Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nailed it!

I am guilty of just painting my nails one color because I don't have a steady enough hand to do the traditional pink and white french manicure.

But now that the trend is moving towards using brighter or even darker colors, AND you're even allowed to flip it around, I'm more intrigued.

Have you tried a gold tip french manicure with a dark burgandy, black or navy blue? Perhaps pink and red is more your speed? (Try silver or sparkles even.)

Maybe your nails are short and you don't want to emphasize it with a wide stripe up top? Then mimic the half-moon at the base of your nail with color.

The key here is contrast. Why bother doing it, if you can't see it? Just think of two great colors that look stunning together.

Another thing I'm seeing now, and dying to try out myself, is magnetic nail polish. (I thought the crackle gel polish was cool but this really is neat!) The idea is just after you paint the nail, you hold  it over the cap which conveniently has a magnet built into it. After 30 seconds to a minute the rippled effect starts to set. 

I'd highly advise waiting another minute or two before adding a top coat to seal it -- or you might just drag the brush right through your trendy new look. Unless that's what you're going for, like the way a cake decorator pulls a toothpick through a stripe of icing to make it have a point.

Why not take it to the next level? Use a magnetic color as your primary, and then use a daring contrasting color as the tip -- once you've let the ripples set.

[I don't have permission to publish the photos I've seen (as I don't own them) but I hope the descriptions give you an idea what I'm seeing out there.]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Uggs – Warm, cute, but are they good for your feet?

Let me just say right off the bat, I don't wear Uggs or any other brand of sheepskin "boot." I think they're overdone slippers and they lack anything practical. They have no arch support, aren't waterproof, and because they don't have any way to vent the heat and moisture from your foot (socks or no socks) it's a prime home for bacteria and foot fungus.

That being said, much like slippers, they're comfy. My sister-in-law who (shall remain nameless to protect her identity) LOVES hers and has more than one pair in different colors/styles. Maybe it has more to do with the idea that the celebrities wear them, so why shouldn't the common folk?

Personally, being of the piscean persuasion, I truly believe as my zodiac sign reigns over the feet, that it's no surprise I have small feet to support a short, round person and constantly have foot troubles. (From foot and back pain to athletes foot -- if I don't wear supportive shoes or "air out" my feet respectively.) My problems aside, I've researched it and found that I'm not alone in my beliefs.

Podiatrists have also claimed that this boot design does not always provide the stability that some people need and the heel often rolls towards the inner edge of the boot. This can be a sign that the arches of the feet are weakening and may be at risk from a strain injury and discomfort and pain are often the result. Using UGG-like boots to keep your feet warm makes sense but walking longer distances in them may give you more than you bargained for. Sacrificing comfort for style can come at a price. (Much in the same way you wouldn't wear stilettos all day and night without a break, or to run a marathon.)

If you have healthy feet, and wear them for comfort not "walking" you'll probably be fine. But if you already have foot problems, such as myself, your best bet is to treat them as indoor shoes/slippers or not wear them at all.

(Well at least during the summer you have an alternative to the flip flop - which I feel is equally as bad as the Ugg-like boot. Maybe you'd be better off with a pair of Crocs! At least they've been approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association for helping to eliminate plantar pain and achy feet. Now if only they could come out with a winterized version...)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chapped lips – what to do about them.

Signs and Symptoms of Chapped Lips

Chapped Lips are characterized by dry, cracked, flaky and sore lips that can affect people from time to time at any time of the year. Occasionally, chapped Lips can be can be painful, embarrassing, and uncomfortable because they can interfere with many daily activities, such as smiling, eating and talking. 

Common signs and symptoms include dryness, redness, tenderness and sensitivity, cracking, splitting, peeling, and pain. If dry lips are causing inflammation and bleeding, it is strongly recommended that you consult with your doctor immediately since it can lead to severe infection.

Causes of Chapped Lips

Chapped lips can have several causes, including dry weather, overexposure to extreme temperatures, dehydration, lip biting, smoking, certain medications, deficiency of vitamins, iron or essential fatty acids, change in climate and ill-fitting dentures. 

Dry, swollen, or cracked lips can also be caused by allergies, infections, drugs, winter colds and flus, and a number of other medical problems. 

Treating/Chapped Lips

Lips are skin just like the rest of your body but they don't produce their own oils. So you have to provide them. Many lip balms have natural oils that are safe for your mouth.  Try to avoid colors, scents and flavors as they have additives that may not be so good for you. 

Along with drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, eating vitamin a rich foods like carrots, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables will help. 

You should exfoliate them periodically, and protect them from the environment. (Never ever lick of bite your lips, it will cause more chapping. Use a gentle lip mask or your toothbrush to get rid of the deposit of dead cells that will cause more drying and flaking.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm cold, but I'm not thirsty!

Did you know that it's just as important to stay hydrated in the colder/drier winter months as it is in the hot/humid summer months? We generally sweat when we're hot which lets us know to drink more water, but we don't get those same cues when we're cold, because sweat evaporates quickly in cold, dry air, so you can still become dehydrated. 

