A few weeks have passed since you so sincerely promised to transform yourself, body and soul, into some new and improved version. You made those New Year’s resolutions with such fervor, swearing that this time, you wouldn’t give up until you saw the changes that you were looking for in 2015.
If you’re in the majority, you probably bit off a bit more than you could chew, trying to make too many major life changes at once, without enough of a plan to keep you going after life kicked back into gear, and what you had to do got in the way of what you wanted to do.
If all of our goals could be accomplished in a month, we would all be wildly successful, fit, rich and happy, but research shows that more than half of our resolutions fail to materialize after a few months.
But, take heart. This list just may be your salvation if your resolutions included improvements to your body, skin and hair. We’ve compiled it from local experts who offer a few simple steps that can help you renew and refresh yourself. Try a few. Go on. What do you have to lose?
1. Start with the scalp
Scalp massages help stimulate blood circulation and reduce stress. Those looking to promote hair growth should consider performing scalp massages regularly. Daily scalp massages have been proven to boost hair growth. Just like our skin, our scalp needs to be pampered and moisturized. Good circulation is an important element in the natural hair growth journey, and scalp massages are an enjoyable way to relax and boost your hair’s ability to grow and renew itself.
A beautiful, healthy head of hair always starts with a healthy scalp. If your scalp is "sick," your hair does not have a healthy foundation. Julie Rushing, stylist, makeup artist and owner of Clique Hair Design in Marion, likes Davines Natural Tech, a line of products that contains eight scientifically developed treatments formulated for many scalp issues, including thinning hair, dehydration, brittle hair, dandruff, irritated scalp, lack of tone, oily scalp and maintenance.
2. Botanical hair therapy
Infuse your hair with an amazing shine with naturally derived color, created with an environmental and social conscience, so you can feel good about using plant power instead of petrochemicals. Botanical hair therapy treatments can work wonders for hair that often becomes dry and brittle over the winter months. It penetrates hair strands to condition from the inside out.
Using the proper products will help protect from heat damage as well as add protein and shine, helping to renew your strands. Rachel Bonner, stylist and owner of Salon Euphoria in Carbondale likes the Damage Remedy line and the Dry Remedy line with several rinse-out and leave-in options to create the perfect cocktail for your hair. Still, removing the dry and damaged ends from your hair is an essential part of keeping hair healthy. If you’re maintaining your length, Rachel recommends trimming every four to six weeks. If you’re growing your hair, she suggests every 10 to 12 weeks.
3. Choose products wisely
During the winter, your hair and skin are drier. You can deep-condition your hair once a week to revitalize or use a weightless conditioning product that will silken and smooth the hair, says Sherry Almaroad of Cheveux Salon in Marion. Sherry says you'll want to use a lighter styling product such as a styling whip. She likes those that are infused with plant-based argan oil. It is a good idea to change your hair and skin products seasonally.
4. Add a little color
Brighten your look with some help from a certified hair colorist. Make sure he or she uses only organic color systems in order to avoid the harsh and sometimes toxic chemicals that many salons use. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you know what to expect when the treatment is finished. There are many kinds of color treatment, from all-over color to glossing to highlights and low-lights. By working with a professional, you’re sure to come out of the salon feeling so much brighter.
5. Lashing out
Almost all of us want fuller, longer eyelashes. Latisse is an FDA-approved product to treat sparse upper eyelashes by increasing their growth in length, thickness and darkness. Rachel says it takes about 16 weeks to achieve the optimal results with consistent use of the product, but most people report improvement in six to eight weeks. If you have to discontinue therapy, your lashes will just return to baseline. Latisse comes in several sizes of kits and is very easy to use. Latisse is only available by prescription, so talk to your doctor about this first.
If you want to avoid the application process, Sherry recommends Xtreme Lashes Eyelash Extensions. Each lash is individually applied to your lashes, resulting in a gorgeous, natural appearance.
6. Drink more water
Healthy skin starts from the inside out. Drinking more water is extremely beneficial for skin renewal. The average adult human body is made up of roughly 60 percent water, Julie says. Proper hydration is necessary to maintain a healthy balance of body fluids, but it also improves the appearance of skin. If your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration can cause it to become dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling. Drinking at least eight glasses a day also will help the body and skin rid itself of toxins.
7. Shield yourself from the sun
Sun protection is your biggest anti-aging weapon, according to Southern Illinois Healthcare Medical Group Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery staff. Sun damage and prolonged sun exposure causes the skin to look more aged and have more uneven skin pigmentation. Protection against these harmful ultra-violet rays is the key to more youthful-looking skin. The Carbondale staff recommends using a daily sunscreen, one with an SPF 30 or greater, which contains zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is a mineral-based ingredient responsible for broad-spectrum coverage. Make sure you protect every day, even in winter and on cloudy days, and reapply every two hours if outdoors. The group's favorite sunscreens are from EltaMD because they are super lightweight and tinted, and they contain powerful antioxidants.
