Top Tips for Avoiding Razor Burn

Almost every woman experiences razor burn at some point, says Dr. Amy Wechsler, author of The Mind-Beauty Connection. Here’s how to avoid it.

Q. I get wicked razor burn sometimes on my legs and under my arms. Is there any foolproof way to avoid this? Or treat it so it doesn’t happen again? What am I doing wrong with my shaving?

A. A razor burn results when the follicles become irritated. You’ll see the redness within minutes to hours. It can happen frequently if you shave too closely, too harshly, too quickly, or on skin that’s not softened by the warm water enough to endure the abrasion. Almost every woman experiences razor burn at some point; avoiding it to begin with is the best medicine, since the rash can be painful. If you try to shave again too soon, it can avalanche into a series of razor burns as you continue to irritate your skin.

To treat a razor burn get yourself an over-the-counter tube of hydrocortisone (0.5 to 1 percent strength) and apply it to the affected area twice a day. Switch from regular shaving cream or gel to a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free variety; try Aveeno Ultracalming Shave Gel or Kiehl’s Simply Mahvelous Legs Shave Cream (and finish it off with Kiehl’s Simply Mahvelous Legs After-Shave Lotion). Alternatively, you can also go for Clinique’s line of shaving products; even though they are marked for men they can work wonders on women’s legs, too! If you’ve been using a razor with three or more blades, decrease to a two-bladed razor.

To avoid razor burn: Use good razors, and change your blade at least once a week; shave toward the end of your shower after your skin has softened from the heat, use a shaving cream or gel, go slowly and don’t push into your skin, and don’t go over the same area twice. If razor burn is a persistent problem, consider laser treatment, which damages the hair follicles and prevents hair growth. Laser hair removal typically requires a series of treatments (five to seven), followed by a touch-up every six months to a year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy Wechsler, M.D., is a dermatologist and a psychiatrist, one of only two doctors in the country who are board-certified in both specialties. She is also the author of The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Reverse Stress Aging and Reveal More Youthful, Beautiful Skin (Copyright © 2008 by RealAge Corporation). Evidence of the mind-beauty connection walks into her office every day: “Premature aging and adult acne are the two most common skin problems I see, and stress and exhaustion are often at the bottom of both,” she says. Dr. Wechsler practices in New York City, where she lives with her husband and two kids. She is a member of the RealAge Scientific Advisory Board.

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How to Remove Stains Using Common Household Products

You can remove all kinds of stains with the everyday items you probably already have in your cupboard. Linda Cobb, “The Queen of Clean” and author of The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal, tells you how.

Some of the very best spot and stain removers are things you use every single day! These stain removers work great and they’re right at your fingertips!

Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is great for grass stains and so much more.

Ammonia: The perspiration stain fighter.

Automatic dishwasher detergent: Keep this on hand as a bleach substitute and whitener/ brightener even if you don’t have a dishwasher. Liquid, powder, and tablet form all work well. If you choose the tablet, make sure it has dissolved before you add clothes. Pour directly on stain, or soak.

Baking soda: Removes odors.

Club soda: My favorite Oh my gosh, how did I do that? spotter. Use it on any fabric or surface that can be treated with water. A slight dabbing on dry-clean-only fabrics is also permissible, just be sure to test first! Use club soda on any spill — ask the waiter for some if you’re dining out — dab it on and blot it off. Club soda keeps spills from becoming stains and brings the offending spill to the surface so it can be easily removed. It’s totally safe. I always make sure to have a bottle on hand.

Cream of tartar: I bet you have some of this in the kitchen cupboard, but how often do you use it? Well, here’s your chance. Mix cream of tartar with lemon juice and you have a wonderful bleach for white clothes spotted with food or other stains. It’s even effective on many rust stains.

Denture-cleaning tablets: The cure-all for white table linens with food stains and white cotton with stains. Dissolve one tablet per 1/2 cup water. Pour directly on stain or spot.

Dishwashing liquid: A wonderful spotter, used undiluted on tough stains.

Glycerin: You can remove tar, tree sap (think Christmas tree), juice stains, mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce.

GOJO Crème Waterless Hand Cleaner®: Totally awesome for removing grease and oil, including shoe polish.

Hydrogen peroxide: 3 percent hydrogen peroxide is super for removing bloodstains, especially if they are fairly fresh. It also is a wonderful bleaching agent for stubborn stains on white clothes. Combine ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of ammonia for an unbeatable stain removal combination. Make sure to use 3 percent and not the kind you use to bleach your hair!

Lemon juice: This is nature’s bleach and disinfectant. I don’t know where we’d be without it. If you have spots on white clothes, apply some lemon juice and lay them in the sun. Apply a little more lemon juice prior to laundering, or pre-spray and launder as usual. This is really effective on baby formula stains.

Meat tenderizer: A combo of meat tenderizer (unseasoned, please, or you’ll have a whole new stain!) and cold water is just the answer to protein-based stains such as blood, milk, etc.

Salt: Sprinkling salt on spilled red wine will keep the wine from staining until you can launder it. Mixed with lemon juice, salt will remove mildew stains.

