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Beautifiers That May Be Overhyped and Those That May Be Worth the Money

Products and procedures you need to know about now.

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Beauty products and hair floating on blue color
Photos left to right: Courtesy Sephora (2), Alamy (2), Trunk Archive, Courtesy Neutrogena.
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As someone who writes about beauty, I must get at least 10 emails a day from press agents claiming that their clients have discovered “the next big thing.” How to tell the hype from wishful thinking? And while we’re at it, what’s under the radar that should be on our screens?

Four experts weigh in.

Celebrity colorist Sharon Dorram’s roster of clients has included everyone from Nicole Kidman to Candice Bergen to Meg Ryan. “Whether they’re 23 or 73, the number one thing clients talk to me about is hair loss,” she says. “It can be hormonal, postmenopausal, stress-related, post-COVID, but it’s everyone’s biggest concern.”

Dorram says that in her experience, supplements and so-called “hair vitamins” don’t work.

Another popular procedure for hair loss is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment, which is painful and costly. While Dorram says, “I have not seen this work on any of my clients,” studies do show they have a level of efficacy.

PRP treatments use injections of the patient's own blood in various parts of the body to promote healing and regeneration: in the scalp for hair loss, and in knees and other appendages for sports injuries and arthritis. For hair loss, the procedure may be PRP therapy, which generally consists of three treatments within a four-to-six-week period and requires maintenance injections every few months. The price ranges from $1,500 to $3,500 for the initial treatments, with the cost depending on location and the quality of the equipment. Growth is only noticeable after six months and requires follow-up treatments to maintain results.

According to a 2022 review, published in Dove Medical Press, of studies on the efficacy of PRP treatment on hair loss: “Compared to minoxidil, finasteride, and adult stem cell-based therapy, 84% of all studies reported a positive effect of PRP, 50% demonstrated a statistically significant improvement while 34% showed hair density and hair thickness improvement.”

For women who don’t want to consistently shell out big bucks for PRP maintenance, Dorram recommends a hair graft. She has had the surgery herself, a procedure that moves hair you already have to fill in areas of thinning and bald spots. While grafts can cost upward of $4,000, the procedure is “one and done,” she says.

As for another undervalued hair solution? “You know how you love your color when you leave the salon and then six weeks later your hair looks drab, or even greenish?” asks Dorram. “It’s because of mineral deposits in the water you’re washing your hair with.”

Which is why Dorram recommends installing a water filter on your shower and using a “clarifying shampoo” to lift out mineral deposits. She recommends Philip B Peppermint Avocado Shampoo and Virtue Labs Refresh Purifying Shampoo. Another good option, Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic-Shampoo Build-Up Control.

Several years ago, Kybella injections were touted as the revolutionary, surgery-free solution to double chins. It sounded like a miracle but, like PRP therapy, Kybella is expensive and requires multiple treatments. What dermatologist Robert Anolik, M.D., to whom celebs like Christie Brinkley entrust their faces, does believe in are midrange lasers, after seeing that they not only aesthetically resurfaced a patient’s skin, but also helped rid the skin of precancerous cells.

Anolik coauthored a study confirming that by removing a superficial layer of skin, a mid-level pulse laser reduces precancerous lesions.

An additional bonus: Once your skin has been resurfaced, you’re much more likely to use sunscreen to help keep those unwelcome brown spots (and precancerous lesions) from returning.

Chemist Alec Batis, cofounder of the newly launched Sweet Chemistry skin care line, has a lot to say about why essential oils can be harmful. Oils such as those distilled from lavender, chamomile, lemon or grapefruit can cause allergic reactions. Essential oils also heighten sensitivity to the sun's UV rays.

“If you must use essential oils, use them in a bodywash or shampoo so you can wash them off and they aren’t being absorbed into your body,” says Batis.

What Batis thinks are undervalued are vitamin C derivatives, which are less aggressive and easier for sensitive skin to absorb than popular full-strength vitamin C skin care products. Ascorbic acid, the pure form of vitamin C, destroys free radicals, boosts collagen production and brightens skin tone. The catch? It’s highly unstable (goes bad quickly) and it can be irritating.

Products containing vitamin C derivatives are way more stable and less irritating if you have sensitive skin. Batis recommends Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster, Beautycounter's ll Bright C Serum and Tatcha’s Violet-C Brightening Serum.

Many patients experience good results from teeth whitening, either with professional dental treatments or over-the-counter strips. While we all want that wide, white smile there is more to know about this process, which is effective but with pitfalls.

According to a study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice, “Current research about tooth whitening shows that it is safe and effective when manufacturer’s protocol is followed ... New research has shown that there are other risks such as tooth surface roughening and softening, increased potential for demineralization, degradation of dental restorations, and unacceptable color change of dental restorations.”

Dentist Marc Lowenberg, whose clients include Kelly Ripa and Courteney Cox, emphasizes that whitening warning. “All the ballyhoo leads people to believe they work on everyone,” he says of whitening methods. “The molecular structure of the teeth, the genetic makeup of the enamel, how porous it is and how internally stained the teeth are all determine whether or not the whitening process will work. When you use hair dye, you can be sure that your hair will end up another color; but when you whiten your teeth there’s no guarantee you’ll have a whiter smile.”

You can, however, make your teeth look whiter by choosing the right shade of lipstick. The advice here is to “think pink!” Instead of blah nudes or orange-corals — shades that can make teeth appear more yellow — pick a bright, shimmering pink, like Runway Rogue's Catwalk, or a hydrating see-through gloss such as Charlotte Tilbury’s Pinkgasm. And for a bold choice, pick Maybelline’s Super Stay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick in Reviver — or just go for a tube the color of bubble gum.

As for me, I’m getting a new water filter for my shower, making an annual laser screening appointment and hightailing it over to a beauty retailer to check out new shampoos and lipsticks. And I will remember to smile often. Aside from a big smile brightening your whole face, one study found that the more you smile, the longer you will live — and that’s the cheapest and the best beauty advice anyone could offer!

What do you think of the above? What beauty procedure do you believe to be overhyped? Let us know in the comments below.

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