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Simple ways to enhance your personal beauty

Many women are on an eternal quest to enhance their beauty, spending thousands of dollars each year on cosmetics or hair care products to emulate the pictures they see in leading beauty magazines.

Studies going back to 1995 have determined that it can take only a few minutes of looking at a beauty magazine to cause most women to feel depressed, guilty and shameful. In the 1980s, models weighed about eight percent less than the average woman. But today's models weigh 25 percent less on average, establishing a standard that many women cannot meet without sacrificing their health. But models and celebrities have entire teams devoted to making them look attractive, sometimes spending hours receiving cosmetic applications from stylists and makeup artists.

Women struggling to live up to unrealistic standards can look beyond many makeup and cosmetic fixes to bring out their beauty. There are many different strategies that have stood the test of time.

* Confidence: A woman who exudes confidence and security about how she looks may come off as more attractive. By comparison, women who hide behind layers of clothing or makeup may seem like they're trying to disguise their true selves. Walking with your head held high into a room can certainly have all eyes pointing in your direction for the right reasons.

* Good posture: Standing up straight can improve your health and your appearance. Stooping posture has long been associated with old age, and symptoms of frailty and lack of energy. Simply standing tall can elongate the body, make it appear slender and help portray a younger appearance.

* Healthy hair: Hair sends a message to others about how much you care about your appearance, as it is one of the most visible aspects of your appearance. Many people suffer with hair issues that can be remedied with different techniques. Dry unmanageable hair may be the result of inadequate scalp stimulation. In such instance, the oils of the scalp need to be spread to the hair shaft to improve hair's appearance and health. Too often women do not spend enough time brushing or massaging the scalp to induce oil distribution. While 100 strokes with a brush is not necessary, a thorough brushing each day can help.

* Skin care: Women often turn to cosmetic products as fast fixes to beauty woes. While many manufacturers present their products as the miracle fix women were looking for, most beauty items do not offer the fresh-from-the-plastic-surgeon's-office effect. In reality, expensive products may not work any better than inexpensive ones. For decades people have relied on petroleum jelly as a versatile skincare product. It has been used to accelerate healing in the skin, as a moisturizer, as a protectant from weather elements and even as a lip balm. You should try petroleum jelly to prevent wrinkles or add moisture to troubled skin as a first recourse over more expensive specialty products.

* Diet: While you won't turn into a giant cupcake if you have a penchant for sweets, the notion of "you are what you eat" does have its merits. An individual's appearance is not only influenced by genetics but also by the foods and beverages an individual consumes. Eating the right foods can have a positive effect on your health as well as your appearance. The vitamins and minerals contained in certain foods can improve the appearance of the skin, hair and nails. And it is well documented that drinking ample amounts of water can also play a big role in keeping your body hydrated and looking its best.

* Lifestyle: Smoking not only affects your internal organs and increases your cancer risk, but it's also affects your appearance. Smoking can discolor the skin and the hands. Smokers who routinely purse their lips to take a drag on a cigarette may notice a faster accumulation of fine lines around the mouth. The blood vessels in the eyes can be compromised by a lack of oxygen due to smoking, and the chemicals in the smoke can lead to inflammation and irritation of the eyes. Smoking also seems to age the skin more quickly, further enhancing the appearance of wrinkles.

Women hoping to look their best can employ some of these beauty tips, which don't require a trip to the cosmetic counter.