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How to Look Attractive at a Party: Nail and Skin Tips

Okay, so you've finally been asked to that classy soiree you've been dying to attend all year. What next?

Well, of course you've got to pick out the right dress, get your hair styled in an impeccable and daring fashion, select the perfect Cinderella shoes (in hopes you'll be noticed by some Prince Charming), and then there are all the fun and necessary accessories, from that cute little purse to the barrettes in your hair. But wait -- have you considered the package you're gussying up? We're talking about you, and all the bits of you that all those other lucky guests are going to see. Specifically, how do you plan to prepare your skin and nails for your big debut? We are, of course, your humble servants in this regard, and we've got a few hints we can offer.

First of all, let's take a look at your skin. If you've been following a decent skin care routine, then it's easy -- your skin's probably in great shape. If you haven't, then shall we suggest pancake makeup for the evening? Seriously, once you've instituted a daily routine of skin cleansing, skin toning, and moisturizing, your skin should already have a healthy glow that doesn't take much extra work to enhance for the party. But of course you want flawless skin at least for the night, just in case Mr. Right does make an appearance. This would be an excellent excuse to pamper yourself with a deep facial cleansing. Consider a facial exfoliation, or at least scrub your face with a mildly exfoliating cleanser. This would also be a great time to apply a beauty mask, to give your skin its very best look. If you've recently treated yourself to an exfoliation or beauty mask, this step might not be necessary. Be sure, however, not to skip your twice-daily facial wash -- and of course moisturizing is an absolute must. One warning: take it easy with the plain soap and water, because most soap (yes, even Dove and Ivory) contains harsh detergents that can dry out your skin.

If you're absolutely desperate -- say, if you've had a sudden breakout that's glaringly visible -- you can book a rush appointment with your dermatologist. They'll be able to do something that can at least improve your complexion. Don't go overboard with some of their treatments, however -- rather than a risk a chemical peel, for example, you should try to tough it out with bad skin; it's less dangerous in the long term, and peels take a while to heal. Steroid shots (such as cortisone) are very effective for skin outbreaks, but they can also put your system out of whack for up to several weeks.

Your nails are likely to be much easier to handle. In most cases, fingernails and toenails respond very well to a weekly nail treatment consisting of little more than a self-manicure or pedicure, combined with the proper removal and reapplication of fingernail polish. Remember, your polish isn't just there to look good, it's there to help strengthen your nails and protect them from dings, scratches and chips. Of course, if you'd like your nails to look their very best, then you should schedule a visit with your favorite professional manicurist. The basic treatment for your hands and feet (assuming you plan to wear open-toed shoes) shouldn't be too expensive. You should already have a manicurist, since it's best to get your nails done professionally on occasion; but if you don't, now's the time to start interviewing. And it is an interview: you'll need to examine both her shop and her practices to make sure she's clean, hygienic, and careful, because you don't want to end up with nail fungus. Make sure, too, that she's professionally licensed by your state.

A note about your cuticles, those little strips of skin that grow down onto your fingernails and toenails. You probably don't even notice them unless you've got a hangnail, but you can be sure that your friendly neighborhood manicurist will. In fact, she may attempt to descend on your cuticles with scissors in hand and snip them away. Don't let her do it, not if you need your nails at their finest for the party! Your cuticles exist to protect the nail beds of your fingers from harmful microbes. If your cuticles are cut away, torn, or otherwise damaged, that might leave your nails open to infection, and nail bed infections look and feel awful.

One way your manicurist can improve the look of your nails is to attach some glamorous nail tips, a service that generally runs $20-40. As with any process in which three-dimensional nail enhancements are glued to your nails, there's the chance that nail tips could soften and weaken your nails. If you've got a week or so before the party, however, you might want to try biotin to strengthen your nails. This vitamin, which has proven effective in strengthening animal claws (if not human ones), can be found at most health food stores.
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