A prescription for beauty

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In The Beauty Prescription, two doctors take a four-part approach to looking and feeling good.

Dr Debra Luftman and Dr Eva Ritvo are out and about plugging their new book: The Beauty Prescription (£13.99, McGraw-Hill). 

Luftman is a dermatologist while Ritvo is a psychologist, but as friends, comparing notes, they realised that their patients had many of the same body issues – low self-esteem, poor self-image etc. Luftman’s clients were looking for external solutions to their problems, while Ritvo’s were looking more inside themselves, but the two women decided they could come up with a ‘beauty prescription’ that would work for everybody.

"True beauty," says Luftman, "isn’t about being physically perfect: it’s about maximising your beauty potential. When you do this, people will subconsciously want to treat you better." 

At the core of the ‘prescription’ is what the women call the ‘brain loop’ – inner beauty, health, outer beauty, environment. 

* Inner beauty covers areas such as mental and emotional well-being, self-esteem, self-awareness and self-confidence.

* Health deals with taking care of your physical health through the right nutrition, sleep and leading a healthy lifestyle in general.

* Outer beauty covers maintaining your external looks such as make-up, hair, skincare etc.

* Environment deals with your surroundings and what feedback you get from them – home, work, relationships and friends.  

The trick, says Luftman, is to keep all areas of the loop flowing. "When someone says you look beautiful, you feel more beautiful," she says. "When you feel more beautiful, you start to look after yourself more. The better you feel and look, the more positive the response you get from your environment, the more people are attracted to you and the more confident you feel."

But although this can be a positive circle, she adds, when one area isn’t working, you can also end up in the opposite – a circle of negativity.

The tips are pretty basic, but they include:

* Inner beauty: do voluntary work, value your relationships, practise self-affirmations.

* Health: exercise, eat properly, get enough sleep, have regular medical checkups.

* Outer beauty: see a (non-affiliated) make-up artist for some tips, develop a daily skincare regime, replace your makeup regularly, ‘dress up’.

* Environment: spend time with people you like, avoid people you don’t, do little things to cheer yourself up such as putting flowers on your desk. 

Well, basic they may be, and the doctors have come in for some criticism because of it, but I wonder how many of us actually do them?

Because I practise Buddhism (though I’m not a Buddhist) I learned a long time ago to write down five positive things at the end of every day. It sounds naff, but it does help you to focus on the good things in your life instead of the bad things, while is my tendency, being the depressive sort. I also put my health before everything these days because I have an auto-immune disease which would otherwise lay me flat (hence the downshift to the countryside instead of my former caffeine-fuelled life in London). How many of us go through our makeup drawer twice a year and chuck out everything that’s past its sell-by? Most of us suffer a shot across the bows like conjunctivitis before we learn that lesson (yes, I do mean me…).

Lots of women never learn to put themselves first in anything, and then whinge like martyrs that their husbands and kids boss them about (as a non parent I see this all the time with mothers). But as they say in emergency services: put your own oxygen mask on first (ie: if you don’t, you’re no use to anybody else) and that’s not a bad tip to carry through life.

However, it strikes me from this little list that the lesson some women never learn is to cut people out of their lives who aren’t worthwhile, especially when it comes to men. How many women stay in relationships that are violent, or disrespectful? And realistically, how many men do this? How many women stay with an alcoholic husband? Nine out of ten, according to stats, while nine out of ten husbands leave an alcoholic wife – very interesting.

We’re even worse when it comes to family, as if there was some reason to put up with people you wouldn’t otherwise be friends with in a million years. And speaking of friends, how many of us have negative friends, who do nothing but suck the mental energy out of you and leave you feeling tired?

Probably owing to my dysfunctional family, I had a habit over the years of putting up with crappy friends myself. But I do notice, thank God, that as I get older, I’m more ruthless about cutting them off. My friend T put her finger on this exactly when she said: "I don’t have time to spend time with the people I DO like. I’m sure as shit not going to spend time with people I DON’T…"

For more on The Beauty Prescription, including a longer list of tips, see this article in the Mail.  

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