Beauty Ideas That Save Time, Money, and Sanity
The Issue: Frizz
The Solution: A Keratin Treatment
If your hair is on the curly side, your mood probably dips along with the barometric pressure. A keratin treatment can be a game changer, rendering you frizzproof and free to go about your life despite inclement weather.
How it works: A stylist seals keratin, a conditioning protein, into each strand with a flat iron. “The keratin weightlessly coats the hair, blocking moisture, which is what triggers the chain reaction that leads to frizz,” explains Philadelphia-based stylist Alan Gold.
Where and how much: The treatment is available at salons nationwide. It can cost $150 or more, depending on whether you treat just one area (bangs, for instance) or your whole head.
Results last: Eight to twelve weeks, provided you don’t wash your hair for up to four days following the treatment. You’ll also need to steer clear of shampoos and conditioners with sodium chloride (a.k.a. salt), which breaks the keratin bonds.
A word to the wise: The treatment can release chemical fumes when it’s steamed into the hair, so you and your stylist should wear masks. But fear not, says celebrity stylist Paul Labrecque: “Masks looks scary, but this is actually just safe practice.”
Try this at home: The next generation of frizz fighters are long-lasting serums with special polymers that keep hair smooth through a shampoo or two. They may even help decrease frizz overall the longer you use them. Try Avon Advance Techniques Frizz Control Lotus Shield ($12, avon.com) or John Frieda Frizz Ease 3-Day Straight ($10 at drugstores).
The Issue: Skimpy Lashes
The Solution: Lash Extensions
Think of lash extensions as falsies that don’t come off with the rest of your makeup.
How they work: An aesthetician (preferably one with an aesthetician or cosmetology license) applies individual hairs to your lashes one by one, giving you dramatically fuller fringe and negating the need for mascara.
Where and how much: Lash extensions are available in hair salons and spas. Prices vary around the country but generally start at $150.
Results last: Four to eight weeks. Your add-ons will shed naturally with your lashes; they’ll last longer if they’re touched up by a pro (who can also remove them).
A word to the wise: To avoid the Snuffleupagus look, ask for just a few pieces at the outermost corners of your lashes instead of getting a full set. “Lashes are thickest in the middle of your lash line, so emphasizing only the outer corners can enhance your eyes in a more natural way,” says Courtney Akai, the owner of the Courtney Akai Lash Boutique, in New York City. Plus, it can cost less.
Try this at home: For a cheaper way to boost your lashes, try the new and improved drugstore falsies. Kiss Premium Eyelashes ($4 at drugstores) have strings on their outer corners so you can place them right along your lash lines, then slide the strings out.
The Issue: Chipped Polish
The Solution: A Gel Manicure
Yes, you can stay perfectly polished without spending half your waking hours in a salon. A gel manicure dries quickly and can resist chipping two to three times as long as a traditional manicure.
How it works: A technician preps your nails as usual, but when the color is applied, it’s cured under a UV light for a few minutes after each coat. This yields a hard, dry finish (you can reach right into your bag for your keys). The color can be taken off with pure acetone polish remover, found at drugstores.
Where and how much: Gel manicures are becoming available at more and more salons. Some list them on the menu as such, while others offer branded versions, such as Opi’s Axxium Soak-Off Gel Lacquers and Creative Nail Designs’ Shellac. Expect to pay about $20 over the price of a traditional manicure.
Results last: About 14 days or longer. So do the math: A standard $25 manicure might remain ding-free for three days, but with gel, $45 should buy you at least two weeks.
A word to the wise: Dana D’Andraia, a New York City manicurist who regularly “shellacs” her clients, recommends it for toes, too, especially before a vacation. “I call them round-trip nails,” she says. “They stay perfect for the whole trip.”
Try this at home: Sally Hansen’s new Real Nail Polish Strips ($10 at drugstores), which look like colored pieces of tape, adhere to tips dry, so there’s no wait time. But they only last—at the max—10 days.
The Issue: Body Hair
The Solution: Laser Hair Removal
Home hair removal is an exercise in tedium, particularly if you’re hirsute. That’s why Heather Woolery-Lloyd, a dermatologist in Miami, recommends several rounds of zapping with a 1064 nm Nd:YAG laser (also called the CoolGlide laser in some offices; for more information, go to cutera.com).
How it works: A technician aims the laser, which generates pulses of light energy that are absorbed by the pigment in hairs. This eventually causes each follicle to sprout less hair. Yes, it may sting, but a topical numbing cream can ease that.
Where and how much: Laser hair removal is offered in medical spas and dermatologists’ offices everywhere (and may be performed by anyone from a medical doctor to an aesthetician, depending on your state). Prices start at about $150 a session, and most people need five sessions for the best results.
