Lifestyle, Health and Beauty Tips for Happy Living

Completely You is your daily resource for fitness, oral care, skin, diet and lifestyle tips and ideas. Your path to happiness and health begins with a daily care routine for your teeth, skin, body and mind.

Survive Wedding Season on a Budget

June -- the season of love, flora and lots of weddings. Many of us spend our summer traveling from wedding to wedding, and this celebration of love and life can get very expensive.

Here’s a few tips on how to survive the wedding season and emerge with your budget intact:

  1. Never feel like you need to wear a new dress to each wedding, especially if they involve different groups of friends. Invest in a great little black dress. Change up your look with different accessories, and each occasion will feel fresh.
  2. There are many alternatives to buying a new dress. Scour the racks at thrift shops for fun finds. Also, renting is super popular these days! Rent the Runway is affordable and has fabulous deals. Or keep it in the family! If your best friend or sister is your size, do a quick swap. But, if buying a new dress is unavoidable, set a strict budget and stick to it! Keep in mind additional costs such as hair, makeup and nails.
  3. Consider gel manicures. If you are going to be headed to engagement parties, rehearsal dinners and weddings every weekend, you might as well have a manicure that will last you for several weeks’ worth of occasions!
  4. Wear sexy but "just sensible enough" shoes. A new pair of stilettos may be tempting, but not only will they cost a pretty penny, they also won’t be broken in, making a night of dancing and chatting around cocktail tables, more painful than it has to be. Opt for your favorite pair of heels, in this case, the more times you’ve worn them, the better! 

  

At-home Spa Secrets

With all that seasonal spreading of cheer and giving of joy, who has the time -- or the bucks -- for a much-needed spa visit? Instead of crafting a missive to Santa, we’ve got three letters for you: DIY. “At-home beauty treatments are fun, frugal, and relaxing,” says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home. “You probably have some great ingredients in your kitchen ready to go. All it takes is a little planning,” she says. Now get glowing.

Step No. 1: Set the Spa Stage

  • Reserve your home’s bathroom for a couple of off-peak hours when you can laze uninterrupted.
  • Plan your home spa treatments, select your ingredients and shop for anything you don’t already have. (See below for our favorite recipes.)
  • Invite a beauty buddy or two. “DIY spa treatments create real quality time between you and a friend or family member,” says Cox.

Step No. 2: Balms Away

  • Before your spa buddy arrives, light scented candles and make sure your spa area is warm.
  • Get into the spa mood with herbal tea and relaxing music. Don fluffy robes and slippers or comfy clothes like yoga wear.
  • Go slow with your treatments and enjoy the moment.

Step No. 3: Spa-la-la-la

  • These home spa treatments are easy, effective and all-natural. “Just be sure to do a patch-test first by dabbing on the inside of your elbow,” says Greta Breedlove, author of The Herbal Home Spa.

Janice Cox’s Divine DIY Facial

  1. Remove all makeup and wash your face.
  2. Exfoliate by gently rubbing your face with a paste of ground oatmeal mixed with milk.
  3. Apply a moisturizing, healing mask of good-quality honey -- local is best. Keep on for no more than 10 minutes, before rinsing thoroughly.
  4. With a towel over your head, steam your face over a bowl filled with hot, but not scalding, botanical tea. Chamomile is calming, green tea is healing, rose hips and hibiscus are balancing.
  5. Close pores with a rinse of cool water.
  6. Massage sweet almond oil or your favorite creamy facial moisturizer across your face and neck.

Janice Cox’s Sweet Silkening Body Scrub

  1. Mix 1/4 cup of olive or vegetable oil with 1 cup of granulated sugar. Optional add-ins: aromatherapy or essential oil; vitamin A, C or E oil; dried, pulverized rose petals.
  2. Cover your floor or sit on the edge of your tub.
  3. With your hands, a loofah or a washcloth, massage mixture onto skin. Use circular motions and light pressure to stimulate circulation.
  4. Rinse off in shower.
  5. Apply a generous amount of rich body lotion all over, starting at your toes.

Greta Breedlove’s Peppermint Treat
Holiday candy canes inspired this nourishing hand and foot treatment. “It’s more effective without nail polish on, so it makes a great prelude to a home mani/pedi,” says Breedlove. This recipe is for ten fingers and toes:

  1. Make a paste of 2 tablespoons each of ground almonds, ground oatmeal and honey. Add two egg yolks and 6 drops of peppermint oil. Blend with a whisk.
  2. Slather mixture onto hands and feet.
  3. Cover with clean old socks.
  4. Wear at least 20 minutes before rinsing.

Cuisine That’s Lusciously Lean

I’ve been busy at work on my next cookbook. It’s all about low-calorie cuisine. My secret is making the recipes taste so luscious that you’ll never believe they’re light. After all, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have absolutely grin-worthy fare when trying to stay fit.

So what are some of my taste-tempting secrets? Lucky for you, I don’t know how to stay mum when it comes to clever tricks that can truly make a difference for your health.

1. Use Un-milk. Plain almond milk averages just 50 calories a cup. Replace regular milk with this nutty-flavored drink in recipes; it provides a good texture and doesn’t separate easily like fat-free milk.

2. Go Grecian. Zero-fat Greek yogurt is super thick, providing lots of nutritious creaminess for few calories. Whip some into eggs to create deceivingly rich scrambled eggs. Or, make a tangy condiment by combining equal parts yogurt and mayo.

3. Add Sass. Splash dark, leafy greens with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. The acidic nature cuts the bitterness and balances taste, as well as satisfaction.

4. Turn up the Heat. When reducing fat or salt, you’re also reducing flavor. Add depth to the taste by bringing on the heat. Add a few drops of hot sauce or a touch of curry paste to your favorite meals.

