5 Healthy Ways To Glow In The New Year

Had a blast over the holidays? Couldn't wait for it to be over? Whatever the case, it's a crazy time of year, and you (like the rest of us) probably reached the finish line feeling and looking just a little worse for the wear.

Ready to turn it around? Whether your December featured one too many cocktails or one too many layers of chemical-laden self tanner (don't worry, we totally get it), January is a great time to start anew with a little beauty-regimen detox. Nothing revs you for a new year of fresh possibilities like shining hair, glowing skin and the weightlessness of knowing you didn't use any health-threatening ingredients to look so good.

Try these 5 healthy-beauty tips and make 2015 the year of incredible radiance.

1. Seek out botanicals.

When you're perusing the cosmetics offering at your local retailer, check out the ingredients listed on the back of bottles. The more words you can pronounce (even if you have to dust the cobwebs off your high school biology), the higher the proportion of naturally derived components.

Provided they're vetted by a trusted source (this is why it's good to like your retailer), you can be sure that plant-based ingredients—think shea butter, hibiscus, tea tree and all manner of fruit) are just as effective at making you glow as the synthetic ones. In fact, botanicals are more likely to give you long-lasting radiance, since they're less damaging and actually capable of nourishing your hair, skin and body.

2. Cleanse your medicine cabinet.

Most in-the-know cosmetics consumers look to avoid ingredients like sulfates, which can dull your look by drying and damaging your hair, skin and nails. But did you know that there are actually dozens of chemicals you should avoid if you want to be really cautious about the safety and efficacy of the products you're slathering on your body?

Just because that bottle of shampoo is for sale doesn't mean it's safe for you to use. Cosmetic products do not need FDA approval before hitting the market, and there's no law requiring cosmetic companies to test their formulas or to share safety info with government officials (or you). In short, if you want to be sure that your daily beauty regimen will make you shine, not sick, either set aside a few hours a month to stay up on the latest independent research, or stick to a cosmetics retailer that has committed to its own high-level safety standards.

3. Be wise about "organics."

Seeing the word "organic" on a label might seem like your ticket to looking and feeling great, but in reality it's all marketing, no meaningful assurance for your glow or your health.

There are no mandatory standards for the use of the word "organic" on body care, but retailers can decide to carry or not carry products based on the formulas' ingredient profiles. Ask the folks at your drugstore or supermarket how they decide what to stock in their cosmetics aisles; those who go the extra mile will have standards for the percentage of USDA certified organic components.

4. Play the long game.

Certain ingredients may not be a problem for your health now, but it's wise to consider your future glow, too. Some cosmetics contain elements that will contaminate waterways after you rinse them down the drain, threatening your shine years from now when you ingest them along with your seafood dinner.

The latest culprit: plastic microbeads, found in many exfoliating products. Once these plastics make their way into marine habitats, they absorb toxins (like PCBs and pesticides) and pass into the tissues of fish and other species, entering the human food chain (and dulling your look) in no time. Products containing microbeads will list ingredients such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate or nylon.

5. When in doubt, make your own.

It's fun, cost-effective, glow-effective and safe to make your own cosmetics at home. A DIY seaweed scrub or honey mask takes the mystery out of getting that radiant, feeling-great look. Invest in a for-cosmetics-only coffee grinder and experiment with natural components like oats, clay, almond meal, seaweed powder, lemon (and other fruit) rinds, coco beans, kelp and jojoba beads. Throw in some essential oils and your 2015 will smell as great as it looks and feels.

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