How to Stop Freaking out About Bikini Season

The so-called “bikini season” has arrived, and we have two words for you: Calm down.

It’s easy to get into a panic, we know. Every woman knows. Try on a bathing suit in front of a three-way department store mirror and it’s all you can do to keep yourself from running out shrieking. The new, hugely unflattering compact fluorescent lighting that is everywhere these days certainly doesn’t help. Meanwhile, every fashion magazine, billboard and store catalog features images of women with beyond perfect bodies.

So, if you want to keep yourself from freaking out about bathing suit season, you’ll need a varied toolbox, from the practical to the inspirational. Here are our five don’t-panic tips to dressing for the pool or beach.

1. Find a self tanner you love, and use it regularly. Self tanners aren’t just about the “glow,” but giving you smooth, even color that instantly makes your legs, arms and belly look sleeker. That’s why it’s a universally flattering beauty booster for any skin tone. Erica Kelly, a dermatologist in Galveston, Texas, self tans twice a week, using a lotion on her legs, arms and torso and a spray on her back. Then she sprays a tiny bit of product on a makeup sponge and applies it to her face.

2. Choose a bathing suit that covers and reveals the body parts you want. Think beyond the two-piece suits you see paired on the racks at department stores and customize your bathing suit to work for you. Love your legs, but not so much your middle? Try a tankini, like this polka-dotted halter from Ann Taylor and this shrunken low-rider bottom from J. Crew. Want to flaunt your cleavage but draw attention away from your hips? Pair a bold and brightly colored top with a boy short or skirt. And if you’d rather check out these options in the privacy of your own bedroom, do your swimsuit shopping from a website that has a liberal return policy, like Lands' End.

3. Take some advice from Tyra Banks. Yes, she’s beautiful, but uniquely so, with a big forehead, as she likes to point out, and a tendency to carry weight in her thighs (as a tabloid pointed out when it published photos of her with -- gasp! -- actual cellulite). “Girls of all kinds can be beautiful,” says Banks, “from the thin, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky, clumsy, shy, outgoing and all in between. It’s not easy, though, because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box … think outside of the box … pledge that you will look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you.”

4. Listen to Lupita Nyong’o and refuse to give in to what she called “the seduction of inadequacy.” Before she won her Oscar, became a red-carpet sensation and was named People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful Person,” she felt, like the rest of us have from time to time, “unbeautiful.” Teased about her “night-shaded” skin, she’d wake up every morning praying the mirror would show that she’d gotten paler overnight. It took a while, she says, but she realized that “beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume; it was something that I just had to be … what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion -- for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.”

5. Accessorize brilliantly. Don a gorgeous coral colored straw hat with an oversized brim (also a great way to shield your skin and hair from damaging UV rays). Forget neutrals and rock nail lacquers in hues that evoke sunflowers or Gerber daisies. Swipe on some peach-colored lip balm. And, finally, make sure you’re wearing a smile as dazzling as the sun. As Serena Williams says, “My smile is my favorite part of my body. I think a smile can make your whole body.”

Photo by Aiony Haust on Unsplash

Best in Hair and Beauty: Spring 2014

Ready to get gorgeous for spring? We know. There’s still snow on the ground, freezing cold temperatures and winds threatening to lift you off the ground. So it’s the perfect time to make a cup of hot cocoa, settle into your favorite chair and start daydreaming about the prettiest looks for spring and summer. Here are some of our favorite picks among the warm-weather beauty trends.

Bright Orange Lips

It seemed like orange was the color of every other model’s lips on the Spring 2014 catwalk. John Galliano, Donna Karan, Nanette Lepore, Rag & Bone and Prabal Gurung all featured citrus-colored pouts. Here, Jennifer Hudson shows how it’s done in real life. Feeling a little shy? Start with a gloss in a tangerine hue.

Minimal Makeup

A (nearly) bare face is one of the strongest beauty trends for spring and summer.

Olivia Wilde kept her makeup to the minimum even at the ultra-glam Costume Institute Gala. The key to making naked chic: healthy glowing skin and the deft use of no-makeup makeup like concealer and skin primer.

Orchid Hues

Pantone named radiant orchid the color of 2014. It may seem like a daunting hue to play with, but a touch on lips, nails, cheeks or eyes looks fresh and modern. At a Hollywood premiere of her movie 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o showed off glistening hothouse lips and smoky lilac eyes.

Cat Eyes

Meow! Winged liner is still going strong in summer and spring. But this year’s cat eyes no longer look retro. Instead, done with precision, they’re elegant, clean and completely fresh. Emmy Rossum, at the Critics’ Choice Awards, took top honors for purr-fect eyes!

Disheveled Updo’s

Sleek is neat, but undone is sexy and ideal for every day. The updo and the pony are going out of bounds, with tendrils and pieces set loose. Cameron Diaz chose the un-do when she promoted her new book, The Body Book, in New York.

Deep Side Parts

It’s dramatic, effortless and almost universally flattering. We’re talking about the deep side part, which has been holding center stage as a hair trend for a couple of seasons now. When Amy Adams picked up the Lacoste Spotlight Award at the Costume Designers Guild Awards, she was a case study in how to do a deep part perfectly -- align it with the arch of your eyebrow. 


