Monday, January 30, 2012

Allure's 9 Simple Steps to Younger-Looking Eyes

Wrinkles, bags, crow's-feet—they don't stand a chance against this easy plan.

Look for sunglasses labeled "UV 400," and choose large frames for maximum coverage. But before putting them on, load up on sunscreen: At least 30 minutes before going out each morning, apply a broad-spectrum formula with at least SPF 30.

Every morning, apply an eye cream with antioxidants to fight free-radical damage from the sun and pollution.

It's the one ingredient proven to stimulate collagen production and reduce wrinkles. Look for creams or serums that come in an aluminum tube or opaque pump bottle—they keep retinol stable and strong. (We like RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream, Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Eye Cream, or Quintessence Clarifying Under-Eye Serum Capsules, which have retinol and vitamin K—studies show this combination works especially well on dark circles.)

Tuck an extra pillow under your head—the elevation helps prevent fluid from settling under the skin around your eyes.

Resist the urge to gob on tons of eye cream at night. Too much can lead to itchy eyes the following morning—and it can actually make bags look even puffier.

Though the results obviously aren't as dramatic as an eye-lift, there are creams that make a noticeable difference. Pick one with argireline, GABA, or DMAE—the most effective ingredients.

Fill in crow's-feet with a primer containing silicone.

Disguise dark circles using a creamy concealer—one that comes in a squeeze tube or pot. Pick a yellow-based shade if your dark circles have a blue or purple cast; go with a peachy color if you have brown circles.

Skip bright, dark, or shimmery eye makeup. Instead, pick a matte shadow that's slightly darker than your skin, then sweep it across your eyelids and along your lower lashes—it makes puffiness less obvious.

Via Allure

It's That Time of the Month... for Acne

Tips on surviving the monthly drought:

Get your chocolate fix: If you're craving chocolate, the darker the better. The flavonoids in dark chocolate mimic the effect of estrogen on the skin, Booth says. This helps calm irritation and boost collagen production.

Drink Wisely: Though you might feel like you need a cocktail, alcohol will only make things worse. Because your body is producing lower amounts of sebum, your skin and hair are more prone to dryness. "PMS time is the time to drink more water," says Booth.

Calm Down: PMS triggers higher amounts of adrenaline in the body. On top of wanting to kill anyone who takes the last parking spot, it can also cause skin splotchiness and redness. The best cure is meditation and exercise, Booth says. She recommends yoga.

Start fresh: On the first day of your period, your body enters a state of hormonal renewal. This is the best time to exfoliate the skin, Booth says. She recommends a gentle facial scrub or peel to prepare the skin for the rest of the cycle, and maximize the effects of estrogen later in the month.

Via Allure

8 Ways to Make Your Skin-Care Products More Effective

"Think of the surface of the epidermis—those dead cells—as a barrier," says dermatologist Amy Wechsler. "You have to remove it for products to get in." This particular barrier is more like a gossamer curtain than a brick wall, however, so go easy.

Basic cleansers free up pores by removing dirt and oil, but to truly increase absorption, you'll need an enzyme– or acid–based cleanser.

Like South­west Airlines, your skin has a firm first-come-first-serve policy. "Whatever goes on first penetrates best," says dermatologist Jeannette Graf. So whether you're fighting wrinkles, zits, or sun spots, the most active ingredients should be applied first. If you're using two products for two different problems, apply one to bare skin in the morning and the other to bare skin at night so you're guaranteed 100 percent efficacy from both. After treatments are in place, smooth on other items in order of density, from thinnest (antioxidant serum) to thickest (sunscreen or night cream). The exception is retinoids, which could irritate those with sensitive skin if applied first.

Damp skin acts like a sponge, quickly absorbing whatever comes its way. (That's damp, not wet.) This rule applies to almost every product—even retinoids. The only exception? Mineral-based sunscreen. "It's not absorbed," says dermatologist David Bank. "It's designed to sit on the surface of the skin and reflect the sun's rays. On damp skin, mineral blocks tend to run, give uneven coverage, and look chalky."

When you wash your face with lukewarm water instead of cold, you raise the skin's temperature slightly, causing blood vessels and pores to dilate in an effort to cool you down. "Space between the cells means there's a greater surface area for absorption, which helps product get in," says dermatologist Heidi Waldorf. Plus, ingredients move through skin and interact with cells more quickly when the skin is warm, says Bank.

