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beauty (125 posts)
A: Though I'm all for sticking with a classic style when it suits you, if I'm remembering right (an increasingly rare event), 1983 was not a great year for hairstyles. How to break the news to your sister? Least useful phrase in response to any troubling issue, beauty related as well as psychological: "You need help." So not that. Among friends and family, my suggestions are more likely to be accepted when I attribute them to an expert. You might, then, give your sister this advice from master hairstylist Ric Pipino. Thick hair looks better when the volume is at the back and in the length of the hair, rather than at the crown or around the face. A cut with soft layers in the front and longer layers toward the back works well. A nourishing shampoo and conditioner help smooth the hair shaft (as does Wella Flowing Form Smoothing Balm, $14; wella.com for salons).
Keep in mind: Since superclean, thick hair tends to be hard to control, shampooing every two or three days rather than daily will help keep any style manageable.
A: I'm happy to tell you there is a needle-free way to soften the look of those "elevens" (that's what dermatologists call them). Because celebrity makeup artist Pati Dubroff works wonders with makeup (and eschews needles herself), I asked her about the techniques she might use. She starts with a topical wrinkle filler on the lines. (Dubroff recommends Olay Regenerist Filling + Sealing Wrinkle Treatment, $24; drugstores. Or try the new Algenist Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer, $45; algenist.com) After the filler, she adds a light sweep of foundation. For the deepest lines, she brushes a brightening concealer right into the wrinkle. (She likes YSL Touche Éclat, $40; yslbeautyus.com. Or try Clarins Instant Light Brush-On Perfector, $30; us.clarins.com.) "Oh, and I wear bangs," she says.
Keep in mind: Regular use of a prescription retinoid can help generate collagen and elastin, preventing more wrinkles; a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid will temporarily plump up the skin; and wearing sunglasses will prevent the scowling that can deepen lines.
So I was gratified to read that Vogue is launching an initiative to promote healthy body images in all its many editions. The Vogue Health Initiative pledges to portray models over the age of 16 who do not appear to have eating disorders. I know what you're thinking: how will everyone agree on what constitutes "healthy" or even "does not appear to have an eating disorder"? But... at least the conversation continues.
Body Image Quiz: Would You Rather Be A Whale Or A Mermaid?
Supermodels Dealing With Their Body Issues
It's called Indian head massage, and while some therapists use essential oils, it can be done on dry heads, too (crucial for when you can't go back to work with greasy hair). I was a little worried about scheduling my first-ever appointment during the middle of the day, but Denise Galon, a certified massage therapist based in New York, told me that she'd tailor my treatment to include moves that made me nod off as well as some that helped me snap to attention. Galon practices a type of head massage called "champissage," which is a cross-cultural hybrid that involves both the frictional moves that are part of traditional head massages Indian people get from their families and at the barber shop, as well as the usual shoulder and neck squeezes.
When Galon had finished, I felt relaxed yet also surprisingly focused. Because I had a feeling that my circuits would be overloaded again in no time, I asked Galon for a takeaway exercise I could do on my own back at the office. This is what she calls the "occipital rub." Try it the next time you need to be calm and focused enough to settle into working at your desk, but not so relaxed that you want to put your head down on it.
In this month's "Adventures in Beauty", the O beauty team—director Valerie Monroe, executive editor Jenny Bailly, and associate editor Alessandra Foresto—test-drive nine products and treatments (like skin-plumping fillers, threading, and "comfortable" waxing) to determine whether they make the O grade. It had been two years since the editors' last big beauty road test—Monroe decided the time for a sequel was now. "This is an important story for us," she says. "The only way we can be confident we're making good recommendations is to try things ourselves."
Since the beauty team is constantly on the lookout for groundbreaking techniques, each editor had already picked a few favorites by the time they sat down to plan the story. "I heard about a new spray tan for darker-skinned women and was immediately interested," says Monroe. "Our Latina and African-American readers might not know this product is out there." Foresto, whose skin is a natural bronze, gave it a try. "I thought my clothes would get stained, my skin would be smelly and orange—but nope. I loved it!" Foresto had only one reservation about her new tan: She'd have to pose in a bikini in the magazine to show it off. "I did some extra workouts the week before," she says with a laugh.