5. Experiment With Extracts.
For the essence of deliciously rich cuisine without the calories, add extracts. The tiny flavorful punches go way beyond vanilla with options including pure coconut, almond and chocolate.

6. Love Umami.
Umami is the fifth sense of taste. It’s associated with a savory taste due in part to an amino acid, called glutamate, in foods. When you can, embrace the ingredients that boast high amounts -- fully ripened tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, naturally brewed soy sauce and green tea -- to add appeal to healthful meals.

Plump Up Your Best Beauty Assets

With each passing birthday, our lips lose a little volume and our hair -- on our heads and lashes -- tends to get thinner. Plus, as we age, our eyelashes begin to straighten, which also makes them look less lush. But you don’t have to feel deflated about these changes. Instead, you can fatten up your best beauty assets with a few fast, simple tips.

Plump it up: Get lush lashes

Choose the correct product. Stroll the makeup aisles at any drugstore or department store and you can easily become overwhelmed by what seems to be a thousand mascaras in an array of categories from lengthening to curling -- and everything in between. “For fuller lashes, choose volumizing mascara,” says Mari Shten, a NYC-based makeup artist.

Be a curly girl. “An eyelash curler is the key to taking your mascara the extra mile and really giving your lashes that ‘wow’ factor,” says Sonia Kashuk, makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk Beauty. For best results, try this trick: “Heat your lash curler up with a blow dryer, let it cool for five seconds, and then curl,” suggests Stephanie Flor, celebrity makeup artist and hairstylist whose clients include Mariah Carey and Kathy Griffin.

Prep before you swipe. Apply loose powder before putting on mascara. “This will prevent the lashes from sticking together so you can more evenly apply the mascara,” says Flor. Or try using a mascara primer. “It has extra fibers that stay on your lashes and make them fuller and longer,” explains Shten. Apply one coat of a primer. Then, while the primer is still wet, apply a coat of mascara on top of it.

Rework your wand. Bend your wand sideways to create an easier application. “The wand doesn't come with the natural eye shape,” explains Flor. “By bending it sideways you're able to get really close to your lash line. This is my secret and everyone loves it!” How to: Use a napkin to hold the brush; then, bend the area where the mascara brush connects with the stick part of the wand.

Wiggle while you work. Start with the mascara wand as close to the roots as you can get and then wiggle it upward toward the tip. “That will lift lashes up and give the effect of longer lashes,” says Shten. Start at the outermost corner of your eye going inward toward the nose. By coating the ends with the most mascara, it gives lashes a thicker look.

Brush it out. For a more dramatic effect, brush lashes to separate them. Kashuk suggests a metal-toothed lash comb. Then, apply a second coat of mascara. “Don't forget lower lashes. It creates extra dimension,” says Shten.

Top it off with liner. Take a soft black or black/brown eyeliner (depending on your coloring) and apply it on the upper lid really close to lashes. Use an angled brush to blend the line into the lashes. “This will instantly add fullness,” says Kashuk.

Plump it up: Fake fuller lips

Ban dry flakes. Gently brush your lips with a toothbrush (or rub with a washcloth). “Exfoliating will remove the dead skin and stimulate blood circulation,” says Galit Strugano Wigdor, founder of the makeup line Girlactik Beauty. “This will plump your lips up and smooth them for a healthy-looking pout.”

Line right. Start by using a nude lip pencil that’s as close to the color of your own lips as possible. “Slightly overdraw and extend the lip line to make your lips look fuller,” says Kashuk. Also, stay away from dark lip colors because they tend to make lips look smaller.

Grab the gloss. “Gloss will always make lips look fuller because it reflects light,” explains Strugano Wigdor. This is especially the case with glosses that have shimmer or sparkle. “You can also apply a shimmering gloss just in the middle of your pout, on the top and bottom lips,” she adds. Again, this attracts light to these areas, pulling them out so lips look fuller. Another option? “Glosses made to have a lip plumping effect,” adds Shten.

Make it just an illusion. After applying your gloss, take a white eyeliner and apply it just around the cupid's bow of the lip (the little indent on the top lip) and slightly on the bottom middle part of your lip.  “Blend it inward and it will give the illusion of your lips looking fuller,” says Strugano Wigdor. If you don’t have white eyeliner, use a frosty, light pigment eyeshadow.

Plump it up: Create fuller hair

Degrease your strands. You don’t need to wash your hair daily. In fact, doing so just strips it of its natural oils. Instead, opt for a dry shampoo product, which contains powder. “By taking some of the oil out of your hair, you’ll get more volume instantly,” explains Flor.

Pull out the hot rollers. Yes, you read that correctly. They’re not for housewives anymore! “Put hot rollers in your hair before you start applying your makeup and then remove them for fuller hair,” says Flor.

Tease it. Tease the crown of your head. “Grab a teasing comb and back-comb the top area of your head,” explains Flor. “Using a softer brush, comb it down softly to take away the frizz but leave the teased area hidden for volume.” Flip over your hair and spritz with hairspray. “Then flip it over to get that va va voom movie hair,” says Flor.

Embrace your hair’s natural texture. “You may not realize it because you’ve been styling your hair into submission for so long, but you may have your own natural waves, curls, and fullness,” says Lorraine Massey, co-author of Curly Girl: The Handbook. Forget the blow dryer and flat iron. Instead, wash hair with a sulfate-free shampoo, and then apply conditioner. Leave a little conditioner in hair rather than rinsing it all out. Once out of the shower, apply an alcohol-free, silicone free gel to the palms of your hands, flip you head over and scrunch hair gently upwards. Let hair air dry without touching it. That may be hard, but you’ll be surprised by the fullness that emerges.