Decisions, decisions: Your answers to daily dilemmas


Your hair has suffered a lot during the day—and it shows. Should you try a new styling product or an entirely new style?

Start with a new product, suggests Julie Dickson, owner of Fox and Boy hair salon in New York City.

If your hair is straight and fine and looks limp and greasy after a long day, spray or sprinkle some dry shampoo on your roots and work it through with your fingers. Your hair will magically appear thicker and cleaner (and not oily at all!). Dickson likes Rene Furterer’s Naturia, which has small particles of oil-absorbing clay and a light scent. The 1.6 ounce travel size ($12) is a perfect purse size. (In a pinch, the old baby powder trick will also work.)

If your hair is curly and unruly by quitting time, spritz it with water and add a small amount of a curl product, such as Dickson’s favorite, Re-Coil Curl Activator by AG ($15 for 6 ounces). It keeps frizz at bay and won’t flake when you shake your hair out. Or, try this: Create large, easy curls, by applying the product, wrapping large sections of hair around your fingers to shape, then and allowing your hair to dry untouched. “Curly hair is best left alone while drying—so hands off,” she says.

Hair still not cooperating? Try pulling it back. A simple, low ponytail (they’re in again this year!) always looks sleek and neat. Wrap a strand of hair around the elastic, and secure with a bobby pin; or upgrade to a classic tortoise shell clip. Consider a chignon, too, because it will conceal even more the day’s ravages on your hair. If these looks feel a little too severe (especially if you don’t have bangs), a pretty headband can soften the look and add height. Try them in different widths and with or without a tidy self knot or bow. Another option: Pull your hair back, twist it and fasten it with a clip; let loose a few strands around your face.

You’re starving after your shift. Should you muster the energy to fix a salad or can you simply pour a glass of wine and break out the cheese and crackers?

Go ahead and have the cheese and crackers–the cheese is a good source of protein for an occasional indulgence. Brazilian suggests adding to it because if that’s the only thing you’re eating, you’re going to eat too much. She suggests adding some grapes, a few walnuts, some hummus, or some vegetables to make it more interesting as well as more filling. “Think of your meal as a Mediterrean-style appetizer,” she says. Studies have shown that a glass of wine may have some protective benefits for the heart, provided you stick with a single glass.

That salad may make you feel virtuous, but it depends on what it consists of. If you’re in a hurry and just pour bottled dressing on a plate full of lettuce, you’re sitting down to a nutritional nightmare. “A commercial dressing with poor-quality ingredients can add a burgers’ worth of calories to a salad,” says Bazilian. The salad is only a good choice if you take the time to wash and chop lots of fresh vegetables, and make a vinaigrette with good olive oil and vinegar.

Your makeup inevitably fades by mid-day. Are you better off retouching during the day or rethinking your entire makeup routine?

Rethink your routine. Who has time to run to the ladies’ room to remove mussed mascara or reapply lipstick? A better strategy for busy nurses, says Jacqueline Haupt, a New York City makeup artist, is to pare your makeup down to the bare essentials—perfectly appropriate for a professional look—and stick to products formulated to last longer.

For your skin: Foundation comes off too easily, whether from perspiration or an accidental brush of the arm—whether yours or a patients’. Instead, go for a tinted moisturizer, which saves you time and money because you get three bangs for your buck: moisture, protection from the sun and tint. Excellent if you work in a dry environment, says Alison Tray, owner of Tres Belle Spa in Brooklyn: Clinique Moisture Sheer Tint SPF 15 ($27).

For your eyes: Skip shadow (which can streak) and liner (which can smudge) and focus on your lashes. Choose a waterproof mascara like Maybelline New York Lash Stiletto Voluptuous ($7) and you’ll find it’s likely to stay in place an entire shift. Or you might consider getting your lashes professionally tinted, which takes less than an hour, costs around $30 and lasts about a month.

For your lips: Swap smearable lipstick and lipliner for a combination lip stain and moisturizing gloss, like Revlon’s Just Bitten Lipstain + Balm ($9), recommends Haupt. The stain adds color that stays put, while the gloss soothes, smoothes and prevents cracking.

Your feet ache at the end of your shift. What to do? Massage them, soak them or elevate them?

You can’t go wrong with any of the above. Each gets the blood circulating, thereby easing the tension, swelling and fatigue that comes from being on your feet for extended periods of time, says Dr. Christopher Ferguson, DPM, a podiatrist at St. Luke’s — Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. “The more circulation, the better your feet will feel,” says Ferguson.

Whichever fix works best with your after-work routine is your best option—or, if your schedule permits, indulge in all three of them. If you can only spare a minute or two, kick off your shoes when you walk in the front door and give your soles a quick massage, using your thumbs to firmly stroke from your heels toward your toes. If you can spare 10 minutes, soak your feet in warm water with a drop or two of your favorite essential oil. And to soothe your nerves as well as your aching dogs, try a simple restorative yoga pose known as legs up the wall. Sit on the floor with one hip next to the wall. Gently swing your legs up the wall as you slowly let your back and head recline on the floor. Now just rest as you reverse the effects of gravity.

Lesley Alderman
Lesley Alderman, a former editor at Money and Real Simple, currently writes about health and wellness for various magazines and is a columnist for The New York Times. She recently found time to become a yoga instructor.

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