Spring clean your beauty routine

Mother Nature updates her look every season — why shouldn’t we? After all, spring is the time for some serious change. Here are some ways to rejuvenate your body and beauty routine this season.

Update your do

Your hair is an important part of your look, even if you’ve been hiding it under winter hats. Spring is an ideal time to showcase a new cut or colour. If you colour your hair, go for a lighter shades in your highlights and dial down those fall and winter low-lights. Banish roots to give your look a boost.

Love what you’ve got? A trim will freshen up your style for the season ahead.

To keep your hair looking great for the sunny months ahead, swap your toque for a wide-brimmed hat for those hours outdoors. Not only will you shade your skin from damage and prevent heat stroke, but you’ll also spare your hair the damaging rays of the sun — which can dry out strands and fade colour.

Clean out your grooming kit

Just like your cupboards, your makeup drawer needs spring cleaning too. Start by getting rid of any expired or old products which have lost their effectiveness or could be harbouring bacteria — especially if it looks or smells “off”.

How long is too long to keep a product? Beauty experts don’t always agree on the upper limits, but here are some rough guidelines from About.com:

– Mascara: Four months. (Less if you’re in the habit of “pumping” the wand.)

– Eye shadow and eye liner: Up to three years.

– Lipstick: One to two years (or longer, if kept in the fridge). Lip liners can last up to three years.

– Foundation: Water-based is good for about 12 months, while oil-based can last up to 18 months. (In other words, your summer colours from last year might do you another season).

– Concealer: One year.

– Powder: Up to two years.

There aren’t any clear guidelines for body care products like lotions, gels and shaving cream, so you may have to use your own judgement if the package doesn’t give any clues. The more often you open it and put your fingers in it, the shorter the time you should keep it.


Clean your tools

Can’t remember when you last cleaned your make-up brushes, or how long you’ve been using that sponge? Your tools can spread bacteria from your skin to your products (and vice versa). A regular cleaning with some mild soap should be part of your grooming routine. For instance:

– Metal implements like tweezers should be cleaned after each use. Rubbing alcohol is often recommended, but check the package directions if you’re not sure.

– Applicator sponges should be washed regularly (and allowed to dry thoroughly) and discarded each month.

– Your favourite brushes? Experts recommend cleaning them at least every three months (or once a season).

– According to the Ontario Dental Association, toothbrushes should also get tossed out every three or four months (or when the bristles show signs of wear). Extend their lives by storing them upright and avoiding closed containers and touching their neighbours.

If you aren’t using many tools, here’s a good reason to start: a small spatula or spoon can keep germy fingers out of products. (Clean them after each use too.)

Re-evaluate your skin needs

Changing seasons means changing skin care needs, so listen to your body as it transitions from winter skin issues to summer ones.

– Lighten up your moisturizers. You may not need those heavy creams as summer approaches, especially if you’re using other products like sunscreen. Try a gel-based formula if your skin goes from dry to oily.

– Adapt your make-up. Some products can “melt away” in warmer temperatures. It may be time to switch to powder-based products like mineral make-up which provide a lighter feel.

– Don’t forget colour! With more time in the sun, your skin tone will change and your winter hues may look outdated or washed out.

– Some exfoliation may also be in order to shed the remnants of winter dry skin. A body scrub or body brush can slough off the dead skins cells and improve circulation.

– If you’ve been slacking off during the winter, get back in the habit of donning some sunscreen before the UV index returns to its seasonal highs. (Read our tips for choosing the best sunscreen .)

– A good pair of sunglasses can save your skin as well as your eyes, especially the delicate areas around your peepers where you don’t often apply the SPF. (Need help? Try our tips for choosing the best sunglasses.)

After you’ve taken stock of what you have and what you need, make a list and take your questions to the cosmetics counter for some help (if needed).



Embrace spring colours

No tan? No problem. Brighten up a pale complexion by dressing in colours that flatter your skin tone and colouring. Many of the hues you see in stores — like violet, pink, red and turquoise — are flattering on many people. Feel free to indulge in a lemon yellow or sage green if they suit you, but avoid colours and prints that don’t, even if they are trendy.

You don’t have to invest in a lot of pieces to make the colours work, or abandon what you already own. Look for layering pieces like blouses and draping tops that can be worn for more than one season and can be dressed up or down with accessories.

Another option: Keep it close to your face. Try a necklace or earrings, or choose a scarf to brighten up classic pieces like a white blouse, black dress or spring jacket.

Get back to work(outs)

True, increasing the amount of activity in your daily routine can help shed that winter weight and build muscle tone, but that’s not the only reason to get fit. The coming months offer many opportunities for outdoor activities like walking, swimming and gardening — but health experts warn it’s unhealthy to dive right in.

In other words, if you’ve been less active over the winter, start including (and gradually increasing) the amount of physical activity in your life — and work in those weight-bearing and flexibility activities too. Take advantage of the weather and do some walking or cycling. (Spring cleaning and yard work count too.)

Also, make sure to do a quick warm up before activities like gardening and some serious de-cluttering. A short walk and some stretches will help get the muscles ready to work, and prevent injury.

Save your hands and feet

Thought you were through with gloves? Think again — they can be your hands’ best friends this season. Don a pair to protect your skin from harsh cleaners when you tackle spring cleaning, and keep your hands free of dirt and bacteria in the soil when you garden.

While preventing dry skin is preferable to dealing with it, a pair of light cotton gloves can also help repair your damaged dermis. At night, simply slather on some heavy moisturizer, slide on the gloves and sleep your way to softer skin.

Socks can be your best friend (for moisturizing) or your worst enemy (think sweaty feet and fungal infections). Keep your feet in good shape with regular washing and a little sprinkle of powder to keep them dry. If you’re wearing sandals and strappy shoes, make sure to keep your feel well moisturized to prevent cracking skin.

And don’t forget to wear a sturdy pair of shoes to keep your joints, muscles and back in good shape. You don’t have to shun bare feet and cute (but unsupportive) summer shoes, but make sure to have sturdy soles and arch support on your feet most of the time.

Sources: Beauty.About.com, Ontario Dental Association

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Wojciech Krusinski

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