Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? According to Statistic Brain, the three most common ones are: 1) to lose weight, 2) to get organized and 3) to save more money.
Talk about intimidating! There is so much pressure to reinvent ourselves into better, more responsible people this month. No wonder only eight percent of Americans manage to keep their resolutions. (I'm sure it's the same for Canada.)
So that's why I'd like to make the case for some alternative goals this year: BEAUTY resolutions, of course!
While restrictive dieting and rigid gym schedules can make you feel like you're punishing yourself, beauty resolutions are the opposite. They're way more easily achievable, and are about celebrating and enhancing what you've got—so that you can face the world feeling more beautiful and therefore confident.
Also, if I can get deep for a moment... I encourage you to think about beauty as more than just a superficial hobby. It's actually a form of self-care. Keeping your skin and hair healthy and well cared for is actually a way to love yourself. And we could all use more love in 2016!
With this in mind, I've listed four beauty resolutions below, along with all the help you need to achieve them:
"In 2016, I will find my most flattering hairstyle and hair colour."
- Find Your Life Cut: Your Life Cut is your haircut for life, and I believe in it as strongly as I did back in 2011, when I first coined the term. This is how you go about finding your Life Cut.
- Find Your Life Colour: So along those same lines, Life Colour means your hair colour for life. Usually, there is a range of tones that look best, and if you want to look the most natural, then you should probably stay within those. This is how I found my Life Colour in 2011 (and yes, I still recommend double-process colour). Then, in 2014, we made another colour adjustment after going too red. My Life Colourist, Tony Chaar, has lots of tips to help you find the best hair colour for your skin tone.
- Get a Hair Consultation: Did you know we do online reader hair consultations on this website? Yep, they're completely FREE, and open to all Beauty Editor readers! My longtime hair cutter, Bill Angst, does one consultation per week. Here are the details of how you can submit your photos, and here is the massive archive of all the past consultations—lots of advice in there! If you have a general hair question or aren't comfortable with us publishing your photos, you can still send in a hair question for my colourist, Tony Chaar. He, too, is now answering one question per week!
- Improve Your Styling Technique: With a little practice, you CAN get better at doing your own hair at home. I did this video with Tony explaining how to do a high-volume blow-dry. I also shared these 10 blow-dry tips (that I still swear by) and got the secrets of Kate Middleton's bouncy blowout, straight from her hairstylist. If you have flat hair, check out these sneaky volume tricks. Curly girls, this is how Rikki learned to style her hair (and also got back her curls).
- Colour Your Hair at Home: If a salon visit isn't in the budget, you can totally tweak your colour on your own. Here's how to go blonde, platinum or rose gold at home. You can also add your own subtle highlights to dark brown, medium brown or light brown hair at home.
- Get Inspired: If you need more celeb inspiration, here are the best styles for long hair (straight, wavy and curly) and medium-length hair (straight, wavy and curly). I've still gotta do a short hair round-up, but in the meantime, this is my fave short cut. For bangs, here are your best bets for oval, round, long, square, heart, diamond, inverted triangle and pear face shapes.
"In 2016, I will take better care of my skin."
- Wash Your Face the Right Way: You might be surprised to find out my stance on cleansing. I think it's important to get off dirt and makeup, but not to clean your face so aggressively that you're stripping away your protective skin barrier—more on that here. Make sure to keep your towel clean, by the way! I had a terrible experience with the Oil Cleansing Method, so I will never be able to recommend that. As for cleansing gadgets, some people do have problems with them, but if you regularly disinfect your brush (as I outlined here) and don't overdo it, you're less likely to aggravate your skin. I talked about my favourite brush, the Foreo Luna, over here.
- Exfoliate More: If there's one thing you can start doing now to really improve your skin, it's exfoliating—gently and regularly. This is why Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 gets so much love; when you use any lactic acid twice daily, it's going to make a huge difference in tone, brightness and clarity. Besides P50, I love the exfoliating pads from Juice Beauty (reviewed here), Rodial (reviewed here), Laboratoire Renaud (reviewed here) and Proactiv (reviewed here). Always build up slowly and back down if you experience irritation.
- Consider Serums, Mists and Masks: If you're not using a serum yet, here's why you should. (Personally, I like them far better than moisturizers!) Most of the time, my beloved Consonant HydrExtreme (reviewed here) is all I wear, and it works better than hylauronic acid. Antioxidant serums, such as SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, are an excellent idea for preventing and repairing sun damage, and you can even fight acne and wrinkles with the Blemish + Age Defense Serum (reviewed here). I am also a big fan of face mists. Here are all the ways you can use one. Don't forget about multi-masking. It's actually a smart way to give yourself a customized skin treatment.
- Nourish Dry Skin: Since we've officially entered dry skin season, you might want to follow my "get ready for cold weather" tips and 10 winter skincare tips. By the way, you don't need to drink more water to get better or more hydrated skin. That myth has been busted!
