Beauty 101: Your Styling Tool Questions, Answered

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This week's Beauty 101 is focusing on all kinds of beauty gadgets and gizmos. You had questions, and today, your fellow readers have come through will all sorts of recommendations and reviews.


Remember: these are user-generated posts, and what works for some readers might not work for others. With that in mind, here are a few highlights from the hundreds of tips posted in yesterday's thread:

Hair Styling Tools:
From commenter Capella Muerer:

I adore the GHD straightener. I bought one when I got to Australia and it was worth it. It straightens my hair with very little effort, making it gloriously shiny. The other straighteners I have used have straightened my hair but haven't made it look anything but fake; the GHD makes my hair look naturally straight. I have had no problems with it except for finding one at a good price but if you do your research online it is worth the effort because there are places that sell it for fairly cheap.

From commenter Dizzy8:

Velcro rollers take three minutes to put in, and are amazing for making your hair look like you spent time on it. They're also cheap.

I put them in immediately after the shower, while my hair is dry (I don't wash it every day) or just after blow-drying, when it's still partially wet. Use clips to keep them in place if your hair is too long or too short for them to stay secure. Then leave them while you do the rest of your morning routine. As a last step - if you have time - run a blow dryer over the rollers. First set the dryer on hot; then cold.

Just before you walk out the door, shake out the rollers, give a light dusting of a flexible hold hairspray, and voila, good hair with 1/4 the effort of a flat iron.
PS - Leaving in velcro rollers for a half hour before you try to make an updo gives a polished look that you won't get from just twisting back your hair. It's more trouble, but it's worth it for special occasions.

From commenter yellowviolet:

Discount stores like Marshall's are a great place to buy fancy expensive straighteners and the like for a lot less.


From commenter Dangling Modifier:

I am no pro when it comes to tools and gadgets, but the only piece of advice I can give is spend the money - it's worth it. Using a $16 straightener on your hair will be hell. Drop some cash and go for a good $100-150 straightener. I love my Sedu, and it's still in great shape 3 years later!


From commenter aliasmisskat:

Decent curling and/or flat iron- Hot Tools ($30-$50) are the cheapest decent brand out there. However, look for something with ceramic plates or barrel and that goes up to 450 degrees. Most drugstore/Walmart brands just aren't worth the money. Sally has a trade in program where you get money towards the purchase of a new heat tool when you bring in your own, and TJ Maxx often has higher end brands at great prices. I have a Rusk Ceramic 1 inch flat iron, and it freaking rocks. For shorter hair, the Babyliss Nano Mini is tops. Sally's Generic Value Products line is also on the decent side, though not as good as Hot Tools, in my, and my stylist friends' opinions.


From commenter kittyclaws:

This isn't a specific branded product, but I recommend trying SLS-free shampoos/conditioners. Whole Foods sells their own line that runs to something like $3 a bottle. It feels overly light at first, but after a few weeks, my hair was softer, shinier, and all of those things they say in shampoo commercials. Also, less chemicals = better, amiright?


From commenter Mishegoss:

Boar-bristle brushes are really good for distributing oils through your hair, which is nice if you have medium-fine hair and greasy roots. That said, I have rather thick hair and I need to brush it in sections, which takes for ever.

If you have thicker hair, with dry ends, there's a brush under the brandname Denman (from the UK) and it's amazing. It's the first brush that doesn't tear out my hair, and actually cuts through all the layers so I don't spend eons brushing. It's a little pricey (I think my mom spent twenty-five pounds on it - eeek) but it's definitely worth it for me.


From AgrarianDiscontent:

I use the Revlon ceramic hair styling products. I've used all the expensive tools and all the cheap tools and while the Revlon ceramic straightener may not be as good as a CHI or anything it is a lot cheaper and I have always consistently had decent results. I know that some of us are in a money crunch time now and If you need a curling iron or a straightening iron that you don't need to be super hot then I would suggest the Revlon hair tools. They run from about 10-30 dollars, and I would definitely highly recommend the curling irons. I think they work fabulously and can do as good of a job as the more expensive ones.


