or use any other common facial expression, your muscles contract under your skin. When you do it over and over again, the result can be wrinkles. This can’t be avoided, but I do believe it is true that skin care products are essential to having good skin. Taking care of skin is important considering the destruction one goes through during the long aging process. Since I make my own anti-aging face cream, everyone is always asking me for advice on taking care of their skin.

First – I want to say! You cannot STOP Aging! You can only SLOW IT DOWN and minimize any existing lines that you already have on your face. So don’t believe any advertisements saying you can eliminate your “wrinkles” with their cream. One of the biggest mistakes middle age women make, is to use a heavy foundation or powder on their face. These products only make your face look dry and emphasize any lines that you now have. Throw those product away NOW!

Tanning – When I was a teenager, I actually tried to get sun tans with my fair skin. All I did was burn and peel! I finally realized, in my 20s, that this was impossible and bad for me. I started using sunscreen when outdoors. Sun plays a major role to deteriorate your skin. You need to protect your skin from the sun in order to prevent the aging of your skin. The sun is largely responsible for wrinkles, dry skin, blotchy pigmentation, thinning of skin, skin texture, skin dullness, and some other sun related diseases that can make your skin look older. When I’m gardening, I wear a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, and a hat – even on very hot days. I also put sunscreen on my face. I look pretty funny when gardening, but I am protecting myself.

I have never smoked! It seemed like every one I knew in my 20s and 30s, did smoke. I was the odd non-smoker. So, I was exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke. Some researchers believe that exposure to cigarette smoke (whether you smoke or not) is as damaging to skin as exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Today, many scientist have suggested that nicotine present in the cigarette has the same influence on elastin in the skin as sunlight. So, my friends and family exposed me to the effects of secondhand smoke.

About my hands – A lot of us take care of our faces, but forget about our aging hands. Next to your face, your hands are probably the most visible parts of your body. The earliest signs of aging will show on your hands. The skin on the back of your hands is extremely delicate. This skin is very, very thin, as there is almost no fat under it at all, which is why the veins are so visible. I’ve always worn rubber gloves when washing dishes and doing messy housework. I now have added the routine of exfoliating and moisturizing them every day. Read my article on Younger Looking Hands – Keeping Hands Beautiful As We Age.

What surprises me is that I let myself get overweight! According to the Body Mass Index (BMI) 30 pound overweight is obese! I’m trying my best to fix this, which is very hard! My husband and I bought an elliptical and a treadmill that we exercise on 30 minutes a day. I’m cutting back on my food intake and watching calories. This losing weight is so slow.  My body doesn’t want to let the pounds go!  Check out my Dieting Hints & Tips and Linda’s Diet Statement.


SO – AM I VAIN OR NOT?

 

5 Ways to Improve Your Smile

Improving Your Smile

A 2008 study found that the whiteness of a person’s smile played a role in the way others perceived them. Specifically, the study found that people with white teeth were perceived to be more attractive and smarter than people with darker teeth.

There’s no question that a little additional attention to your smile and oral hygiene can pay off.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is usually caused by:

  • poor oral care habits
  • tooth infection
  • gum disease
  • mouth sores
  • infection or chronic inflammation of the nose or throat
  • smoking
  • dry mouth, which may be a side effect of some medications
  • certain foods, like garlic or onion

The best ways to combat bad breath is to stay hydrated, floss daily, and brush your teeth twice per day. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too!

If you wear dentures or other mouth appliances, clean them daily. Use an alcohol-free mouthwash and artificial saliva or a spray or gel for dry mouth.

If your breath suddenly takes on an unpleasant or unusual odor, it may be a sign of a serious disorder, such as diabetes or a bowel obstruction. If this occurs, you should seek medical attention immediately. Chronic dry mouth that’s unrelated to medication use should also be investigated because it may indicate an autoimmune condition or other disorder.

Part 3 of 7: Healthy Gums

Healthy Gums

Proper brushing and flossing will keep your gums healthy. Periodontal, or gum, disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. This type of infection is caused by a buildup of plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth.

Gum disease is often painless, but it makes gums red and puffy and causes them to recede and bleed. The infection can progress over time leading to more serious symptoms. In fact, gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.

The good news is that gum disease is almost always preventable. Regular check-ups with your dentist combined with good oral hygiene, which means brushing and flossing twice daily, can keep plaque at bay.

Part 4 of 7: Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening

Many over-the-counter (OTC) toothpastes, mouth rinses, and chewing gums claim to have a whitening effect. You can also speak with your dentist about prescription whitening treatments or in-office treatments.

Proper Dental Hygiene

The easiest thing to try at home is simply following proper dental hygiene. That means using fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day. Many people can also benefit from mouth rinses.