"One of the best ways to boost absorption is to top ingredients with heavy, occlusive ointments," says Waldorf. Thick ointments and creams with large amounts of petrolatum, natural butters, oils, and waxes make the best occlusive agents, says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer. But don't start slapping Vaseline over every product from your medicine cabinet. "I'd never do it with retinoids, acids, vitamin C, or hydroquinone," Wechsler says. "You can essentially double their strength and create lots of irritation." Also, skip this entirely if you're prone to acne.

These line-fighting superheroes do their best work under cover of darkness, because both prescription and over-the-counter versions degrade and weaken in the sun.

Another distinct advantage night has over day: Skin temperature rises by about half a degree while we sleep, because more blood is shunted to the skin, away from internal organs. And with greater warmth and blood-vessel dilation comes better penetration. Says Bank, "Though it's not an enormous difference, your skin does absorb more overnight." This pertains to any ingredient you apply before bed, not just retinoids.

When you want maximum impact from a fragrance, you buy the parfum, not the scented body wash. Similarly, you'll find the strongest dose of active ingredients in serums—not, say, cleansers. "A serum is a concentrated source of an active ingredient in a simple form that penetrates very quickly and completely, unhindered by lotion-type emollients that make it difficult for actives to sink in," Hammer says.

Like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, some ingredients are notable power couples. "Sunscreen and antioxidants were born to be married," says dermatologist Ranella Hirsch. As the former absorbs UV rays, the latter neutralizes the free radicals created by those rays before they can do damage. If your SPF doesn't include them, layer an antioxidant serum underneath. Many antioxidants also complement peptides: "They bolster the skin's ability to protect and heal itself, allowing collagen-building peptides to work better," says Bank. Retinoids and hydroquinone are another dynamic duo—one typically prescribed for the dark splotches of melasma. "They get out pigment in different ways," says Waldorf. Other smart combos exist in the prescription realm—"benzoyl peroxide may enhance the bacteria-killing powers of the topical antibiotic clindamycin," Wechsler says—but this is a tricky topic, so talk to your dermatologist before mixing and matching.

Via Allure

Lust List: Pretty Palettes

Paul & Joe Face and Eye Color CS in Kittycat
Wanna be the cat's meow? Stock your makeup bag with this multi-purpose pick, made of a trio of matte, pearlescent, and shiny shades for contrasting textures.

Guerlain Ecrin Eye Shadow Palette
From light orchid to deep bordeaux, we've fallen for this range of purple hues. The delicate mirror design only enhances makeup playtime

Dolce & Gabbana Smooth Eye Quad in Femme Fatale
Forget shocking shades. This foursome knows that all you need to be a sex siren is a few nudes, sultry charcoal, and a white for highlighting.

Bobbi Brown Ultra Nude Eye Palette
The maestro of neutral hued makeup plays with color via packaging. Get your perfect nude eye with a pop of hot pink on the side.

Yves Saint Laurent Ombres 5 Lumières N. 13
And ta-da—we've found the most cheerful compact of the season! These candy-colored hues look bright, but are wearable when worn sheer.

Laura Mercier Lingerie Eye and Cheek Palette
Get a sexy, bedroom look with these neutral tones. Matte, sateen, and iridescent eye shadows pair with two blushes for a naturally flushed face.

Via Real Beauty

How to Organize Your Beauty Products

If you have to dig though drawers and rummage through an overstuffed makeup bag to get ready every morning, then it's time to bring order to your beauty stash. These expert tips will help you declutter your loot and streamline your storage space.

Clean out your stash. Before you start organizing all of your lotions and potions, do a thorough purge of your makeup bag, medicine cabinet, and any other place you store your beauty loot. Toss anything that smells or looks kind of funky. If you haven't used a product in six months, throw it out.

Put a sticker on it. A great way to keep track of how long you've had a product (especially ones that you don't use regularly like face masks), is to write the month and year that you first opened it on a small round sticker and put it on the bottom of the bottle, jar, or tube. This will make it easier to get rid of old makeup and the like during future clean sweeps.

Separate your cosmetics. Keep your daily essentials together and put them in an easy-to-access place (such as a small tray or basket). Instead of rifling through piles of stuff every day, you'll have all of your most-used loot within reach. Divide the rest of your makeup by category (lipstick, shadows, powders, etc.), and store them in containers that fit on a shelf or in a drawer. In terms of storage you have lots of options. You can buy a clear chest with removable drawers (which double as trays when you're applying your makeup) or a few stackable drawer organizers. Another strategy is to pick up a bunch of flat mesh makeup bags and stash them under a sink or in a cabinet.

Keep makeup brushes upright. Your tools accumulate powder and gunk, so it's best to store them with the bristles up in a pretty cup or tumbler instead of a makeup bag. However, if you keep your brushes bathroom, it's more hygienic to stow them in a flat mesh makeup bag (it won't bend the bristles) and put them away in a drawer when you're not using them.

