1. Use Smart Creams
Among the hundreds of ingredients in skincare products, only a few make a real difference. These three have the best scientific backing:
Vitamin A (retinol, retinoic acid or Retin-A, retinyl propionate, and retinaldehyde): In its various forms, vitamin A increases elastin, collagen, and the natural moisturizer hyaluronic acid in the skin. It's the only thing you can apply to repair sun damage, giving you a smoother, less wrinkled complexion.
Vitamin C: Also stimulates collagen and elastin growth and helps thwart free radicals. (Vitamin C rapidly breaks down when exposed to light and oxygen, so the jar should be opaque and kept sealed.)
Vitamin E: An antioxidant, vitamin E acts to slow wrinkle production. Some research suggests it may also help protect against skin cancer. (Must be in the form of DL-alpha-tocopherol to make a difference, so read the ingredients on the label.)
2. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Getting eight hours of quality sleep is perhaps the best thing you can do to feel revitalized. Research shows that aside from restoring energy (human growth hormone is primarily secreted when we're slumbering), sleep decreases pain and helps you lose weight. Schedule more hours with the pillow, or, if you have trouble sleeping, see a specialist for insomnia.
3. Try Massage to Alleviate Pain
If you have a headache or tension, place your hands on the affected body parts and apply pressure until you feel relief (some experts warn against doing this when pregnant).
The temples: With index and middle fingers pressed closely together on each temple, clench your molars a few times to feel the part of the muscle you want to target. Along with the pressure, a little massaging will help.
Behind the ears: Using both thumbs, locate the points at the base of the skull, just behind the bones in back of the ears, and apply rotational pressure for two minutes.
Between the eyes: Pinch the bridge of your nose with your middle finger and thumb and slowly push upward so you feel pressure near your eyebrows.
On the hands: Using your right thumb and index finger, firmly pinch the soft fleshy web between the thumb and index finger of your left hand. Switch hands.
4. Manage Your Money
Much of what authentic beauty is about—feeling satisfied with yourself, happy with life—comes down to managing stress. Which brings us to one of life's major hot buttons: money. Every time you deposit your paycheck, take 10 percent and put it in an emergency account (to help if the car dies, the roof leaks, a spouse or child is sick and you need to hire a nurse for a few days); put another 10 percent into a retirement account. The peace of mind you'll get is priceless.
5. Tune Up Your Relationship
Try this with your husband or significant other: Agree that for two weeks you will make every major decision—what to have for dinner, when to go to bed, what to watch on TV. Then for the next two weeks, your partner gets to make all the decisions. Just committing to the experiment reaffirms your trust. And by the end, you'll likely feel safer accommodating each other's preferences.
6. Create a Chain of Giving
Few feelings surpass the high of helping others—whether it's making a donation or offering up your seat on a crowded bus. Generosity is also good for your health. Studies show that heart attack patients who do volunteer work have death rates two and half times lower than those who don't. So we want you to give, but here's the catch: If possible, do it so that the recipient becomes able, in turn, to pass something on to another person. For example, if you offer money to help a struggling woman start a business, the condition is that she will give away some of her profit to the homeless; if you mentor a needy child, she must teach what she learns to a friend or sibling. This way, the recipient receives the added gift of dignity, and you create a chain of charity, expanding the number of people you help.