1. The Promise: Eliminates Most Body Hair—Permanently
The Tool: Tria Hair Removal Laser
This FDA-cleared, at-home hair--removal laser claims a 70 percent reduction in hair regrowth after just two treatments. But it’s not the right tool for everyone. The laser seeks out—then blasts—only dark pigment, so your body hair must be light brown or darker, and your skin and body-hair color cannot both be dark (because the laser can’t distinguish between the two). This device is not approved for the face, so testers gamely tried it on their underarms and bikini area in five- to 10-minute sessions. (Note: An upgraded version of the Tria, called the 4X [$449], has been FDA cleared for the lip and chin areas and is available on triabeauty.com this month.)
On the pain meter, testers’ reactions ranged from “Eh, it felt like a pinprick” to “Yeeeowch!” But all said that in later sessions, with less and less hair to target, the pain factor diminished. Most also said they were surprised by how easy the device was to use. “It was pretty intuitive—even for a technophobe like me,” one remarked. And it worked; all reported a noticeable decrease in body fuzz. So is it worth the money? Every tester said yes. One enthusiastic comment: “Four hundred dollars seems a small price to pay for never having to endure another bikini wax again. I’d recommend this to someone for whom hair removal is a tedious, never-ending task or to a woman who has gone to a professional and wants to maintain the results.”
2. The Promise: Dries and straightens strands in one easy step
The Tool: Remington Wet 2 Straight
This blow-dryer–flatiron hybrid can be used on wet hair to dry and straighten in one fell swoop. The iron’s tourmaline and ceramic plates vaporize excess water as they slide down your strands, releasing steam through vents. The consensus? Testers with fine hair raved about the tool’s time-saving benefits. “It dried my hair in under 10 minutes and left it looking sleek—as if I just got a blowout,” said one woman, whose hair is long and fine. Testers with medium to thick locks, however, said drying required six or more passes per section, making the tool a less viable (and potentially damaging) option for them.
3. The promise: reduces fine lines around the eyes
The tool: Palovia skin renewing laser
This device (made by Palomar, a company that manufactures skin lasers for doctors) is the first at-home laser to win FDA clearance for fine-line reduction around the eyes. How it works: Pulses of laser light penetrate the skin’s lower layers, stimulating production of collagen and elastin to plump and smooth. (Safety note: The laser fires only when pressed firmly against the skin. The second it’s lifted, the device shuts off, ensuring eyes are not exposed to laser light.) As directed, each tester used the device daily for three to four minutes—which some women admitted was trying. Several also re-ported initial redness; one said it was “similar to what I’ve had after being lasered in a doctor’s office.” A few also had to turn down the firing intensity because of the pain. And there was some griping because the results were not instantaneous. But by week six, almost every tester saw smoother skin around the eyes—and they were pleased when, at week eight, they could downshift to two sessions a week to maintain the results. In the view of one tester, “This was not unlike working out. You don’t really see the benefits until you’ve been at it for a while, but I think the payoff—fewer crow’s-feet—is worth it.”
4. The promise: Straightens hair using minimal heat
The tool: Coolway low heat styler
Applying the physicians’ rule “First, do no harm,” this low-heat flatiron straightens strands without-sizzling them, at temperatures of 250to 299 degrees (versus traditional irons, which can heat up to 450 degrees). The in-shower hair treatment and leave-in heat-protectant spray that come with the iron (and may be bought separately) cut down on damage as well. “I was pleased to find there was no alarming steam—or burning smell—while I used the iron. And it did straighten my fine hair,” said one tester. Another commented, “I checked twice to make sure it was on; it just didn’t emit the same kind of heat as my usual iron. But it did straighten my hair and left it shiny.” Even a tester with coarse, curly hair said she was pleased, though she noted that the results were better on days when she used the whole system (including the in-shower treatment and heat spray) than on mornings when she just touched up dry hair. “I only wash my hair once a week, so I’ll use the iron, plus the products, then,” she said. “But for daily maintenance, I’ll stick to my regular, hotter iron.”
This curling iron aims to take the guesswork out of creating perfect waves. With the press of a button, a motorized barrel twirls left or right, sparing you the task of wrapping sections of hair around the iron while trying not to burn your fingers. Most testers were pleased with the results, but almost everyone said it took practice to get the waves right. “It was challenging for a lefty like me to get the right/left spin button down. But I mastered it fairly quickly, and it does get the job done,” said one. Shorter-haired testers also offered two caveats. “The barrel twirls up to your scalp fast, so release the spin button after a second or two to prevent scalp sizzling,” one woman reported. Another pointed out that the iron is rather wide, which creates a nice, loose wave in long hair but is too big to rotate enough to do the same for shorter hair. She suggests the manufacturer also produce a smaller barrel for hair above the shoulders (Sarah Potempa, are you listening?).