Section off your medicine cabinet. Group all of your skincare and personal care products by the time of day that you use them. Designate one shelf in your medicine cabinet for your morning regimen and another for your night one. Create a separate area for zit cream, sunscreen, and other miscellaneous items or put them away in a closet.

Stick to clear containers. Prints and colors may be prettier, but clear storage containers are the most practical since they allow you to see what's inside at a quick glance. When it comes to your hair styling products, stash them in clear shoe boxes (ditch the lid and stand everything upright to prevent leak). These can be stored under the sink for quick access. Divide your hair accessories into groups (elastics, bobby pins, clips) and put them in small clear containers.

Experts: Alain Pinon, Co-Owner and Partner of Salon AKS, Sadah Saltzman, Salon AKS Makeup Designer Dara Klein, New York City makeup artist, Melanie Rud, assistant editor at Good Housekeeping

Via Real Beauty

Retail Therapy: Fall Work Essentials

Luckily for us, modern office life doesn't mean a boring suit. Try these flattering finds for a work wardrobe that's corporate chic (and looks good on your shape!).

If You Want to Hide Your Upper Arms…
Try a silky blouse with wide arms. The style's in right now and provides a chic alternative to button-downs. Look for bracelet sleeves (showing about two inches of skin) for a proportion that draws attention toward the thinnest part of your arm (your wrist!).

If You're Busty…
Stock your closet with open, shawl-front cardigans and blazers. The formal, work-ready shape smartens up any dress or blouse. Without restrictive buttons, you won't feel squeezed in anywhere, either.

If You Want to Enhance Your Bust…
Pick tie-front blouses over button-ups. The extra fabric will add some volume to a tiny chest, and the loose cut means you won't have to worry about filling anything out. Fake another cup-size by choosing busy printed fabrics over solid colors.

If You're Slender…
Create some curves via the magic touch of a well-cut blazer! A standard black jacket is anything but when given a nipped-in waist, strong shoulders, and a longer hemline in front. Throw a pick like this on over anything and get ready for a little 9-to-5 va-va-voom.

If You Want to Cover Your Thighs…
Look for an slightly flared, A-line dress. The fuller shape is fashionably retro, and the fit won't cling to (and emphasize) your curves like a pencil skirt would. The gentle pleats and waist-bow on this pick will also draw attention toward your center—and away from your hips.

If You're Short…
Look for a hemline that hits right under your knee. The cut is universally flattering and one of our favorite fall fashion silhouettes. More lady-like than a thigh-grazer, it will help stretch out tiny frames without swallowing them up like a maxi does.

If You Want to Mask Your Tummy…
Make sure you find a style with a defined waist to avoid making your midsection look larger than it really is. In slimming black for extra slenderizing powers, this stylish option comes with a skinny belt so styling is a no-brainer. A high-neck and keyhole slit also help to draw attention toward your face, not your tummy.

Via Real Beauty

How to Break Bad Habits

Banish Bad Habits
Middle-School flashback: You're slouched in your chair, biting your nails and yakking to Susan about Katie—that is, until Mrs. Anderson yells, "Girls!" Fast-forward to last night: You're slouched at your kitchen counter, frowning at your chewed cuticles and yakking on your cell phone to Susan about Katie. Where's Mrs. Anderson now?

Bad habits afflict us all. But whether your particular fixation is merely annoying, wastes time, or could actually hurt someone (like poor, long-suffering Katie), there are tricks and techniques to nip it in the bud. Of course, serious habitual behaviors might require years—and even some bona fide therapy sessions—to break. But psychiatrists, psychologists, and cognitive therapists agree that recognition is the first step. So you're already on the road to recovery and a lifetime of good posture, manicures, and trusting friendships.

The Habit: Fidgeting
Why you do it: You have excess energy, perhaps from the surge in adrenaline caused by consuming too much caffeine or sugar, and it has to come out somehow. Just ask that pen you keep clicking.
How to stop: If you’re a large-triple-mocha drinker, cut back. To control energy peaks and troughs, it’s also important to get enough exercise and sleep. And try converting the movement of your hands and legs into isometric exercises: Put your hands in your lap and concentrate on gently pushing your palms together. For your legs, place both feet flat on the floor and then push down. Do these exercises until the need to fidget subsides.