Shampoo: Any brand will do. Cheap is fine. I save the small bottles from hotel/motel stays and keep them in the laundry room. Great for treating ring-around-the-collar, mud and cosmetic stains.

Shave cream: That innocent-looking can of shave cream in your bathroom is one of the best spot and stain removers available. That’s because it’s really whipped soap! If you have a spill on your clothes (or even your carpet), moisten the spot, work in some shave cream, and then flush it with cool water. If the offending spot is on something you’re wearing, work the shave cream in and then use a clean cloth (a washcloth works fine) to blot the shave cream and the spot away. A quick touch of the blow-dryer to prevent a ring and you’re on your way. The best thing about shave cream is that even if it doesn’t work it won’t set the stain, so the spot can still be removed later. Keep a small sample can in your suitcase when you travel. It’s saved me more than once!

WD-40 Lubricant®: Check out your garage or the “fix-it” cupboard. If you don’t have any, pick up a can the next time you’re at the hardware store or home center. Why? Because we’ve all had those nasty grease stains and oil stains on clothes: Salad dressing misses the salad and gets the blouse, or grease splatters when you are cooking — or crayon/lipstick/Chap Stick® gets on your clothes! WD-40 is your answer. Spray some on, wait 10 minutes, and then work in undiluted liquid dishwashing soap and launder as usual. Works well on everything except silk!

White vinegar: A great spotter for suede — used undiluted. It’s also a wonderful fabric softener. Just put 14 cup white vinegar in the final rinse. (And no, you won’t smell like a salad!) It’s worthwhile to keep these things on hand. As you can see, most are inexpensive and have other uses. They’ll make you the laundry Queen — or King! — in your home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal (Copyright © 2001 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona — then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.

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Do Your Clothes Fit Correctly? 9 Fashion Do’s and Don’ts

It’s not always easy find a perfect fit in clothing, says celebrity stylist June Ambrose, author of Effortless Style. But you can train your eye to look for certain imperfections you should avoid.

Have you ever noticed that celebrities always seem to fit perfectly into their clothes? Well, it’s not because they all have perfect bodies. (Believe me; I’ve seen a lot of them naked.) The fact is, they actually have the same flaws as the rest of us.  They’re just better at hiding them.

There’s nothing worse than people who don’t recognize their flaws and torture themselves by strangling their bodies in smaller garments that don’t necessarily fit, hoping to lose the excess weight in a week. Not only does this result in stress for the wearers, but they also end up with visible stress to their clothes in the form of back fat, rolls that don’t exist, and the dreaded uni-breast.

If your weight has a tendency to fluctuate, you must be conscious of this and dress accordingly. A lot of my clients are aware that, at a certain time each month, they can increase by an entire dress size from one week to the next because of water retention. Therefore, they have clothes that allow for the expansion. And so should you. Buy garments that provide you with room to maneuver, not the motivation to diet.

You should also understand that your body is naturally asymmetrical. One breast is larger, one shoulder is higher, one leg is longer, and while this is subtle in many cases, some people don’t recognize that the disparities are natural and simply assume that they’re ill-shaped or wearing the wrong size. That’s why you have to really get to know your body, learn to love it for what it is, and dress accordingly.

With this in mind, pick the right time of month to shop. You don’t want this to be when you’re feeling fat or frazzled because your estrogen level is out of control. Even the easiest decisions might seem difficult, and the result could be an investment in clothes that you really don’t need and, worse still, that really don’t fit.

It’s good to set goals for yourself so long as they’re not unrealistic — buying a size six dress when you’re a size ten will only result in the garment collecting dust at the back of your closet. Why not go for the size that you normally buy and then let your tailor take care of whatever you lose? It’s usually going to be just a few inches rather than two or more dress sizes, unless you’ve bought a garment that you’re planning on wearing in a year’s time. Otherwise, not only will you have difficulty squeezing into that new acquisition, but if you do manage the feat you’ll only emphasize the fact that you are oversize and draw attention to those extra bulges. So avoid a fashion disaster by camouflaging those areas that you either haven’t finished tweaking or that are still under construction.

Dark, solid colors are ideal for creating silhouette and shape. Black absorbs light and hides imperfections while outlining the shape of the body. Other dark colors will also do. Just stay away from lighter tones and shinier fabrics that will bring attention to your problem areas. And don’t shy away from alterations. A good tailor can work miracles.

HOW TO DISCERN A GOOD OR BAD FIT
Should you rely on the judgment of your friend-cum-fashion-consultant? Or should you take the salesperson’s word for what looks good? These are both viable options — you can always tell that overenthusiastic salesperson or friend, “Look, if I get home and my husband doesn’t like it, or if someone looks at me funny, I’m gonna bring it back.” A simple threat may prompt the truth. The last thing he or she wants is a return.

However, it would still be best if you know what to look for and make your own decisions. With no one to blame but yourself, you’re more likely to buy what’s right. Just train your eye to look for certain imperfections, such as the following problem-causers.