From commenter lodown:

Microfiber hair towel. I know curly girls like this because it dries their hair without making it frizzy, but it's something anyone with long hair should have. It dries hair more quickly than bath towels and isn't as heavy or awkward. I go from soaking-wet hair to moderately damp hair in about 20 minutes. So you can leave the towel on while doing your makeup, eating breakfast, getting dressed, then pull it off to do your hair. It also preserves the slight wave in my hair so that it air-drys nicely and removes the need for heat styling.


From commenter resplendent.bitch:

Foam rollers, y'all. Not hot rollers but the old-fashioned granny foam rollers. They cost like $6 at the drugstore and they are the secret to the best hair ever.

I shower, towel the hair to semi-dry, work a little gel through, brush and put up in foam rollers (the larger sizes - the small ones look poodle-ish the next day). It takes a couple nights to get used to sleeping on them. Wake up, take out rollers, brush, and go. Volume and curl last all day, even post-gym. There's no heat damage, no accidentally leaving them on or burning yourself.


From commenter pssshwhatever:

What a lot of people don't realize (and a lot of stylists don't tell their clients) is that different flat irons are better for different types of hair. Everyone says great things about the Chi, but if you have dry hair, it will totally fry you. It's better for people who have hair that's naturally oily and/or coarse. If you have relatively dry, fine hair, the GHD is much better.

GHDs are expensive (about $240), but I've had mine for three solid years, through lots of travel and constant use, and it still works like the day I bought it. Plus, the amount of damage it does to my hair is negligible when compared to how the Chi wrecked me.

Not to mention that so many people report their Chis crapping out after a year or so. They have a good reputation, but if you're going to spend the money, there are several good options (also check out Babyliss and T3).

If you want a chance to try out an iron to make sure it's good for you, buy it from Sephora. They have an excellent return policy on used products as long as you keep the packaging and receipt, and that way, if a flat iron frys your hair or doesn't perform up to your standards, you can get your money back or exchange it for another one. Also, they usually have a 20% coupon code for their website sometime in October or November (if previous patterns hold true, it'll be FF2011), so you may want to wait for that and save some money.


Skincare Tools
From commenter librariesare4lovers:

If you are constantly trying new face products and still not seeing the results you want to see save the money you are handing over to the drugstore, beauty counter or Sephora and go to the dermatologist instead.

Even if your insurance won't cover it it's worth it. And while Rx skin stuff can cost a lot , the price per use is actually a steal. One tube a Rx retinoid can last months and months and produce the kind of results that you simply will not get from over the counter options. Plus many derms are more than generous w/ product samples and some Rx products have generics or coupons that reduce the cost significantly. I really, really cannot recommend this enough if you are constantly stressed out about or unhappy with the current state of your skin. Even if your skin isn't all that bad by dermatologist's standards, if YOU are unhappy w/ the condition of your skin make an appointment now.


From commenter sardonicbanquet:

I use Zeno Pro and absolutely love it. I have Hidradenitis Suppurativa, which causes painful boils to break out all over my face and body, leaving deep keloidal scars. The Zeno Pro is the only thing that has zapped my cystic acne and prevented painful boils that last for months at a time. The moment you feel a boil or pimple coming on, you must use it. If you don't use it immediately, it doesn't work as well. I also go through the tops really quickly, and those replacements cost about $35 each. But for someone like me, it's worth the price.

It burns a little, especially on sensitive parts of your body, but the pain is really short-lived, especially compared to a boil.


From commenter Ginger Gal:

Neutrogena Wave: I don't know if it's made my skin look any better, but I like it. It wakes me up better in the morning than a plain ol' scrub (a vibrating face apparently gets me going). I get more use out of the little pads by squirting my usual face wash on them -they don't seem to lather much on their own. On the plus side: If you don't like it for your face it makes a nice addition to -ahem- alone time. Or so I've heard... from a friend...


From commenter thequeenofstartingover:

I have to share one of my new favorites, it's the Panasonic Facial Groomer. I have really terrible, dark facial hair, esp. on the chin and jawline, and this has been a god send to clean my face up. It is not painful at all, and since it has a pivotal head, it gets in all the corners. Plus its super cheap. On Amazon I bought it for $16 bucks. All you need a AAA battery and you're off.

