As a former model who spends a lot of time in the gym, I cannot help concerning myself with looking good, even while working hard.  I am a good subject for testing out remedies since I have had problems with my skin, I have thin, frizz-prone hair and I like to dress cute at the gym without breaking the bank.  So, here are some of my best tips:

Hair: I always wear my hair up in a chignon knot at the back of my head with a cloth head-band wrapped around it to hold it in place.  This is because I have learned that rubber bands, no matter how thick and coated, do nothing to protect the hair from the elements, such as either too much moisture or dryness (or heat or cold).  These elements can make the hair more prone to breakage (and rubber bands are the worst for that because they always get stuck in the hair and pull out a few strands).  The next thing you need to know is that sweat is full of salt and salt will dry your hair out until it feels like straw. That’s why I don’t wear a pony tail, no matter how cute it looks. When the delicate ends of my hair hang down on my back and pick up sweat, it causes split ends and dryness.  But even if you do wear your hair up like me, after you sweat, you still always, always need to rinse any sweat out.  Shampooing is also drying, so you don’t have to use shampoo every time, you can shampoo once a week.  But I recommend using a conditioner every time because, just like your skin needs lotion, your hair can always benefit from a good conditioner.  But just like you always need to change your workout to see progress, you need to change your conditioner every month or two or it stops working.  You can end up with too much build up or the hair shaft will resist absorbing the moisture after a while.  I have dry hair, so I am using Biolage balm right now.  I also use Aussie and Nexxus conditioners (always look for companies that don’t test on or use animals).  If your hair gets really dry, the best remedy I have found is to rinse my hair, coat it with a thick and heavy conditioner and comb it through and then put my hair in a little hair towel and sleep in the conditioner.  When I rinse it out in the morning, the results are miraculous.  Also, the best ant-frizz remedy I have found is the Frizz-Ease “Secret-Weapon Finishing Creme”.  You put a little on while your hair is still wet. I can’t recommend the other Frizz-Ease products because of the alcohol content, which tends to dry my hair out worse.  This one is alcohol free and fabulous!

Skin:  I grew up in Mississippi (where it’s hot and humid in the summer) and had acne as a teen.  As an adult I’ve lived all over the place from Miami to NYC to Colorado to Hawaii to California.  My skin (and hair) has reacted differently to each climate.  But one thing that I have learned is that cleansers are not good for my face!  Not at all!  I have very sensitive skin and I used to scrub the heck out of it trying to get rid of acne.  I used salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide and all sorts of harsh ingredients (and even tea tree oil and some other burning natural ingredients) trying to “blast” pimples.  It never worked.  Now, if I see a break out starting, I seek out cool remedies like an ice pack or cucumbers on my face. It’s all about inflammation, and you want to cool inflammation, never heat it up or cause more irritation.  I have also stopped using any cleansers at all and I just rinse my face with clean water and if I need to remove heavy makeup I take a shower and let the steam work on it and then I gently use my Clairsonic brush on my face (but I try not to use it more than once a week).  I may use soap to remove the makeup from the Clairsonic bristles, but never on my face.  I rinse the bristles good before they touch my face, and then I let them dry well after use (you have to take the brush attachment off).  Most of the time I remove makeup with olive oil and water and if that doesn’t get it all off, I use a soft towel to wipe off any remaining makeup.  I find that being gentle is so much more important than making sure that I get every last bit of makeup off.  Having said all of that—what about sweat?  If you live in a humid climate, I recommend rinsing your face off ASAP after you sweat because bacteria will grow very fast.  If you are in a drier climate, things are a little less dangerous, but I still never leave the gym without washing my hands and then splashing water on my face and wiping off the sweat.  Ever since I began this “gentle love” philosophy of dealing with my skin, I have had the clearest skin of my life! As for creams and potions–for pimples, I use arnica and it works better than anything else I’ve ever tried.  For dry spots and wrinkles, I use Vitamin E oil and Vitamin C cream.  I use coconut oil and olive oil to remove makeup (with my hands or an organic cotton ball or soft towel). For once weekly exfoliation or to remove heavy (like TV or modeling-type) makeup, I use my Clairsonic.