  • SIDE SPILLS
    Anything that’s pinching you in, cutting off your circulation, or causing extra ripples is just not worth it.
  • A SAGGY OR OVERTIGHT CROTCH
    Extra fabric that sags around the crotch is just not ladylike, whereas bunched-up fabric stretched across the crotch will overemphasize that you’re a girl. It’s also unattractive to see the seat of your pants sucked between the cheeks of your butt.
  • BUTT-CRACK CLEAVAGE
    This may be fashionable among some young girls, but there’s nothing flattering about seeing someone’s butt hanging out of their jeans. Also, denim starts to give after a while, the jeans get a little baggy, and the butt-crack cleavage becomes deeper as time goes along. That having been said, when trying on jeans you should ask the salesperson how much they will stretch, as well as how much they will shrink after the first wash.
  • SQUEEZING OF THE HIPS
    If your skirt is bunching up in the crotch region, it does not fit. Ditto the stretchy off-the-shoulder dress that is pulling in all the wrong areas, including across the bust. This is not a good look.
  • GRIPPING UNDERNEATH THE ARMPIT
    If you’re trying on, say, a scoop-neck top, make sure it doesn’t look like it’s choking the armpit and causing a gather. That’s a sure sign that the top does not fit you because your shoulders are too broad for it.
  • THE TOP-HEAVY LOOK
    If a boxy, short-waisted jacket makes your shoulders look twice as wide, don’t leave the store with it, even if it makes your waist look really small. You’ll look like a linebacker.
  • BRA SPILLAGE
    Look for back cleavage bursting out of a bra and your breasts pouring over the sides or out the top. These are the signs of a bad fit. Visit a lingerie store and have a saleswoman determine your correct size.
  • BACK FAT
    Strapless gowns and dresses with spaghetti straps may pinch in the back and cause flesh to hang over the top. If you see this happening when you try on dresses, focus on low-cut fronts and high backs.
  • PANTY LINES
    There’s nothing worse than visible panty lines. They are a surefire way to destroy a chic look. Unless you’re into fancy thongs, go for a covered bottom that doesn’t hit you in the mid-cheeks. It should either be cut high on the waist, leaving very few lines and seams, or you should opt for French lace boy-style shorts where the lace is flat and doesn’t leave an imprint. The indentation can also be caused by underwear that’s too tight, or a thick band serving as finishing on the edges. At the same time, saggy bloomers aren’t sexy either, because you can see them under fabrics  or peeking out the tops of your pants and skirts. A seamless brief is perfect underneath an A-line skirt, while a low-rise brief plays well with a low-rise pair of jeans.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
June Ambrose, author of Effortless Style (Text copyright © 2006 by June Ambrose), is a celebrity fashion stylist/designer who has appeared on national shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, Live with Regis and Kelly, and Extreme Makeover, and on VH1 and MTV. She owns the full-service styling firm The Modé Squad, Inc., in New York City.

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    How to Find the Best Swimsuit for Your Body

    Whether you want to minimize your wide belly or make your boy-shaped body with its tiny butt and no hips look its best, follow these 11 tips from celebrity stylist June Ambrose, author of Effortless Style, to find a killer swimsuit that’s right for you.

    Often, when women who are self-conscious about their bodies shop for bathing suits, they keep clear of the two-piece. However, that’s just because they don’t know the right silhouette to purchase. Even if you’re small-chested, there are bathing suit tops that have structure to give you a lift and halter tops that will create cleavage that isn’t there. At the same time, a low-cut bikini bottom that sits below your waistline will give you a longer torso area. Here are some different swimsuit scenarios.

    • IF YOU HAVE A WIDE BELLY
      The one-piece with gathering in the stomach area works really well. And if you want to create a waist where one doesn’t exist, you can try on a bathing suit that has cutout sides that pull the eye in, or go with a belted suit.
    • IF YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR BIG BOTTOM LOOK THE BEST
      Buy swimsuit separates that you can mix and match, with a smaller size up top and a larger size lower down. Some people think the boy short is a more modest way to go, but in truth the boy short doesn’t really accommodate a full bottom. It makes the butt look bigger, whereas revealing a bit of the cheeks can also be flattering.
    • IF YOU HAVE A BOY-SHAPED BODY WITH A TINY BUTT AND NO HIPS
      Okay, now boy shorts are the answer.
    • IF YOU’RE HAPPY WITH A SUNBURNED BUTT
      Thong bikinis can be okay, although they’re not very comfortable.
    • IF YOU DON’T WORRY ABOUT SUPPORT FOR YOUR CHEST
      Look to the ultimate adjustable bathing suit, the string bikini. You can cover fluctuations in weight by simply adjusting the string.
    • IF YOU WANT TO MINIMIZE YOUR HIPS
      Try a V-bottom, where the side seams are above the hipbone and the center seam cuts about four inches below the belly button. It’s a magical slimmer.
    • IF YOU WANT YOUR LEGS TO LOOK LONGER
      Go for a high-cut swimsuit.
    • IF YOU WANT TO DOWNPLAY A LONG TORSO
      You can wear any two-piece, although you’ll be better off with an off-the-shoulder two-piece swimsuit or a tankini. This is as opposed to a one-piece, which will exaggerate your long torso. A two-piece will create a visual break by showing a little skin.
    • IF YOU HAVE LOVE HANDLES
      These will be accommodated by a string bikini. It sits low on the waist and you can adjust it, so there’s no pinching.
    • IF YOU HAVE LARGER BREASTS
      Opt for an athletic two-piece that will provide plenty of coverage and support, like a sports bra-style top.
    • IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR AN ALL-OVER BODY SLIMMER
      Chevron stripes running vertically all the way down are very flattering. Stay away from big prints that will pop out and make you look even bigger. Stick with small, sparser prints. And dark colors in a flat matte fabric will recede and make your figure appear smaller, while shiny fabrics are like a red flag for the sun and scream, “Look at all of my little bulges.”

