Say sayonara to your irritated epidermis with its conspicuous creases; so long to the frizz from your oft-tangled tresses; bid farewell to your yellowish so-called pearly whites (misnomer indeed). With these quick and easy tips on personal care, 2021’s arrival means a newer, confident and more attractive you.

Skin: A few simple rules

When it comes to skin, clear, glowing, youthful-looking derma is desirable. But when the cosmetic industry bombards us with bronzers, masks, makeup, exfoliants, soaps and scrubs, unless you’re a beauty connoisseur, knowing how to achieve that look is as perplexing as reading the product’s ingredients.

Dr. Rob Tremaine, a dermatologist in Halifax, NS says healthy skincare is much simpler than that. “I believe we should be very basic in our skincare because the skin is meant to look at itself,” he says. “Don’t buy into the cosmetic routine of five different creams and spend four hundred dollars on your cosmetic products and think the more you spend, the better it is.”

The simple rules: Wash your face a few times a day, moisturize when you can, wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and don’t smoke cigarettes. Skin tends to dry out in the winter months, so moisturize when you need it. During the summer months, our body’s oils naturally hydrate the skin, so moisturizers are often unnecessary — especially for someone with oily skin.

No matter the season, Tremaine says the best way to prevent wrinkles is to wear sunscreen. Buy a sunscreen with a moisturizer base at the drugstore, not the cosmetic counter. You pay less and get more. To ensure it’s a good quality product, look for the Canadian Dermatologist Association logo. “A lot of companies that advertise ‘we have an SPF 15 in our moisturizing cream’ only have UVD light protection and not enough of the UVA light protection,” he says. “It’s actually UVA light that ages, damages and wrinkles the skin.”

Eating healthy is also important for healthy, clear, radiant looking skin. “You are what you eat,” says Allison Tannis, a nutritionist and author of Feed your Skin, Starve your Wrinkles. Eating foods full of anti-oxidants, such as blueberries, Brazil nuts, or green tea, can help calm the skin’s inflammation. Oranges, tomatoes, broccoli and other foods high in Vitamin C are necessary for collagen production, which makes the skin elastic. Staying hydrated is also key. “If you’re not hydrated, you’re going to look dried out,”

she says. “Your wrinkles are going to be more prominent. You’re going to look pale. Hydration is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make your skin look better.”

Teeth: Beware some homemade remedies

Nothing beats a bright, beautiful smile. Unfortunately some people’s pearly whites are more yellowish than white. If your grin lacks glimmer and you’re looking to brighten your smile, there are oodles of options from store-bought white strips to in-office procedures. While researching teeth whitening, I came across online testimonials raving about a homemade mélange of strawberries and baking soda. Strawberries contain an enzyme called malic acid, which acts as an astringent to whiten teeth.

But dentist Paula MacPherson cautions using homemade remedies. “Any time you’re doing something on your own, you run the risk of making a mistake or getting the wrong information and there could be consequences,” she says. Acidic foods and abrasives, such as baking soda — if used too much or too often — can eat away enamel.

Store-bought white strips or in-office treatments don’t dent your dentin, but could make your teeth temporarily sensitive. “If your teeth are feeling sensitive and you’re bleaching every day, just take a day off and do it every second day,” MacPherson says. “You’ll still get the same results, it will just take longer.”

If your purse strings are tight, opt for FDA approved white strips. If you’re willing to splurge, go with in-office treatments. The bleach is more potent so the process is more effective. But even that won’t work for every-one. “For whatever reason, there’s 5% of the population who can’t whiten their teeth,” says MacPherson.

People with dark-tinted fillings or dead teeth also can’t whiten their teeth because whitening actually happens on the inside of the tooth and is then visible through a trans- parent layer. “Bleach removes surface stains,” she says. “If you’ve got stains on the inside of your teeth, say you have a dead tooth and it’s stained, bleach won’t fix that.”

If whitening doesn’t interest you, just be sure to take care of your teeth. Brush twice a day and floss once a day. Avoid smoking and drinking coffee, red wine, tea, or anything with a heavy dye that causes stains. When consumed in large amounts, soda pop
can also erode enamel.

Hair: Taming a wild mane

No matter how hard we try to control it, hair seems to have a mind of its own. Last time I got my hair cut and styled, I used my one-on- one time with hair guru Krista Campbell to ask questions about what works and what doesn’t.

Ever wonder why your hair looks awe- some after you go to the salon? Hair stylists use two shampoos and one conditioner. The first shampoo rids your hair of residue, dirt, grease, etc. The second shampoo increases blood flow to your scalp, which accelerates hair growth. Conditioner is essential. Not only does it treat your tresses, it closes the follicle opened up by shampoo. Some men are mysti- fied and think they don’t need conditioner because they don’t have long hair. Wrong.

“Product is the key,” says Campbell, who believes less is more for everything from shampoos to hair sprays to gels. When choosing a shampoo and conditioner, check the ingredients. Water should be the first ingredient listed, which means the product is water-soluble. Avoid wax and silicones, which cause buildup in your hair. If you’re looking to lighten your lacklustre locks, see a profes- sional. “If the hair is done correctly, it should remain in good health,” says Campbell. Don’t try homemade recipes that include lemon. The fruit’s acidic level destroys the pH level of your hair.

To kibosh tangles, comb your hair in the shower. Comb it; don’t brush it. Combs do a better job at shrinking your kinks and purging excess hair. After combing, brush your hair while you dry it. Contrary to popular belief, Campbell says drying doesn’t damage your hair. You’ll get the best results if you divide your hair into sections and brush each section as you go.

Eyebrows and lips: Practical tips for both sexes

But gorgeous hair isn’t just about maintaining the mop on your head, it’s also keeping your eyebrows and lip hair in line. Yes, women have stashes too — and not all are fundraising for prostate cancer. Long time aesthetician Pat Fry says eyebrows should be professionally shaped at least once every four months — preferably once a month — and plucked in the interim. Pluck below the eyebrow, not above; otherwise you’ll be lowering your brows. Pluck between the eyebrows too. No one wants a highway of hair running across their brow.

Men too should pluck. But Fry says men usually don’t need to pluck very high underneath on the brow, just need to get the stragglers. To purge a man of his bushy brow, use small scissors to snip away unwanted hairs. When it comes to stripping the stash, upper lip hair can be conquered with a store- bought waxing kit at home, but it’s important to know what you’re doing. “Not all facial hair grows in the same direction,” says Fry. “You might not get it all in one try.”

Hey there, good lookin’: Now that we’ve revealed our priceless beauty tips, it’s time for you to put this wealth of information into practice. Consider this a vanity affair. While excessive vanity can lead to problems, it’s only when you are comfortable in your own skin that anything becomes possible.

We spent a lot of time at home in 2020…hopefully, with the vaccine, we’re going to get out more, so here’s to a better 2021!

More Insight: Check out our great guide for natural skincare products! 

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