8. A little face time
Facials have come a long way from the thick, gloppy white goo that women slathered on before bedtime years ago. Specialty treatments deal with special needs of problematic skin conditions such as acne, clogged pores, hyper-pigmentation, rosacea and congested skin. Facials made of natural ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, dairy and whole grains can be used to cleanse and gently exfoliate while revitalizing your skin and delicate eye area. Some facials are designed to help aid in relief of allergy and sinus symptoms and include aromatherapy, a facial cleanse, steam and herbal compresses. Or just run in for a 30-minute facial, a quick pick-me-up.
9. Get rid of those old skin cells
Every 28 days, skin renews itself with a fresh layer of skin cells. The older we get, the more this process slows down, leaving us with fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin texture. Exfoliation stimulates new cell growth by removing the cells your body is no longer shedding. According to staff at the SIH facility, there are many benefits to exfoliation, such as removal of the top layer of dead skin cells, unclogging your pores, reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, improved texture, healthier-looking skin, radiant-looking skin and providing a foundation for absorption of skin products.
Chemical peels are focused treatments using chemical solutions that smooth and even the skin by removing damaged layers. This is a rapid form of exfoliation that addresses many concerns. By removing those damaged skin layers and stimulating new skin growth, they say, you can achieve many benefits such as improved appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improved skin tone and texture, a brighter appearance, reduced pore size, improved acne and acne scarring and improved skin discolorations.
There are many types of peels in varying strengths, so make sure you speak to your provider about which one could be right for you. The SIH group recommends the SkinMedica peel line and reports great results with it.
10. Start a retinol regimen
Using a retinol product daily is essential in an anti-aging regimen. Retinol or retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that stimulate collagen production, improve fine lines and wrinkles, even skin tone and texture, minimize pores and keep them unclogged, reverse some of your sun damage, and prevent and treat certain acne breakouts. Always use a moisturizer with a retinoid to help alleviate some of the side effects such as slight redness, irritation and flaking. It’s always important to start a Retinol regimen gradually and increase to nightly use as you become more accustomed to using it. The SIH group likes SkinMedica Retinol Complex because it is effective and has fewer side effects.
11. Stay moisturized
Moisturize often with a good product matched to your skin type. That's the advice of Riki Jenkins of Green Door Spa in Mount Vernon. This, she says, will help with dry skin, especially in the winter. Try to avoid hot baths and showers as this will further dry out your skin. Hot showers also dry out your scalp, which will make your head itchy. Using tea tree oil daily will help cure this naturally. Dry air also sucks the moisture from nails and leaves them dry and brittle. Olive oil can help with this. Just add some to each nail every night and this should help with absorption.
12. Spending some time at the spa
Many spa treatments are designed to make you feel, well, all-over wonderful. To name a few, they include a hot, aromatic oil wrap with warm oil applied from neck to toes; salt glow or sugar polish; invigorating full-body exfoliation treatment; hot-towel facial, using skin-care products and massage to improve skin and relieve stress; soothing foot scrub; paraffin hand dip to ease pain and stiffness and add moisture; and foot massage – mmmm – to relieve tension.
Or just book a manicure or pedicure, or both, as a special treat for yourself. Start with a soak, some cuticle therapy and exfoliation; add some strengthener and polish, and finish it off with a tension relieving massage. You’ll feel like a million bucks, guaranteed.
13. A good, old-fashioned rub-down
Nothing feels better than a rejuvenating massage, gently relaxing your muscles, releasing the stress you hold in your body and stimulating circulation, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all therapy. There are many types of massage, and you should choose the one that feels the best to you or provides the specific relief you need. There are sports and prenatal massage sessions; Swedish massage, which gently relaxes muscle tension, provides stress relief and stimulates circulation; and deep tissue massage, which uses slower, more direct pressure to relieve chronic tension patterns and affect deeper structures of the musculoskeletal system. You can also get a hot stone massage, which relaxes muscle tension and detoxifies your body, improves sleep and increases energy.
14. How about a yoga class?
Research has shown that yoga offers a multitude of psychological and physiological benefits. Yoga helps you become more aware of your body’s posture, alignment and patterns of movement. It makes the body more flexible and helps you relax even in the most stressful environments. Practice yoga regularly – no matter the variation – and you’ll feel more fit and energetic, and be happier, healthier and more peaceful.
15. The eye of the beholder
It's not a new concept, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But we like the way Peter Russell, author, physicist and meditation teacher, puts it: Beauty is to perception as love is to feeling. Beauty is the heaven of perception, that deep aesthetic appreciation that stirs the soul. And love is the heaven of feeling, that profound sense of connection that enthuses our being. Both are reflections of our true nature, qualities of our essence. The perception of beauty resonates with the feeling of love. Our hearts open and, bathed in love, we see beauty in the world and in ourselves. Nurturing our feelings of self-love brings deep ease and relief.