They say it's not great to shave your face, but with this product the hair does not grow back faster (I use it like once week), the hair is finer, and there are no razor bumps! I had really bad cystic acne, and whenever I used hair remover lotion and plucked, my face was a mess of pimples and ingrown bumps. Now since I've used this, and gotten my cystic acne under control, my face is CLEAR of hair, ingrown hairs and acne. The groomer also comes with an eyebrow groomer attachment, and it's great at cleaning up the eyebrows. I still use my Tweezermans, but this helps gets the little hairs on the outside and the unibrow to clean things up.


From commenter maharani:

I swear by my Clarisonic facebrush. It's taken care of my cystic acne issues like nothing else, and my skin looks better than ever.

The pricetag ($132-$225) may seem outrageous, but after around 8-9 months of use it's more than paid for itself. It's available in various models; I have the Mia- the travel version and it's worked great for me. Most stores that carry it offer a 30 day return policy, and you can shop around for a good price.

The brushes come in different levels of sensitivity for different skin types, and cost $40 for a two-pack. You're supposed to change them every 90 days but I found they last me well over 4-5 months with proper cleaning and drying.

A few thoughts:

- I started to see a visible difference in my skin within the first few days. My trouble areas were my cheeks and forehead, and they are now blemish free. My skin tone has evened out drastically and seems to have this glow it never had before.

- I haven't bought another skincare product other than facewash/toner/moisturizer refills in the last 6 months because I haven't felt the need. Bringing home one of these has greatly simplified my skincare routine.

- In my personal experience, I found that it just made the skincare products I already loved work better. I use it with Cetaphil and follow up with a mild toner (Burt's Bees) and Neutrogena moisturizer.


From commenter lalagirlie:

Clarisonic face brush- fantastic! It's like a mini facial every night. It takes off all the make-up, oil and dirt that regularly washing just doesn't. My skin feels smoother, is clearer and cleaner ever since I got it. $200 seems like a lot for a face brush, but it works wonders and I've spent much much more on exfoliaters, soaps and sponges over the years that don't work half as well.


From commenter Moretta:

Baby Quasar, which uses light therapy, has worked for me and my middle-aged skin (I use the Red light) and for my teenage nephew with cystic acne (he uses the Power Pack blue and red lights). I'm very skeptical but the difference has been very clear, especially with my nephew.

If you are thinking of buying one of these, sign up for Gilt and wait for a sale.


From commenter neddykapoozle:

Salux washcloths are by far the greatest beauty tool I've ever found. Affectionately referred to as Satan's TP in my house, it's this long scrubby cloth that you exfoliate with in the shower. I use it all over my body and gently on my face. My skin *glows* now and my friends constantly talk about how soft it is. And what makes it even better is that you can buy one of these babies for about $4. You feel like a scrubbed vegetable the first time you use it, but the exfoliation is absolutely addicting. No mesh poof or body scrub will compare after you've tried the Salux.


Didn't get the answer you were looking for? Be sure to look through yesterday's thread, which is filled with hundreds of tips and tricks. Disagree with something you see here? Feel free to set the record straight in the comments.

Earlier: Beauty 101: Tools Of The Trade

Looking for advice on another beauty topic? Check out the other Beauty 101 Q & A sessions:

Beauty 101: Your Fall Beauty Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Office Beauty Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Beauty Disaster Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Special Occasion Makeup Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Drugstore And Department Store Recommendations
Beauty 101: Your Makeup Removal Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Recipes From Readers
Beauty 101: Your Scent-Related Problems, Solved
Beauty 101: Your Summer Beauty Dilemmas, Solved
Beauty 101: Your Blush And Bronzer Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Skincare Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Eye Queries, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Nail Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Lipstick Questions, Answered
Beauty 101:Your Hair Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Waxing/Shaving Questions, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Foundation And Concealer Concerns, Answered
Beauty 101: Your Eyeliner Woes, Solved

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Not related to styling tools, but I'm looking for a good daily mattifying moisturizer that also has SPF 15+...I love MAC's mattifying lotion, but there's no sun protection! I have combination skin with a lot of T-zone shine.

Any suggestions?