Last updated: Mar 17, 2009

Q: Im starting to slump really badly, and it looks horrible. Whats going on?


A: Lots of things in your crazy-busy life can be posture-busters:

  • You sit wrong. At your desk, remind yourself to sit up straight: Push your back against the chairs back, keep feet flat on the floor, and place arms at a 75- to 90-degree angle from your elbows.


  • You wear the wrong shoes. Poor fit or inadequate support can make you slump. See a podiatrist, who may recommend inserts, healthier styles, or an orthopedic shoe.


  • Youre tied in knots. Muscle tension or stress can greatly restrict flexibility. Stretch out well before and after your workouts, or have a massage therapist work out the kinks.


  • Youre not eating right. With-out ample nourishment, your frame may start to sag. Eat more calcium- and vitamin D–rich foods (salmon, yogurt, kale), or add a multi to keep bones strong.


  • Your core is weak. Those midsection muscles help you stand up straight. Strengthen them with some specific yoga poses, like the Wheel or Cobra.



  • Q: The dark circles under my eyes keep getting darker, but I feel like Im getting enough sleep. Whats wrong?

    A: A few things may have you reaching for the concealer. Sinus blockage triggered by a food or seasonal allergy can cause swelling of the tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin—and, voila, “darkened” areas around your nose and eyes. An allergist can determine your allergy trigger. If yours is seasonal or the irritant is unavoidable, an over-the-counter drug like Claritin or Zyrtec should help. Note, too, that weight loss, smoking, or a high salt intake can worsen the appearance of dark circles.

    A vitamin deficiency could be another culprit. Take a daily multi, and add a night cream or facial mask containing vitamins K and A (a.k.a. retinol) to your skin-care regimen. One to try: LOreal Paris Skin Genesis Daily Treatment Eye Serum ($19.99). Unfortunately, those dark circles can also be a genetic thing.

    Excessive pigmentation can darken under-eye skin, especially if youre out in the sun a lot. Laser surgery, which resurfaces skin and destroys highly pigmented cells, is a solution, but expect a lengthy recovery period and a price tag in the thousands of dollars. Before you commit, try squeezing in an extra half-hour of sleep—fatigue can dull skin and make any discoloration more visible.





    Q: My sister offered me some of her migraine meds. OK to take?

    A: No. Its never a good idea to take someone elses prescription medication—whether theyre migraine drugs, common antibiotics, or anything in between. A doctor needs to confirm that you have a migraine problem. If you do, she will suggest meds that are specific to your needs. (What works for your sister might not work for you.) If migraines arent the root of your problem, covering up the headaches could make the real condition worse.

    Another risk: You could have an allergic reaction to your sisters drugs—anything from a rash to seizures or worse. Her medication also could interact with any meds youre already taking. So resist the urge to sample, and see your doctor if you need a scrip of your own.

    Q: Every time I shave my underarms and bikini line, I get nasty red bumps. Is this avoidable?

    A: The sensitive skin in these areas is easily irritated, hence the better-than-average likelihood of razor burn. Avoid it by prepping your skin before you shave. First, slough away dead cells with a washcloth or loofah. Then, enjoy the softening effects of warm water for at least five minutes. (If you currently shave-shampoo-then-bathe, you might want to reverse it.) Use shaving cream, and shave with—not against—the growth of the hair, to prevent ingrown hairs and inflamed pores. (A razor with a gel strip may help lubricate the skin.) Afterward, make sure your pits are thoroughly dry before applying deodorant. An alcohol-free aftershave product may be soothing, too. And never dry-shave: If you forget to shave while showering, re-wet with a damp washcloth and use shaving cream.