Beauty has never been a stranger to quirky product ideas. After all, let’s not forget that inventions like Frownies and the Topsy Tail have at one time taken the industry by storm—and, of course, those cellulite-busting massage contraptions that appear once every decade (witness the early 80s version, left). Sometimes the space between the brilliant and the bizarre is a fine line. We check out the claims behind today’s most offbeat launches and ask experts to weigh in on whether these problem solvers are worth opening your wallet.
SKIP IT. Wrangler is launching a Denim Spa range of skinny jeans with some bold beauty claims. Available in three styles, the Aloe Vera and Olive Extract pairs moisturize legs with extracts of both botanicals and rich natural oils and butters, while the Smooth Legs version is infused with retinol, algae extract and caffeine intended to improve the look of cellulite. Tests on 69 percent of participants who wore the cellulite jeans for eight hours a day, five days a week, over six weeks showed a marked improvement. But we’re not the only ones raising an eyebrow. “I’m skeptical about how much of a benefit the skin-soothing jeans will give – though the one guarantee I can give is that you certainly won’t be able to see any cellulite when wearing them,” says dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. Good one, doc.
SKIP IT, BUT TRY THIS INSTEAD. The first car designed exclusively for women, the 2013 Honda Fit She is available only in Japan. (Though from the pink-gold metallic exterior to the pink-saturated interior, we picture Malibu Barbie taking it for a joyride.) Yet the otherwise gimmicky car offers one legit feature–windshield glass that filters out 99 percent of UV rays, and the subsequent aging and skin cancer risk that comes with built-up exposure many people get while driving. New York dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, M.D., says the technology is “awesome,” but readily available on its own. “You can buy inexpensive window films to use on any car, and what’s great is that the UV-protective coatings are optically clear,” she says. You can read more about UV protection for your car windows on The Skin Cancer Foundation site.
3Overnight Hair Treatment Pillow
TRY IT! Overnight hair conditioning treatments are a beloved beauty ritual of Pillow Jammie founder Aneela Rajusth, but the towel she used to protect her pillow would always end up on the floor. As a solution, she constructed a pillowcase made of ultra absorbent microfiber towel fabric with a waterproof and stain-resistant liner. The reverse side is made of 100 percent cotton so it can be flipped over for regular use, too. This clever case kept our overnight coconut oil treatment from messing the sheets, and we hear that Rajusth’s sister uses it to air-dry wet hair as she slumbers. Brilliant!
4Back Pain-Blasting Tee
TRY IT! Made with strategically placed compression panels that push neck and back muscles into proper alignment, the Pelham Strutt T-shirt claims to ease back pain and tighten stomach muscles by holding the spine up straighter. We were skeptical, but Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, M.D., spinal and osteopathic surgeon and author of “Keys To An Amazing Life: Secrets of the Cervical Spine,” says the science is solid. “It’s not a cure-all for pain, but the pull of the shirt will help establish great posture and help significantly… and the constant traction on the abdominal muscles will keep them contracting through the day,” he says. So far, this ribbed shirt style is only marketed to men–but we’re starting a picket line for the ladies.
5Deodorant Stain Remover
TRY IT! Straight out of the annals of it-sounds-to-good-to-be-true claims comes Raise, which purports to remove those dingy sweat stains that most often afflict t-shirts and camisole tops. We tried it on a strappy cotton top that had long ago been delegated to “home only” wear. After letting the liquid sop onto the stain for 20 minutes and then throwing it into the wash, we were amazed by how the stain emerged almost entirely removed and ready for daylight once again. There’s just one catch here: garments already treated with bleach won’t see the same results, as bleach reacts with the proteins in perspiration stains that sets them all but indelible.
6Awake With A Fresh Face
TRY IT! If you’re a side or stomach sleeper, you know the annoyance of waking with sheet lines stubbornly imprinted into your skin. Experts say these temporary lines can (terrifyingly) turn into permanent wrinkles down the road. The pillowy Mumbani spa headband promises to keep your face comfortably lifted off the pillow, so that you can sleep however which way without fear of that facial smoosh. We put it to the test–and not only did the band work flawlessly, but it doubled as a plush sleep mask when placed a little lower over the eyes.
TRY IT! The latest gadget to vie for space on your bathroom counter is a water flosser. The handheld technology propels a tiny jet stream of high-pressure water to flush away nasty buildup. But is the fuss worth it? “The Waterpik flosser really does work–when you use it for a minute a day, it removes over 90 percent of all plaque and food particles in between teeth,” says New York cosmetic dentist Dr. Lana Rozenberg, D.D.S. “It’s especially wonderful for patients who have braces, bridges and implants,” she says–to which we add the flossing-obsessed. You know who you are.