At the beginning of last year, I took a long, hard look in the mirror and got honest with myself about my skin and complexion. I saw dull, flaky skin, where I longed for a vibrant and glowing complexion. I saw fine lines where I refused to look for them before. I saw the spots of time on my forehead which are a fun physical reminder of hours in the sun at my first high school job as a life guard. Fond memories that I hold dear. Now, I could go into an entire post about the freedom that comes with appreciating and accepting what you see, and learning to love what you bring to the world. You are unique. No one else was created like you. But, I have some practical tips to share on well-being and improving your appearance in the process. And hey, vanity can be an awesome catalyst for change, as long as it's real change and not an obsession. Hopefully you will benefit from my vanity-induced year of trial and error. This is what I discovered.
Here are your 2014 beauty resolutions!
1. EXERCISE. Yep. That pesky little word that everyone is throwing around right now. But I found that exercise will improve my skin's appearance faster than anything else! Your skin is a living, breathing organ on your body and is usually the first real sign for what is happening inside. Exercise gets the blood pumping, flushes the toxins through your pores and plumps up your skin. Did you know that the number one thing most celebrities are encouraged to do on award show days (besides getting a spray tan) is to have a vigorous workout that morning? Your skin will welcome and respond to exercise. Start out realistically. Three days a week of walking or running or yoga. Find something you enjoy doing that really gets your blood pumping, and do it with a friend. But be realistic and be safe.
2. SLEEP. I know what you're thinking. Who has time for sleep? Life is busy, but I found that this is the next best thing in the war with my complexion. Do you know how much sleep your body needs each night? We are all different. There is a simple test you can do to figure it out. Give yourself at least 2-3 nights of good sleep so that you are well-rested. Then take a couple of nights to sleep without an alarm. If nothing wakes you up at night, how long did your body sleep? Was it the same each night? I am an 8 hour girl almost to the minute. I have a friend who is 9 hours and some people are only 6 hours. It depends on what your body needs. Do your best to give your body the sleep it craves each night. If you get in bed late, try to rearrange your morning schedule to sleep in a little if you can. You will be more alert, happier and more productive and I promise that your skin will reflect the results. More vibrancy, less lines and less dark circles.
3. WATER. I struggle with this one the most, but I have found that the top three things on this list (exercise, sleep, water) are the most important tools for my skin. It's harder for women to feel an urge to drink water because our bodies store it and use it better than a mans, so we rarely crave it, but we need it. Optimally, we should all be drinking half our body weight in ounces every day. (i.e. Someone who weighs 135 lbs, should be drinking 67.5 ounces of water daily). That sounds overwhelming but it gives you a nice benchmark to aim for. I found that the following method works for me: 2 glasses of water as soon as I get up in the morning, one before each meal and one before bed. If I stick to this strategy, I get at least 6 glasses a day. I can add more throughout the day where necessary. You will probably urinate more at first, but you will find that your body will adjust and start using the water as it gets used to getting it. Your body is amazing and smart and it will adapt to what you give it.
4. FOOD. We are what we eat. It is a tried and true fact. Again, every body is different. What works for one person, may not work for you. I am not talking about dieting and weight loss. That is an entirely different topic. Our skin reflects what we are feeding our bodies. Are you eating a lot of salt, which can give you puffier eyes and skin? Are you eating a lot of sugar which can lead to poor complexion and break outs? Sugar, by the way, is a breeding ground for cancer. Cancer loves sugar!!! Take some time to really pay attention to what is going into your body. Are you eating a lot of processed food and chemicals? Try to eat more natural whole foods. Generally foods that don't come in a box or package. Look for foods that may have to be cut up or cooked. Some great foods for your skin are things like salmon, almonds, avocados and lots of fruits and veggies. I am not necessarily gluten free, but I found that I feel better and have better digestion when I cut back on wheat. How does your body respond to wheat and dairy and meat? Again, it's all about "looking" and paying attention to how your body responds. Think of your skin as a "thermometer" for what is cooking inside.
