If you’re giving a gadget as a gift, which ones are worth the cash? …
Not all beauty gadgets are worth investing in. Before you rush out to buy the latest “must-have” technology, bear in mind that most end up jettisoned in a cupboard before the year’s end. So don’t just buy or gift one for the sake of it, or because you ran out of ideas. Thre’s so much waste involved, from the plastic to the packaging. And realistically, your dad probably doesn’t really want a nose-hair trimmer.
Beauty gadgets tend to fall from favour fast, and I admit I’m now sceptical about many of them. Clarisonic brush, for example, once heralded as the cleansing “must-have”, lasted longer than most, but is no longer in existence. Years ago, I remember New York dermatolgoist Dr Amy Wechsler telling me that facial cleansing brushes were too abrasive for your face and really only suitable for the soles of your feet – advice that has always stuck with me. Likewise I have a mini Foreo device (these start at €179) that’s supposed to give “the skin of your dreams in 90 seconds” using “sonic pulsations”, but I rarely take it out of the drawer, and when I do, struggle to see a benefit. In my opinion, you’ll get more use, less waste and better value for money from a simple eyelash curler.
What is worth investing in, then? As we found particularly during lockdown, a great hairdryer and/or styling tool are worth their weight in gold. Few of us can style our own hair quite like the pros, but a good drier in particular goes a long way to helping.
Here’s our pick of the best beauty gadgets for skin, hair and beyond – these are the ones that will get used.
1 Heated hair tools are top of many gift lists – when you find one you get on with, it’s the next best thing to a salon visit. Second to a good hairdryer, my pick would be the Dyson Corrale (€450 at www.dylanbradshaw.com) as it’s quick, effective and versatile – for creating waves as well as poker-straight hair. It’s cord-free, which is genius, and easy to use, even if you’re rubbish at doing your own hair. At first it feels heavy compared to your usual straighteners, but persevere – you get used to it. Before you buy, try out a friend’s and make sure you love it – this is a serious investment.
2 When did hairdryers get so expensive? The best value one I’ve spotted recently is the Babyliss Midnight Luxe 2300W hair dryer (€50 at www.brownthomas.com). Lightweight, looks good, does the job. There are currently reductions on some pricer versions, too.
3 A great hairbrush. I know a brush doesn’t really count as a gadget. But rather than heated brushes, which don’t do your scalp much good, especially when overheated, I’d invest instead in a great hairbrush to keep the scalp and hair in good condition. Avoid anything too sharp and spiky – many swear by the Aveda paddlebrush (at Arnotts), while I yearn for a traditional Mason Pearson, from the family-owned company that’s made them for over 130 years; pocket sizes from around £59stg. A beauty investment gift you might not splash out on for yourself.
4 LED light therapy face masks are popular for home skin treatments. Having tried LED in a professional facial, I find that a session can make you feel like you spent a few hours in the sunshine – and this is most welcome at this time of year. For an at-home version, it’s a case of you get what you pay for. By definition, home versions will be less powerful, and finding one that is both safe and effective is a tricky thing. Personally, I’d avoid the shipped-in-from-China ones (always check the packaging for Made in RPC) – environmentally unsound, these tend to have limited lifespans and neglible results.
I do feel that these expensive masks could well become the beauty equivalent of the unused juicer in your cupboard; you get best results from using them briefly every day, so unless you’re really going to commit, I wouldn’t bother. You could gift a voucher for a top-level facial instead: say a professional-level LED session with an expert such as Skin by Olga (at the lovely Cashel Palace Hotel spa).
If you do decide to commit – and the best LED masks are renowned for boosting skin glow, reducing inflammation and even clearing up breakouts – you’ll have to shell out for one that really works: for example MZ Skin LightMAX LED Mask, clinically proven to boost collagen production, and especially good for congested or acne-prone skin (€568, at www.mzskin.com), or the Dr Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro Mask (€479, at www.cultbeauty.com). There’s also The Light Salon Boost LED Mask (€455, at Brown Thomas), which I haven’t tried but hear good things about.
5 Skin Scan. Get to know what your skin needs before you invest further. Book a consultation with the Lancôme Skin Screen, a skin analysis service inspired by dermatologist-approved devices and instruments used for clinical studies. Ideal for complimentary skincare advice. Available at Brown Thomas Grafton Street and Dundrum, Cork and Galway; www.brownthomas.com.
6 The skin smoother. The Dermaflash removes “peach fuzz” from your face. Clearly, a facial hair shaver does not make a glamorous present, so this is more one for your vouchers, perhaps. But some people swear by it; actress Maxine Peake recently chose something similar as her Desert Island Discs luxury item. And this method of lightly removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin using a very fine blade might sound weird, but does give you the smoothest surface for your skincare and make-up. Always go gentle with it, and bear in mind that replacement blades can be pricey. From €150.82 at ie.feelunique.com.
7 A toning device. Beauty supremo Lisa Eldridge told me that throughout lockdown she was using NuFACE, a mini handheld version (€230 at www.arnotts.ie). I haven’t tried it but her word is good enough for me.
8 A light-up mirror is a glamorous gift. Check out Glamdoll for a wide range of vanity mirrors – I noticed that the Brown Sugar dream make-up team brought one of these with them for the Gloss Gala last week. Prices from €160 (same as last year): we’d go for the Gigi Vanity Mirror (€180), with 12 LED bulbs. www.glamdoll.ie.
9 More H20. If fizziness makes you drink more water, that’s good for you and your skin – and a carbonator means that you avoid buying plastic bottles. The fancy Aarke carbonators were hugely popular last year, and the Swedish fizzy drink maker is good-looking but expensive (from €210 at www.faerly.ie and Brown Thomas). Having tried one out, I find it excellent, both user-friendly and good quality. If you’re old-school, Sodastreams start from around €164 – currently on offer at Harvey Norman for €115 if you’re quick – and do the same thing. A practical gift with longevity.
10 Microneedling Kit. A 12-week plan with highly concentrated peptides, the beauty lover in your life may be intrigued by Teresa Tarmey’s at home Microneedling Kit, €270 at SpaceNK and www.teresatarmey.com. “My 12 week microneedling kit gives you clinic-level results thanks to the highly potent peptide treatment alongside world-leading Dermaroller,” says super-facialist Tarmey, whose clients include Sienna Miller and Kate Moss.
Main featured image via Victoria Beckham.
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