Freshen up Your Beauty Routine in Time for Spring

Finally! After a long, cold, miserable winter, spring never felt so welcome. You’re eager to swap out sweaters for sandals, but don’t forget that spring is also the time to switch up your beauty routine. These expert tips will ensure that your skin and hair are ready to face the warm springtime sun.

Make Your Skin Shine

Once daily, exfoliate your face gently with a washcloth or sonic facial brush to help dead skin slough off. Then weekly, follow up with a toner containing glycolic or salicylic acid, which gives a deeper clean. “I’m a big fan of exfoliation,” says New York dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules. “If your skin isn’t exfoliated, it won’t have that nice glow.” You’ll also want to put away your extra-strength body lotion and switch to a lighter formulation.

Say Goodbye to Pimples

As the heat and humidity return, your face becomes oilier and more prone to blemishes. To keep them at bay, apply a toner for acne-prone skin after washing your face; look for ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide. Then do an inventory of your makeup. “Many people don’t read the labels, and they choose products that aggravate acne,” says Jaliman. For instance, glycerin, silicone and mineral oil are common ingredients in moisturizers and primers. Finally, to avoid flare-ups, clean your cell phone! Your fingers leave bacteria on the screen that can spread to your face when you make a call.    

Nourish Winter-dried Hair

Winter’s arid air can make your scalp dry out and shed. Dandruff can also appear worse in cold weather when you wear dark sweaters or shirts, which make the flakes stand out. Now’s the time to pamper your scalp: Use an anti-dandruff shampoo and follow up with conditioner.

Spring’s warmer temperatures are the perfect time to change up your hair-care routine, advises noted Boston-based stylist Mario Russo. “As the season changes, incorporate a gloss serum into your hair routine,” says Russo. “The oils and moisturizing ingredients will liven up your color and help prepare hair for the summer sun.” A weekly hair mask, he adds, will rejuvenate your locks by opening up the hair cuticle and letting the moisture penetrate. This is also the time to cut back on heat-styling tools, which can damage your hair. “On days when you don’t use your blow-dryer or straightening iron, continue to apply your favorite frizz, volume or UV-protectant product. They’ll help protect your hair while it dries naturally,” says Russo.

On the other hand, if your hair tends to be oily this time of year, both Russo and Jaliman recommend using dry shampoo several times a week, which absorbs the oil without drying out your hair.

Freshen Your Look

Greet spring in style with a salon visit; even a small trim will remove split ends and revive your hair. Ready for something more daring? Talk to your stylist about trying a new color. “Tones like platinum or icy blonde, cool toned tips and dark roots, rose-gold, dark-chocolate brown and a less drastic ombre will be popular this spring,” says Russo.

When It Comes to the Brain, Age Does Matter

If your keys keep playing hide-and-seek and you can’t recall the name of your daughter’s latest BFF, what should you do? Occasional memory blips are “extremely normal”, especially for busy moms, according to Barry Gordon, M.D., PhD, professor of neurology and cognitive science at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and author of Intelligent Memory. “Your memory’s probably not as bad as you think it is,” he says, and too much self-monitoring might only make it worse.

Besides, the latest research shows there are far more effective ways than worry to sharpen your wits. While we do lose brain cells past the teenage years, there’s accumulating evidence that we can also foster new ones. Some of these brain-boosters may surprise you; many are even fun!

Get a Move On

The evidence that aerobic fitness benefits your mind as well as your body keeps growing by, well, leaps and bounds. One recent study at the Mayo Clinic found that subjects who did moderate workouts (about 30 minutes) 5 or 6 times a week cut their later risk of mild cognitive impairment by 32 percent. Reformed couch potatoes did even better, reducing their risk by 39 percent.

You can also add weight training to your routine: Researchers at the University of Illinois reported that both aerobic and resistance training workouts keep your brain healthier in old age.

Eat Greek

“The best way to keep your mind and memory sharp as you age is to nourish yourself with a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods,” says Elisa Zied, a registered dietician whose new book, Younger Next Week, details many connections between diet and brain health.

