10/07/2012 11:46 | By Rachel Burge, contributor, MSN Her

Holiday beauty countdown

If you want to look gorgeous and goddess-like on the beach (and what woman doesn’t?) it’s worth starting your beauty prep early. Whether you’ve got six weeks or six hours until your flight, we’ve got your pre-holiday essentials covered…

Woman looking in the mirror (© Getty Images)

1. Tone up your wobbly bits: six weeks plus to go
If you need to tone up but the idea of gym workouts bring you out in a cold sweat, treat yourself to a series of deep-tissue spa treatments. Great for stimulating stubborn fat under the skin's surface, the Carita Intense Refining Contour Treatment uses a lifting and toning machine to help stimulate the muscles of the body, leaving them toned and refined.

"It's particularly great for legs, bums and tums to get them ready for summer time," says Bianca Djemil, beauty therapist at the Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa, London. "Seven to eight weekly sessions are required, so I'd recommend you start treatments about two months before you go for optimum results."

2. And if you've got just days to go...
There's still time to get smooth skin, even if your holiday is just a week away. Dry body brushing, best done before a shower, will help stimulate the lymphatic system, improve circulation and remove dead skin cells. For even speedier results, use a body scrub.

"Slender Cow Detox Body Scrub by Cowshed is great for keeping skin in tip-top condition," says beauty professional Amanda Bell. "With seaweed and botanical extracts and mango butter it's a fabulous all-rounder for smooth skin - and is the perfect prep for applying moisturiser or gradual tan. And it smells great too."

3. Fuzz-free skin: six weeks to go
If your holiday is months away you could say goodbye to unwanted hair permanently. Ellipse IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatments use short bursts of laser light from a hand-held applicator to remove unwanted hair and is suitable for both face and body.

"At least three to six treatments are needed for permanent hair removal," advises Bianca. "Keep in mind that you'll need to leave intervals of several weeks between each treatment, as the laser needs to work on the hair at different stages of growth. And you'll need to stay out of the sun while you're having the treatments, too."

4. And if you've got just days to go...
If there is just a week to go until your holiday, having your legs professionally waxed will ensure you don't have to worry about stubbly regrowth for at least three weeks. When it comes to at-home kits, Amanda recommends Bliss Poetic Waxing.

"This fantastic home waxing kit will give long-lasting, hair-free skin," says Amanda. "It can grip the shortest, coarsest hairs effectively so can be used for the bikini line, under-arm and leg. And because it grips the hair and not the skin it's fuss free - even for the waxing novice."

5. Long, strong nails: six weeks to go
For strong, healthy nails, it's worth nourishing your body from the inside out. You should hopefully see a marked improvement to the condition of your skin and hair too.

"Start taking Perfectil nails plus by Vitabiotics at least four weeks before you go on holiday," suggests nail artist Glenis Baptiste. "This is a great treatment that encourages growth and nourishes the nail from deep within the matrix, leaving your nails looking healthy and strong."

6. And if you've got just days to go...
Even if your flight is days away, there's still time to achieve beautiful nails thanks to professional overlays. For a long-lasting, chip-free manicure, opt for Shellac overlays, which can transform even weak, tatty nails into elegant talons. Expect to pay £40-£50 in salon.

"Bio sculpture or Shellac nails are a favourite among us nail gurus," says Glenis. "It's quick and easy to apply with a fabulous choice of colours. And, unlike some overlays, they won't damage your natural nail bed and actually help to strengthen and promote nail growth."

7. Luscious eye lashes: four weeks to go
If swimming is high on your holiday itinerary you'll want to leave the mascara at home. Have your eyelashes dyed the week before you go away and you won't have to worry about make-up until you're back. If you have dark hair, turn up the volume and ask for blue-black. If you're fair skinned, it's best to keep it natural with brown.

For extra drama, book yourself in for a set of JINNYlash semi-permanent eyelash extensions. These pre-curved lashes are applied to the root of your own lashes to extend your natural flutter. Available in thick and thin and a range of lengths, they take around 90 minutes to fit. Once applied, they look and feel like your own natural lashes and can last up to six weeks.

8. And if you've got just days to go...
If that all sounds like too much trouble, consider packing some falsies that you can apply before a night out. "Mac 20 Lashes are the perfect half-lash falsies to take away on holiday," says Amanda. "They're fun and flirty but very durable, which means you can use them more than once."

Available in a variety of shapes and densities, you can choose whether to go for a subtle look or a Bambi-eyed flutter. "Use Duo lash glue as your adhesive and they will stay put from dusk 'til dawn," adds Amanda.

Woman on a beach (© Getty Images)

9. Get a fake glow: four weeks to go
If you're going to sunbathe while you're away - despite the health risks and potential skin damage - Imedeen Tan Optimizer tablets (£40.99 for a two-month supply at Boots), will help prepare the skin for sun exposure and help to prolong your tan once you get home. You'll still need to wear a decent SPF sun cream.

If the thought of exposing your pasty legs turns you pale with embarrassment, apply a gradual fake tan before you go. "L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Gradual Tan is my favourite," says Amanda. "The tan looks very natural, the body skin is soft and nourished and it comes in varying shades to suit all skin tones so that the eventual shade will mimic your natural tan."

10. And if you've got just days to go...
If your plane takes off in a matter of days, a professional spray tan will give instant colour. Expect to pay around £25 for a Fake Bake spray tan, which should last up to seven days.

A consultant will provide you with a disposable thong and optional bra, plus foot protectors to ensure that the soles of your feet aren't miscoloured. They will help you choose what colour of tan is best for you and will ensure you don't go too dark in certain places. Remember to exfoliate (pay extra attention to knees, elbows and feet) and moisturise well before you go.

11. Healthy and shiny hair: six weeks to go
Hair can take a battering on holiday with all that sun and chlorine, so nourish it well before you go. If you hair is fine or thinning, a two-month course of Kérastase Densitive Nutrients (£25.30 for 60 tablets), may help - or book yourself in for a salon conditioning treatment.

"Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to pre-holiday hair care," says celebrity hairstylist Ben Cooke. "It's best to have a deep-conditioning salon treatment a few weeks before you go to give your hair a healthy boost. We offer a Sebastian Conditioning Treatment at Lockonego, which is fantastic for giving dull, dry and lifeless hair instant shine and vitality."

12. And if you've got just days to go...
If you can, have a trim a few days before you go, to deal with any split ends, and remember to pack a few conditioning treatments to limit any damage while you're away.

"There are some really great at-home treatments you can use," says Ben. "Soft Waves Intensive Mask, part of the Tousle Me Softly Collection by Herbal Essences, is perfect for nourishing dull, fly-away hair. Simply smooth in the mask and leave for five minutes before rinsing out."

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