21 days to a new you: Get gorgeous
Yes, you. If you have been wanting to create a dramatic transformation in your skin, hair, teeth, and, well, your whole body, this is the year to achieve that. By taking small steps and making wise choices along the way, you can brighten your appearance and achieve that inner-glow that translates into an outer-glow you've always wanted. Remember, you are what you eat (and drink) so let that guide all your choices, and above all, treat yourself with love and kindness. After all, beautiful, you should be your own best friend. And that will radiate to the rest of the world.
By Anne Hurley for MSN Healthy Living
Day 1: Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day
This is one of the best things you can do for your skin from head to toe. And if you drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol, which are dehydrating, drink even more water to compensate. Sparkling water counts, so consider getting a "make-your-own fizzy water" machine if you drink a lot, which will save you money, as well as reduce your carbon footprint. Anything you can do to boost your water intake will help you feel and look your best.
Day 2: Slather on the sunscreen
Yes, even in the winter. Wear a light sunscreen of at least 30 SPF on your face every single day, rain or shine, summer or winter. And don't forget the backs of your hands and anything else that's exposed. Pay special attention to the left side of your face if you do a lot of driving, as it can be exposed to sun rays as you drive. Dr. Brandith Irwin, a dermatologist in Seattle, calls sunscreen "your most important beauty product," and recommends a mineral-based SPF makeup like Jane Iredale over a thin layer of regular sunscreen.
Day 3: Get a facial
Your skin is your largest organ, so take gentle but thorough care of it. Let a professional help clear out congestion, exfoliate dead skin and moisturize deep down for a natural and healthy glow. The best facials should be tailored to your specific skin type, sensitivity, and age, and should incorporate deep cleansing and extractions as well as moisturizing and nourishment. If you can, try to go every two months. Your face will thank you!
Day 4: Buy an electric toothbrush
Because good dental health means more beautiful teeth. Studies show that those who brush the full time allotted with electric toothbrushes like SonicCare have less tartar, less plaque, and less gum disease than those who use regular ones. You may even notice your teeth get whiter just from the regular use of a really good electric toothbrush. Smile!
Day 5: Deep-condition your hair
At least once a month, apply a deep conditioner to your hair and cover with a shower cap for at least 30 minutes. Some work under a shower cap in a warm shower. Both methods help the rich conditioner penetrate more deeply into your hair, restoring shine to even dull, dry hair. If you have dry hair, consider a leave-in intense conditioner; but if you have normal or oily hair, opt for the kind you leave on for 30 minutes to an hour, and then wash out as usual. You should see marked improvement in the luster and body of your hair.
Says Kari Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, "If your hair is more on the dry side, do not wash it daily – 3 or 4 times a week may be sufficient. The oils on your scalp can revitalize shine to your hair, so don’t remove them with shampoo every day."
Day 6: Try an exfoliating body moisturizer
Lotions with glycolic acids and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) can give your whole body a beautiful glow. They help promote cell turnover with exfoliation, which in turn helps the moisturizers soak deeper into the skin. Try a brand like NeoStrata, or ask your dermatologist to recommend one. But be careful of irritation — you can buy lotions with higher or lower levels of AHAs depending on whether your skin is sensitive or not. If irritation develops, use a lower AHA level or apply the lotion less often.
Day 7: Stand up straight
Posture helps your mental attitude as well as your body's alignment. Get ergonomically friendly keyboards and chairs if you can. If your workplace offers them, consider a desk that can be raised and lowered so that you can stand at your desk for at least part of the day. Also, if you have neck or shoulder issues, consciously standing up straight, and setting your shoulder blades back and down can help you look and feel better all day.
Day 8: Get silky-straight hair, without the harmful chemicals
The so-called "Brazilian blowout" super-straight look is very popular right now. But the chemicals used in the process can be harsh and even dangerous. So ask your stylist if he has a nontoxic straightener. More and more salons are offering these less noxious alternatives, and they work just as well as the harsher ones. Regardless of which one you try, be sure to use only sulfate-free shampoos, conditioners and styling products, to keep the straight look longer.
Day 9: Whiten up
Teeth-whitening used to be expensive, painful and prolonged. But now, home-whitening kits work almost as well as dentist-provided ones, for a lot less money. And dentists now offer less irritating whitening solutions that are much less likely to give you "brain zing" when you use them, with the same wonderful results. Nothing brightens up your face and smile more than white teeth. And whiter teeth can shave as much as 10 years off your appearance. Now that is something to smile about!
Glassman recommends eating strawberries to whiten your teeth the natural way. "They contain malic acid, which acts as an astringent to remove surface discoloration from you teeth."