- 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.
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.
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.