There are thousands upon thousands of beauty products, and even more facials, wraps, hair treatments and the like … and all promise to make you look younger, better, thinner, tighter or, in some manner, more beautiful. And while I've personally tested thousands of treatments and products, this week I've rounded up just five beauty musts for any woman who wants to look gorgeous.
1. Head to a medical spa, regularly
Head to a reputable medical spa, a local plastic surgeon or a dermatologist that offers aesthetic treatments, and do what celebrities and other people whose looks you admire already do: Take care of your face diligently and proactively.
Get Botox, if you need it. Opt for microdermabrasion or photofacials to eradicate fine lines, hyperpigmentation and sun spots. Lips losing volume? Plump 'em (just don't overdo it). Take care of your face the way you take care of your car; invest in regularly scheduled maintenance without fail. This is the real secret to looking great for years to come; commit to it and work at it. It's that easy, and that difficult.
2. Buy a silk pillow case
Talk to three different beauty experts, and you'll get three different reasons to sleep on silk. When I first got lash extensions, my esthetician recommended I get a silk pillow case to avoid losing lashes at night. When I got Brazilian Keratin, my hair stylists recommend I get a silk pillowcase to protect my newly frizz-free 'do. When I got Fraxel, my doctor recommended I get a silk pillowcase to avoid damaging my skin while I slept (no more waking up with sleep creases on my skin). The average person sleeps about one‑third of their life; a good silk pillow case costs about $20 — you do the math.
3. Retinoids and sunscreen
One skin care product that has been universally endorsed by skin care experts is retinoids, sold by prescription under brand names Renova and Retin-A. Not only will use of a retinoid keep skin exfoliated — an essential set in cell turnover — but retinoids can also help reduce or clear up acne, improve collagen production, lighten hyperpigmentation and improve skin texture.
Be cautious about using retinoids daily, as they can be much too aggressive for many skin types. And while I always insist that daily use of SPF is an essential step in maintaining healthy, youthful skin, this skin care must becomes even more essential with retinoid use, as skin becomes more sensitive to the sun.
4. Get great hair
Did you know that having great hair is one of your inalienable rights? So, if you're still struggling with your locks, in any capacity, it's time to get it right. There are so many services available to the modern woman that there's no reason not to have hair you adore. Keratin treatments can smooth and tame even the frizziest of 'dos, glaze adds shine and hue to lackluster locks, extensions make long hair accessible to all. Great skin and great hair are the building blocks of great beauty. If your hair isn't naturally great, it's time to go out and get it.
5. Invest in long lashes
Until you've had uber-long lashes, via extensions or a lash growth product like Latisse, it's hard to understand just how much of a difference lashes can make. But, the reason that seemingly every celeb — from People magazine's "Most Beautiful" Jennifer Lopez to bride-of-the-hour Kim Kardashian — has long, lush lashes is that long lashes make a huge improvement in how one looks, giving eyes a more youthful appearance and making them stand out sans makeup.
Since I've tried dozens of lash growth serums and several types of lash extensions, I can vouch for the fact that many of these enhancers do the trick. Latisse, when used religiously, is a rock star at making my lashes longer and thicker, while nothing compares to semi-permanent lashes for instant lashification.
— Carolyn Brundage is the founder of tampabay.prettycity.com, a guide to the best in local beauty. Need beauty advice? Tweet up with Carolyn on Twitter @tampabaypretty.