Beauty gadgets, tools and thingamajigs can make it faster or easier to look better. These are the best, including an amazing DIY home laser, Spanx for your eyebags (they really work!), and the only foundation brush you’ll ever need.
Our love of a good beauty gadget started with the Clarisonic, the face-cleaning brush that has sold millions. Now you can get tools for everything from helping your moisturizer penetrate faster to buffing your nails. That means it’s difficult to sort out which work and which are going to end up in the back of the wardrobe. These are pricy, but most won’t wear out, so you can call them a long-term investment in yourself.
If you have straight, sleek hair, then you’re probably baffled at the notion that there’s anything wrong with a standard hairbrush. But if you’re frizz prone, have curls, Afro hair or the kind of locks that attract knots and tangles, then this could be the tool for you. The invention of a British hairdresser, the Tangle Teezer has 400 teeth of varying lengths, made from silicone. This minimises stress on hair and smoothens as you brush. You can use it on wet, dry, damaged or breakage-prone hair and it’s even said to make ‘normal’ locks shinier.
Shu Uemura’s original Eyelash Curler is a cult favourite. Now, the brand has launched a new version: The S Curler. What’s different? It’s smaller, with no bars at the side, so it can grab any lashes, even the tiny ones at the corners of the eyes. Unlike the original, it fits any eye shape and is dinky enough to fit into your on-the-go makeup bag. Get it from a counter and ask the advisor to show you how to use it – there’s a bit of a knack.
$27, at Holt Renfrew
You’ll have to prise my Clarisonic from my cold, dead hands; I love the way it’s totally transformed my skin, making it look brighter and better. However, many people find it too aggressive for daily use, even with the sensitive brush head. The Phillips PureRadiance is said to be as gentle on skin as hand-washing, but as effective as the Clarisonic, and is more or less the same price.
$239.99 (includes one normal and one exfoliation brush head) at Bed Bath and Beyond and www.amazon.ca
Bog-standard hairdryers are light, but lacking power, so you have to waft the thing around your head for ages to get your locks semi-dry. Professional-grade ones tend to be heavier than lead, and as loud as an airplane taking off. This one is light, quiet and powerful, with a special airflow system and ionic technology that supposedly make it even better for your hair than air-drying.
$298, available at Sephora and www.sephora.ca
Eye bags are caused by an excess of fat under the eyes. They happen to some people as they grow older, and despite what cosmetic companies may tell you, they’re impossible to fix with creams. The only thing that can permanently reduce real eye bags is a surgical procedure called blepharoplasty, but Neotensil, a sort of clingfilm for the eye area, can temporarily make them vanish. How it works: You use a special tool to apply two different kinds of cream in a thin layer under the eyes. When this layer sets, it compresses the eye bag for up to 16 hours, after which you remove the film with a special cleanser. I tried it and it’s amazing: noticeable, but natural. It’s too pricy for every day, but brilliant for times when you’re going to be photographed lots. One thing to note: You can’t wear concealer over it, so if your dark circles are worse than your bags, you might want to skip it.
$500 for 50 applications, at www.eskincarestore.com
I never understood the point of foundation brushes till I tried this one. In my experience, all they did was soak up your product and (unless you were an expert makeup artist) make you look streaky and weird. But this is different. It has very densely packed bristles, cut at a slight angle so they can get into every nook and cranny of your face. You dot on foundation, then use the brush to dab it in. It’s easy peasy to use, works with virtually every texture – liquid, cream or powder – and gives a properly flawless, airbrushed finish.
$35, at Sephora and www.sephora.ca
The secret to permanently perfect brows is to have them threaded once (I like Bombay Brow Bar) and then maintain them at home by plucking as soon as strays appear. Tweezerman tweezers get a lot of love, but I prefer these ones: they’re sharper, easier to grip, and better at dealing with even fine or short hairs.
$38, at www.eskincarestore.com
Laser such as Fraxel are said to boost production of collagen and blast away hyperpigmentation, so you get reduced wrinkles and more even skin. The problem? You have to go to a doctor’s clinic to have the procedure, it’s expensive, and painful. The Tria laser is the first FDA-approved home laser for rejuvenation. You use it before bed for eight weeks – on its most intense setting, it takes around 10 minutes to treat your whole face, so it’s not a massive time commitment – and then take a four-week break to allow new collagen to develop.
I’m now four weeks into the treatment programme and already noticing some seriously impressive results on enlarged pores, pigmentation and my mammoth crows’ feet. I’d tentatively say that these effects are better than any skincare and most dermatological procedures I’ve tried – and I’ve tried a lot. It is painful, especially at the highest level, and your skin initially gets a strange sandpaper-like texture because of dryness.
I’m very pale-skinned and have significant redness afterwards that lingers till the next morning. I’m counteracting it with Avene Antirougeurs Calm Soothing Mask, which I leave on overnight, and Bioderma Sensibio AR in the morning (both are available from Shoppers), but still look a bit tomato-ey. Not a huge problem for me because I work from home; if I was office-based, I’d need a redness-cancelling primer, like this one from Smashbox.
$569, available at Sephora and www.sephora.ca
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