#GirlBoner Beauty Part II: 10 Outer-Beauty Tips That Work

Gwyneth Paltrow

I’ve read some pretty horrendous beauty tips lately. One magazine featured “model beauty tips,” such as dining on organic juice blends instead of meals, swapping pie-flavored gum for dessert and relying on products Oprah could barely afford. Another geared toward the “everyday woman” suggested smiling less boldly as a way to prevent wrinkles. (Ack!) Today I thought I’d share tips I find a bit more substantial.

We talk a lot about inner-beauty here at Girl Boner Central, and for good reason. Emotional fulfillment, self acceptance, sexual empowerment and positive body image are by far the most important beautifiers, IMO. But cultivating beauty from the inside out and taking steps to feel lovely on the outside aren’t mutually exclusive. There was a time I grappled with that.

The first time I spoke publicly about my eating disorder, I emailed my college mentor and asked if I should try to dress down, and not so “model-y.” (Having spent the prior years immersed in the fashion world, my wardrobe was more pseudo-fashionista than smalltown-Minnesota.) I’ve never forget her reply: “There’s nothing wrong with being beautiful or wearing nice clothes. Dress however you’re comfortable. Be who you are.” I haven’t paid much mind to what others think of how I present myself since.

“Beautiful” has a different meaning for all of us. If we fixate on meeting others’ standards, we risk losing sight of who we authentically are. While not nearly as important as inner-beauty, there’s nothing wrong with making efforts to feel great about our appearance. If we keep it in perspective, doing so can be a fabulous means of self-care, illustrating that we care enough about ourselves to look our best, however we define it.

1. Use an SPF moisturizer daily. A recent large-scale study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that participants who used SPF-containing moisturizer daily showed 24% less signs of skin aging than participants who did not. Researchers found that even starting to use SPF protection during middle age helps stave off wrinkles. Moisturizing also keeps our skin supple (i.e., more kissable!). Other beautifying moisturizer ingredients include antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. And if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of heavy makeup, tinted moisturizer is a fabulous pick. Just make sure it matches your natural color. 😉

Face of a thoughtful zombie with business card

2. Choose clothing by mood. Did you know that various studies show that we feel colors before see them? Crazy, right? Regardless, colors can influence our moods. I don’t have any data to support this bit, but I’ve found that dressing in colors and styles of clothing based on my mood (or preferred mood) makes me feel more attractive. And when we feel lovely, it shows. Here are the general affects various colors have mood-wise:

Red: passionate, bold Orange: energetic, positive Yellow: cheerful, optimistic Blue: peaceful, calm Green: relaxed, refreshed Purple: creative, luxurious Pink: happy, romantic Black: serious/authoritative or rocker-funky

3. When coloring your hair, choose a shade close to your natural color. Choose a color one to three shades lighter or darker than your natural color, says Jenny Bailly, a beauty writer for O, The Oprah Magazine. Doing so creates a warmth, flattering your skin tone and face. I personally alternate with partial highlights one shade lighter and low-lights, one to two shades darker—and only do so a couple of times per year. I like my natural color to be the most prevalent. It feels more like…me. (Exceptions: beauties who rock hot pink, blue, purple, black, color-of-the-month and glitter. I you.)

4. Don’t hide your perty face! It may seem contrary to apply makeup so that we look, well, exactly like ourselves. But every makeup artist will tell you, less is more. During some of my least secure years, I developed a habit of wearing heavy makeup, including thick, back eye liner, perpetually. The more I felt like hiding my true self, the more makeup I seemed to cake on. Then one day during a counseling session, my tears sent black rivers down my cheeks. “Your makeup is always so perfect, I thought it was tattooed!” my therapist said. I began examining my ways pronto. (I actually thought I’d been appearing natural! Self-dislike is a powerfully bad thing.) Great makeup should work like great lighting, enhancing what we have, not masking it.

5. Ignore fashion “rules.” Let’s start by stating the obvious: Fashion shouldn’t have rules! Having spent plentiful time in NYC and having a brother who’s a visual artist, I’ve seen first hand the way art influences fashion and culture. Have you ever seen an artist walking around in clone-like attire? Avoiding certain colors based on season? No, because they create their own style. We’re all influenced by trends, and that’s not in and of itself negative. But we should dress however we feel most comfortable, inside and out. It’s how we wear our clothes that matters, and self assuredness is DAMN SEXY. (I wear boots year round and I’m sticking to it!)

I see nothing wrong with this picture.

I see nothing wrong with this picture.

