Mind, Body, Beauty: Head-to-toe Transformation

Stuck in a cold-weather rut? We feel you. So we tracked down the best new beauty, body and brain tricks that will help you throw off the winter doldrums in a second. Get ready to dance, dream and put some much-needed spring back into your step.

Mind Makeovers

  • Practice self-absorption.
    This is the latest buzz term in popular psychology and an easy way to improve your wellbeing. “Mindsight is a kind of mindfulness -- a focused attention that allows us to observe the internal workings of our own minds,” says Dr. Dan Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry and author of Mindsight. By consciously observing your own thoughts and feelings -- and not reacting to them -- you simultaneously develop the empathetic part of your brain that helps you feel calm and connected.
  • Boost your breath.
    Forget stretching! In your next yoga class, focus on your breath and reap instant rewards. “Students often say by learning how to focus on their breath in their yoga practice, they’re then able to bring that focus to their breath when they’re stressed or having trouble sleeping,” says Nikki Fulford of Yoga Studio in Bondi Junction, Sydney. “By bringing their mental focus to slow, deep breathing, they immediately feel more calm and relaxed.”

Body Blitz

  • Start dancing.
    Skip the gym and dance away the winter blues instead, with the biggest new trend in fitness: Zumba. A mix of aerobic and strength training set to a thumping Latin soundtrack, Zumba improves fitness and muscle tone, and leaves you feeling exhilarated. “The music really takes people to a new place,” says Cindy Calderon from Zumba Perth.
  • Eat at your desk.
    Transform your body in your lunch break with a guilt-free organic meal delivered right to your desk. Sydney-based Love Lunch serves up nourishing vegetarian fare that helps give you, “shiny hair, beautiful skin and clear eyes,” says chef and owner Annalise Braakensiek. “The difference you feel eating whole foods is remarkable.”
  • Indulge in an ancient skin ritual.|
    The hottest new spa experience, Hammam massage improves skin tone and texture for up to three weeks. Developed from ancient Islamic purification rituals, the massage incorporates thick henna clays, exfoliating Moroccan black soap and the heady scent of orange blossom and eucalyptus. During the 45-minute massage, “blood circulation improves and the lymphatic system is stimulated,” says Nina Elbasha, owner of Lella Hammam on the Gold Coast. Expect to walk out feeling light, luscious and silky smooth.

Beauty Boost

  • Shine on.
    Metallic makeup dominated the international A/W catwalks, with designers adding a shimmer of silver and gold to eyes, lips and cheeks. Give your everyday makeup a brand-new glow by choosing an intense metallic pigment that works with your skin tone. To apply, “wet a small brush, dab it into the colour, then apply it only to the inside corners of your eyes,” says Rae Morris, makeup artist and author of Makeup: The Ultimate Guide.
  • Sleep your way to great hair.
    The latest styling trick delivers body and bounce, and saves time styling. Before bed, “pull hair up and twist it into a high, loose bun near your front hairline,” says Brett Albury, technical director of Suki Hairdressing in Paddington, Sydney. “In the morning, shake hair out and mist in light spray.” The result: modern, deconstructed waves that are the perfect mix of soft and sexy.
  • Spring-clean your wardrobe.
    Sick of dreary winter woolies? Swap dark colours for soft shades of grey, blue and pink. “At the recent Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, the palette was heading into muted pastels,” says Melbourne-based fashion blogger Amanda Evans of CapitalCityPretty.com, which covers the latest in local and international fashion. Pair spring’s whisper-soft shades with classic blue denim for on-the-spot chic.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/aleksle

Summer Hair Protection

Saltwater, chlorine, surf-side breezes, the warming rays of the sun on a cloudless day … the elements of a perfect summer weekend can play havoc on your locks. But you can still maintain gorgeous hair -- and even get a conditioning boost from the sun with these easy summer hair care tips.

Use Moisturizing Products

Fried hair isn’t just a figure of speech in the summer: It’s a reality. The heat of the sun and the exposure to salt, chlorine and sand will open up the hair’s cuticle, stripping it of natural oils and leaving behind scorched strands. Use shampoos, conditioners and styling products that contain the words “moisturizing” or “hydrating” on their labels.

