Resolve to improve your style

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 11:01 p.m.
We're not here to order you back on that stationary bike.
Not going to quibble over sneaking those smokes or skipping church.
So let us be duly frivolous with our 20 resolutions for 2006.
You can actually live with these. They address stealth blackheads, untoward hairs and gravelly skin. They won't turn an individual into a shining example of perfection, but they may be able to make you presentable without a caveat.
What's more, these little commitments may very well make you a better-looking person down the road. True, it's a gamble. No one knows for sure if slathering on creams, diminishing visible panty lines and conditioning your scalp make a long-term difference.
But we look at it the way French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal would: wager. The benefits of rolling up those sleeves and getting busy now could be infinite; the consequences of doing nothing, possibly dire.
Here we go:
  • Wash your face at night. Yes, every night. Use a cleanser that's appropriate for your skin type.
  • Seek out a signature scent. People remember you by it - and it's an easy way to make your mark. Maybe mix two favorite fragrances and it will be totally, uniquely you.
  • Try bleaching. No one should have to live with a mouth full of yellow teeth. But in-office bleaching sessions can cost hundreds of dollars. Try whitening strips, gels or gum and don't forget oral hygiene. Floss daily, brush twice a day with a fluoride paste and get a pro cleaning every six months (every three months if you smoke or are heavily into coffee, Coca-Cola or tea).
  • Edit your closet. Leave one week max for this soul-cleansing undertaking. Take everything out that you no longer need. Toss if it's stained, torn, fits badly or has never been worn. Or get ambitious, get out your digital camera and make a few bucks on eBay.
  • Avoid temptation. As tempting as low-rise jeans are, if you don't have a flat belly, you could suffer from muffin-top syndrome. No one wants that.
  • No blowdryers. Blowdryers will eventually sap your locks of moisture. Never blow hair when it's soaking wet. Wait until it's about 80 percent dry. You get a better set and avoid heat damage. If you're a flat- or curling iron junkie, deep condition once a week.
  • Tan harmlessly. In Florida, it's fine to be tan all over, all year. Save your skin from ever-present sun by combining loose bronzing powder with body lotion. Wash palms thoroughly after use.
  • Don't run your credit card into the ground just because you saw that stunning (fill in the blank) on Cameron, Jessica or Angelina. They get a lot of that stuff free. You have a mortgage.
  • That said, go for quality, not quantity. You don't need 40 strappy sandals. Invest in leather. Man-made materials cause your feet to sweat, smell and smart. Same goes for an everyday handbag. Stick with leather and a neutral color.
  • Use the stairs. Park far away from your destination. Drink water instead of soda. Eat a sensible breakfast. Shun carbs after 7 p.m. Get your heart rate up for at least 12 minutes at least three times a week. Practice excess in moderation.
  • Stop ignoring those cracked heels. Scrub them very gently in the shower with a pumice stone and apply lotion twice daily.
  • Do not eat your cuticles. This is called cannibalism and has no place in a civilized society. Plus, your fingers won't look right after years of breaking the skin. Apply nail oil to tenaciously ragged spots.
  • Don't pick your white- or blackheads. Wash them with warm water and clean your skin with cleanser and an exfoliating sponge.
  • If you don't see well anymore, you might be missing something. Blackheads plague people of any age, but older people have to be especially diligent about getting regular extraction facials. (See resolution above.)
  • Leave your chin alone, too. You know what we mean, ladies. The temptation to go at those persistent, coarse hairs can be terribly strong. But this can stir up bacteria, causing inflammation, pimples and ultimately may make those puppies even tougher and stronger. The rule: If there are more than three, zap 'em with laser treatments or electrolysis.
  • Cover your clavicle: The clavicle (a.k.a. collarbone) can get a lot of subtle sun damage. Cover up with sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and moisturize. While you're at it, reel in the cleavage.
  • Make a funny face in the mirror while looking up your nose. If you can see any hair at all, clip it. Now.
  • Scrub that navel. It's where dirt collects and it's not pretty.
  • Check the rear view before leaving the house. Any panty lines or tacky bulges? Turn around and get back to the drawing board. Solutions: boy shorts, thongs or microfiber smoothing underwear. Commando - if your jeans aren't too low cut - is also an option.
  • Take those vitamins - daily. Do they work? Who knows? We're betting so.
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