Post by fashion contributor Melody Cooper Jones.
Here we are! 2014. New calendar; clean slate; fresh start. New beginnings make me giddy. I love the excitement of writing on the first page of a new journal, or reading the first paragraph of a new book. I even love the newness that each morning brings me, with opportunities do things a little better than I did them the day before. While reflecting on this past year, I was reminded of some victories, and decided to share them with you.
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, a fun physical reminder of hours in the sun at my first high school job as a lifeguard. 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. I hope you will benefit from my vanity-induced year of trial and error.
10 2014 Beauty Resolutions
Yep. That pesky little word that everyone is throwing around right now. But I found that exercise improves my skin's appearance faster than anything else! Your skin is a living, breathing organ on your body, and it's usually the first real sign of 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.
I know what you're thinking: Who has time for sleep? Life is busy, but I found that this is the second most important weapon 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 two or three nights of good sleep so that you are well-rested, then take a couple of nights to sleep without an alarm. If nothing woke you up at night, how long did your body sleep? Was it the same each night? I am an eight-hour girl almost to the minute. I have a friend who needs nine hours, while some people only need six hours. Do your best to give your body the sleep it craves each night. If you get to 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, with more vibrancy, fewer lines and fewer dark circles.
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. ;I found that the following method works for me: Two 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 six glasses a day. I can add more throughout the day when 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.
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 breakouts? 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, which are generally just 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 in the war for my skin. A good skin care regimen is very important. Through trial and error, I found brands that worked for me (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 (which 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 your skin 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.
I have a friend who works for a major skin care company. 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 loofah once a week in the shower.
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's, 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 probiotic supplement 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 multivitamin. That's what works for me: I find that I have more energy, feel better and have more of a glow to my complexion when I stick to this routine.
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. If you have color-treated hair, try using a sulfate-free shampoo. I switch back and forth between Pureology and L'Oreal Sulfate-Free system for a couple of reasons. The L'Oreal is store bought and very affordable -- not only is this good for your budget, but it's also good to switch up products on your hair to reduce buildup. 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; they also do not strip all the color from your hair.
To get healthier hair, try to only wash your hair every two or three 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 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 instead. 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!
And there you have it: the 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.