What Your Handbag Says About You

A woman’s go-to handbag can speak volumes about who she is -- her personality, her lifestyle, her aspirations. So take a minute to think about your favorite bag. Then peek below to find out what your preferred purse reveals about you! 

An Oversized Tote

You’re a busy career woman who’s always on the go, hence the need for the huge tote to lug around all your essentials, from your laptop to your makeup bag and even a change of clothes. You’re ready to take on the world and always come prepared, but you often forget to stop and smell the roses. Remember to relax; it’s good for your health.

ALDO Marante Oversized Taupe Tote Bag, $93

A Structured Satchel

You tend to be on the more serious side, and you take your job very seriously as well. While you’re definitely not high maintenance, you do appreciate the finer things in life, and you have a classic sense of style that you convey through your impeccable power-woman wardrobe.

Cambridge Satchel, $192

A Crossbody Bag

You’re a less-is-more type of girl. You appreciate the simple things in life and skip the 24/7 glam makeup thing. Heck, you couldn’t even fit more than a tube of lip gloss, some concealer and powder in your bag if you tried. All you need is your wallet and your smartphone and you’re ready to roll.

Anthropologie Abrojo Crossbody Bag, $118

A Hobo Bag 

You’re a chill girl who likes to go with the flow and who needs an equally carefree bag to match her free-spirited lifestyle. Your friends would probably describe your style as boho chic. And you most likely live in a year-round warm climate like Southern California or South Beach, Fla. 

Free People El Rey Hobo, $88

A Backpack Purse

You’re either a college student or a hip 20-something who’s trying to make her way in the work world. You’re always up to date on the latest trends and are likely to get snapped by a street-style photographer thanks to your unique fashion sense. Taking risks definitely comes naturally to you, and you could care less what others think. Plus, hey, a backpack is practical!

Nasty Gal Stevie Faux Shearling Mini Backpack, $68

A Clutch

You’re glamorously girly and love to wear flirty dresses, skirts and high heels whether you’re hitting the town or just heading to work. You always plan ahead and know exactly what you need and nothing more, which is why you can afford to keep your bag so small and clutter-free. You’re the queen of organization and may even have your own fashion blog.

Melie Bianco Oversized Crackle Clutch, $43

Beauty Reporter: The Best Looks from the Golden Globes

Want to be red-carpet beautiful? This year’s Golden Globes showed that it’s possible, even for those of us who don’t have a glam squad of hair and makeup pros. “The look was pretty, subtle and chic,” says Hollywood makeup artist Julia Papworth. “For women watching at home, recreating the trends they liked will be much more achievable than in past years.” Gone were the smoky eyes, the contoured bronzer and the over-the-top lashes. In their place were understated sweeps of color and polished but unfussy hair.

Here, with tips, are Papworth’s favorite looks of the night.

Sandra Bullock

“I love the side ponytail!” says Papworth. “It’s clean and elegant. And Sandra didn’t go overboard on her makeup either. She looks fresh and pretty and like she’s not trying too hard.”

Tip: Women are sometimes afraid to match their lip color to their clothes. But here, Papworth says, Bullock’s deep pink lip is the perfect complement to the pink bodice of her Prabal Gurung gown. “If she had chosen a gloss, it would have been too much,” says Papworth, “but the soft matte is perfect. The trick is to pick a lip shade in the same color family as your dress. Don’t try for a perfect match.”

Reese Witherspoon

“She went simpler on hair and makeup than she has at other red carpet appearances and by default she looks younger,” says Papworth.

Tip: The anchor of this beautiful look is Reese’s blunt angled bob. To keep that style fresh, you’ll need frequent trims and healthy ends. A reparative product like a split end cream is a maintenance must-have. 

Lupita Nyong’o

She might have been new to the red carpet, but the 12 Years a Slave star won top raves for her show-stopping appearance. Her minimalist but regal caped Ralph Lauren ensemble was a knockout, and her strong brow, bold red lip and side-parted ’do complemented the gown’s striking lines perfectly. “Her skin looks amazing,” says Papworth. “She absolutely glows!”

Tip: For skin that gleams, “don’t be afraid of cream blush,” says Papworth. “Apply it right to the apple of the cheek and set it with a dusting of translucent powder so it doesn’t move.”     

Amber Heard

In a stunning navy blue Atelier Versace gown, the actress (and girlfriend of one Johnny Depp) flashed a lot of leg, as well as an eye-catching teased updo. “This updo looks just right from every angle -- front, sides and back,” says Papworth. “And what makes it work is balance. Amber’s brow is soft, her lips and cheeks are a muted rosy pink and there’s even some soft pink in her eye shadows. If she was wearing stronger makeup colors, it would have thrown the whole look off.”

Tip: Take a good look in the mirror before you head out for a glamorous night, and “if something looks off,” says Papworth, “try removing a piece of jewelry or softening your lip. Sometimes your eye sees that something is out of whack, and it can take a few tries to pinpoint just what it is.”