Numerous studies show that regular consumption of a Mediterranean-accented diet -- including the fish and low-fat dairy, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and olive oil seen in the typical Greek menu -- can help reduce and even reverse cognitive decline (as well as other threats to brain and body such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes). The mental and physical benefits of omega-3, found in fatty fish used in these types of diets, have often been demonstrated. A 2014 study published in the journal Neurology found that postmenopausal women who maintained the highest blood levels of omega-3 kept more brain cells as they aged, especially in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that forms new memories. (A major clinical study on the effectiveness of fish oil supplements is now underway at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.)

Drink Up

Anyone who needs a jolt or two of java to get started in the morning already knows that caffeine spurs alertness. But a recent study at Johns Hopkins suggests that caffeine can enhance memory, too; participants who drank coffee retained more visual images when tested 24 hours later than those who didn’t.

The benefits of tea, hot chocolate, and wine have been supported by other scientific research too. According to one study published in the Journal of Nutrition, those who regularly drank all three beverages scored highest on verbal and visual tests.

Sleep on It

The National Institutes of Health reports that snoozing powers our memory before, during and after we learn something new. On the other hand, Finnish researchers found that sleep deprivation -- less than four hours in a night -- can impair attention, working memory, long-term memory and decision-making ability (as many new moms might attest).

Challenge Yourself

You’ve probably heard that crosswords or Sudoku can build a more agile brain. But if you’re not into filling out little boxes, says Dr. Gordon, try something new. “Get out of your rut” and find something you enjoy doing, he says. Learn to tap dance or do Zumba, study Spanish or juggling, take up meditation or sketching; there’s ample research indicating that mastering new skills can stimulate the mind.

Train Your Brain

Computerized brain-training programs have proliferated in the last few years. It’s “not clear yet” how well they work over the long term, Gordon notes, but go ahead and play them if you’ve got time and interest. But if you really want to remember a name, he adds, do what skilled politicians do: focus on the person, repeat their name aloud, and write it down when you get a chance. As for those elusive keys: Always drop them in a designated spot, such as a deep bowl on a hall table. And relax.

Keeping Friendships Strong

Good friends. They pick us up when we’re down, and rely on them to keep us honest and happy. Why, then, is it so hard to sustain strong friendships as the years go by?

“Life transitions tend to get in the way,” says Dr. Andrea Bonior, psychologist, author of The Friendship Fix and a professor of psychology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “A job change, relocation, birth of a child or divorce can spell the death blow for friendships, especially if they were based on proximity and shared experiences. When people are no longer a part of your daily life, it takes effort to make the friendship last.”

Here, four common challenges good friends face and Bonior’s “fixes” to help your friendships thrive.

Challenge: No time to get together.

Solution: Make pals a priority.

The laundry pile is two feet high, the kitchen sink is filled with dirty dishes and bills are begging to be paid. But don’t let that to-do list (or the exhaustion of getting it done) keep you from a coffee date or Girls’ Night Out. “Half the battle of sustaining healthy friendships is making them a priority,” Bonior says. “Commit to spending quality time with friends, just as you’d commit to being with your family or exercising to stay healthy.”

Challenge: You live far away.

Solution: Commit to real connection.

When the miles separate you and a good pal, it’s easy to fall into the rut of trading occasional emails and calling each other on birthdays -- but that’s not enough to keep your bond tight. Nurture long-distance friendships by thinking outside the box and using technology to your favor. “Send your friend a little package of her favorite candy or a funny greeting card to let her know she’s on your mind,” Bonior suggests.

Don’t confuse memes and “LOL” comments online with real connection. “You may feel like you have interaction because you’re always texting or commenting on each other’s Facebook posts, but that’s neither quality nor quantity,” says Bonior. Schedule regular phone calls so you can catch up in a real conversation, not sound bites. Connect through Skype or video conferencing, rather than email or texts. Consider vacationing together or paying a visit to enjoy each other’s company and create new memories.

Challenge: You’re not sure how to help.

Solution: Tune up your listening skills.