5. SKIN CARE REGIMEN. This was where I started on the war for my skin. A good skin care regimen is very important. Through trial and error I found brands that worked and some that didn't. I'm not going to give you a list of products you should use, but I am going to give you a strategy. Makeup remover (if you need it), face wash, toner, moisturizer. Twice a day. Every day. You obviously won't need to remove makeup in the morning, but wash your skin, apply toner (exfoliates your skin), and a moisturizer. You should have a heavier moisturizer for night and a lighter one for day. Be sure that your daytime cream or makeup has an spf of at least 20 because you want to protect it from harmful sun damage. Ask friends, ask for samples and try different things. Figure out what works best for your skin. But you should be cleansing, toning and moisturizing twice a day. Do this for 30 days and you will establish a habit. It will become second nature.
6. EXFOLIATE. I have a friend who works for a major skin care company and I went to her one day with a complaint about the look of my skin. Without missing a beat, she told me that I need to exfoliate. I was so focused on what kind of moisturizer I needed for my dry, aging skin and she simply told me to scrub it away. I found that using a non-abrasive exfoliator on my skin once a week made a huge difference. My skin was softer and more vibrant and younger looking. Find the right one for your skin, something that doesn't irritate, but gently rids your skin of the dead cells sitting on top. For softer skin on your arms and legs, use a mild soap and a loofa once a week in the shower.
7. MOISTURIZE. Apply lotion, or oil to your skin as soon as you get out of the shower. It helps to lock in the moisture that is still sitting on your damp skin after you have toweled off. Pay attention to your face as well. There are times when you will need to exfoliate and there are times when you will need to moisturize more. I figured this out through trial and error. Again, your body is different than someone else, so pay attention to what your body is asking for.
8. VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS. This is a touchy subject for some people and I do not claim to be an expert here, so I will let you decide, but I will tell you what I discovered for myself. Somewhere around 70-80% of our immune system is located in our intestines. I started using a daily pro-biotic first thing in the morning before food and in the evening before dinner. I also add fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin C, folic acid and B vitamin complex along with a daily multi vitamin. I find that I have more energy, feel better and have more of a glow to my complexion when I stick to this. If this seems like too much, try to just add a daily multi-vitamin to your routine. This will give you an extra bump to your energy and immune system. Try to find one specifically formulated for women or men and made from whole food sources. It will be easier for your body to soak it up.
9. HAIR HEALTH. This was a major battle for me all of 2013 after a damaging treatment at the beginning of the year. Healthy hair is beautiful hair. Here are some tips. If you have color-treated hair, try using a sulfate-free shampoo. I switch back and forth between Pureology and Loreal Sulfate-Free system for a couple of reasons. The Loreal is store bought and very affordable which helps the budget, and it's good to switch up products on your hair to reduce build up. Sulfate-free shampoos do not contain the harmful detergents that most shampoos do. The detergents in most shampoos are what produce all the "suds" when you wash. You'll notice that sulfate-free shampoos do not "suds up" as much, but most importantly, they do not strip all the color from your hair. To get healthier hair, try to only wash your hair every 2 or 3 days. Dry shampoo will be your best friend here. If you have dry hair, use a good moisturizing mask on your hair once a week, but BEWARE. Pay attention to your hair. Talk to your stylist. Be wary of HIGH PROTEIN masks as they can cause lots of damage and breakage to your hair. Look for moisturizing masks. And finally, use a heat protectant or oil on your hair before using a hair dryer or hot tools. Protect your hair from damage and breakage.
10. ORAL HEALTH. There aren't many things more beautiful than a nice smile, and nice breath. And everyone can have a beautiful smile! Be sure to floss and brush twice a day. Yep. Work it into your skin care regimen to guarantee it gets done. Like this: Remove makeup, wash face, apply toner, floss teeth, add dark spot treatment and eye treatment, brush teeth, apply moisturizer. Done. You can also buy over-the-counter teeth whitening strips and use them for a few days once a month to brighten your smile. I love my coffee and red wine, so brightening up my smile a little by removing stains always helps!
There are your top 10 beauty resolutions for 2014! You can do this! I recommend making a realistic schedule for yourself so that it doesn't seem overwhelming. Changing just a few things is better than changing nothing because you feel overwhelmed. If you miss a step, move on to the next one. If it helps, here is my own personal "beauty blueprint" that I try to stick to. Just a basic daily guideline to keep me on track.
Do you have some beauty and health tips you'd like to share? I LOVE trying new things. I'd love to hear what we all discover as the year progresses. Good luck and happy 2014!!