The whole "New Year, New You" philosophy may sound daunting, but when it comes to beauty, more often than not, it's the little things that make the biggest difference. To kick off 2014, here are a few easy tweaks you can make to your daily beauty routine are the best, most effective way to get gorgeous this year. That means whiter teeth, brighter, softer skin, and shiny hair without even trying (
Healthier, Shinier Hair:
Wash right. You've been washing your hair your whole life, but you've probably been doing it wrong all these years. To avoid limp, dull, heavy hair start by using warm water, and completely soak your scalp. (If you have thick hair make sure you lift up at the roots to get the back of your head, too.) A good soaking pre-lather really primes hair for the most effective wash possible, loosening dirt and oil ahead of time. Lather just a dime- or quarter-sized (depending on your hair length) dollop of shampoo in your hands before rubbing it into your scalp. That amount is enough to clean hair perfectly and rinse out easily. Too much and you’ll have double to gunk to rinse out (and more likely, double the residue left on hair.) Spend at least a minute rinsing, and once you think you’ve rinsed it all out, rinse for another 30 seconds.
Stop towel-drying. A lot of the damage hair endures can be blamed on all that aggressive towel rubbing we do before even getting to the blow dryer or other tools. Hair’s particularly delicate when wet and this method roughs up the cuticle, causes breakage, and creates tangles. Using a super-absorbent hair cloth (like Earth Therapeudics Quick Dry Hair Turban, $18), wrap up your wet hair and tuck it into a secure little turban which will soak up moisture as you go about your business. In five minutes without a single rough rub, the cloth will soak up a lot of the moisture from your hair, and also significantly cut down on bow drying time.
Cleaner, Whiter Teeth:
Switch to a battery-powered toothbrush. Whitening toothpastes are all the rage, but how they're applied makes all the difference and an electronic toothbrush can give a boost to those of us who aren't vigorous brushers. Some new drugstore versions (like the Oral-B Pulsar 3D White, $7.49) are specifically focused on whitening, using oscillating, spinning bristles to get between every tooth and whisk off as much stain-causing plaque as possible. They’re also often set on two-minute timers — the amount of time long the American Dental Association says we should brush our teeth for — to ensure a proper cleaning.
Snack on carrots, celery, and cucumbers. Cruciferous vegetables act like mini window washers, scraping away plaque and debris every time you bite down on them. Munch on them at parties to prevent that dreaded red-wine smile.
Brighter, Smoother Skin:
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Dead skin cell buildup creates that dull, lifeless pallor that so often plagues us in winter months, and getting rid of that buildup is the key to getting smooth, radiant skin. At least once a week use either grainy physical scrub (like The Body Shop Aloe Gentle Exfoliator, $11.25) or a light acid-based serum (try Arcona The Solution, $45) to peel that unwanted layer right off your face. Once that's whisked away, your skin will be fresher, brighter, softer and perfectly, primed for the next step: hydration.
Boost moisture everywhere you can. And that means everywhere. Moisturizing is the key to plump, soft skin. Your face usually needs the most TLC so double up with both a richer cream at night after washing and exfoliating (Neutrogena Deep Moisture Night Cream, $12.49, for example). And add a moisturizing foundation (like The Body Shop Moisture Foundation SPF 15, $23) to your skincare routine for day. That extra boost of moisture will go a long way preventing any redness, chapping, or flaking all winter long. In the shower use a moisturizing oil-based body wash, which leaves skin super-silky and hydrated, (no additional body cream necessary). And last, but not least, don't forget your hands and nails. A super-healing formula that's targeted for chapped skin, (such as Vaseline Intensive Rescue Healing Hand Cream, $3.82) is rich enough to smooth hands as well as tame ragged cuticles and keep nails shiny and strong.