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Positively Beautiful: What really goes into creating a ‘red-carpet look’

Tonight, thousands of people will tune in to their televisions for one of the most exciting evenings of the year, the Academy Awards. It's Hollywood's biggest night, the most prestigious award show of its kind. And of course, all the stars will b...

Susan Mathison
Dr. Susan Mathison

Tonight, thousands of people will tune in to their televisions for one of the most exciting evenings of the year, the Academy Awards.
It’s Hollywood’s biggest night, the most prestigious award show of its kind.
And of course, all the stars will be sauntering down the red carpet looking their absolute best.
As a physician, I can tell you, those magnificent red-carpet looks that cause viewers to hang their jaws on the floor with amazement don’t just “happen.” There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into creating that kind of ultra-glam, camera-ready appearance.
Here are just a few of the steps that your favorite stars are taking to achieve that level of glamour:

  • Hair: Deep conditioning for weeks leading up to the event.

Stylist Adir Abergel, whose clients include Rooney Mara and Eva Green, gives her clients a series of deep-conditioning hair masks to apply – and sleep in – during the weeks leading up to that big red-carpet moment. This ensures ultra-glossy locks that gleam under the bright lights.

  • Skin: One full month of preparation.

Celebrity skin care pro Joanna Vargas puts her clients on a monthlong pre-carpet regime, using mild electric currents to drain puffiness, tone muscle and tighten things up. She also gives her clients an intensive resurfacing peel to remove dead, dehydrated skin.

  • Body: Six weeks of intense training, minimum.

Celeb trainer Valerie Waters puts each client on a customized, high-intensity program for at least six weeks leading up to the event, focusing strongly on whichever body zone is going to be exposed in her client’s gorgeous gown. To soothe those sore muscles and keep stress hormone (which can cause weight gain) levels down, some trainers insist upon their clients getting a daily massage, especially the week of the big event. At least this part sounds good to me!

  • Nutrition: A super lean and clean meal plan.

While some celebrities are infamous for their wild drop-weight-fast detoxes and diets, most of the top celebrity trainers advocate a more “common sense” approach. After all, their clients are training like athletes. They need high-quality fuel. Nutritionist Heather Bauer, who works with stars like Tyra Banks, encourages her clients to cut out processed foods, white sugar, white bread and artificial sweeteners that lead to gas and bloating (like diet soda and sugar-free gum).
Bauer also recommends drinking 2 liters of water every day, minimum. (No flavoring or sweeteners. Straight-up H20.)
Rachel Beller, author of “Eat to Lose, Eat to Win,” recommends sipping fennel tea for the five days leading up to the event. It’s reported to have de-bloating properties.
On the actual day of the event? Nutritionist-to-the-stars Haylie Pomroy tells her clients to keep high-protein snacks, like turkey jerky, hidden away in their diamond-encrusted clutch bags to prevent a “hunger crash” during the long awards ceremony.
But, that’s just the beginning.
As if six weeks (or more) of grueling preparation, highly disciplined eating and Olympic-level training isn’t enough, there’s still more work to be done.
Most A-list celebs will also undergo (in no particular order): laser hair removal, teeth whitening, spray tanning, hair extensions, lash extensions. J-Lo and Beyonce love their faux lashes, Botox, fillers, B-12 vitamin shots, a last-minute juice cleanse and (probably) plenty of other tweaks and techniques that they’re not always willing to admit, at least in public.
Bottom line: The starlets you love make red-carpet glamour look completely effortless, but the reality is that it takes a bewildering amount of effort to pull off this kind of look. As Julia Roberts once confessed, “It takes 17 people. It takes a village. It really does.”
My personal stance? As viewers at home, we can enjoy the glamour, beauty and pageantry of award season, while still understanding that this “look” is a very calculated and intricate performance.
This person didn’t just roll out of bed, swipe on some lip gloss and hop into a limo, ready to roll. This moment was six weeks, if not six months or years, in the making.
Our challenge, especially as women, is to try to cultivate appreciation without falling into the trap of comparison.
If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts while watching the big gala unfold (“Oh, I’m so fat,” “She’s gorgeous, but I’m hideous”), do your best to stop those thoughts in their tracks.
Remind yourself: “Looking this particular way is this actress’ job. She put in a staggering amount of work to make it happen. I can appreciate this moment of over-the-top glamour without letting it bring me down.”
Tell yourself, too: “I get to decide what ‘beauty’ means for me. Whether it’s a low-effort, natural look or a high-effort, super-glam look, it’s my skin, my body, my life, my choice, my freedom.
“Beauty is mine to define. I can pursue whatever kind of ‘look’ feels fabulous to me.”
Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo and created  PositivelyBeautiful.com. Email her at info@catalystmedicalcenter.com .

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