The Habit: Smacking Gum
Why you do it: It’s another oral fixation that serves as a security blanket when you’re nervous or anxious.
How to stop: The fastest and most effective solution? Switch to hard candy. But if you really don’t want to give up gum, have a friend stop you every time she hears you doing it. Then keep smacking long enough to hear yourself and recognize what an irritating sound it is. You might be embarrassed enough to stop.

The Habit: Running Late
Why you do it: The nice reason? You’re a pleaser and an overdoer, packing too much in. Not so nice? Deep down, you may think your time is more important than the time of those waiting. Either way, you lack some essential time-management skills.
How to stop: When someone asks you to do something, don’t accept right away. Say you’ll get back to him, then decide whether you have the time. Also, figure out which tasks always seem to make you late. Maybe it’s drying your hair in the morning: Time yourself to see how long it takes, then allot enough time in your routine. Tricks: Set your watch five minutes fast and build in time for unexpected delays. And always call ahead if you’re running late. Not only is it gracious but the shame of making repeated calls might also be the incentive you need to be punctual.

The Habit: Procrastination
Why you do it: It’s a strategy for managing the anxiety of having to complete a task.
How to stop: Recognize that when you procrastinate, others may think you don’t care about the job, and that’s worse than completing something less than perfectly. One trick to get you started: Make a check out to an organization you despise and give it to a friend to hold. If you don’t finish the self-assigned task by a certain date, have her mail the check. If you make yourself accountable for the consequences, it will motivate you to wrap up the task.

The Habit: Slouching
Why you do it: You may have slouched when growing up because you were self-conscious or taller than others or developed breasts before your peers, and the posture stuck. Or you might just be tired.
How to top: Take dance lessons, Pilates, or yoga to strengthen the abdominals and upper-back muscles. A simple shoulder-shrug exercise―think of touching your shoulders to your earlobes―is an even easier way to combat slouching. Do 10 rotations forward and 10 rotations back, says Phil Haberstro, executive director of the National Association for Health and Fitness, in Buffalo. “This will raise consciousness of posture and help remind you to stand and sit tall,” he says. “Regular physical activity helps combat the mental and physical fatigue that can contribute to slouching.”

The Habit: Disorganization
Why you do it: You may be a visual processor. You like to be surrounded by a mess because it’s stimulating―and it reminds you to do your work. But it backfires, since you waste time searching for things.
How to stop: Separate papers into a pile you need to do and a pile you can think about doing. Use folders or boxes in different colors. “One of my clients has 12 clipboards hung up in her office: six for current projects and six for those she may get to later,” says Lynn Cutts, a Colorado-based certified life coach. “She’s still being visually stimulated, but her stuff is organized.” Set up a system that works for you, and start with basic steps, like putting your keys in the same place every day.

The Habit: Name-Dropping
Why you do it: You feel insignificant and want to be perceived as more special than others around you. You think people will be impressed with you if you’re associated with a particular person. In addition to that, name-dropping can serve as a form of intimidation. “It’s a kind of one-upmanship,” says life Cutts.
How to stop: Listen to yourself! Would you want to stick around and hear all this? Remind yourself that you don’t need to resort to mentioning names as a way of increasing your value. If you can’t resist dropping a name or two, do so in a non-self-promoting way or with humor. Do it to share information, as opposed to putting someone down or making yourself look more important. And make sure to tell the full story, even if it’s “Oh, I passed Harrison Ford on the street. He didn’t actually speak to me, but he did glance in my direction.”

The Habit: Nail Biting
Why you do it: You use it to derive comfort and relieve stress. “Nail biting could be the adult version of thumb sucking,” says Alan Strathman, associate professor of social psychology at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
How to stop: First, note when you bite your nails, and then substitute another action. Keep a stress ball on your desk, or even play with Silly Putty the next time your fingers start tickling your teeth. You can also try wearing synthetic nails or painting your natural nails with a polish that has a foul taste. Or get a manicure. You’ll look good, and after paying for the service, you’ll think twice about ruining the results.

The Habit: Whining
Why you do it: You don’t feel confident that you have the power to request something. As a kid, you probably whined when you didn’t get what you wanted, and it paid off―then.
How to stop: As an adult, you’re in for a big surprise if you think you’ll get the same results. If your husband or friends say you’re a whiner, take note. Simply state what you want by making a direct request. For example, instead of ruining an evening out by complaining that you got stuck at a table next to the kitchen, politely ask the waiter to reseat you. Remember: Most people will develop a resistance to whiners. “We rebel against the behavior because we recognize that giving in will only reinforce it,” says Strathman.