- Re-Think Facials: As explained here, I am not the biggest fan of facials, even oxygen facials. If you need a quick skin boost, say for a special event, the OxyGeneo Facial (which uses carbon dioxide bubbles for skin rejuvenation) is your best bet.
- Try Dry Brushing: I feel like a lot of New Year's resolutions include dry brushing! This is for your body, not your face, and here's how to do it.
"In 2016, I will slow down the signs of aging."
- Think About Prevention: First things first, here are 10 ways you can start to prevent the first signs of skin aging. (Whether or not you try that particular skincare range is optional, of course!) I am also compelled to mention what I think is the BIGGEST cause of skin aging, which practically nobody talks about: polyunsaturated oils. (This guy agrees with me, BTW.) Here are some of the best foods for younger-looking skin.
- Try Retinoids or Acids: Topical retinoids, which are derivatives of vitamin A, are considered the gold standard for anti-aging. I've written extensively about the benefits of Retin-A and how to use Retin-A without drying your skin out. If prescription-strength is too much for you, my favourite over-the-counter option is Avène's new TriAcnéal Expert with retinaldehyde (I reviewed the slightly older version of it here). Alternatively, you can get many of the same anti-aging benefits from doing regular daily exfoliation. I actually don't use Retin-A right now and find my skin tolerates acids such as lactic acid much better. DermTV had a great episode on this here.
- Consider Professional Treatments: Winter is the ideal time to get a series of IPL, short for Intense Pulsed Light, treatments. They are what I always recommend for unwanted pigmentation, since topicals aren't very effective for that problem. This is what it's like to get IPL. Fraxel (which I wrote about here) is more intense and involves downtime; it may not be necessary unless you have a significant amount of wrinkling and sun damage. Of course, Botox and fillers are popular for a reason. They work! I would just caution you to take your time finding the best practitioner, because it is so easy to look overdone. In Toronto, the ONLY person I can recommend is Dr. Nowell Solish. There is nobody else I would trust! (My editor at FLARE recently went to see him and wrote this article about it.)
"In 2016, I will get my acne under control."
- Check Your Thyroid: People always talk vaguely about "hormones" being the cause of acne, but I have discovered that there is one main hormone that is the key to it all: thyroid! If you're dealing with breakouts and haven't read about the connection between low thyroid and acne, please go check it out.
- Get More Vitamin A: The other most common cause of acne, also detailed here, is that you may not be getting enough vitamin A. You see, when you increase your metabolism, you also increase your nutrient requirements; if you are too low in A, acne can be the result. (This is also the reason why some restrictive diets appear to improve acne, because they are actually lowering metabolism. Not a good thing!) This is my favourite vitamin A supplement. Forget about cod liver oil... here's why it's dangerous.
- Stop Picking: Leaving pimples alone, a.k.a. the "do nothing" method, might be smarter than trying to annihilate them with needles, acids, etc. But if you absolutely must pop a pimple, this is how you should do it.
- Use the Right Topicals: Some of the things I've already mentioned—exfoliating with acids twice a day and/or Retin-A or retinaldehyde—should help keep breakouts under control. I would also say to err on the side of being gentle. Don't over-cleanse or scrub too harshly, and look for bland moisturizers or light serums, so you're not introducing too many ingredients or oils.
"In 2016, I will get better at applying makeup."
- Figure Out Foundation and Concealer: The most popular article I've ever written on this website was about the most common foundation mistakes. (230,000 shares? Whaaaat?) That advice still holds true, although I use some different products now. I would also like to bring your attention to these concealer tips. My philosophy is that you should wear as sheer foundation as you can manage, and then spot-conceal (also known as "pinpoint concealing") only where you need it. If you really want to take things to the next level, learn to strobe. My fave product for that is RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, obvs.
- Get Better at Blush and Eyeshadow: So I started doing more of these "makeup mistakes" series, not because I want to scold anyone, but because I believe looking at celeb close-ups can be VERY instructional. Here are the most common blush mistakes and the most common eyeshadow mistakes. Another thing to take more time with, just in general, is blending.
- Learn From the Pros: A long time ago, it was actually my hairstylist Bill Angst who told me I should look at celebrities for beauty inspiration—and not in stylized magazine spreads but in candid red carpet and paparazzi shots. Obviously that advice really stuck, because I've documented dozens of close-ups over the years on this website! If you pay sharp attention to all the little details, there is no better way to elevate your taste and technique. We can also learn tons from the best celebrity makeup artists, including Gita Bass, Mélanie Inglessis and Lauren Andersen.
I hope you've found this info inspiring as you set your personal goals for the year ahead.
As for me, I'll be continuing to play guinea pig in the name of beauty research! Right now, I'm excited to start using red light therapy more often—including the the Baby Quasar I mentioned here, but also with a home light setup over my workspace. Keep ya posted!
Do you have any beauty resolutions for 2016?