You can look younger without much effort, expense or scary plastic surgery. Honolulu-based naturopathic physician Laurie Steelsmith, ND, author of Natural Choices for Women's Health, offers an abundance of creative suggestions. Some take just minutes, others take almost no time at all...yet they can take as much as 10 years off a woman's appearance.
Youth-restoring options for when you have only 1.3 seconds to spare…
- Project your "love glow." A new study from Syracuse University shows that falling in love takes only one-fifth of a second! Remember how new love could light you up from the inside, projecting youth and vitality? OK, maybe it's not possible to fall in love just now. But you can think a loving thought and give a big smile, Dr. Steelsmith said, which will bring a youthful sparkle to your face.
- Check your posture. Nothing reads old like slumping. For an instantly improved figure, stand up straight, raise your chin, throw those shoulders back and pull in your tummy.
- Do a facial exercise. Open your mouth and eyes wide...then scrunch up your face... then release. This gets the blood flowing, putting roses in your cheeks.
- Brighten your eyes. Use two drops of homeopathic Similasan eye-drops in each eye every three hours, as needed. This remedy, which is generally safe for everyone, reduces redness and soothes dryness and irritation, Dr. Steelsmith noted.
- Dash on the right lipstick-a light-colored one. Dark lipstick seems old-ladyish and actually emphasizes tiny lip lines.
- Take a pass on heavy makeup. Pancake foundation and too-bright blush look unnatural and make wrinkles more noticeable.
What to try when you have three minutes…
- Exfoliate your face. Getting rid of dead cells with a facial scrub makes your complexion glow.
Natural option: Combine a spoonful of ground oatmeal with enough honey to make a paste, then gently rub it onto your clean face. Rinse.
- Use contrast hydrotherapy. To rinse your face, use two splashes of medium-hot water followed by two splashes of cold water. The hot/ cold contrast increases circulation and tones skin, Dr. Steelsmith explained.
Next: Moisten a cotton ball with a natural astringent, such as rose water, aloe vera juice or green tea, and stroke it across your face to remove lingering residue and restore the skin's proper pH.
- Combat sun damage. Smooth a dab of vitamin C serum over your face-its antioxidants protect against ultraviolet rays and environmental toxins. Dr. Steelsmith recommended the brands Obagi (www.obagi.com) and SkinCeuticals (www.skinceuticals.com).
- Counteract saggy eyelids. Curling your eyelashes is a simple beauty technique that makes eyes appear larger.
If you can indulge yourself for 10 minutes…
- Make your hair shine. Rosemary essential oil gives tresses an extra sheen and a scent that's light and clean. It is particularly helpful for dry, brittle or frizzy hair.
After shampooing: Add a few drops of rosemary oil to your conditioner, work through your hair for a few minutes, then rinse...or towel-dry your hair, rub a dab of rosemary oil between your palms and stroke it onto your damp hair. Then style as usual. Repeat after each shampoo (as Dr. Steelsmith does to keep her long hair frizz-free despite the Hawaiian humidity) or as often as desired.
- Clear up blemishes. Even if pimples remind you of being a teen, they don't make you look any younger.
The fix: Use your fingertips to spread honey over your face, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for five minutes...rinse off with water...then cleanse your face as usual. "For people prone to acne, this works like a charm if used every day," Dr. Steelsmith said.
- Ease eye puffiness. Dampen cotton balls with diluted witch hazel, then lie down with eyes closed and place the cotton balls over your eyes for five minutes (be careful not to let the witch hazel get into your eyes), Witch hazel contains catechol tannin, which reduces puffiness by constricting tiny capillaries just below the skin's surface.
Got Insomnia? Go to Bed Later
Researchers gave 79 women with insomnia (average age 72) printed material on good sleep habits or four weeks of behavioral therapy that included in-person counseling.
Result: Those who received therapy significantly improved sleep by going to bed later, waking up at the same time each morning and limiting time in bed.
Theory: Turning in later increases one's natural sleep drive.
If you have insomnia: Go to bed later, when sleepy, and get up at your usual time each day. Your total time in bed should equal your average amount of actual sleep plus no more than 30 minutes.
Sleep Right to Fight Breast Sag
Do you usually sleep on your side? If you want to keep your breasts as perky as possible, you might want to rethink that habitual position. "Side-sleeping leaves the breasts hanging, so over time, it encourages them to sag." says Christopher Rose, MD, medical director of the sleep center at Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas.
Sleeping on your stomach isn't smart, either. It squashes the breasts and promotes wrinkling---not to mention distorting the alignment of your neck and spine.
Best for breasts (and the rest of your body): Sleep on your back, Dr. Rose advises.
Exception: Pregnant women should avoid back-sleeping in the later months to keep the weight of the growing fetus off the intestines and major blood vessels (the aorta and vena cava), so that blood flows more freely to the fetus.