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Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2011

You're altar bound! There's no better time to get your hair in top condition, score glowing skin, and start feeling fantastic -- from head to toe. Learn how to look your best.

Hair Helpers

To achieve shiny strands, what you do is as important as what you don't. Here, habits to start and the ones to stop.

Start...

Sudsing Up Gently. Keep your hair's natural moisture in balance and protect your color with a nonstripping, sulfate-free cleanser, such as L' Oreal Paris Ever-Pure Moisture Shampoo (cvs.com). Then follow with a conditioner for your hair type.

Utilizing a leave-in conditioner. Work it through damp hair before heat styling. Mark Heiner, owner of Slate Salon in New York City, likes It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Treatment (itsa10haircare.com for salons). Loaded with sunflower-seed extract, "it protects, detangles, and adds volume," he says.

Applying a weekly mask. "Intensive treatments can dramatically improve the quality of your hair, even after one use," says Heiner. For more body, reach for Pantene Fine Hair Solutions Ultra-Light Moisturizing Treatment (at drugstores). If hair is color treated or dry, pamper it with Frederic Fekkai Essential Shea Ultra Rich Mask (saks.com). Thick or curly? Try the Phyto Phytokarite Ultra Nourishing Mask (ulta.com), which enlists cashew oil to moisturize.

Feeding your head. Nourish your scalp to ensure healthy hair growth. "Work two drops of rose-hip oil [available at health food stores] into your roots before bed," says Margo Marrone, founder of the Organic Pharmacy in London. "It's full of conditioning fatty acids."

Eating a protein-rich diet. "Hair relies on it for strength," says Philip Kingsley, a trichologist in New York City. To get your fill, consume low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and beans. Aim for 46 grams of protein per day.

Stop...

Detangling hair when it's wet. It's most vulnerable to breaking when it's waterlogged. "Instead, brush before getting in the shower," says Heiner. After, blot it dry (don't rub) with a towel to remove excess water, and carefully loosen any tangles with your fingers.

Washing every day. Overcleansing removes natural oils -- and, ultimately, that vibrant shine, says Eddie Ngai, a stylist at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. Lather up just two to four days a week, depending on how greasy you get. On the off days, spray on a dry shampoo, like Tresemme Fresh Start Dry Shampoo (drugstore.com). It de-slicks and gives fine hair thickness and volume.

Brushing too much. "The less you do it, the better," says Kingsley. "Hard pulling can break the hair and scratch the scalp." When you do brush, use natural boar bristles, which distribute the oils from scalp to ends. Bumble and Bumble's Flat Classic Hairbrush reduces static and gently untangles (bumbleandbumble.com). Or try a conditioning comb, shown above.

Overdoing it with heat. Hot tools can cause damage. Bottom line: "In the months leading up to your wedding, lay off the blow-dryer, curling iron, and flatiron at least three days a week," says Ngai. And don't take scorching showers. Sure, they feel good, but "over time, hot water can dry out your hair and fade the color," says Heiner.

Using elastics with metal. They can tear your hair, resulting in lots of broken pieces. Instead, look for metal-free styles, like Sephora Snag-Free Elastics (sephora.com). And "always wear your ponytail loose," says colorist Giselle.

 

Tried and True: Face Washes

Moisturizers may get all the attention, but an effective skin-care routine starts with a good cleanser. The wrong formula will dry out your complexion, while the right one will leave it balanced and primed for the next step. Consider these dermatologists' top picks.

Best for Dry to Normal

La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel.The no-foam wash contains poloxamer, an ingredient so mild it's often used in contact lens solutions. "It doesn't strip the necessary fats from skin," says Leslie Baumann, a dermatologist in Miami. If your face is really dehydrated, cleanse at night when skin is dirtiest, and just rinse in the morning (laroche-posay.us).

Best for Oily

Neutrogena Oil- Free Acne Wash. Blemishes, beware! This standout (the choice of every dermatologist we interviewed) utilizes 2-percent salicylic acid to treat and prevent breakouts, as well as remove dirt and makeup. "It soothes irritation and clears clogged pores without overdrying your skin," says Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist in New York City. And it can be used twice a day (at drugstores).