    Check suits for inside construction. Make sure there are hidden features like underwiring, bra support, bust enhancers, double linings, and tummy trimmers. All of these panels will serve you well, so look for them when you’re buying swimsuits . . . and look for Lycra content! A crochet bikini is good to pose in, but you don’t want to get into the water with that kind of outfit.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    June Ambrose, author of Effortless Style (Text copyright © 2006 by June Ambrose), is a celebrity fashion stylist/designer who has appeared on national shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, Live with Regis and Kelly, and Extreme Makeover, and on VH1 and MTV. She owns the full-service styling firm The Modé Squad, Inc., in New York City.

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    8 Tips for Conquering Sentimental Clutter

    Do you keep ticket stubs after you see a movie? Do you display gifts you don’t like out of a sense of obligation to the gift-giver? Sentimental clutter can be the hardest type to conquer. But with these tips from Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week, you can learn how to remember the past without literally living in it.


    Tips for Handling Sentimental Clutter

    • Picture Perfect. An image of an object can be as powerful as the object itself. Take digital photographs of the items before you get rid of them. When you upload the image to your computer, type in the memory you have associated with the object into the file’s “Notes” field. (For example, I had my picture taken wearing my grandfather’s overalls in an alfalfa field on his farm before I repurposed the fabric.) Be sure to back up your computer’s hard drive so that you don’t have to worry about losing the images.
    • Simply the Best. If you inherit a set of something like your grandmother’s china, you don’t have to keep all of it. Display one place setting or even just a teacup and saucer.
    • Digital Revolution. Scan papers and pictures and turn them into digital files. It’s a lot easier to store a computer hard drive than it is to keep boxes of memorabilia. Feel like you have no time to do this on your own? Hire a company for this task, like ScanMyPhotos (scanmyphotos.com) for pictures or Pixily (pixily.com) for documents.
    • Share the Wealth. After scanning papers and pictures, give the originals away to friends and family. This is what I did with my collection of notes. Once I scanned them, I sent a few of the gems off to their original authors. My childhood friends read the notes, laughed, and then shredded the evidence. You also could throw a party where guests are instructed to take any of your old pictures they want — this is especially nice to do with family photographs at reunions.
    • Repurpose. If your dresser is filled with T-shirts from college, cut them up and make them into a quilt. You can enjoy the warmth of the blanket all winter long and also make room in your clothes drawer.
    • Buddy Up. Researchers at Ohio State University found that touching an item (even something as ordinary as a coffee mug) creates an emotional connection to that item, and the longer you hold it, the stronger the bond. Enlist the help of a buddy to hold up items for you in order to keep the duration of exposure to a minimum and make parting with items significantly easier.
    • Pass It On. When someone gives you a gift, it’s because they want to make a connection with you and bring you happiness. Unfortunately, not all gifts are things we want. If someone gives you a gift that doesn’t work with your space, say thank you and feel no guilt regifting or donating the unused object to charity. The gift giver (if he or she has any tact) won’t ever ask you what you chose to do with the item. If the person does ask, respond that you don’t currently have the item out on display. The person will get the hint and drop the subject, and life will continue.
    • Make It Speedy. If the sentimental clutter is best suited for recycling or the trash, get it out of your sight as quickly as possible. Repeatedly walking past the clutter in a trash can or recycling bin will make it even harder to say good-bye. Whatever sentimental objects you wish to keep you should display and/or use in your home. Nothing sentimental should be stuffed in a box in your basement or attic gathering dust. Why keep something that doesn’t reflect the remarkable life you want to live?

    Whatever sentimental objects you wish to keep you should display and/or use in your home. Nothing sentimental should be stuffed in a box in your basement or attic gathering dust. Why keep something that doesn’t reflect the remarkable life you want to live?

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week: A 7-Day Plan to Organize Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life! (Copyright © 2009 by Erin Doland), is an organization consultant and the Editor-in-Chief of Unclutterer.com, a popular website that has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, House Beautiful, Lifehacker.com, and on the BBC and HGTV. She is a twice-weekly columnist for Real Simple online, and has written for Ready Made, Women’s Day, and CNN.com, among others. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband.

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    Antiaging Products: What Really Works

    American women drop nearly $2 billion on antiaging creams and potions. Are they worth it? Dr. Amy Wechsler, author of The Mind-Beauty Connection, has the answer.

    In 2005, American women dropped a cool $664 million on antiaging creams and potions, and that was just in department stores. Today, that figure has jumped to nearly $2 billion. We’re shelling out big bucks for ingredients like oil from the seeds of hand-harvested arctic cranberries and Koishimaru silk extracted from delicate cocoons. And if you add cosmetics in general that we buy to spruce up our natural looks (or cover up those blemishes and uneven skin tones) then the number skyrockets well into the billions.