6. Take care of your feet. I love sporting high heels on occasion, but my days of countless hours in stilettos or shoes that look adorable but feel like the foot equivalent of labor pain are over. One of my odder modeling/acting gigs involved standing in for other actresses in the name of movie advertisement. My legs, arms and butt have appeared on numerous actresses’ bodies. One such gig led me to walk around all day long in shoes a full two sizes too small. My feet haven’t been the same since. We look and feel lovelier when we wear comfortable shoes. If you’re going to wear heels, spend a bit more money on podiatrist-approved brands, such as Dana Davis. Even flats and low-heeled shoes should be well-made and comfy.

7. Invest in high-quality hair and skin products. It’s easy feel tempted by 99-cent shampoos and $5 makeup, but they may cost us significantly more in other ways. Most cheap cosmetics, personal care items and hair products contain preservatives called parabens. These chemicals cause hair and skin dryness and may pose health risks. While additional research is needed, parabens may disrupt hormonal balance and mimic estrogen, acccording to the Environmental Working Group, which is believed to promote breast cancer in some women. For these reasons and because they tend to contain more fortifying ingredients, organic and paraben-free brands rock. I’m personally a fan of AVEDA and Burt’s Bees products. You can buy them in bulk on Amazon.

We don't need to go THIS far.

We don’t need to go THIS far.

8. Try to sleep well. And when you don’t, SPOON! Sleep is like an instant (well 7.5-hour) makeover! When we don’t sleep well or enough, it shows in our skin, our posture, our eyes—everywhere. Aiming for healthy sleep habits—turning in and waking and routine times, sleeping in a dark, comfy room, etc.—goes a long way. As for spooning, cuddling up with your partner is definitely better than frustrated insomnia—but there’s another use for spoons. When a lack of sleep causes your eyes to puff up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, soak a spoon in ice water, then rest it on your lids. Models use it all the time, and it works.

9. Eat sexy foods! Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fish help ensure ample nutrient intake, promote positive moods, appetite and weight control, guard against inflammation, support a healthy libido (3 cheers for that sexy glow!) and make way for radiant hair and skin. Rather than diet or focus on what not to eat (which work against us), consider ways to up the whole-food ante in your lifestyle. For maximum benefits, remember to eat appropriate amounts (we should feel modest amount of hunger before meals and satisfied, but not stuffed after), stay well-hydrated and make eating a pleasurable experience. For more tips, check out my earlier post, Foods for Better Sex.

Women eating banana


10. Exercise. Exercise provides far more beautifying benefits than calorie burn. An active lifestyle is known to boost body image and self-esteem and make us more attractive to others—even promptly after we workout. Exercise can also improve our posture and, by increasing circulation, facilitate healthier skin. Fit folks also produce stronger sex hormones (WOO HOO!) and sleep better than inactive folks. Aim for moderate, routine activity, doing your best to make it fun.

Any of these tips strike you? What healthy steps do you take to look your best? Where could you improve? What fashion rule do you love breaking? I love hearing from you!Post a comment below for a chance to win a Girl Boner magnet. I’ll be giving 1 away per post and announcing the winners at the end of October. Your chances are good! To see what the logo looks like, pop over to the Girl Boner Facebook page. ♥

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  1. Number 5 and 6 made me think of my sister. She throws together the most amazing looking outfits – with pieces that I would never think to make work. She’s told me a million times, it’s just about “owning it”, being confident. (You can see some of the stuff she throws together at lemonhearted.com)

    She also embraces the flat shoe. She used to tease me about my love of high heels (a love I quickly got over when I got pregnant 🙂 ) and while she has a few pairs, she almost always wears flats – and looks fab doing it.

    Gotta love practical tips. Thanks for these and not the crazy ones we hear ad nauseam in the fashion (and sadly, even the “health”) magazines.

    • “Owning it” — very well put! I do see a lot of spunk in your sister’s site, and I’m sure you have lots of your own. It’s so much easier to see style in others, IMO, though maturity (and for you, motherhood!) helps. 🙂 Agreed regarding those “health” mags… *sigh*

  2. August, I love these tips. I’m currently struggling to find a face moisturizer with SPF that doesn’t make me break out.

    I use Dermatologica Active Moist (I know, I know…that name is SUGGESTIVE) but I’m pretty sure it does not have SPF.

  3. I love the advice to wear what’s comfortable and pleasing to you. Anytime the weather is half-way warm and I can get away with it, I’ll be in shorts and sandals or tennis shoes. My “dressy” outfits consist of stretch jeans, golf shirts and loafers. If my dress turns people off, that’s their problem, not mine. I would have guessed you’d have a similar attitude.