Best for Sensitive

Olay Foaming Face Wash for Sensitive Skin. Fragrance- and oil-free, this fluid works up into a soft lather and reduces redness with a blend of glycerin and citric acid. "These gentle ingredients also draw moisture to the skin," says Jaliman. To keep skin smooth and soothed, use this wash only at night, and just splash your face with water when you wake up (at drugstores).

Best for All

Skyn Iceland Glacial Cleansing Cloths. For those nights when you're too tired to even stand at the sink, these moistened wipes are a real skin saver. "They remove makeup and exfoliate -- all without water," says Anne Chapas, a New York City-based dermatologist. They're also great to stash in your gym bag for pre- and post-workout (sephora.com).

 

Easy Way to Unwind: Bath Goods

After a long day of wedding planning, there's nothing quite like a little at-home pampering. Step away from the spreadsheet, fill up the tub, and let these stress relievers take you to your happy place.

1. Caudalie Merlot Friction Scrub. This gritty mix of brown sugar and grapeseed and peppermint oils makes skin oh-so smooth (caudalie-usa.com).

2. Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Night Health Bedtime Bath Oil. Pour a few drops of this lavender-scented elixir into the tub to de-stress before bed (origins.com).

3. Darphin Aromatic Bath and Body Oil. Drizzle the intoxicating blend of jojoba, lemon, and pepper notes into bathwater (darphin.com).

4. Balenciaga Body Cream. It has the same violet and pepper essence as the fashion house's signature perfume, with a shea butter base that goes on like, well, butter (bergdorfgoodman.com).

5. Prada Infusion d'Iris Scented Candle. Mandarin orange and iris make bath time --  or any time -- feel like a special occasion (neimanmarcus.com).

6. Red Flower Hinoki Mint Mineral Bath Soak. While away the evening in a detoxifying fizz of cedar and mint oil (garnethill.com).

7. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Foaming Shower Gel. A capful or two of this fragranced gel transforms your shower or tub into an orange- and- jasmine- filled retreat (chanel.com).

8. Beekman 1802 MilkShake. Goat's milk, a minty aroma, and essential oils create a thick, frothy foam that smells good enough to eat (beekman1802.com).

9. Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Honey Bath. Draw the water and stir in this silky, honey-nut-scented gel with its wooden dipper (lauramercier.com).

 

Quick Health Upgrades

Sip green tea instead of coffee just three times a week. Not only does it boost your immune system, but it also contains catechins, an antioxidant that speeds up metabolism. In fact, studies indicate that people who drink it daily can burn up to 80 more calories per day, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., a Chicago-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Fill up on 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day. "It absorbs water and makes you feel fuller, so you eat less," says David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. The best sources: beans, greens, whole-grain cereals and breads, and brightly colored fruit, such as blueberries.

Start taking an omega-3 supplement. These important fatty acids, which include EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docosahexaenoic), have been shown to fight inflammation in the body and to protect the heart, skin, and immune system. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega (nordicnaturals.com) is a quality variety that contains both. To get omegas from food, sprinkle flaxseed over yogurt and salads, and eat three ounces of salmon twice a week.

Add two at-home exercises to your routine. Do push-ups (start with 10 per day, and work your way up to 30), and try "the swimmer." Just lie on your belly with arms and legs extended in the air, fluttering your right arm and left leg simultaneously, then your left arm and right leg. Begin with just 10 seconds every day, and slowly build to a full minute. "These moves will give you rapid results, and you can do them in your living room," says Keli Roberts, a certified fitness trainer at Equinox in Pasadena, California.

Double up on the stairs. New research from Pennsylvania State University suggests that taking two at a time burns 90 more calories per hour and provides a 13-percent bigger metabolic boost than climbing them one by one. While you're at it, skip valet parking, speed up your walking pace, and choose parking spots at the back of the lot to sneak in a stealth workout.

Wake up -- and go to bed -- at the same time every day. "Adequate sleep is important for blood pressure, weight control, and mood," says Julie Roth, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. Aim for seven to eight hours of z's per night (the amount most adults require). To adjust to the new schedule, set your alarm clock for a consistent time, and move your bedtime 15 minutes earlier every few days until you reach your goal.