Results last: A long time, which justifies the cost. While CoolGlide has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for permanent hair reduction, some people may continue to have minor growth and require a touch-up.
A word to the wise: Prior sun exposure may cause the skin to be extra sensitive to the laser’s sting. Be sure to use sunscreen no matter what time of year you’re zapped.
Try this at home: The Braun Silk-épil 7 epilator ($125, braun.com/us for stores) has 40 built-in tweezers that rapidly extract hairs at the roots, leaving you stubble-free for a month.
The Issue: Hair That’s Too Short or Too Flat
The Solution: Extensions
Whether your concern is slight thinning post-childbirth or a regrettable cut, or if you simply want to go all-out for a special event, extensions can do for your hair what no amount of styling or product can: instantly render your woes null and void for months.
How they work: A stylist attaches hair to the underlayers of your own (typically with glue, tape, or heat) to give it extra inches or fullness.
Where and how much: Extensions are available in salons everywhere. Human-hair add-ons (which most stylists consider the best choice because they look so, well, real) can run into the thousands—yes, thousands. A less expensive option is to do just small areas, like the crown, for added volume.
Results last: About four months. After that, the extensions should be removed and reapplied, because as your real hair grows, the point of attachment will begin to show, says Labrecque. Tangling is also an issue.
A word to the wise: Great Lengths, one of the premier extension companies, now offers Fastrack Gels (greatlengthsusa.com), lower-priced extensions with tapelike gel adhesive strips. Some stylists (such as Labrecque) are also open to creating reusable clip-in extensions made from real hair, which will set you back hundreds rather than thousands.
Try this at home: For a quick one-night solution, the HairDo line by Jessica Simpson and Ken Paves makes synthetic clip-ins (prices vary, but all are less than $100) that can be inserted at home to amazing effect.
The Beauty Breakthroughs
These new developments will simplify your beauty routine in ways you’ve only dreamed of.
A Sunscreen You Can Apply to Damp Skin
The word genius springs to mind. As you might deduce, Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunblock Sprays SPF 30, 50, and 85 ($9 to $11 at drugstores) stick to wet skin. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to reapply; it just means that you can do it the second you step out of the water or, heck, while you’re floating on a raft.
A Goofproof Eyeliner Pen
Dalton’s Multi-Angled Eyeliner Brush ($14, qvc.com) has a rotating head for easy application at any angle, so it accommodates lefties, righties, and the plain old eyeliner-challenged.
A Deodorant That Works Before You Need It
Most antiperspirants kick in when they come into contact with moisture, but by then you’re already sweaty and possibly smelling ripe. As soon as you start moving your body, the active ingredients in Degree Women Expert Protection With Motionsense ($4 at drugstores) begin releasing a fresh fragrance.
Beauty Staples Sent to Your Door
The clever people behind Diapers.com have launched BeautyBar.com, which delivers high-end skin-care lines (such as Bliss and Dermalogica), makeup, hair products, and fragrances nationwide. Same-day delivery is available in Manhattan; the site’s founders hope to bring this service to other cities in the near future.
A Spray-on Hair Straightener
Although it won’t go on the record yet, a certain hair-care company is rumored to be hard at work making this miracle happen. We can’t wait to retire our flat irons.
Beauty Shortcuts of the Pros
One way to simplify your beauty regimen is to cut out steps. That sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t always play out. Here’s what the experts say they’ve decided to forgo, and they’re pulling it off beautifully. Just let go of...
A Complicated Evening Skin-Care Routine
“I use a retinol cream with an antioxidant in it—two potent anti-agers—so I don’t need to layer products,” says New York City dermatologist Debra Jaliman. “And I keep it right next to my bed so that once I’m nestled in for the evening I won’t be tempted to skip it.”
“All that steam, coupled with the trauma of squeezing the skin for extractions, can weaken your blood vessels. This can be a recipe for broken capillaries,” says Gervaise Gerstner, a dermatologist in New York City. If you consider the relaxation reason enough to indulge, your money would be better spent on a massage, says Gerstner.
“In the past, many facial soaps were alkaline, so you may have needed an acidic toner to bring your skin back to a neutral pH. Now cleansers are typically formulated to be near the pH of the skin, so you rarely need toner,” says Jennifer Linder, a dermatologist in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I wiggle the mascara wand into the base of my lashes so it looks like I’ve lined when I haven’t,” says New York City makeup artist Amy Kernahan.
Frequent Trims and Color
“I go months between appointments,” says Danielle Pfeifer, a colorist at Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger, in New York City. “It’s all about having a good shape that looks neat while it grows out.” The same holds true for color. “I go longer than the recommended 12 weeks between appointments,” says Pfeifer. “A little root is modern. Really.”
“I buff my fingers and polish only my toes,” says Jaliman. “I use my hands a lot and hate chips. No one can tell the last time you buffed.”