  4. About six months ago, I stared getting up @ the butt crack of dawn to exercise before work. Since I have to be to work @ 7:00 and depending on what I want to do and when (studio cycling class @ 5:30 AM), this requires getting up anywhere from 3:45 AM on Thursdays to 4:30 any other day. Yes, it is early, BUT, when I get to work, I am on fire (love those endorphins!!!). Plus, the drive to the gym in the dark when the roads are almost empty is very quiet and soothing…a bit of relaxed “me” time. Exercising before starting my work day has given me so many positive benefits. Yes, the time to get up seems ungodly, but I can’t recommend it enough. Once your body learns its new clock, you’ll be glad you did it.

    • Good for you, Steve. Forming the habit can be tough, but it sounds like you’ve worked your way to primo rewards. My cousin, a busy mom, wakes up ultra early, too. She told me it’s her “me-time,” and a gift she gives herself. I love that.

      • Every so often when the alarm goes off, my body says “not today!” and I go back to sleep. But it really is a matter of surviving the first 5-10 minutes and forcing yourself to get up. I do chuckle to myself that once/week, I get up at 3:45 AM to get to the gym by 5:00 AM so I can get my ticket for studio cycling @ 5:30 AM. Fifteen years ago, I would think nothing of going to bed at 3:45 AM. How life has changed…

  5. Thanks for the tips. I like that zombie’s makeup!

  6. Food for better sex coupled with exercise (that COULD be sex) are great pointers. Some of the diet advice out there is just plain scary….and you’re right…highly dangerous. I don’t remember who had the commercial where their slogan was “learn to love the skin you’re in”, but I always loved that.

  7. Such great tips! I fell like such a fashion loser- I’m always about what’s comfortable and what I like. And I love LUSH (skin care) and when I wobble on buying it I’m going to remember this post.

    • Sounds to me like you’re a winner, Alica, though I empathize. I felt like Anne Hathaway’s character in “Devil Wears Prada” when I moved to NYC. 😉 Really touched that you enjoyed the post. (LUSH – what a fabulous name!)

  8. I suffered from an eating disorder as well, August, and am still in recovery. I was 250 pounds in high school and lost the weight about three years ago, slimming down to 108, which wasn’t very healthy. I’m up to 125 now and feeling great, eating right and exercising in moderation. It took being knocked down to realize that I should love myself by taking care of myself. I’m not much for makeup or fashion, but my mom always said water was the best beauty/dieting product in the world. Great post, August!

    • I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve endured an eating disorder, too, Inion. I hope you’re gaining remarkable gifts from your ongoing recovery – so much to be had! I know what you mean about getting knocked down in order to stand up; worth it. 🙂

  9. laurie27wsmith

     /  September 23, 2013

    I sleep well, eat good food, my skins pretty good but darn it I’m still going bald and everybody will notice if I colour my hair. 🙂

    • LOL No need for added color, Laurie. You seem vibrant enough as is. 🙂

      • laurie27wsmith

         /  September 24, 2013

        Thanks August. It just seems that life gets unfair at times, your mind stays at 19 and your body gets older. then again many a good tune has been played on an old fiddle. 🙂
        Love your blog by the way.

  10. Okay, I love this post. I think this is my favorite post by you so far. Which is saying something because you have lots of favorite posts.
    I couldn’t agree with any of this more.

    #3 I never die my hair completely a different color. I always like having my natural hair color dominate my head. It feels ingenuine to me any other way. I like having part of me here still. 😉
    #5 This one drives me nuts. I have a family member who is BIG on the – you wear this color, these kinds of shoes, this color purse, etc during THIS season, but not any of these. Everyone knows this, Daphne, everyone follows it.
    No. They don’t. *head desk* Drives me nuts lol
    #7 I love Burt’s Bees Lip Balm! I use Avalon Organics Vitamin C line for face care. It’s a need – like food, so if its more expensive than the cheap stuff, oh well.
    #8 This one is the hardest for me. I’ve never slept well, because I have insomnia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. But I try. 😉

    Oh, and thanks for the spoon-puffy eye tip! Does it work when you’ve been crying?

    How you look on the outside has a HUGE impact on how you feel on the inside. Being happy with how you look is important and I’m glad you don’t write it off as vanity like some people do. And I’m glad you don’t help those ridiculous “pieces of advice” in magazines along. Stuff like that always makes me laugh. But then I stop and wonder how many people believe it and stop laughing.

    • Thanks for brightening my night, Daphne! I really appreciate the lovely words. 🙂

      #5 has always driven me nuts. A couple of months ago, an acquaintance from Texas asked me if she could see the tops of my shoes. I lifted my jeans, revealing low boots and gym socks (one of my favorite combos!). She looked disgusted for a beat, then said, “I didn’t realize you could wear boots in the summer in California.” “I wear them all yeah long because I like them,” I replied. She seemed genuinely perplexed. Most people don’t care about those rules, and if they do, IMO, they shouldn’t. Our energy is best invested elsewhere.

