BY: Grace Gold, Daily Glow
You don’t need an extreme makeover to see a big beauty payoff. Experts say you can reap major rewards from simple changes in your routine. Find out how these easy tweaks can make a significant difference on what you see in the mirror.
Treat Skin From Within
In double-blind studies, a supplement of 1,500 milligrams of evening primrose oil taken twice a day for 12 weeks resulted in significant improvement in skin moisture, elasticity, and firmness. An omega-6 fat, the nutrient is part of the group of essential fatty acids that is crucial for healthy cell function. “Evening primrose oil — best taken with food — has been found to be very helpful for treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, as well as atopic dermatitis,” says Susan Blum, MD, an assistant clinical professor in the department of preventive medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City.
Make the Most of Humidity
Body lotion is best used the moment you step out of the shower, right after you pat dry your skin (don’t rub!) with a towel — and before you open the bathroom door. “You can lock in deeper moisture from both the shower water and the humidity of the bathroom air,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s department of dermatology. If you wait longer to apply lotion, water evaporates from skin, leaving the surface drier and less receptive to hydration.
Prevent Nail Chipping
Treating yourself to a glossy manicure is an instant pick-me-up — that is, until the polish starts chipping a few days later. Extend the life of your manicure by applying a top coat twice a week (a good time to do it is while you're watching TV or reading) to refresh and protect the color . “Don’t forget to coat the tip of the nails with top coat, because that’s where polish peels first,” advises renowned nail expert Jin Soon Choi, owner of Jin Soon Nail Spas, in New York City.
Soak in Salts
Turn your next bath into a skin treatment by adding 1/2 cup Epsom salts [it's magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen] to your bathwater and soaking for at least 15 minutes. In studies, immersion in the highly salty water from the Dead Sea resulted in dramatic improvement in skin hydration, and authors have concluded that the skin was moisturized by the magnesium in salt. “Magnesium also has a relaxing effect on muscles and the nervous system, which is good for skin because you sleep better, are more rested and more relaxed — and when you feel good, you look good!” says Dr. Blum. Look in the drugstore for Dr. Teal’s line of Epsom salts, which are available in aromatherapy scents or fragrance free.
Eat Crunchy Produce
Before there were toothbrushes, people chewed on crunchy fruits and vegetables to clean their teeth, and it’s still a great strategy to help keep your smile sparkling. “An apple acts as a natural fibrous toothbrush and has gentle malic acid that dissolves stains naturally for whiter teeth,” says New York cosmetic dentist Jennifer Jablow, DDS. “Carrots, celery, and cruciferous veggies — broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, for instance — are effective as well.”
Keep Spot Treatments Handy
Your nightstand can be a tool to help you achieve clear skin. If you keep a spot treatment within arm’s reach at night, you'll never forget to dab existing blemishes or a pimple that's forming. “Look for salicylic acid as a main ingredient” in a spot treatment, says Dr. Zeichner. Gentle yet effective, it won’t stain sheets the way its fellow zit buster, benzoyl peroxide, does.
Sleep on Satin
If you sleep on your side or facedown, years of nightly compression can result in more wrinkling on the face, says Katie Rodan, MD, a dermatologist in Oakland, California. While sleeping on your back is the ideal solution, another way to counteract such damage is to sleep on satin pillowcases, which, because they don’t bunch up, don't leave imprints on the face; they're also known to prevent hair from getting tangled during the night.
Use a Humidifier
If you suffer from chronically dry skin, using a humidifier at night may be transformative. Usually, an indoor humidity level of 30 percent is necessary to keep skin comfortable, but home heating systems and environmental dry air can keep levels considerably lower. You can choose either a steam humidifier that boils water to add warm vapor to the air, or a cool-water humidifier that spreads mist. “I think the cool-water ultrasonic humidifier works the best,” says New York dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD.
Curl Your Lashes
Most cosmetics experts agree that an eyelash curler can make the most dramatic difference in your makeup routine. “It opens your eyes and makes lashes look longer, and you look more awake,” says Andrew Sotomayor, a celebrity makeup artist, who adds that the difference is evident even when you use the lash curler alone, without mascara. When choosing a curler, make sure that it's wide enough to fit your lashes easily, and that it has a spongy lash pad that springs up and down with pressure to prevent pinching