You might be tempted to drink coffee or tea to warm up but they are diuretics and can cause you to actually lose water, so you have to compensate with water. Also, remember to keep your skin hydrated in the dry winter air, too. Skin is the body’s largest organ. Keep it healthy, and it will help to keep your entire body healthy.

When you sweat you loose fluids, and under normal circumstances, your body would register the loss, giving you the urge to drink and stopping the kidneys from getting rid of water. But in the cold, your body decreases blood flow to your extremities and pumps it into your core to hold all that heat in while you’re out in the cold. With all that blood rushing towards your vital organs and away from your extremities, your body and brain don’t register that you have lost significant amounts of fluid and might be dehydrated. When this is the case, the effects of dehydration can become severe before you even realize you’re dehydrated. That’s why it’s critically important to stay properly hydrated before and during cold weather activity, well in advance of the actual urge to drink fluids.

Also, when you’re cold, your blood viscosity increases. With hypothermia, for example, the blood can become as much as 200% more viscous. (Like motor oil, higher viscosity means it’s thicker, harder to pump.) The water content of your blood is another factor in viscosity—so, when you’re out in the cold, staying sufficiently hydrated becomes that much more important.

We tend not to think about being thirsty when it’s cold, neither when we’re just going about our lives nor when we’re working out, but that’s when it’s really important to pay attention to drinking enough. And it’s especially important in higher altitudes where the air tends to be dryer.

Just to be clear, dehydration can kill. Considering that our bodies are made up of 50% to 65% water, this element is critical to virtually all our physical functions. Every organ and system of the body depends on water, so a shortage of fluid can naturally lead to serious health consequences. 

The body's initial signs and symptoms of dehydration are: 
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output. The urine will become concentrated and more yellow in color.
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Dry, cracked lips dry mouth the eyes stop making tears sweating may stop muscle cramps nausea and vomiting lightheadedness (especially when standing). weakness will occur as the brain and other body organs receive less blood.
  • Coma and organ failure will occur if the dehydration remains untreated.
  • Irritability & confusion in the elderly should also be heeded immediately.
If an individual becomes confused or lethargic; if there is persistent, uncontrolled fever, vomiting, or diarrhea; or if there are any other specific concerns, then medical care should be accessed. Call 911 for any patient with altered mental status - confusion, lethargy, or coma.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Baby it's Cold Outside

Brrr, is it winter already? Recently my area (New England) fell into a cold spell. The first thin I reached for was a sweater (the next was hot cocoa.) 

Why does it always feel worse when it's windy out?

Wind chill (or wind chill factor) is the air temperature we feel on our exposed skin because of the wind blowing across it. You might notice when watching the weather that the wind chill temperature is always lower than the air temperature.

One of the ways our bodies loose heat is through "convection." The faster the wind speed, the more readily the skin/surface cools.

NOAA's National Weather service has a chart that helps you see this better. Also on this page is a neat little calculator that shows you what the temperature feels like on a given day based on wind speed:

Note: Wet clothing and the duration of a person's exposure to wind also affect the felt air temperature. The wind chill formulas do not take account of the variation of clothing worn and how wet or dry a person is. The typical assumption is that a person will be properly dressed and dry.

Since hypothermia is no joke, I wanted to make sure everyone takes precautions this year.

What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is a condition in which a person's body temperature has dropped significantly below normal. This occurs from inadequate protection against exposure to cold temperatures. The very young and elderly are the most susceptible to developing hypothermia when exposed to cold temperatures.

The risk and extent of hypothermia is directly influenced by presence of wet clothing, contact with metals, wind-chill, and extent of temperature gradient between the body and its surroundings. Vulnerability is increased when circulation is impaired by cardiovascular disease, alcohol intake, exhaustion, and/or hunger.

What are the symptoms of hypothermia?
  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Slow or unclear speech
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Stumbling when attempting to walk
  • Confusion (person cannot think clearly)
  • Semi-consciousness or unconsciousness

What should I do if someone has hypothermia?
  • If a person becomes unconscious, get medical help immediately. If cardiac arrest (heart attack) has occurred, have someone call for medical assistance and then apply CPR.
  • WARNING: Do not warm the person too fast.
  • Bring the person indoors or to a dry place protected from the wind.
  • Remove wet clothing and cover the person with dry blankets. Make sure to cover the head, hands, and feet.
  • Put the person in a cot or bed next to a warm -- not hot -- heater.
  • Lie under the covers next to the person to transfer your own body heat. If possible, have someone else lie on the other side.
  • Give the person warm -- not hot -- broth or soup. Do not give alcohol to drink.
  • Wrap an infant inside your own clothing against your skin.

How can I prevent hypothermia?
  • Wear warm, multi-layered clothing with good hand and feet protection (avoid overly constricting wrist bands, socks, and shoes).
  • Wear warm headgear. This is particularly important since significant heat is lost through an unprotected head.
  • If possible, change into dry clothes whenever clothing becomes wet.
  • Find appropriate shelter to stay warm. 

(Please note: If left untreated, a person can develop early frostbite, or frostnip; superficialfrostbite; or deep frostbite, or freezing. Frostbite usually affects the nose, ears, upper cheeks, hands and feet.)