  11. That goodness it’s okay to strive to want to look good on the outside, so long as it begins with feeling beautiful from the inside-out.

    The one thing that speaks to me is to dress for me. No matter how whacky. Yes! That shower cap photo rocks! Love it! I have a collection of whacky hats and headbands. I wear them when I want to wear them. Even though my sister laughs and tells me to “take that damn thing off your head.”

    I have a boutique that’s my fave because it sells what I like to call Bohemian Chic. I go shopping in my closet all the time; find ways to mix-it-up.

    Way back when they had the A to Z blog challenge, I happened across a blog post for “A” that focused on age appropriate attire. The blogger said when a woman reaches a certain age she should stop wearing skinny jeans and short skirts. It offended me. Dress based on who you are. Age is a number. Attitude and confidence are timeless.

    Hey! Mom passed on good lookin’ below-the-knee legs. I exercise the parts above (In a nod to GB power. Go ahead. Take that “above” as far as you choose ;-)). My legs. My choice.

    Now, that doesn’t mean I’m OK with discovering the color of a girls panties when she leans over slightly to pick up a sandwich at SBUX. Nor do I dress in tight fitting outfits on blooming-onion-tummy-cell days. Why? I don’t feel comfortable and confident in those clothes on that day.

    • First word s/b Thank…

      Now that I look at it, the first part of the first sentence is a whack-a-noodle mish-mash of words. Should have edited to tighten.

      And, no, I’m not talking Kegels here. Although….

    • Ugh. Age appropriate attire? I am so with you there, Gloria. If I see a woman in her 70s or 80s sporting lycra with gusto, I say more power to her! There’s a big difference between dressing particular ways to please others or make up for insecurity and dressing to please ourselves, IMO – which benefits others as well. You’re so right about comfort… There’s nothing wrong with a PJ day when needed. 🙂

  12. Kourtney Heintz

     /  September 24, 2013

    August, you always have fantastic tips to impart. I love the spoon one. Lately my sleep has been haphazard and my eyes show it. I’ve always been an SPFer and a sun avoider. It definitely helps–I still get carded at 35. 😉

  13. Raani York

     /  September 24, 2013

    This is such a great post, August. And as promised I prefer replying here with a good comment instead of answering on FB. 🙂
    All right, since we’re just in between us, I’m going to spell the secret… the fashion rule(s) I love breaking:
    In many places all around the world I realized it is an unwritten rule that women being a little heavier than average have to dress into either tents or potato sacks to hide most of what’s there…
    (I’m still waiting for the actual law commanding us girls with a few pounds more to wear something like a Burka to hide us completely from head to toe, only to have us away from most public eyes who feel “disturbed” or emotionally drained at our sight… I could imagine they would allow us at least to chose pink, baby blue or other colors to mark that we’re less Islamic women, but “just fat”)
    I don’t like to hide in something that makes me look like a trash bag on the run.
    I do have forms… I have a face, I’ve got a butt, I’ve got a belly and I’ve got boobs… I even got legs!! And believe it or not – I do exercise – I’m working out at least once a week and my legs aren’t fat, they’re muscular from 36 years of Martial Arts…
    And I don’t see why I cannot show I’m womanly.
    As long as I know Marilyn Monroe in her heaviest days shared my size.
    It’s not I’m wearing leggings or a cat suite… I wouldn’t want to look like a mud filled sock. I’m wearing normal wide legged pants and shirts that are figure fitting but not tight. Blouses and Jackets that show I’ve an hour glass figure and sometimes, when I know I’m not going for walks I’m wearing high heels. I’m not wearing black or grey just because it’s supposed to make me look slimmer, simply because I don’t feel like getting a heatstroke being dressed in black when it’s 200 degrees outside. I’m wearing berry colors, coral, yellow, turquoise, green (I love green and teal) purple, lilac and other funny colors – just because they make me feel good.
    I like laughing (progresses my wrinkles – but I don’t care) I’d rather have wrinkles from laughing than from looking grumpy.
    And yes… I was told I’m dressing “wrong”… at times I tried to explain that there isn’t any “wrong” in fashion (unless of course mixing summer skirts with winter sweaters and tennis socks in peep toes, but that’s another story)… but last time I heard that I was rude enough to tell the person to perform an act that’s physically impossible… and that was the last time I was told I’m dressing “wrong”.
    Okay… that was my confession… I hope it wasn’t too bad. 🙂


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