    Maddeningly, much of that money is being spent on products that have little effect on skin’s aging process, because to halt the march of fine lines, sag, and pigmentation changes, you have to change skin’s deeper layers. And if any of the bazillion department and drugstore products that claim to erase age’s trademarks could actually do that — say, by increasing cell turnover in the dermis — the FDA would classify them as drugs. A few do exist, but you can only buy them with a doctor’s prescription.

    Why are so many cosmetic claims so convincing? Five reasons:

    • Clever writing. Read the claims carefully and you’ll realize they’re full of qualifying words like “aim to” and “designed to diminish” and “reduce the appearance of” and… well, you get the idea. These promises are etched in anything but stone.
    • Scientific trappings. Even if a product says, “clinically shown to…” remember that it’s one thing to research how a component of coffee, such as caffeine, say, affects mouse skin, and quite another to claim that adding coffee to a lotion will perk up human skin. Also, little cosmetic research meets the scientific gold standard — that is, a randomized, double-blind crossover study, performed by a qualified researcher (who is usually affiliated with a university or teaching hospital) with no financial stake in the outcome. The studies are usually very small, typically lack a control for comparison, and are paid for by cosmetics companies, which have a vested interest in the results.
    • The placebo effect. If you’ve just plunked down $27.50, or $275, for a moisturizer, you want it to make your skin look younger, smoother, firmer, so it’s easy to see changes for the better. And let’s not forget the psychological aspect of buying something luxuriously packaged. The packaging alone can lead you to believe it will work! Savvy beauty companies don’t skimp on presentation, especially when they command mucho dinero for their goods.
    • No cops. Cosmetics aren’t regulated by the FDA, so if a product doesn’t diminish fine lines, well, nothing really happens. And if you’re not sure it did anything unusual, but it smelled wonderful and felt terrific, you might buy it again anyway.
    • Vague promises. How many times have you seen a product marketed with the phrase “Clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by up to 33 percent,” or some such? Have you ever asked yourself, what does that mean, exactly? You don’t live in a clinical setting, so does that percentage work in the real world? The term clinically proven sounds persuasive, but as we just saw under “scientific trappings,” it’s often more marketing than science. Generally, the phrase means that at least one component of the product has been shown, in one study or another, to have had some biological actions, such as helping wounds heal faster by stimulating cell division. But it’s not necessarily true that it has been demonstrated by a well-controlled, independent clinical study to have significant effects in skin.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Amy Wechsler, M.D., is a dermatologist and a psychiatrist, one of only two doctors in the country who are board-certified in both specialties. She also is the author of The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Reverse Stress Aging and Reveal More Youthful, Beautiful Skin (Copyright © 2008 by RealAge Corporation). Evidence of the mind-beauty connection walks into her office every day: “Premature aging and adult acne are the two most common skin problems I see, and stress and exhaustion are often at the bottom of both,” she says. Dr. Wechsler practices in New York City, where she lives with her husband and two kids. She is a member of the RealAge Scientific Advisory Board.

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    Clutter-Busting in 5 Minutes a Day

    Help keep your home clutter-free in five minutes with these five simple steps. From It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh, professional organizer from TLC’s hit series Clean Sweep

    Daily Purging
    You’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish in ten minutes. Every day, take five minutes to straighten up and five minutes to focus on cleaning out the clutter in a drawer or on a shelf or flat space, and your house will always be in order. Think about it — if you do this five days out of every week, you’ll have purged 260 small areas in your home at the end of a year. Those small projects really add up.

    It’s best to use the same time slot every day. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, do it when the kids nap or leave for school. If you’re a morning person who either works from home or never has trouble getting to work on time, then make it part of your morning ritual. If you’re always in a rush in the morning, pick a time when you get home — as soon as you walk in the door, or after dinner, or after the kids are in bed — whatever makes the most sense for you. One of my clients likes to straighten up in the morning so she comes home to a clean house. She saves her purge for the evening so that she can be sure to finish up. These small steps really make a difference!

    The Five-Minute Purge
    Here’s what the five-minute purge looks like:

    1. Set the kitchen timer for five minutes.

    2. Grab a medium-size garbage bag. You’ll use this bag to throw things away or to drop them off at your charity of your choice, whichever makes more sense for the times you’re purging.

    3. Pick your target. Make sure to keep it small so you can be thorough. It’s one drawer in the kitchen, one shelf of video tapes, the floor of the coat closet, etc.

    4. Clear out anything you haven’t used for the last six months to a year. Remember? You were supposed to have done this when you first cleaned your home. But a home is a living thing and what you felt you needed to keep yesterday, you may be able to let go of today. Now be ruthless. The more you get rid of, the longer you can wait before you revisit this area.

    5. When the timer goes off, stop. If the bag is full, put it in the garbage (or in your car trunk so you can drop it off the next time you drive past a Goodwill or other charity). If the bag isn’t full, put it with the garbage or recycling in preparation for tomorrow, when you’ll surely fill it up in your next purge.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Peter Walsh is a clutter expert and organizational consultant who characterizes himself as part-contractor and part-therapist. He is the bestselling author of It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff (Copyright © 2007 by Peter Walsh), Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? and Enough Already! He can also be heard weekly on The Peter Walsh Show on the Oprah and Friends XM radio network, is a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and was also the host of the hit TLC show Clean Sweep. Peter holds a master’s degree with a specialty in educational psychology. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.

