We've had the spring equinox and spring is officially with us; the days are getting longer, the birds are nesting, gardens are bursting with life, and everywhere is brighter and lighter. Maybe you'd like a make-over to get yourself in tune with all this renewal, but don't think you can afford it. If that's the case, we've put together a list of ten simple ways to boost your beauty at little or no cost. Follow our suggestions and face up to the new season with a spring in your step.
There's no need to get up two hours earlier to carry out a new skin care regime, but do make sure you spend a few minutes each day on your complexion. The two keys are moisturise in the morning and cleanse at night – even if you don't use makeup.
No more ciggies
Smoking isn't just bad for your lungs, but for the complexion, too: nicotine attacks the collagen and elastin in your skin, making it dull and saggy. Pursing your lips around the cigarette provokes wrinkles around the mouth, and squinting through the smoke can cause crows feet. If you haven't given up yet, what are you waiting for?
Healthy eating habits
Plenty of fresh fruit and veg will provide the body with energy and vitality, and a balanced diet will establish the strong foundation on which to build good health and general well-being. When your diet is faulty, it shows in your skin, your hair and your eyes: healthy eating is the simple secret behind beautiful skin and a shapely figure.
Get in shape Regular exercise works away the accumulated stresses of a frenetic lifestyle and all those little day-to-day worries. You don't need to spend hours and hours in the gym each day – it may be enough just to get off the bus a few stops early and take the stairs instead of the lift – but find out what works for you, and stick to it.
Watch out for the sun!
We're all longing for the sun to shine so we can get working on our tans, but don't forget that the sun is one of the main causes of visible ageing. You should limit the time you spend in the sunshine – remember you can even get sunburned in the shade – and always use a suitable factor suncream.
We spend so much time rushing about that it doesn't always seem possible, but try and find time for a few hours for yourself each week and relax. Whether it's a quiet yoga session, a massage, a relaxing bubble bath, or simply a time out while you read your copy of Hello!, make it your time.
Laugh out loud
More and more studies are showing that laughter is one of the keys to long life. It seems that laughter has as much going for it as exercising: it increases oxygen levels in the lungs, improves blood circulation, causes immediate muscle relaxation and reduces stress by relaxing the mind.
Say yes to rest
It's essential to let your body have the rest it needs. Lack of sleep can cause premature ageing, weight gain and behavioural changes, so try and get your regular eight hours a night.
A large proportion of your body is water and you need to keep hydrated. To balance the normal daily loss, you'll need to drink at least a litre a day, preferably two – though don't exceed three litres. Water will help to eliminate toxins, and both your digestive system and your skin will benefit.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink as it can affect your physical and emotional health and well-being. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine are probably your skin's three worst enemies, so if you want to “keep young and beautiful”, limit your consumption of all of them.