Not everyone has a celeb's beauty budget, but that doesn't mean you can't get the star treatment at home. As beauty product reviewers for Trend Spotter, we're familiar with the DIY approach to looking good, so we signed up to try four extreme (yet relatively affordable) ways to get ready for your close-up.
-- Holly E. Thomas and Michelle ThomasPUT ON PIECES HAIR EXTENSIONSI'm not going to lie: The idea of synthetic hair doesn't exactly turn me on. And when I pulled Put On Pieces' Two-Piece Extension System from its plastic case, I wasn't so sure about attaching a mess of elastic bands, clips and acrylic hair to my head. But a few snap, snap, snaps (this thing couldn't be easier, even for a novice like me) and suddenly my shoulder-length, fine mane had Volume! Length! Fullness! Swing! I didn't notice any pointing or laughing when I wore it out to dinner that night, and my friends were amazed by how realistically it blended with my hair. All this from an acrylic hair piece? I was pretty surprised, too.
DERMADOCTOR MICRODERMABRASION AND CHEMICAL PEEL TREATMENTLasers, peels, "facial resurfacing": Sometimes beauty can be a little scary. So it was with much trepidation that I first applied Dermadoctor's skin-renewing concoction to my face. The single-step treatment combines elements of microdermabrasion and a chemical peel; it uses glycolic, lactic and beta hydroxy acids to deeply exfoliate and, the company claims, boost the rate of skin-cell turnover. Super-fine beads scrub without feeling like steel wool, while green tea and aloe aim to reduce redness. In my case, "aim to reduce" did not mean "eliminate": My face was glowing red for about an hour after using the product, but by the next morning I had baby-soft skin that looked younger and more even. -- H.E.T.
REMBRANDT TWO-HOUR TEETH WHITENERMy smile has never been Miss America white, so I've tried my fair share of bleaching strips. But it isn't always easy to find time to wear them: Many strips need to be used for 30 minutes twice daily, seven days at a stretch. Rembrandt's tray-based kit claims to deliver a blinding grin in one two-hour sitting: Now that amount of time I can find. The system comprises four repeated steps in which you alternate 20 minutes of tray-wearing with 10 minutes of rest. By round three, my teeth and gums were tingling so badly they made my eyes water, and the next day, parts of my mouth felt slightly scalded. (American Dental Association consumer adviser Matthew Messina says this may have been an allergic reaction or a temporary surface chemical burn. Luckily, gum tissue heals quickly, and my gums were normal two days later. But if something doesn't seem right, always stop use and check with your dentist.) Still, I had a much whiter smile. For me, it was worth the pain -- though other users may not agree.
About $22 at area drugstores and mass retailers.
E.L.F. COSMETICS FALSE EYELASHESPeering out from beneath long, flirty lashes makes everything seem more glamorous. E.L.F.'s false-eyelash kit promises to supply what nature may have skimped on. The lashes are reusable and come with adhesive gel. Although sticking an entire strip on my lid yielded obviously fake results, snipping it into thirds and applying one section at each eye's outer corner made for a more believable look. (Eyeliner also helped blend the base into my natural lash line.) Once I mastered these little tricks, my falsies looked fab. But after a couple of uses, the adhesive didn't bind anymore; on my third wearing, one embarrassingly fell on my cheek after 10 minutes of wear. Still, since they cost only a buck per pair, I could splurge on replacements without batting an eyelash -- real or otherwise.