Makeup: I always keep my makeup natural at the gym, but I do tend to wear a little.  You spend so much time staring at yourself in the mirror at the gym.  If you don’t look good it can be depressing!  So, I use a little concealer under my eyes for dark circles, a little natural mineral bronzer on my cheeks and nose and forehead, a little mascara and a little lip tint.  I said “a little” over and over here for a reason—it really is just a little.  Keep it light and natural looking.  It’s better for your skin and it looks more appropriate. Women who are all made up at the gym look strange.  It’s a real problem in Los Angeles.  Some women get all made up in sexy work out clothes and lots of make up and come to the gym and barely work out (they tend to sit on machines for long periods of time without actually using them much).  Are they looking for a date?  Are they hoping to be discovered?  Who knows, but I’ve never seen anyone approach them.  Like I said it looks strange.  Please don’t be this way.  You are representing vegan fitness—let’s be serious about working out when we’re at the gym ladies!

Cute Gym Clothes: Victoria’s Secret has great yoga pants and I wear them to the gym and to do yoga and whenever I want to be comfortable. Old Navy also carries cheap and great looking yoga pants. Occasionally I even find a pair of spandex pants/leggings at Target or Wal Mart.  The trick with those stores is to do a quick look for them whenever you are there to buy other things and eventually you might get lucky and find a pair.  Tops have their own issues.  If you need a good sports bra for running or any sort of hopping, jumping activity, you will need to go to Sports Authority or some other large sporting goods store and try on a bunch of them (and jump up and down in the dressing room) until you find one that flatters and controls bounce.  If you just need a top for weight lifting and cardio machines at the gym, you can get away with wearing any top with a built in shelf.  I recommend these instead of wearing a regular bra because it is easier to clean a top with a built in bra shelf than to have to wash a real bra every day (and real bras don’t last long once you start washing them in the washing machine all the time). You can find these sorts of tops on sale at the gym or at most stores that have an athletic department for women.

If you really want to look great, you can pay the big bucks for Lulelemon or Alo clothes.  But I would only do that for a photo shoot or if you had a hot date at the gym (yes, I’ve done that, had a date at the gym—I don’t know why more people don’t do that, it’s a great way to make sure your guy is supportive of your lifestyle).

Other Random Tips:

Olive oil is a great moisturizer and adds and golden glow—especially nice on the legs!  But don’t use too much or you’ll be leaving a greasy mess every where you sit.

Gloves: get a cute pair of workout gloves, if you don’t already have some.  You can find vegan versions at Target and online. If you’re not used to wearing them, you will be surprised how much more you can lift and how many more reps you can do when the machine or weight is not cutting into your hand!  Also, did I mention they look great?!  They cover up the veins on the back of your hands and they just look bad ass.  I love my little pink and grey gloves!

Water bottle: The water bottle is the ultimate accessory (besides the gloves and cute clothes and shoes) at the gym.  Get one that’s big enough for at least a liter of water, made of a BPA-free material and cute!  I know they can be expensive, but occasionally they are on sale at Target.  I just got a new pink stainless steel water bottle at Target for $3.50!!!   It pays to always be on the look out for a bargain!  My old water bottle was all beat up looking.  The paint was chipped off and it was dented.  It’s funny how little things like a nice looking water bottle can effect your self-esteem and morale at the gym.  I say we need every bit of motivation we can get.  Life is too short to go around with an ugly water bottle when you could have a cute one!  Hee hee

High Heels: This is not a tip for the gym, but for getting a leg workout outside the gym.  My advice is that whenever you can, wear high heels!  The higher the better!  If you wear them properly (keep your body weight on your balls of your feet by flexing your calves), you will get a killer calf work out, and probably quadricep and maybe hamstring…  Also, there is a long-held belief that high heels help keep the tush from sagging (again, only if you wear them with the proper posture and squeeze the glutes).  My tips for doing this successfully is to (1) only buy heels that are comfortable on your toes (no squishing your toes into those horribly pointy toes unless you are blessed with very short toes), and (2) only buy heels with rubber soles that really grip the ground as you walk (the slippery bottoms shoes throw off your posture and make you prone to fall and get hurt), and (3) with each step, think about the muscles in your legs that you are working and flex them—walk strong.  This is the perfect time of year to find high heeled boots with rubber soles—the easiest heels to walk in.  Also, FYI, the fatter the heel the easier to walk in (wedgies are best).  Disclaimer: Do not wear heels when you know you will have to be on your feet with no chance to sit and rest your toes if they need it for more than an hour or two! Also, if you are new to heels, you might want to bring along some flats.  It is a work out to wear heels and you may not have the endurance for it until you do it a few times.  Oh, and remember to pull the abs up and in as you walk.  That, in conjunction with squeezing the glutes and throwing the shoulders back, will completely protect the spine.


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