Shield Your Hair Color

“Just as there’s no such thing as a healthy tan, there’s no such thing as lightening your hair in the sun in a way that’s good for it,” says Beverly Hills hairdresser Jon Patrick. UV rays pull the warmth from color-treated hair, leaving behind locks that are faded and brassy. Even untreated hair can turn dull under the sun’s oxidizing rays.

If you're going to be outdoor during the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., make applying a hair care product that contains UV filters -- these can be in spray, gel or cream formulas -- as much of a daily habit as applying sunscreen.

Saturate Hair Before Taking a Dip
Drench your hair with clean water before you dive into the pool or the surf. “Your hair is like a sponge,” says Melissa Herst, a stylist at the DiPietro Salons in San Francisco. “If you coat it with clear water, it will soak that in instead of absorbing damaging chlorine or salt.”

Lasso the Power of the Sun
If you’ve ever sat under the dryer for 30 minutes at the salon while good-for-you ingredients soaked into your hair, you know how heat helps a deep conditioning product go even deeper. You can get the same dramatic results by applying a deep conditioner when you’re spending an hour or two at the beach or pool (just pack your favorite conditioning treatment in your beach bag).

Put Down the Heat Tools

With all the heat exposure you’re getting from the hot summer sun, you want to keep your use of hot styling tools to a minimum. “Blow-drying and flatironing your hair usually does not hold up well in the summer heat and humidity, so it’s better to use a styling cream or mousse and let your hair dry naturally,” says Dana Lulgjuraj, a stylist at The Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City. For that sexy beachy look, apply a curl-enhancing spray or cream throughout your hair, allow to air-dry (or speed up the process with a blow-dryer set to medium and a diffuser) and work in a light pomade to keep your hair soft and shiny.

Instead of a curling iron, add body or curl to your hair by using rollers on damp hair, says David Kastin, a senior stylist at the Julien Farel Salon. Let air-dry, then remove.

And remember, accessories can more than make up for less-than-polished tresses. “Get some cool pins and clips and just put your hair up,” says Kastin. “This also minimizes the amount of hair exposed to the sun.”

The New Girlfriend Getaway

When Lori Erickson, 48, of Iowa City, Iowa, heard about a ghost-hunting weekend held at the famously haunted Mason House Inn in nearby Bentonsport, she decided it would be the perfect way to bring together six local girlfriends for an exciting getaway. It turned out to be even more memorable than they expected. Erickson and her friends helped a paranormal investigation team attempt to contact and photograph the inn’s spectral residents. While they didn’t bust any actual ghosts, “we sat up late into the night drinking wine, talking and laughing our heads off,” says Erickson.

Once focused primarily on spas and shopping, girlfriend getaways now feature just about every type of boundary-pushing experience you can imagine. Like to sail, ski or sleep under the stars? Want to perfect your downward-facing dog? Dreaming of immersing yourself in the art of “conscious vegetarian” cooking between hikes?

It’s all happening … and more. To start planning your perfect girlfriend adventure, check out Web sites and publications that specialize in girlfriend getaways. Two of the best resources are the online magazine Girlfriend Getaways and the book Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide by Marybeth Bond. In addition, try travel organizations, such as Adventure Women, that specialize in women’s travel.

Or simply search for “girlfriend getaways” or “women’s adventures” and the activity that most appeals to you (e.g., rodeo riding, windsurfing, Mexican cooking classes, etc.).

In the meantime, these seven girlfriend getaway ideas will whet your appetite for adventure:

Master mountain biking Beginners can become pros with six hours of daily instruction at the Gravity Goddesses Downhill Camp in Winter Park, Colo. More experienced riders can take their biking to a new level with coaching in advanced riding and jumping.

Catch some waves Crack the surfing gender barrier with a women’s weekender offered by Northwest Women’s Surf Camps in Seaside, Ore. Or consider the Surf Diva Surf School. Founded in 1996 by twin sisters Izzy and Coco Tihanyi, the venerable surf camp runs two- and five-day clinics year-round in San Diego, and from late November through July in Costa Rica.

Hit the slopes Grab a pink feather boa for the Betty Fest weekend at the Keystone Resort in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. After hours of alpine skiing, you can soak away any muscle soreness in the resort’s award-winning spa.

