Skip to main content

Party coming up? Get picture perfect

By Jacque Wilson, CNN
The real test of success comes after the party -- when pictures of you and your date start appearing everywhere.
The real test of success comes after the party -- when pictures of you and your date start appearing everywhere.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A spray tan can give you a nice glow and even out your skin tone
  • Using over-the-counter whitening products can brighten your smile
  • Follow a diet high in vegetables and fruits and low in sodium to get rid of bloating

(CNN) -- Photos from your prom last forever. Trust us.

Sure, the event is nice, with its twinkling lights and slow-dance butterflies. But the real test of success comes after the party -- when pictures of you and your friends start appearing everywhere.

You're uploaded to Facebook. You're e-mailed to your aunts in Seattle. You're rotating across your mother's desktop background in a perpetual stream of twisted hair and pink taffeta.

"This generation of teens is so obsessed with taking pictures," Seventeen magazine beauty director Yesenia Almonte said. "They're spending eight hours a day just socializing through media."

With less than a few weeks (or days) until the big night, high school teens across the country are preparing for prom. Those of us a little, ahem, older than 17, are worried about upcoming weddings, graduation celebrations and/or family reunions.

So how can you avoid being added to the latest Awkward Family Photos meme?

Follow these tips from our beauty experts and you'll be picture perfect in no time.

Consider a spray tan

"Spray tanning is such a great thing," Almonte said. "It gives you a nice glow and evens out your skin tone." Plus it's infinitely better than damaging skin cells by lying out in the sun or baking in a tanning bed.

DHA, the active ingredient in modern day tanning solutions, works with the proteins in the top layer of your skin to turn it golden brown.

Spray-on tanning good or evil?
RELATED TOPICS

Since your upper epidermis is made up of dead cells, they aren't harmed in the process and the chemicals won't be absorbed into your body because they will eventually shed off with the dead skin. The FDA recommends spraying in a well-ventilated area and wearing a mask to avoid inhaling DHA.

Many salons offer spray tanning, but there are also mobile experts who will come to your home. You'll get personalized service, and most importantly, a customized solution, said Mandie Price, founder of the Mobile Tanning Association and owner of Gold n' Delicious Tans in Texas.

"One shot for everybody doesn't work," Price said. "That's why spray tanning has that stigma of 'please don't turn me orange.' The trick is to find a technician who will apply the proper solution for your skin type to avoid that 'Snookie tan' that we all fear."

If you are going to a salon, make sure to ask whether they offer varying strengths of solution. Pick one with 8% DHA if you're unsure -- Price says it looks good on most skin tones. And look for a company that's using the newer, faster HVLP sprayers.

Most spray tans fade away in seven days. Get it done two days before your event if you're wearing a light-colored dress; one day before is fine if it's a darker color. For more tips on spray tanning, check out Price's client dos and don'ts list.

Whiten your teeth

No need to make an appointment with your dentist. A ton of teeth whitening products are on the market and almost any of them will produce results with some time, Almonte said.

The American Dental Association says whitening products work in one of two ways, either bleaching the tooth to change its color or by using physical reactions to remove surface stains.

Whitening strips work well in just a few days by bleaching surface and set-in stains similar to a professional service.

Or use a dental association-approved whitening mouth rinse and toothpaste. Toothpastes contain polishing elements that help scrub off surface strains over time. Chew some whitening gum on the side and you'll notice a significant change in as little as two weeks.

"A brighter smile just sort of lights up your face -- it makes your skin look better, your eyes look brighter," Almonte said.

Be aware that using whitening products with hydrogen or carbamide peroxide (commonly found in whitening strips or trays) can lead to tooth sensitivity. Follow the instructions on the package regarding the length of time you leave them on. If you experience discomfort, remove the strips immediately.

Now say cheese!

Clear up your skin

There's nothing worse than waking up before the big day with a supersized zit on your forehead or finding a patch of acne on your back when you had planned to go strapless.

Your plan of attack depends on how much time you've got before the party, Almonte said.

"If you already break out and you want to start a (cleansing) regimen a few weeks before, that's great, but know that it takes a few weeks for a regimen to kick in."

This is true for bacne too. Use a salicylic acid body wash and you should see things clear up in a couple of weeks.

If you get a zit three or four days before the party, you have a good chance of getting rid of it with a daily salicylic acid face wash and a benzoyl peroxide topical cream.

Does stress have one popping out the day before? Call a dermatologist and get the pesky pimple injected with cortisone. The shot will shrink it down so you can cover it with concealer and foundation (use both, Almonte says) later.

Unfortunately, if it's the day of, you're out of options. Put some ice on it to reduce the swelling and give the photographer your "good side."

Lose the bloating

First let us note that there's no way to safely drop a few pounds in a short amount of time, and wanting to do so for any one occasion highlights an underlying body image issue.

That said -- we've all been there. But the best ways to get rid of that extra water weight before a party don't involve skipping meals, taking laxatives or eating grapefruit for a week.

"Diet pills and diuretics don't result in any real body weight loss," said Kendrin Sonneville, a registered dietitian and researcher who specializes in adolescent nutrition. "Using these products can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can affect your heartbeat and have serious health consequences."

Skipping meals, even snacks, also tends to backfire. "Your metabolism burns most efficiently when you eat consistently."

So eat. Eat foods high in water content such as fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, like lean meats. Avoid processed foods, and snack every three to four hours. Follow this "diet" and you'll have the energy required to deal with mom's shutterbug tendencies AND dance the night away.