CND Additives, prices vary by salon.
THE DEAL: Runway-inspired nails--ombré, 3-D, glitz or animal print--can take hours at the salon, so it's a tragedy when it chips in three days. Get these 12 pigment powders blended into CND's gel nails or layered over Shellac to create a custom look that lasts up to 14 days.
IT WORKS: Our croc-print effect not only turned heads, it also took just a few minutes longer than a normal Shellac mani. When applied thinly, is still looked fresh after two weeks.
Also see: The Best Beauty Buys to Stash at the Office
Anastasia Lash Genius waterproof topcoat, $28.
THE DEAL: It’s hard enough finding The One without adding “water- proof” to your list of requirements. Sure, many products deliver on that front—but often at the expense of lushness. Now you can give any mascara staying power with this clear, silicone-based topcoat; it seals without mucking up the lash look you love.
IT WORKS: We paired this topcoat with our beloved YSL Shocking, which makes lashes very dramatically thick but deposits so much product, it tends to migrate. It defied both sweltering 30 degree weather and our kick-boxing session.
Also see: Fall Makeup Finds We Love
THREE-WEEK-STRONG AT-HOME MANI
Quo by Orly Gels Starter Kit, $40; LED Lamp, $80; and Colours, $10 each.
THE DEAL: Eliminating air-dry wait time, long-lasting gel manicures were a game-changer when they hit the market. The downside: You had to trek to the salon to get them on—and off. Not anymore. This at-home kit comes with a nail cleanser, primer, base and topcoat, plus pocket-style sponges and acetone for convenient removal. An LED lamp, sold separately, cures your choice of 10 polish shades.
IT WORKS: Although simple to follow, the process took longer than a professional’s deft handiwork, but the smooth, shiny result lasted three chip-free weeks and came off easily.
Also see: Beauty Test Drive: BB Creams
FRESH BREATH EXPRESS
Scope Dual-Blast Mouthwash, $4.
THE DEAL: Researchers say pungent foods such as garlic and onions ward off infections, lower cholesterol and possibly even protect against certain cancers. Problem is, they contain volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which leave brush-resistant bad breath. Instead of masking the funk, this mouthwash is designed to trap and then neutralize those odour-causing compounds.
IT WORKS: Caesar salad usually gives us a 24-hour garlic hangover, but after we gargled with this minty rinse, our scent-sensitive mate didn’t detect a thing.
Also see: 10 Ways To Update Your Beauty Look for Fall 2012
Tanda Me, $395.
THE DEAL: In the quest for fuzz freedom, some have traded razors for lasers—with varying degrees of success. While in-office treatments are often painful and expensive, the at-home gadgets were cumbersome time-sucks. This is the first at-home device to combine intense pulsed light (IPL) with radio frequency energy for safer, faster and more effective results. The shaver like gizmo glides over skin (and it’s effective whether you’re fair or olive-brown), treating a full body in about a half-hour.
IT WORKS: After four painless treatments, spaced two weeks apart, we were impressed by the dramatic reduction in hair.
Also see: Find Your Best Foundation
Giorgio Armani Maestro Skin Perfector, $68.
THE DEAL: Blockbuster BB creams (the skin care–makeup hybrid) just got some competition: the tinted oil. A foundation substitute with hydrating qualities, this perfects skin with an ultra-thin layer of fine pigments suspended in a dry oil. The coverage looks natural and doesn’t build up. Available in 12 shades, it suits all skin types (even oily) and protects with antioxidants.
IT WORKS: The idea of applying oil made us nervous, but with a few drops we were converts. It looked flawless and felt like wearing nothing, with zero greasiness.
GOOF-PROOF LIQUID LINER
Clarins 3-Dot Liner, $28 (limited edition).
THE DEAL: Arriving in time for fall’s cat-eye trend, this tool eliminates shaky technique with a trident-shaped sponge applicator, which stamps three tiny black dots at a time. Press it into the spaces between your lashes for subtle fullness, or, apply it inside the waterlines or glide along the lash lines for a more traditional effect.
IT WORKS: Connecting the dots took more patience than drawing with conventional eyeliner, but the reward was a more precise, budge-proof application.
Kevin Murphy Color Bug, $20.
THE DEAL: Forget sun-kissed; every- one from Nicole Richie to Katy Perry is embracing the My Little Pony mane. Can’t commit to candy floss? This pressed powder swipes on for washout colour (purple, pink or orange).
IT WORKS: The process was a little messy—some rubbed off on our clothes and pillow—but we got great colour payoff with the pink hue on blond hair. It’s best applied to damp sections following a styling spray, cream or paste, which will help create a grippy surface for the pigments.
HEALTHY HAIR STRAIGHTENER
L’Oréal Professionnel Steampod, from $25 per treatment at salons, or $250 for the at-home tool.
THE DEAL: Using a sizzling flatiron daily may make hair look sleeker— but it dries and damages. The alternative: This tool relies on continuous pressurized steam for root-to-tip smoothing. (It was designed with input from Rowenta, best known for making irons and garment steamers.) It arrives in select salons next month as an optional service after your blowout: Once your hair is 80 percent dry, a prokeratin serum or cream is applied, then the iron is passed over each section. It takes 15 minutes, and the look lasts up to three shampoos. A smaller, at-home Steampod launches in November.
IT WORKS: Though our hair didn't stay stick straight after washing, it felt smooth and healthy for days; friends asked what we did to make it so shiny.
Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Éclat, $60.
THE DEAL: Most classic full-coverage foundations contain opaque powders, so they can appear ashy, dull and mask-like, especially on darker complexions. This swaps out those fillers in favour of a translucent, soft-focus gel. The 16 shades stay true to what you see in the bottle and offer the same candlelit qualities as the fabled Touche Éclat pen.
IT WORKS: We’re foundation-shy, but this melted into our face with no heaviness. We needed less concealer, and our skin looked so flawless, we clocked an eight-hour workday without a touch-up.
NATURAL- LOOKING DRY SHAMPOO
LaCoupe Moisture Refresh Dry Shampoo, $8.
THE DEAL: We know well the oil-absorbing, volume-boosting and style-extending powers of dry shampoo. Now there’s a product that multitasks even more. Made with a grapefruit and honey extract, this moisturizing dry shampoo refreshes the scalp while it conditions, smoothes ends and tames fly-aways. Used as a pre-styling treatment, it also helps you fashion braids and updos.
IT WORKS: It made detangling a breeze after a windy soccer match, and left our dry ends smoother, with no white residue.
ANTI-AGING ACNE FIGHTER
SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense, $90.
THE DEAL: Battling breakouts while worrying about wrinkles feels like a cruel joke, but more than 70 percent of people ages 20–50 get periodic acne. To treat both, this serum combines pore-clearing alpha and beta-hydroxy acids (including glycolic acid and salicylic acid) with dioic acid, a molecule that reduces sebum production, refines texture and prevents hyper-pigmentation. The company’s double-blind trial says it’s as effective as BenzaClin (a benzoyl peroxide and antibiotic combo) and tretinoin (a form of vitamin A)—the leading Rx topicals for acne and signs of aging, respectively.
IT WORKS: Keeping our breakouts at bay entailed a high-maintenance regimen, but this replaced a few standbys (including our salicylic acid lotion and go-to retinol). We saw fewer spots and an all-over brightness.
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