February — the month of love. You may be the recipient of flowers or chocolate to symbolize another’s love for you. Or maybe you’ll be the giver, doling out gifts of affection to those who mean the most to you. It’s so fun and romantic to show your feelings this way. But don’t forget that the best gift you can give to those who love you is the gift of care — for yourself. You only get one body to get you through this lifetime, so it’s important to do everything you can to take care of it. Taking care of yourself now will allow you to look and feel more youthful for years to come.
On the surface
Your skin is your largest organ and does so much to protect you, but it’s often taken for granted. One of the most important things you can do to keep your skin healthy and hydrated is to drink plenty of water every day. Studies show that a whopping 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration has staggering effects on your body as a whole and definitely affects the look and feel of your skin. While circumstances like exercise, environment and illness can change your fluid intake requirements, following the eight-times-eight rule (eight ounces, eight times a day) is a good place to start. It will give you more energy and your skin will have a nice healthy glow.
Stick to your rituals
Michigan winters can be rough, so you should also make sure to use a good, quality lotion each day. It’s best to put it on just after the shower while your skin is still damp. You’ll also want to keep a hand cream convenient and apply throughout the day to keep you hands looking and feeling nice. Your face gets the brunt of the elements, so you’ll want to be sure to treat it nice — after all, it’s the first thing people see when they meet you. You should wash your face twice a day, once in the morning and once at bedtime. It is believed that the damage inflicted on your skin when you sleep in your makeup is equivalent to aging your skin seven to eight days — yikes!
Finding what works best for your particular skin type is important — personally, my skin responds best to products with salicylic acid. At the minimum, you should use a cleanser, toner and moisturizer each day. It is equally as important to use the same line of products since they are formulated to work together. Using different brands together will likely result in less than expected or even unexpected results. Protecting your skin from the sun is just as important this time of year as any other. You should aim to use a minimum SPF of 15 during the day. This is pretty easy to accomplish if your moisturizer or foundation has SPF in it. You do want to give your skin a rest from SPF at night, so make sure to get a moisturizer without it to use at bedtime.
Handle with care
In our world of flat irons, blow dryers and highlights, it’s not always easy to keep your hair looking healthy. Just as with your skin, it is important to find what your hair responds best to and use the same line for optimal results. Be aware that your products will build up on your hair over time. Rotating your products occasionally or using a clarifying shampoo can help remove any excess buildup. Since I’m married to my favorite products and color my hair every few weeks, I use a detoxifying hair mask regularly to keep my mane looking shiny and help the color look richer and last longer. If you’re like me and fight against your natural hair each morning, take particular care to do so as gently as possible.
When you use heat on your hair, try taking the level down a bit. You may find that you get the same results on the lower setting and reduce the damage that heat inevitably inflicts on your hair. Purchase the highest quality instruments that you can afford — it will make a big difference in the way your hair looks and will be gentler than lower quality items. If you highlight or color your hair, it is ideal to have it done by a qualified professional. If that’s not possible, I recommend consulting a professional who can advise you on what salon grade products to use at home.
Happy February! I hope you take time to honor those you love (yourself included), and that you receive all the love you deserve in return.