Want to "wow" your friends this summer? Try a summer makeover with eight ways to look good and feel great ... from head to toe!
1. Start with soft, shiny hair.
In the book Smart Cookies Don't Get Stale, registered dietitians Susan Mitchell, PhD and Catherine Christie, PhD, give natural ways to use food to help you look your best. To liven up dull, dry hair, they suggest coating your hair with mayonnaise or olive oil (other oils such as canola also work fine). Wrap your head with plastic wrap followed by a warm towel, and relax for 10 minutes or longer. Wash the oil out with an herbal shampoo for a great feel and fresh smell.
2. Protect your eyes from UV rays.
Just as you slather suntan lotion on your skin, your eyes deserve protection, too. Excessive exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage the cornea of the eye. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends wearing sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of UV-A rays and UV-B rays. (UV-B rays do the most damage to eyes.) Even if you wear contacts with UV protection, remember to still wear your sunglasses for maximum protection of your entire eyes.
3. Whiten your teeth.
There's nothing like white teeth to bring attention to your summer glow. According to pediatric dentist Mike McIlwain, DMD, whitening teeth is a safe and rewarding procedure. "You can use either the whitening strips or trays for a two-week period at night. Or you can opt for the in-office whitening at your dentist's that takes a little over an hour."
McIlwain says although the in-office method is more costly, both methods work well. "Whitening toothpaste is good for maintenance," he says, "but the toothpaste will not give you dramatic changes. Also, the over-the-counter whitening systems do not work as well as the formula you can get from your dentist."
Make sure to get your teeth checked and cleaned every six months to keep them looking beautiful and healthy.
4. Be confident and stand tall.
Tampa-based rheumatologist Kim Smith, MD, says, "When you stand tall, make sure that your chin is parallel to the ground. Pretend you're balancing a book on your head and look forward, not down. Draw your shoulders together as if they are attempting to touch. Pull your stomach in toward your spine, and lift up your chest, keeping your neck long."
Here's an easy posture test Smith recommends to her patients: Stand sideways in front of a mirror and imagine a line from your ear to the floor. This line should go through the tip of your shoulder, the middle of your hip, the back of your kneecap, and the front of your anklebone. Do this several times a day to become more aware of how you stand.
5. Tighten your abs the right way.
Los Angeles-based physical therapist David Gutkind, DPT, gives two simple exercises to get six-pack abs.
One is the partial curl-up. "While lying with your back on the floor and your legs flat on the floor -- not bent up as you typically see -- lift your head and chest up toward the ceiling. Now lead with your forehead and fingertips, moving them straight up at the same time. Keep your chin tucked. Lift your chest as far up off the floor as you can (not curling forward, but up toward the ceiling) and then lower back down. Keep your abdominal muscles contracted (or 'on') the whole time, allowing them to rest only after a set of 10 to 15 times has been completed."
To tighten the lower abdominals so your belly does not bulge, Gutkind recommends getting down on your hands and knees with your spine straight, not arched up or sagging down. "Lift the lower abdomen up toward the spine and squeeze. Do not arch the back upwards. Simply lift the lower abdomen up, squeeze, and let it relax back down. Do 10 to 15 of these exercises each time, and you'll feel the muscles working very low in the abdominal area."
6. Super-saturate your feet and heels.
Dermatological chemist Ben Kaminsky is founder of the cosmeceuticals company B. Kamins, Chemist. Kaminsky says the feet and heels are especially prone to thickened skin (called hyperkeratinization), calluses, skin cracking, itchiness and irritation.
Kaminsky recommends foot creams that contain alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs). One example is glycolic acid. AHAs smooth skin, exfoliate dead cells and stimulate the growth of new, softer and healthier skin. Foot creams usually contain peppermint oil, menthol, menthyl lactate, or a combination of these, since these ingredients are cooling and refreshing.
7. Protect your skin from the sun's UV rays.
Kaminsky recommends applying 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of sunscreen generously every morning to all exposed skin -- "head to toe" -- about 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, showering, bathing (including Jacuzzis or hot tubs), or wiping your skin. Select the sun protection factor (SPF) that gives your skin the most protection. Kaminsky suggests the following SPF factors, depending on your type of skin:
- SPF of 15 or more for black or brown skin and skin that always tans.
- SPF of 30 or more for skin that sometimes burns.
- SPF of 45 or more for light colored skin that always burns.
8. Try a yoga pose to "chill" on hot summer days.
Britt Berg, MS, research manager at Emory University Medical School, recommends the Child's Pose to clients who want to de-stress. Here's how to do this pose:
"Kneel on the floor on your hands and knees," she says, "and make sure that your hands are under the shoulders and your knees under the hips, with toes touching.
"Now stretch your neck forward and lengthen your spine through the tailbone. Gently rock the weight of your body back toward your feet, letting your hips stretch farther back as you continue to lengthen and stretch your spine.
"Stretch your arms forward and walk your fingertips as far forward as they will go on the floor or rug, lengthening your arms fully. Extend your hips back until they come toward your heels. If you're very flexible, you may be able to rest your hips on your heels and your forehead on the floor," she says.
Berg says to put your forehead on the rug or pillow to calm your mind and let your forehead and eyes completely relax.