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    10 Tricks for Shopping for Makeup

    Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you approach a cosmetic counter. The more proactive you are, the more you will get out of the experience. From Trish McEvoy: The Power of Makeup by Trish McEvoy

    1. SEEK A MAKEUP ARTIST YOU’LL FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH.
    If you love how someone looks, she’ll probably have a lot to teach you. But even if she’s not quite your style, it doesn’t mean that she isn’t able to give you what you need. Ask her to describe her own makeup. If she’s heavily made up and says it’s a “natural” look, that may well be her idea of natural, and you’d be right to question if she’s the one to help you (assuming you’re after a natural look). Just don’t be quick to judge by appearance alone. I have Level Three makeup artists who can do absolute wonders with minimal products for their Level One clients.

    2. COMMUNICATE YOUR LEVEL.
    Tell the makeup artist the role makeup plays in your life, both in terms of time and style. A Level Two doesn’t want a Level Three demonstration.

    3. BE OPEN-MINDED.
    Experiment. Otherwise you’ll never learn anything new. Don’t get stuck in a makeup rut. Try new techniques, textures, and color; you never know what will click.

    4. STATE YOUR PREFERENCES.
    Describe how you like to look. Better yet, bring your favorite picture of yourself. Communicate whether you like matte or shiny, bronze or pale, if you like sheer or strong lips, neutrals or color. Show her the colors you’re currently wearing or have in your makeup case. Anything that helps steer the makeup artist to your comfort zone saves you both time and energy.

    5. BRING IN PICTURES OF MAKE UP LOOKS YOU LOVE.
    This is where magazine tear sheets come in handy. I don’t have to tell you how many words a picture can save.

    6. SPEAK UP THROUGHOUT THE CONSULTATION.
    As you’re shown things, express your opinion. If you like something, say so. If it’s not for you, a simple “That’s not my thing” is fine. Each comment helps the beauty expert to help you better.

    7. LOOK AT YOUR MAKEUP IN DAYLIGHT.
    This is key! Take a second to walk outside with a mirror. Daylight is the ultimate test, because if it looks great in daylight, it looks great in any light.

    8. IF POSSIBLE, TRY ANY NEW APPLICATION TECHNIQUE YOURSELF WHILE STILL IN THE STORE.
    I firmly believe that you only learn by doing. My makeup artists are taught to teach you. It’s like step dancing; you need to follow along until you can pick it up for yourself. Keep working with the makeup artist until you feel confident you have the technique down. Try to leave the store with written directions so that you don’t have to rely on your memory the next day.

    9. IF YOU LIKED THE CONSULTANT WHO HELPED YOU, GET HER NAME AND STAY IN TOUCH.
    There’s a lot to be gained from holding on to a makeup artist you connected with. She’ll keep you on file and be familiar with what you like and own. Tell her if you’d like to be called or e-mailed when it’s time to replenish something (she can always mail it) or when new products come in. She can also put you on her invitation list to call for upcoming specials and beauty events.

    10. GO FOR YOUR PERSONAL BEST AND HAVE SOME FUN.
    A makeup lesson can be a really good time if you approach it with a sense of fantasy and adventure. While a makeup artist cannot turn back the clock or turn you into a supermodel, she is trained to help you look your personal best. Whether you want a pull-out-all-the-stops red carpet look or a dewy, natural look, this is the place to experiment and have fun. Don’t forget, you can always wash it off!

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Trish McEvoy, author of Trish McEvoy: The Power of Makeup (Copyright © 2003 by Trish McEvoy), is the founder of Trish McEvoy Beauty and the cofounder of Trish McEvoy/Dr. Ronald Sherman Skincare Center in New York City. She has received numerous honors and awards for her work and has been featured in many magazines and newspapers and appears frequently on television. She also believes in helping women grow strong and is a supporter of the Girl Scouts U.S.A.

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    Get Color Courageous: Tips for Getting Soft, Richly Colored Hair

    Have you always wanted to be blond? Thinking of just a few highlights? Lose your inhibitions and follow this coloring advice from hair doctor Susan Craig Scott, author of The Hair Bible.

    Letting people know you color your hair used to be almost as much of a taboo as talking about your sex life. Women only colored their hair if they wanted to completely change the color, or if they wanted to cover their gray. In the 21st century, however, with more than 50 percent of women in the United States coloring their hair, it’s not only acceptable, it’s a sign of being fashion forward and up with the trends. What’s more, it’s easy to do and less damaging to your hair than it was a couple of decades ago.

    Finding a professional colorist is the key to soft, richly hued hair. Those colorists who have honed their skills are being well rewarded financially and raised to celebrity status. Therefore appointments often fill up months in advance. “A reputable colorist provides a very detailed consultation, taking the time to explain the techniques involved in the process,” says Bob Siebert, national director of education for Hans Schwarzkopf Professional. “A good colorist will also give you a road map for maintenance, explaining what you can do to maintain your color at home and make it last until you come in for your next visit, about five to six weeks later.”