You may be interested in trying a whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives that can help remove stains. However, whitening toothpastes cannot change the color of your teeth because they only remove stains on the surface.

Bleaching Agents

Dentin is the bony tissue forming the bulk of the tooth under the enamel. The thickness of the enamel layer changes throughout our lives and gets thinner as we age. The thinner the enamel, the more yellow your teeth appear as the dentin layer dominates the final shade.

If your dentin has a yellowish tint, you’ll need to use a peroxide-bleaching agent to lighten the coloring. This, in turn, can help make your teeth appear whiter.

Some bleaching agents are available over the counter, such as paint-on whiteners or whitening strips. These are relatively cheap and effective. Be sure to look for a product that is at least 6 percent bleaching agent.

OTC treatments may not be effective if you have:

  • isolated stains, such as a single discolored tooth
  • dark stains
  • crowns
  • dental implants or other restorations

You should consult a dentist to discuss your options. Dentists can prescribe bleaching kits for home use, or they can bleach your teeth in the office. This typically involves applying a bleaching agent to your teeth and then using a special light or laser to enhance the effect of the whitening agent.

The jury is still out on the safety of the bleaching process and whether the bleaching agent might be toxic if ingested. Long-term use of bleaches or abrasive toothpastes can increase sensitivity or gum irritation. If your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold, you may want to avoid whitening agents.

Bleaching During Pregnancy

While both home and prescription products can be considered safe at this time, you should not have a bleaching procedure during pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association (APA) recommends postponing all unnecessary dental work, including whitening procedures, until after birth to prevent exposing the fetus to potentially dangerous chemicals or medications.

Part 5 of 7: Teeth Straightening

Teeth Straightening

Straightening crooked teeth can also have an effect on your smile. Some adults are candidates for Invisalign, which uses transparent trays, or aligners, to straighten the teeth.

If you have bite problems or more complex orthodontic issues, you may need traditional braces. Brackets made of tooth-colored ceramic or polycarbonate are less noticeable than stainless steel brackets. Sometimes, the brackets can be mounted on the back surface of the teeth.

Part 6 of 7: Fixing Imperfections

Fixing Imperfections

A missing, chipped, or stained tooth can be replaced with a crown or dental implant, which is an artificial tooth permanently anchored into the bone of the jaw. Porcelain veneers are pricey, but they can transform your smile after just a couple of visits to your dentist. See a cosmetic dentist to discuss your options.

Part 7 of 7: Your Dentist

Speak with Your Dentist

If you’re interested in improving your smile, speak with your dentist. They can recommend treatments you may want to try. Your dentist can also help you understand what’s covered if you have insurance.

Anti Aging Tips

Years of exposure to glossy magazine ads and slick television commercials for anti-aging serums have taught us that our faces tell our stories. They reveal damage from all those summers as a lifeguard or camp counselor, lines from a nasty breakup or two, and the perfect “11” of a furrowed brow.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Most of us fret about wrinkles as we reach middle age, yet carrying an extra dress size ages a person much more than a few wrinkles ever could. Managing weight is also a more realistic goal than getting rid of wrinkles.

Don’t Smoke

According to the Mayo Clinic, smoking can accelerate the skin’s aging process. The more you smoke and the longer you smoke, the more likely you are to have wrinkling of the skin.

Quitting smoking improves your circulation, lowers your risk of developing varicose veins, reduces the likelihood of obesity, and makes exercise easier and more enjoyable. You’ll also have a better sense of taste and smell as you age, and the smell of smoke won’t cling to your hair and clothing.

Follow a Nutritious Diet

Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. It is also important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is the one of the easiest, most effective ways to keep your skin looking healthy.

Stay Active

Participate in sports, dancing, or other activities you enjoy. Follow the federal government’s most recent Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 should engage in two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, combined with strength-training exercises two days a week.

Avoid Sun Exposure

Use sunscreen on your face and exposed skin every day. Wear a hat and use sunglasses to protect your eyes, since some evidence links sun exposure to later formation of cataracts. Exposure to sun also increases your risk of wrinkles or “leathery” skin.

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep is responsible for the development of  “dark circles under the eyes” and can result in other issues like weight gain and depression. Adequate sleep is important for skin cell rejuvenation.

Consider Facial Cosmetic Enhancements

You may think about having a facial rejuvenation procedure like Botox or pursuing a surgical option such as a facelift, brow lift, or neck lift. These procedures can tighten or remove sagging skin beneath the chin, at the jawline, or around the eyes or remove puffy fat pads beneath the eyes that give you a prematurely aged look. However, these enhancements can be obvious to the trained eye if the outcome is not as good as you expected. There are also potentially very serious risk associated with these procedures. Your money might be better spent on a gym membership and healthy foods.