Kick up your boot camp retreat workout The invigorating boot camp retreats run by Northern California-based Advanced Level Fitness offer intensive workouts in a beautiful setting, like on the beach in Santa Cruz or overlooking the vineyards of Napa Valley. They also include massages, super-healthy meals and cooking classes.

Tackle a new form of transportation After years of being passengers (“luggage,” in motorcycle parlance) on their husbands’ bikes, Julie Botteri, 38, and her best friend headed to the Florida Keys for a weekend of riding instruction. “We finished up on Sunday at the Harley showroom, picking out the bikes we wanted to buy,” Botteri says. (They’re still saving.) Motorcycles not the way you like to roll? Search with words like “racing,” “pilot” or “hang gliding”; add “women,” “weekend” or “school”; and you’ll find what you need to become the next flying or driving ace.

Embrace the grape Wine harvest weekends are the new way to get hands-on instruction in how wine gets from vine to table. Camp participants do everything from picking and stomping grapes to tasting the finished product. For the perfect vinophile’s getaway near you, search with the name of a region -- such as Santa Barbara or Paso Robles, Georgia or Oregon -- followed by the phrase “harvest weekend” or “crush weekend.”

Share your love of craft Craft classes can be the centerpiece of short or long getaways. Serious knitters take weeklong trips to Ireland and Scotland, visiting sheep farms, yarn shops and mills while trading patterns and yarn secrets.

Custom-blended Perfume Scents

Before you head to the perfume counter for a new fragrance, consider creating a custom-blended scent. Like your favorite long-strand necklace or your studded black leather belt, a custom perfume is the ultimate way to express your personal style.

Thanks to a growing number of fragrance bars, online scent boutiques and scent-making parties, every woman can try her hand -- and nose -- at being a perfumer. “A custom blend can be a very simple, lovely accord that works nicely,” says The New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr. It can also serve as a signature scent for a special occasion like your wedding day or a romantic vacation. 

Do-it-yourself Scent Creation
The first step in creating a custom blend is identifying the aromas that appeal to you. Do you like the feminine smell of florals, or do you prefer a fresher, fruity scent? Do woody notes of bark or moss entice your senses, or are the exotic smells of spices like musk or vanilla more your thing?

To try different fragrance oils, visit a local fragrance bar, a market like Whole Foods or a bath and body shop. Most perfumers work with synthetic fragrance oils and natural essential oils extracted from plants and flowers. You can also order sample oils online at ScentDesign.net or SaludSpaBar.com. Small vials will cost between $3 and $10.

With your oils at hand, start by testing single scents to get a feel for the different fragrances, suggests Salud’s founder and chief perfumer, Kelly Podorsek. Dip a paper scent strip into the vial, and then take a whiff. (When your nose needs a rest, a deep sniff of coffee beans will clear any lingering scents.) After you’ve found a few favorites, start layering the different oils on one strip to see how they blend together. “Stick with three or four scents, at the most,” says Podorsek.

Podorsek suggests combining scents from different fragrance families to create a layered scent. For example, grapefruit (fruity), honeysuckle (floral) and a touch of sandalwood (woody) work well as an enticing blend. Or go simple, fresh and fruity with cucumber and melon. Custom scents can also recreate favorite memories. An avid wine lover, Podorsek recently blended black peppercorn, summer berries and musky leather to evoke the aroma of a fine Syrah.

Once you’ve produced a pleasing concoction, you’ll need to sample your creation on your own skin. “The pH balance of the skin, diet, even humidity and heat around that skin affect the way perfumes smell,” explains Burr. If you’re pleased with the results, carefully combine the different oils into a glass bottle using individual droppers. Or, have your selected oils professionally mixed by a perfumer in a store or online. A pure fragrance or essential oil formulation can range from $10 to $25 for 1/3 ounce.

Working With a Perfumer

Creating a custom perfume with a perfumer is a far more intricate (and expensive) process than doing it yourself. “Perfumery is an art form,” says Alexandra Balahoutis, a botanical perfumer who founded Strange Invisible Perfumes in Venice, Calif. To capture the essence of a person in a custom perfume, Balahoutis begins by meeting the client to discuss favorite flowers, teas, wine, spice, art, literature and more. “It’s like having a portrait painted,” she explains.