    It’s best to color your hair at a salon where experts use high-quality color and are experienced enough to know how to do it right — especially if you want a major change. For smaller jobs, like touching up your roots or covering gray, you can probably pull it off at home by reading the directions that come with the product.

    Color Maintenance
    Since bleach and dyes can dry out hair and damage the cuticle, color-processed hair needs a little extra TLC. Avoid shampoos that contain Castille soaps or oil or glycerin, which may fade the color, or clarifying shampoos, which may strip the color. Your best bet is to choose a shampoo with extra conditioning properties. Companies such as Thermasilk, Aveda, Revlon, Vidal Sassoon, and Artec offer these specialized formulas, and more and more color-maintenance lines are popping up regularly.

    Permanent hair color is the most popular because it lasts the longest, delivers all-over, even color, and creates the most dramatic change. How it works: In a single process, peroxide and ammonia are mixed. “The ammonia opens up the cuticle and allows the pigment to penetrate into the cortex where the natural pigment is,” says Siebert. “The melanin in your hair is oxidized and loses its natural color.” According to Siebert, this single process procedure is ideal for women who want to cover gray or lighten their hair a couple of shades from their natural color. Permanent color, however, is the most damaging to your hair, and can make it look flat and unnatural, requiring frequent touchups. Although the formulations vary in potency, most ammonia-containing brands dry out hair and cause it to frizz.

    “Double processing — the most aggressive form of coloring hair — requires two steps,” explains Siebert. “First, hair is pre-lightened with lightening powder or bleach, then the color or highlights are applied afterward.”

    MYTH: Highlights and color need to be refreshed every three weeks.
    FACT: Hair grows at different rates, and this affects how long color and highlights last. The color itself, and its difference from hair’s natural shade, plays a part in how frequently it needs revitalizing. Some women find they need roots “done” every two weeks; some can go a month.

    Highlighting involves coloring or lightening selected strands, leaving sections of natural color in between. Typically, a comb or brush is used to isolate pieces of hair with color. These pieces are then wrapped in foil so that the colorist can get really close to the roots without touching the scalp. Sometimes a freehand technique is used to paint the color onto the hair.

    Salon Shades vs. Home Hues
    “Everything from cell phones to cars to communication has taken an edge toward fashion. Hair color is the opposite; we have always had the artistic edge, but now we have the technology behind it,” says Deborah Gavin, a stylist and colorist at High Tech salon in Philadelphia. “For many women, hair color is an important expression of who they are and how they want the world to see them.” Here, she shares her top reasons for having hair professionally colored:

    1. Professional color is more advanced and more durable.
    2. With professional color, you’re not just paying for the hair color itself, but also for a colorist’s technical and application skills.
    3. You are also getting the colorist’s ability to choose the right shade for your skin tone. When you do it yourself at home, what you see on the box isn’t exactly what you end up with.
    4. “Most women aren’t skilled enough to apply their own color, especially because the angle is difficult. The only time it works is when you get lucky with it. Otherwise, it can look uneven and may deliver the message that you don’t care as much about how you look,” she says.
    5. Professional hair color can be strategically placed. “Techniques for applying hair color are constantly evolving. Transformation color, one such method, involves using different shades of the same color on different sections of hair, depending on how you part your hair. “You can part your hair on one side and have the color there done in a natural shade of red, which may appear more conservative for work. Then, you can part your hair on the other side and color that section with a brighter shade for post-office hours.”
    6. Some experts argue that at-home brands contain lesser percentages of color so that you need to buy more to achieve the color you desire. Others say it is dangerous for women to do their own color because most at-home versions come in shampoo form and, except for the first application, you really just need to touch up the roots. It is more damaging to shampoo over previously colored hair.

    “Highlighting and low-lighting give hair more dimension,” says Siebert. “Highlights brighten hair by adding light, while lowlights use darker tones to add depth to the hair.” The end result is a beautiful, subtly brighter head of hair, but the time-consuming process means you may not get to see it until you’ve been worked on for a couple of hours.

    “Long-lasting semi-permanent or demi-permanent color is the quickest-growing color segment in the market for professional and retail color,” explains Siebert. “The benefit is that in most cases they are ammonia-free, so they are a little more gentle on hair. This is a great way for clients to try on color if they’re not ready to make a commitment; they fade out in 15 to 30 shampoos.” Semi-permanent color penetrates the hair shaft and stains the cuticle, so it isn’t as dense as permanent color and it’s less noticeable when it fades. Semi-permanent color can be used on permed hair and is applied in liquid, gel, or aerosol form. Demi-permanent color is used to enhance your natural color and cover 75 percent of gray. But since it only deposits color without lifting your hair’s natural pigment, it won’t lighten your hair. So while that means you won’t have roots to contend with, it will probably fade within six weeks. If you have a fear of commitment, try a temporary color or a rinse, which washes out in three to seven shampoos. “These are made of 100 percent pre-oxidized pigments that are not mixed with developer or peroxide,” explains Siebert. “They stain the outer layer of hair, then wash away.” Often made of a vegetable dye base, temporary colors are applied directly from the tube or bottle in the form of a rinse, gel, mousse, or spray. Funkier versions, such as hair mascara, are now available on the market, and can be fun for a night when you dare to go bold with your hair color.

