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Beauty countdown to V-Day
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It's the season for romance -- Valentine's Day is round the corner. But before cupid brings you roses this February 14, you must bring the roses to your cheeks.

No doubt you want to look your utmost, flawless best -- with clear complexion and glowing skin.

Start fast, the countdown has begun.

7 days to go

A week to go, and blotchy, dull, lifeless skin? Start a detoxifying programme immediately.

Diet dilemma

~ For the next four days, take only clear soups, and salads minus dressings, with minimal salt.

~ Cut out milk and sugar from your tea and drink at least eight glasses of water daily.

~ Start taking an antioxidant supplement (Cap Antoxyl forte, Antoxid-HC, or Oxidon -- available at all chemists) daily, with breakfast.

~ If you have the bad habits, stop alcohol intake and smoking now.

Do the facial

~ Today, do the first home facial.

~ Start with cleansing, using a mild, soap-free facewash.

~ Massage your face with a Vitamin E or Aloe vera cream (you can try Venusia or Elovera available at all chemists), or even milk cream.

~ Use your fingertips to massage under the eyes, outwards, to drain out the puffiness and the tired look.

~ Steam your face for 10 minutes, remove blackheads with a blackhead removing strip, and apply any one of the following face packs --

-- ground til (sesame seeds) with milk and honey, for dry skin
-- ripe papaya pulp mixed with lemon juice and honey, for dull skin that needs brightening
-- chandan (sandalwood powder), a strand or two of kesar (saffron) and half a teaspoon of fresh, raw turmeric paste mixed with a few teaspoons of milk, for skin whitening

~ For the next four days, don't do the full facial daily, but apply your chosen pack everyday.

Hair care

~ One hour before shampooing today, massage warm olive and almond oil into your hair and wrap with a hot towel.

Skin talk

~ Start applying olive oil on hands and feet every night.

~ Rub a few drops of glycerine with an equal amount of rose water on your face each night.

~ Consult your dermatologist for a quick fix for acne problems.

3 days to go

You should now be feeling lighter and your skin should be beginning to look cleaner.

Diet dilemma

~ You can start eating cooked vegetables now, cooked in just one teaspoon of oil.

~ Take plenty of fruits (at least five per day), juice (at least two glasses) and bananas to compensate for any potassium deficiency that may have built up.

~ Limit carbohydrates to just a few spoons of rice or one slice of wholegrain bread per day.

~ Continue to drink lots of water and have coconut water daily.

Skin talk

~ Today, you must repeat the full home facial and exfoliate with an apricot scrub before you apply your pack.

~ Do your waxing, threading, etc, today, so the skin redness/rashes subside by the 14th.

~ Do a patch test with any new make up you intend to use on the 14th, so you know for sure you're not allergic to it.

Hair care

~ Apply a hair pack of soaked, crushed methi (fenugreek) leaves, henna and egg white. Shampoo well after half hour.

1 day to go

~ Take a normal diet today. Surprisingly, you may not want to -- your body may want to continue on fruits and vegetables, considering you would be feeling and looking much better by now.

~ Do not do any kind of facial today, at home or outside, as you may end up looking red and swollen faced tomorrow. Just apply your chosen face pack.

~ If you've forgotten to wax, shave off unwanted hair with a razor, as waxing today could lead to boils and rashes tomorrow -- too risky.

~ Place chilled, used tea bags on eyes to reduce puffiness.

V-Day

Good morning to a new and improved you!

~ Start the day with a glass of warm water with honey and lime, and then a glass of vegetable juice.

~ Exfoliate your face with coarse besan (gram flour), coarse ground almonds and milk. Then apply your face pack for 10 minutes.

~ Repeat the warm olive and almond oil hair therapy today. While setting your hair, remember that cool air drying gives you longer lasting curls than hot air blow-drying.

~ Add scented essential oils to your bath water and use shower cream instead of soap, for extrasoft skin.

~ And most importantly, feel positive, confident and happy -- this is the best, surefire formula for an unbeatable facial glow.

You're now ready for cupid!

Text: Dr Parul kolhe

-- The author is an M B B S, DDV and DNB in dermatology.

Also read: Celebrate Valentine's Day on your cell phone

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