Balahoutis works with authentic essences from plants, rather than synthetic essences. Once she creates a perfume formula, it is aged and tweaked until she is able to achieve the perfect balance of scents. The process takes about six months to complete and starts at $6,000.

Scents evoke memories more than any other sense can, so whatever appeals to each of us about a fragrance may be tied to fond memories, such as a childhood trip to the South filled with the lingering fragrance of gardenias. While you may not create a masterpiece on the scale of a high-end fragrance, a custom-blended scent can capture what’s truly unique about you.

10 Easy Ways to Wear Citrus

Juice up your summer wardrobe with shades of citrus! Tangy, vivid tones of lemon, lime, orange and tangerine are bursting across fashion this season. “These are very bright, happy and optimistic colors,” says Gregg Andrews, fashion creative director for Nordstrom stores. “It’s hard to wear these colors and not feel the same way.”

Still, these powerful primaries can be intimidating, even if you’re accustomed to embracing color. Pink and turquoise, the season’s other brights, are easy to wear. But citrus hues are more challenging because their acid undertones can clash with skin tones and neutral wardrobes.

Here are 10 expert tips for getting your juice on this summer:

1. Pair with white.
As the key neutral of the season, white is the perfect partner for vivid citrus tones. “It provides the clear, crisp contrast that you need,” says Andrews.

2. Add pops of color with accessories.

“If you’re not ready for a head-to-toe look, try an accessory -- an orange belt, a yellow pair of shoes or a lime cross-body bag,” says David Zyla, an Emmy Award–winning costume designer and author of Color Your Style: How to Wear Your True Colors.

3. Think casual.

Softly faded denim is a perfect citrus partner because it reads like a neutral and brings a fitting, casual attitude to the pairing, says Zyla. Similarly, the power of bright colors comes down a notch when they’re cast as sporty separates, such as hooded jackets, miniskirts and T-shirts.

4. Understand the gold standard.

Though anyone can incorporate pops of citrus hues into their wardrobe, not everyone will look their best with these shades close to their skin. Zyla offers this quick compatibility test: If you find gold jewelry to be more flattering than silver, you’re more likely to be someone who will look fantastic in citrus colors.

5. Try classics.

Contain the season’s eye-catching tones within simple silhouettes and classic, uncomplicated shapes. “If we’re already comfortable with a silhouette, we’re more accepting of a new color,” says Zyla, who calls this year’s vivid tones “popsicle brights.” You won’t have to search hard to pull this off. Designers -- high and low -- are using ultra-bright colors to update traditional styles such as shift dresses, blazers, espadrilles and ballet flats.

6. Tread carefully.

Adding matching bright shoes to an already vivid outfit can be overkill. For example, a tangerine shift dress looks best paired with nude or soft brown sandals, says Andrews.

7. Partner with patterns.

Daring colors work well in sharp, geometric prints where their edges are distinct. This season’s popular abstract, color-blocked tops and dresses are a perfect way to go bright. Or, mix a delicate black-and-white print with canary yellow and lime. A strappy black sandal or thin black belt will complement this palette beautifully.

8. Pick a purse that has pizzazz.

A clutch handbag’s clean, compact shape is the perfect medium for a splash of orange, lemon or lime. Pair it with a white, black or neutral outfit and you won’t feel like you’re being crushed by citrus. “It’s a great way to incorporate color into an outfit if you are color-phobic,” says Andrews.

9. Make informed makeup choices.

With citrus tones, wildly colored nail polish is a yes; bold lipstick, a no. “Go with a warm neutral on the lips and avoid reds,” says Andrews. A sheer orange or tangerine gloss is another way to achieve just the right taste of tang. Kimara Ahnert -- a New York City makeup artist whose salon attracts clients like Brooke Shields, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Gwyneth Paltrow -- suggests introducing other fresh-from-the-orchard shades into your makeup palette. “Colors on the spectrum of golden peach to melon and apricot can look really lovely in a sheer wash of blush or eye shadow,” she says. “Steer clear of anything berry or mauve. If you have deep or golden skin tones, you can go for stronger colors. If you’re on the fair side, stick with a sunny peach or an apricot-based bronze.”

10. Be bright at night:
A little black dress looks fresh with solid or mixed-color shoes in the season’s fruit-inspired tones. Add another shot of zest with an equally bright stack of bangle bracelets.

Photo: Getty Images