Kids, right? How I wish I felt this way! It is certainly a part of my mothering-a-girl-plan to teach her to feel confident in her own skin. And yet, my excitement about summer plans -- the pool! the beach! the sprinkler! -- is, let's admit it, tempered by my Fear of My Black Suit. You know, that same unassuming black thing I've sequestered myself in since puberty. Usually with a cover-up. And pants. And a portable tent. I'm kidding. (N,o I'm not.)
But you know what? It's National Swimsuit Confidence Week, darn it, and I think we should celebrate. Okay, so it's an ad campaign for Land's End. But it's an ad campaign with a valuable message: Land's End has teamed with the Curvy Girl Guide to encourage women of all sizes to feel confident this summer, and I think it's an idea we can all stand behind. In swimsuits, no less. And let's hear it for these brave ladies who put photos of themselves in their swimsuits online, over at the Curvy Girl site -- and on the Today Show (as pictured). If they can do it, so can we. I mean, I'm totally not going to do that. But public pool... brace yourself. Mama's leaving the cover-up at home. (Or maybe in the car. You know, just in case.)
7 Ways To Find a Swimsuit That Looks Great
The Best Bathing Suits for Every Body
A: At least you can be grateful that it's not an actual 5 o'clock shadow, right? What you've got sounds like melasma, which is commonly caused by genetics or an excess of estrogen or sunlight, says Wendy E. Roberts, MD, a dermatologist in Rancho Mirage, California. (Roberts also mentions a host of other possible causes, among them a course of tetracycline, waxing, or a harsh microdermabrasion treatment.) She recommends using a prescription skin-lightening compound containing either hydroquinone, kojic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, retinols, or Lumixyl. A series of Fraxel laser treatments may also help fade the discoloration.
Keep in mind: Wearing an SPF 30 sunscreen every day will help prevent your 5 o'clock shadow from reappearing.
How to read the new sunscreen labels
The 7 best new sunscreens
4 different approaches to aging gorgeously
A: Though I'm sure many of your fellow Ask Val readers will be envious of your problem—a "ton" of hair isn't often among their complaints—I know that styles gone flat are no fun. But there's an easy solution. It's not about creating lots of volume, says stylist Rodney Cutler, founder of the Cutler/Redken salons. Rather, you want to create movement and texture by cutting layers in a style that sweeps to one side. Though this approach works on various lengths, a cut that falls between the chin and collarbone works best, says Cutler.
As for styling products, try a spray that gives hold at the roots. Cutler recommends Redken Rootful 06 ($15.50; redken.com for salons).
Keep in mind: Product on the ends of your hair will weigh it down, so avoid it.
Each nylon duffel has beachy stripes and comes packed with supplies that Thompson, who also had a preventative double mastectomy, deems essential to a comfortable recovery. For example, Thompson explains that after a procedure involving tissue removal, some fluid accumulates at the surgical site, and patients are sent home with special drains they need to tend to. However, Thompson says that most of her patients were so woozy when they heard the instructions that they forgot what they were supposed to do. That's why her bag includes a little drain care kit with specific how-to's--not the sexiest Get Well gift, but one of the most useful, and therefore, one of the most thoughtful. The bag also includes a heart-shaped microbead pillow that women can put under their arms to ease the pressure on their incision, as well as surprises like slipper socks, earplugs (for creating silence in a bustling recovery unit) and high-end face lotion and eye balm. Thompson's company offers other bags designed for the unique needs of patients recovering from brain and gynecological operations and, soon, C-sections. (Fifteen percent of the net profit from each bag Bffl Bag will be donated to a related health charity.)
It will make you feel good to see your VIP (Very Important Patient) using Thompson's road-tested items in the bag during the first days after her surgery...and it will make you feel even better to see her tote the bag to the gym and the beach not too long after that.