    Natural hair color is ideal for women who are allergic to aniline, a colorless liquid obtained from coal tar from which many hair colors and dyes are made. Reactions to aniline include itchy red patches and welts on the scalp. Natural colors stain the hair instead of dyeing it and don’t penetrate the hair shaft. While several hair color companies sell natural, commercial hair color, only pure Egyptian henna is truly organic. Made from the leaves of the lawsonia inermis plant, henna colors by coating the hair shaft and staining the cuticle. The color is unpredictable and hard to control and not for women with permed hair, since it can clash with the perming chemicals and cause discoloration. If you’re using henna at home, be sure to wear gloves so you don’t stain your hands.

    In the 1960s, a hair technique called tipping was extremely popular. Using this method, bleach is applied only to the ends of the hair to make them a lighter shade than the rest of the head. Today, this method is often done using color instead of bleach. “Bleaching can be used in two different ways,” adds Amanda George, a colorist at Prive salon in Los Angeles, “for an overall blond effect à la Marilyn Monroe, or as a double-blonding process by lifting hair all over then bringing it up a tone to beige blond or platinum blond. When you color hair blond, there’s a limit to how light you can go, because it depends on how dark your hair is to begin with. If someone wants a really light shade of blond, pre-lighten with bleach, then add color. For a softer, honey blond, skip the bleach and use tint plus highlights to get the right shade.” At-home color is premixed and geared to cover a more generic range of shades, as opposed to salon color, which is individually mixed for you. Look for low-ammonia or low-peroxide products, which are gentler on your hair.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Susan Scott, M.D., author of The Hair Bible (Copyright © 2003 by TimeLife Media, Inc.), is a cosmetic and hair replacement surgeon who received her medical degree from Columbia University. Board certified in surgery and plastic surgery, she is an attending physician at Beth Israel Hospital; Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital; Lenox Hill Hospital; and the Hospital for Joint Diseases. She has appeared on such television programs as The Today Show and Eye to Eye and since 1996 she has been team physician to the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

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    4 Everyday Beauty Crises, Solved

    Despite the best-laid plans, you’re bound to run into an occasional beauty crisis. Here are some immediate beauty prescriptions to get you through those tough moments. From Trish McEvoy: The Power of Makeup by Trish McEvoy


    Dilemma:
    You had a bad night’s sleep.
    Beauty RX: Focus on lightening any shadowy areas and add subtle touches of brightness to your complexion and lips. Start by blending concealer over dark areas, especially under the eyes and i n the nasolabial folds around your mouth. Don’t make an arc under your eyes; dab it only and exactly where needed. Add a pop of rosy blush to your cheeks and slip on a slightly brighter, translucent lip color. (Avoid opaques on tired skin.) I also like a light dusting of bronzing powder. Mascara does wonders for opening the eyes, creating the illusion of a wide-awake face.

    Dilemma: It’s the morning after a late-night dinner or party.
    Beauty RX: First, moisturize your skin because you’re probably a bit dehydrated. You probably look tired, too. Tempting as it is, don’t overcompensate with makeup, because it will only point up what you’re trying to hide. If you have dark circles, reach for the concealer and apply directly on the shadows. Add some bronzer or blush to perk up your sallow complexion and consider some sheer lip color.

    Dilemma: You woke up to a big, fat, pink blemish.
    Beauty RX: If you can get to a dermatologist for a shot of cortisone, it will reduce the inflammation. If you can’t get to a dermatologist, whatever you do, don’t pick at it. Just forget that idea. Instead put on a drying lotion or medication and be sure to use a cotton swab, and apply the treatment only on the pimple itself. Let the treatment dry. Then take your concealer and apply it with a tiny brush, right on the top of the spot. Work it around in a one-centimeter-wide radius, then take a cotton swab and buff away the edges. Set with a touch of powder. Now comes the hardest part: just forget about it. Really, a pimple is just not worth ruining your day.

    Dilemma: It’s been a long, tough day, yet you still have two meetings ahead of you.
    Beauty RX: Take five minutes and refresh yourself. Step into the washroom and blot down what’s left of your makeup. Cup your hands and splash cool water on your face. Pat dry. Take out your emergency kit and start to patch up for round two. Apply foundation or powder, a touch of blush, add foundation to the lips to allow a fresh lipstick application, and reapply a dressier color from your arsenal, one with a touch of depth or shimmer . . . it will give you that pick-me-up. Re-powder over eye makeup, it will even it all out and erase the day’s smudges. Now you’re ready for the rest of what today brings!

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Trish McEvoy, author of Trish McEvoy: The Power of Makeup (Copyright © 2003 by Trish McEvoy), is the founder of Trish McEvoy Beauty and the cofounder of Trish McEvoy/Dr. Ronald Sherman Skincare Center in New York City. She has received numerous honors and awards for her work and has been featured in many magazines and newspapers and appears frequently on television. She also believes in helping women grow strong and is a supporter of the Girl Scouts U.S.A.

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