When a friend is struggling with a problem, you may drift apart because you feel you don’t know how to be supportive. But most of the time, the best way to help is to be a good listener; sometimes people just need to vent and feel emotionally heard. Encourage your friend to talk, and stay in the moment by interjecting neutral comments (“Wow!”) and asking open-ended questions (“What do you think about that?”). Then check in with a “how are you doing?” call the next day to show her that you truly listened. What’s more, avoid passing judgment (“Oh, that stinks”) and giving unsolicited advice (“Here’s what you should do…”). If you think your friend is creating her own troubles, test the waters by saying, “Do you have any idea why this seems to keep happening?” rather than pointing out the obvious.

Challenge: Your gang of pals hasn’t met in months.

Solution: Plan group time.

Do you and your friends always promise to get together, but put it off because you can’t find a day that works for everyone? Solve the problem by setting a standing date with plenty of advance notice -- say, brunch the first Sunday of every other month or lunch the third Friday of the month. “A get-together is more likely to happen if people can plan their calendars around it,” Bonior says. And once you’re F2F, make it a tech-free time. One way to make this happen: Put your phones in the middle of the table, and agree that the first person who reaches for her phone to text must foot the bill for the group. After all, the whole point of getting together is to connect -- so do it!

Your Day-to-Night Holiday Wear

‘Tis the season to celebrate -- which often requires a speedy switch from work to wow. Fortunately, it’s easy to transition seamlessly from day to night with minimum of fuss.

“The rest of the year, less is more,” says Sam Saboura, style expert and host of TLC’s Something Borrowed, Something New. “At the holidays, more is more. When it’s time to play, piling on that third and fourth piece takes your look to another level.” Here are day-to-night holiday wear tips from Saboura and other top celebrity stylists:

Plan a big reveal.

For an easy office-to-party look, wear a festive top under a work-appropriate jacket. “This season’s ‘date tops’ often reveal drama in the back -- with sheer lace, cut-outs and open shoulders, that remain unseen until you take off your blazer or cardigan,” says Roseanne Morrison, fashion director for retail consultancy Tobe.

Sparkle!

Wear one embellished piece that sparkles or shines during the day, such as a matte sequin tank, beaded cardigan, or boucle jacket with chain details or Lurex threads. “At night, add extra jewelry and accessories in rich metallic: pewter, gold or bronze,” Saboura says. “They’re an instant nod to the holidays -- and a great investment for spring, since they’re on trend.”

 Evoke Audrey Hepburn.

“The Little Black Dress is so cliché, but it’s a great blank canvas,” Saboura says. He suggests wearing an interesting knit or textured top over a jersey dress to give it party flair. Or use a simple jewel-toned sheath dress as your base: “That ups your style game.” You also can transform your daytime LBD by adding lacy hose or a shimmering wrap, bold printed scarf or satin jacket, says Julie Matos, Alyssa Milano’s fashion stylist.

 Fake it!

Throw a faux-fur stole around your neck -- as designer Marc Jacobs did on fall runways -- and a sweater and pencil skirt or a blouse and trousers instantly go from desk to party. “It brings anything to a luxurious level,” says Saboura.

Denim will do.

Dark, wax-coated or brocaded denim pants worn with a tunic or cable knit are fashionable both during and after work hours. Come sunset, throw on heels and an embellished or sequined cardigan or velvet blazer in hunter green, claret or teal, Saboura says. “Not only will it make most underpinnings very dressy, but it’s a nod to the holidays -- and it’s on trend,” he says. “Or add a statement necklace and clutch (tucked in your office tote), and even a tank top and skinny jeans becomes appropriate for evening.”

Split your tuxedo.

A tailored women’s tux makes a great holiday look when you use the pieces as separates. Wear the slender slacks to work with a blouse or sweater. Add dramatic heels plus the tux jacket, a sequined vest or showy earrings “and you’re instantly holiday chic and super on-trend,” Saboura says.

Step it up.

When it comes to footwear, don’t be afraid to go beyond gold, silver and black. Keep leopard-spotted or tiger-striped strappy stiletto sandals in your desk for fashion emergencies. Another good option, says Saboura: “Burgundy or deep green suede pointy-toe pumps will take anything into the holidays without