The Habit: Gossiping
Why you do it: You try to take the focus off your flaws by exposing those of others. But a person who gossips by habit doesn’t truly believe she’s good enough on her own.
How to stop: Focus your conversation on sharing your experiences, such as discovering a new restaurant or your latest vacation. Brush up on current events, music, or sports. This will give you something else to discuss besides other people. Plus, you never know who is listening in on your conversation. If you’re complaining about your coworker, be aware that her best friend might be the woman directly behind you on the train. Keep in mind that gossiping makes you seem untrustworthy. You may even lose friends and professional contacts when people realize you’re a gossip.

The Habit: Perfectionism
Why you do it: Mom and Dad, who were probably perfectionists, had high expectations. (“Only a B, Mary?”) You define yourself by what you do, yet nothing gets done.
How to stop: Train yourself to care less. Deliberately do a poor job when performing a small chore―one that has no professional or personal impact, like doing the dishes or making the bed. “You’ll see the consequences aren’t so dire,” says Cutts. Set time limits for tasks, and use an alarm. There will be no room in the schedule for that “one more thing” to make it perfect. Finally, just for fun, do something at which you don’t excel. If you’re a shower diva (but know you’re no Streisand), try singing lessons. Or play a weekend sport with a team that judiciously ignores the score.

Five Steps for Changing Any Bad Habit
These tips come courtesy of Cherry Pedrick, coauthor of The Habit Change Workbook ($16,

Know when your habit shows up. Identify habit-prone situations. Record how often and where it presents itself.
Know the consequences. List the advantages and disadvantages of keeping—or changing—your habit.
Know an alternative behavior. Develop a competing response that you can employ instead of falling back on your habit.
Know your goals. Make a plan with short-and long-term goals, and reward yourself when you reach them.
Know you're human. Don't beat yourself up if you fall back into your old ways. This is a natural part of change.

Via Real Simple

10 Painless Changes You Can Make for a Green Home

Swap Household Cleaners
Switching to green cleaners reduces air pollution both indoors and out, minimizing exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels.

Go Meatless on Mondays
Having pasta or a vegetarian soup on Mondays might not seem like a big deal, but adding one meat-free meal per week (for a family of four) has the same impact as driving a hybrid car. Raising livestock produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, so cutting back, even one night per week, makes a big difference.

Shop for Sustainably-Raised Meat
While sustainable isn’t a term certified by the USDA like organic is, it generally means that the animal was given ample room to roam, and wasn’t treated with hormones or antibiotics. Look for labels like free-range and organic as well as no-hormone and no-antibiotic.

Upgrade Your Insulation
Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by 20 to 30 percent. If totally redoing your insulation isn’t in your budget, try thermal shades, which block the sun in the summer and retain heat in the winter, or even something as low tech as a draft guard on your outside doors.

Leave Your Shoes at the Door
Think of removing your shoes when you enter a home as the equivalent of washing your hands. First, it couldn’t be easier. And second, it prevents the outside gunk like car exhaust, chemicals, and pesticides from being tracked all over your home.

Microwave Glass, Never Plastic
Heating plastics can cause leaching into food and many contain hormone-disrupting compounds (not just the much maligned versions made with bisphenol-A or BPA). Plastics that are labeled “microwave-safe” can simply withstand a higher temperature before losing their shape. So when popping anything in the microwave, opt for glass or microwave-safe ceramics.

Don’t Dump, Donate
By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you don’t another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill. Take items to a thrift store, a charity that accepts donations, or list them on

Choose Safe Pots and Pans
The materials you cook with do have an impact on your food. The three safest options are cast iron, enamel coated cast iron, and stainless steel. Non-stick pans, while convenient, can be problematic if you scrape the coating and it gets into your food.

Select Fragrance-Free Products
Conventional fragrances often contain chemicals believed to disrupt hormones, and they can be harmful to the ecosystem when washed down the drain. If you like perfumed soaps, cleaning products, or cosmetics, read labels to find those made with essential oils.

Reduce Use of Bug Sprays and Pesticides
To control pests, prevention is your best bet. Keeping your kitchen crumb-free and sealing any holes in the walls or cracks in the foundation means you won’t have to use harmful chemicals in your home. If you do require pest-control, reach for greener alternatives or home remedies first.

Via Real Simple

Romantic Valentine’s Selection by Pandora

We’re excited about Valentine’s Day, and we hope you are too! We can’t think of a better occasion to dress up and enjoy a candlelight dinner with the man in your life. Why not add a symbol of love to your wish list from Pandora romantic Valentine’s selection and share it?

Is this your symbol of love? We hope Pandora romantic Valentine’s selection will help complete a beautiful day to be remembered for the rest of your life.

Via Pandora

Coach-Evolution of the Willis Bag

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