The Art Of The NeedleWho wants to look like a pincushion? Not me, but I agreed to let certified MeiZen acupuncture practitioner Melinda Mingus, MD, give me a cosmetic acupuncture treatment in her New York City office because she spoke so knowledgeably about the effects. (Though Mingus suggests a series of ten treatments, I had time for only one.)
The sterilized, stainless steel acupuncture needles, as thin as a human hair, cause microtrauma in the skin, which increases blood flow and the production of collagen and elastin, says Mingus. She believes that the treatments can result in firmer skin, a reduction of wrinkles, and a tightening of the jowls. Her patients have reported healthy side effects, such as improved digestion, better-quality sleep, increased energy, and a sense of overall well-being. Hey, doc, sign me up! Stick a thousand needles in my face!
Well, not just my face. Mingus needled other body parts as well (my hands, legs, feet, ears, and scalp) in order to stimulate various nerves. She's an extremely skilled acupuncturist; I couldn't feel the needles going in. I lay still for about a half hour, deeply relaxed. After I had been successfully de-needled, I examined my face in a 7X magnifying mirror for holes or red dots—I couldn't find a single one. And my skin was glowing. But I'd have to take it on faith that my improved complexion had anything to do with the treatment; there's no scientific evidence that cosmetic acupuncture works.
— Beauty director Valerie Monroe
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— Executive beauty editor Jenny Bailly
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The (main) problem: Unless your closest relative is a Shar-Pei, you probably won't have enough skin to gather. I went ahead anyway; I wanted to know if the tape could be seen under my hair. It couldn't. Unless there were a breeze. Or I were on a date and things were progressing in such a way that I might want to lie down. That, my friends, would be a very sticky situation indeed. — VM
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1. Shake the highlighting powder into a mixing bowl.
2. Pour the peroxide developer into the bowl.
3. Stir together peroxide developer and highlighting powder and watch mixture turn blue (the better to see where you're applying it).
4. Dip thimbled index finger into mixture.
5. Slowly draw bristles through dry, tangle-free hair.
I highlighted six sections of hair—three on each side of my natural part—and overall was rather pleased with my handiwork. The color I chose (Toasted Almond) came out a touch brassier than I would have liked, though. I'd neglected to do a strand test (always do a strand test!), so I didn't know exactly how long to let the dye process, and probably waited a bit too long to rinse it out. But with a little luck, practice should make perfectly sun-kissed. — JB
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— Contributing assistant beauty editor Alessandra Foresto
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1. Rinse with the included mouthwash, which contains a disinfectant that washes away bacteria that can dissolve peroxide.
2. Brush peroxide solution on all visible front teeth; let dry for 20 seconds.
3. Hold light up to teeth for two minutes.
4. Repeat all three steps. Ten to 20 times. In a row.
After almost an hour, and ten treatments, I was exhausted and bored, so I gave up. But I'd done enough to get my teeth noticeably whiter. Six shades whiter? No. Maybe three. Not dazzling, but definitely undimmed. — AF
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I then closed my eyes so the master could begin her painstaking work: gluing synthetic fibers to the roots of my natural lashes—one at a time (a process that costs $400).
Over the course of an hour and a half, Lee attached about 120 new lashes. I learned all this later, though: Since I am utterly incapable of remaining conscious when my eyes are closed, I slept through the whole process. And I awoke to find myself, in a word, stunning!
Without a speck of makeup on, I looked as if I had just arisen from a wonderful beauty sleep. Well, okay, I had. I have continued looking that way, though, at all hours of the day, for two weeks now. But while mascara is no longer part of my routine, a tiny lash comb is: With lashes this long, tangling can be an issue. And they take a couple extra minutes to dry after a shower (I haven't yet found an itty-bitty lash towel).
A few of them have started falling out, and I plan to walk (maybe even skip) back to Lee's soon for a touch-up. Here's to a long, hot summer free of mascara smudges. — JB
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Then one morning I looked in the mirror and noticed (I thought) that the little lines between my eyebrows had deepened. I could see where my face was going, but I liked it where it was. So I made an appointment with New York City dermatologist Cheryl Karcher, MD, to ask her whether she thought I might benefit from just the teeniest grace note of Botox. At her office a few days later, I sat under a very bright light and pointed to my concerns. "Ha! Easy to fix," she said. Then she took a step back and looked at me studiously. "Big frown," she said. I made a doleful face. "Okay," she said. "Relax." And before I knew it, she had administered five quick shots of Botox above and between my eyebrows. "Fini!" said the doctor. A physician's assistant held an ice pack to my forehead to prevent bruising. "Bravo!" I said.
It took about a week for me to get used to not being able to wiggle my eyebrows the way I used to. ("Wiggle my eyebrows" doesn't adequately describe what I could do; if there is such a thing as double-jointed eyebrows, I had them. But I don't have them anymore, at least till the toxin wears off in a few months.) I don't like the paralyzed feeling at all; it's as if I'm wearing a cap that fits too tightly around my forehead. But recently a friend said to me, "What's going on with you? You look...bright-eyed and rested!"
So despite the unpleasantness, I'm afraid I'm hooked: An encore is definitely on the program. — VM
Age spots? lines? dullness? Here's how pricey treatments stack up against over-the-counter treatments