1. Heated blemish treatment. These space-age devices send light deep into a pimple to heal it more quickly. “It may reduce swelling and kill the bacteria that cause acne,” says Leslie Baumann, a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami, in Florida.
2. Retinoid cream. “There’s tons of data showing that these vitamin A–derived creams are incredible multitaskers. They help reduce fine lines, lighten sun spots, fight breakouts, and improve blotchiness. What’s not to love?” says Ranella Hirsch, president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. While in the past, you had to see a dermatologist to get products with a high enough concentration of the ingredient to make a difference, today’s over-the-counter offerings can pack effective doses. Try: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Intensive Night Cream, $20 at drugstores.
3. Safe soother. People with eczema and red, sensitive skin no longer need to rely on steroids to calm their complexions. “Many of my patients want to avoid cortisone creams, because they’re now aware that, over time, continuous use of them can lead to thinning of the skin, broken blood vessels, and even stretch marks,” says Jessica Wu, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, in Los Angeles. The new alternative: Creams that contain botanical ingredients, like licorice and feverfew, which shouldn’t have adverse effects. Try: Eucerin Redness Relief Soothing Moisture Lotion SPF 15, $15 at drugstores.
4. Sturdy hair clips. The secret to a sleek blow-out or smooth waves is to blow-dry (or flat-iron or curl) just one section at a time. That’s much easier to do with help from firmly gripping, no-slip sectioning clips. “One holds a lot of hair, so you can section easily,” says Dean Banowetz, a hairstylist in Los Angeles. Try: FHI Heat T-Rex Clips, $15 for two, fhiheat.com.
5. Bungee hair band. Use one to keep a ponytail looking as sleek as it did before you attempted to wrestle it into an elastic. “With one of these, you never have to pull the hair through the band,” says Jessica Gillin, a stylist at the Sally Hershberger Salon, in New York City. Just hold the ponytail in place, wrap the bungee around it, then hook it once it’s tight. Try: Ricky’s Bungees, $4 for four, 888-574-2592.
6. Modern flat iron. The latest irons are feather light and have plates engineered to distribute heat evenly and cause less damage. "Many have an adjustable thermostat and rounded edges that let you wind hair around the iron to create curls," says Ted Gibson, owner of the Ted Gibson Salon, in New York City. Try: Revlon Perfect Heat 1-Inch Ceramic Straightener, $26, target.com.
7. Hair-setting tape. This old-school tool is being rediscovered as the best way to redirect a stubborn cowlick or awkward layers. “It’s such an undercover stylist trick,” says Jet Rhys, a hairstylist in San Diego. Heat-style as usual, use the tape to secure bangs at their best angle or flatten a flyaway, then mist with hair spray. Once the spray dries, gently remove the tape and the hair will stay put. Try: Scotch Hair Set Tape, $8 at drugstores.
8. Hair thickener. To bulk up limp or fine hair without pricey, high-upkeep extensions, stylists rely on tinted hair-thickening powder. “Sprinkle it on and brush it through to make hair appear more voluminous,” says Banowetz. “You can even use it to cover up thinning spots.” Try: Toppik, $22, toppik.com.
9. Makeup primer. Think of it as base for your base. “It evens out the texture of skin so foundation looks natural, and it ensures that makeup stays on longer and doesn’t change color as the day goes on,” says James Boehmer, a makeup artist in New York City. Some primers come with SPF, and some even control oil. Try: Prescriptives Flawless Face Primer, $29.50, prescriptives.com.