We tracked down the latest, greatest and strangest beauty treatments, then played guinea pig... just for you.
1. Sharon Lee’s triple-layer method brows
Length of Trial: Three sessions, spaced six weeks apart.
The Lowdown: Eyebrows are a hot topic in beauty right now, with lush, well-defined brows very much the order of the day. If you were following fashion in the early 2000s, there’s a good chance you overplucked your poor brows into a pair of squiggly tadpoles, never for them to recover. Enter Sharon Lee Hamilton-Clarke’s triple-layer method. Using an ultra-fine microblade, ink is etched into the brow area to fill out sparse patches and give definition. The ‘tattoo’ treatment creates full, natural-looking brows which will last up to two years.
A Typical Session: The moment I arrive at Sharon Lee’s Woollahra headquarters, one of her friendly staff members asks whether I’d like a drink or any snacks. But before I can take advantage of the hospitality, Sharon Lee arrives to assess my eyebrows.
She sits opposite me on the banquette, and after a few minutes of silent contemplation tells me: ‘Right, I’ve analysed your face, and I can see that your brows are uneven – the left sits slightly higher than the right. They’re quite thin and fine, so you’re a good candidate for the triple-layer brow feathering. You’ve plucked them in the past and you’re trying to grow them now but there isn’t enough coming through to look good. They’re almost a crescent shape and we want to get give them a proper arch.’ I feel like I’ve been to see a psychic, or a therapist – she’s totally nailed it.
Numbing cream is applied to my eyebrows, and I wait for 40 minutes or so for it to take effect. Then, I’m led to a treatment bed and told to lie back and close my eyes, which means I can’t actually see the tool Sharon Lee is using – thankfully. Initially, thanks to the numbing cream, all I can feel is a dull scratching sensation as she starts working.
As the treatment progresses I start to feel more of what’s happening, and while it isn’t unbearable I can’t say it’s exactly pleasant, either. The scratching starts to sting, and for some reason every stroke is making me sneeze uncontrollably. Happily, Sharon Lee’s seen it all before, passes me tissues, and carries on.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m all done. The girls give me a goodie bag with lollies and mini tubs of soothing recovery lotions, and I’m on my way.
The Verdict: Initially, with the ink still fresh and quite dark-looking, I’m a little taken aback by my appearance, which is more ‘Angry Birds’ than elegant arches. But the shape is perfect, and Sharon Lee assures me the colour will fade as it heals over the next week or so. She’s right.
Intensity Rating: 7/10. I’m not going to lie, it isn’t an entirely pain-free procedure. That said, your experience will reflect the time of the month (fluctuating hormones can increase your sensitivity to pain) and your personal pain threshold. I’m told some women even fall asleep having it done!
Results: Amazing. I could not be happier with my beautiful new eyebrows! They’re the perfect shape, the perfect colour, and I don’t have to do a thing to maintain them. It’s incredible to be able to wake up and go without needing to get out the eyebrow pencil, and always looking ‘done’ makes a genuine difference to how confident and put-together I feel.
Cost: The cost varies from $900 to $1900 for three treatments, depending on how much work your eyebrows need.
2. DMK Body Sculpting Wrap Treatment:
Length of Trial: One session
The Lowdown: The Body Sculpting Treatment is designed to help you re-sculpt and reshape your body, and improve the appearance of cellulite, through a process known as thermogenesis. This takes place in the upper epidermis and lower subcutaneous tissue, stimulating circulation and flushing out waste – a cellulite-fighting combination. It won’t make you thinner, but it should firm up your skin and make the orange peel effect less noticeable.
A Typical Session: I arrive at the DMK salon and am greeted by Anna. I fill in the obligatory form asking about my skin type, health and so on, and am taken to a treatment room to begin. Let me prefix this by saying I’m a mum-of-two young kids, and I have quite a few wobbly areas that I try my hardest to keep artfully hidden under my clothes, so it’s going to take nothing short of a miracle to make me feel perfectly toned. First up, Anna gives me a pair of paper undies and sets about cleansing and exfoliating my legs, back, bum and tummy with a DMK Hydra loofah. Then it’s time for the Body Sculpting Creme, which smells of cloves. It’s applied generously over my legs from top to the knees, on my back and all over my tummy. To make sure it stays put and sinks in to my skin effectively, she then wraps me in Glad Wrap, straight from the box. I feel slightly like a Christmas turkey, but once I am settled under the blankets I forget that I’m trussed up. Next, she attaches electrodes to my tummy and legs for a spot of Electro Magnetic Wave Therapy, which aims to normalise the body’s cells through electro-magnetic pulses to leave you feeling recharged, rebalanced and re-energised. Admittedly the idea of this feels a little odd, but I soon get used to it. After 30 minutes, the remaining cream is massaged in.
The Verdict: The salon is relaxing and professional, and at every stage I knew what was happening and why. I didn’t expect that I would walk out looking like Gisele Bündchen – I know this is just a single treatment and I’ll need more to reap the full benefits – but I felt like I was in good hands.
Intensity Rating: 5/10. It’s not for the claustrophobic, since there is a lot of Glad Wrapping involved, but it’s a pleasant treatment that makes you feel relaxed. It’s also easy to do at home – you can use the cream overnight with no need to wash it off in the morning.
Results: I had one treatment, but it’s recommended that you do a weekly, half-hour treatment over 6-12 weeks to see the full benefits. My skin felt firm and smooth afterwards and I can imagine that if done regularly in conjunction with exercise, mindful eating and homecare, the effects would be pleasing.
Cost: The DMK Body Sculpting Wrap Treatment costs from $220, and the Body Sculpting Creme for at-home use is $67 for 120ml.
3. Philosophy The Microdelivery Overnight Anti-Ageing Peel:
Length of Trial: Every second day for 14 days.
The Lowdown: Peels that contain active ingredients like alpha/beta hydroxy can be a risky thing to try at home, especially if you fall into the sensitive skin category. However, this one by philosophy promises to improve fine lines and wrinkles and reduce the size of pores while still being gentle on the skin. It claims that the benefits of an overnight sleep allow the treatment to remove dead skin without causing irritation. An anti-aging peel while I sleep? Yes please!
A Typical Session: Remove all your make-up and cleanse skin thoroughly as you normally would before bed. Next, saturate the make-up pad provided with the alpha/beta hydroxy acid. Gently wipe this solution all over your face. It will feel slightly warm on contact due to the key active ingredients including professional grade lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Allow the leave-on peel solution to dry on the skin, then massage in the youth-extending night gel as you would your regular moisturiser. A cucumber-scented gel consistency, the moisturiser contains Echinacea, anti-aging peptides anti-irritant oat extract and bisabolol, and helps to cool, soothe and hydrate the skin. The final step is to get your beauty sleep so the facial can work it’s magic.
The Verdict: As a time-poor mum who works full-time, finding a spare two hours to go and get a facial is very difficult. So when I heard about an anti-aging peel that I could apply myself and which promised to work while I slept, I was both a little sceptical and completely hopeful it would work. After using the at-home peel every second day for two weeks, I can definitely notice a difference! My skin looks smoother and refreshed and even though I would describe myself as having sensitive skin, it was not at all irritated by the leave-on peel.
Intensity Rating: 2/10. The two-step system replaces the toning and moisturising steps in your normal skincare routine, so no extra effort is required. Plus, it does all the hard work while you sleep. Brilliant.
Results: My skin looks brighter, smoother and my pores appear to be smaller, too. I also felt as though my make-up stayed on my skin better. I would definitely recommend this product to other time-poor women, plus it’s great for those with sensitive skin.
Cost: Philosophy microdelivery overnight anti-aging peel is $110.