We've all been through the panic of discovering stray hairs on our upper lip as we head to an important meeting, or discovering chipped nail polish just before leaving the house for that glamorous party - that's when we regret forsaking our fortnightly salon appointment for that lazy Friday lie-in!
For women with hectic lifestyles, discovering grooming glitches is an everyday story. But since it's only January, it's the perfect time to get your beauty routine organised for the whole year. Whether you want to know the secret to healthy, shiny hair, or struggle with dry skin issues, we've got our experts on hand to tell you the easiest, most efficient way to work your regular beauty maintenance needs into your schedule. Just follow our daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly schedule so you can have that perfectly-groomed-looking face, body and hair - starting now!
Daily: Dry body brushing, shower and moisturising
Your daily routine shouldn't just be about a shower and a quick dab of body lotion - you should try to include a dry body brush every day. Brushing is one of the simplest DIY skin detox techniques, but most people don't realise how valuable it can be - or even know about it! "Think of it as something as important as morning teeth brushing; it doesn't take longer than that," says Alex Hurt, SensAsia Urban Spa's group operations head. "Invest in a quality, long-handled body brush with cactus bristles," continues Alex. "Dry brushing before your shower removes dead skin cells and promotes blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. As for the strokes, start from the legs and then go up towards the heart." Follow with your regular shower and moisturising routine.
Exfoliation is the secret to bump-free, smooth skin. "It's especially important to exfoliate the ignored skin areas that you can't reach yourself every day, such as your back," says Alex. Book an appointment at a salon if you find a body scrub tedious to do yourself. And once in a while, get the salon to club a moisturising massage and a scrub together, as that not only leaves the skin squeaky clean, but soft and nourished too.
Fortnightly: Manicure and pedicure
The two things that make hands and feet look aged and ungroomed are wrinkled skin and untreated cuticle growth. As long as you are able to tackle the unsightly nail cuticle growth between manicures, and remember to moisturise your hands every time you wash them, you can get away with manicures even once a month.
But feet definitely call for more attention, as the heel is exposed to much more wear and tear - especially in the flip-flop-friendly UAE - which, when left untreated, results in hard calluses and chronic dryness. So while you may take a six-week gap between two manicures, always keep your fortnightly appointments for the pedicure for peeptoe-perfect feet!
Monthly: Waxing, body massage and body wrap
"The one thing to remember about body waxing is that there is nothing much you can do about the growth in between waxing sessions," says Alex. "If you resort to shavers or epilating creams during this waiting period, you fall out of the waxing rhythm and end up with harder hair growth and skin bumps. Your best option, then, is to hide the hair growth on legs and arms through tops or trousers during this period."
A body massage may seem like nothing but an indulgence, but it is actually a necessity - for healing stress manifestations such as knotted muscles, and for promoting overall wellbeing. An hour of uninterrupted me-time in a soothing setting can do wonders for your health, not to mention the skin benefits of having a good-quality oil thoroughly massaged in. A body wrap is another thing many women don't see as a necessary luxury, but according to Alex, "Regular wraps will leave your skin with a polished sheen as they help lock in moisture."
"Contrary to what people say, brushing's only purpose should be detangling, as over-brushing hair can often lead to excess breakage," says Chelsea Gowland, hair style director at Toni & Guy, Dubai. "Make sure that you never touch wet hair with a brush - use a wide-toothed comb soaked with detangling conditioner to brush wet hair instead." says Chelsea.
A big no-no when it comes to haircare is daily blow-drying. "Frequent use of heated appliances is a major cause of split-ends," says Chelsea. "As often as possible, let your hair air-dry. And never blow-dry wet hair - you should only dry towel-dried damp hair. Use a heat protection spray before blow-drying and use the hairdryer on a medium to low heat."
Weekly: Hair mask
"If you use hair colourants or styling products, it's all the more important to include deep conditioning masks in your routine," advises Kelly Van Gogh, New York-based hair colourist. "One great way for intensive conditioning is to sleep in your mask, that way the conditioner has extra time to soak in and repair the hair and scalp."
Fortnightly: Hot oil treatment
When you don't have hours to spare for a salon hot hair treatment, try this DIY conditioning treatment: take warm hair-oil in a bowl and apply it to the hair and scalp. Next take a hot wet towel and wrap it around the head, leaving it on for 20 minutes. Follow with a regular hair wash.
Monthly: Trim, root touch-ups
"To have healthy and split-end free hair, trim your tresses every six to eight weeks. This is particularly important if you have a defined style, as it will lose its shape if left any longer," says Chelsea. "The recommended gap between hair colour root touch-ups is again, six to eight weeks."
Daily: Cleansing, moisturising and nightcare
"Limit your cleansing to just twice a day," says Anjali Aggarwal Joshi, beauty therapist and manager at Dubai's Zen Asia Spa. "Invest a few extra minutes in night-time cleansing, as that's when you will be lifting off the entire day's make-up, dust and grease from your skin." Also ensure you include toning as the last step of your facial cleansing, both in the mornings and evenings. "Every skin type benefits from toners, not just oily skin, as it helps to take care of blackheads and whiteheads," says Anjali.
As far as night skincare goes, using a rich overnight cream on a regular basis is essential. "When you skip on night care, even your facials will not be as effective," she says.
Weekly: Exfoliation and face masks
"Steam your face and then exfoliate with a scrub, following it with a splash of cold water," says Anjali. "Some women think that rubbing the scrub deeper into the skin takes out more grime, but that isn't the case." Most exfoliators have large granules, so the action is already strong, and rubbing deeper only ends up irritating the skin, so avoid over-scrubbing. But, yes, exfoliate the problem areas like the T-zone for a few seconds longer than others. Don't skip the cold water splash as that closes the pores.
Fortnightly: Hair removal
Threading is the most gentle and effective hair removal method for the full face. For eyebrows, upper lip and the forehead, even waxing works fine, but there are several sensitive areas of the face you should never wax. "Waxing sensitive areas like the upper part of the cheeks that's just under the eyes can lead to serious skin reactions in the form of breakouts or dark spots. When the protective hair on sensitive skin is being ripped off with a wax, it leaves the pores open to the elements," says Anjali.
"When doing a wax on any part of the face; don't allow a hot wax. It is too harsh for facial skin as it leaves the pores open making skin vulnerable to breakouts. Always ask for a cold wax on the face."
Facials are great for intensive, deep cleansing, to lighten acne marks and even help keep the wrinkles at bay. "But don't do a facial more than once a month, as you could end up irritating your skin with over-cleansing," Anjali advises.
Once you get into the rhythm of regular facials, the session also serves as a time for routine skin analysis with your facialist about what you might be doing wrong so you can correct it.