We love a good makeover — trust us, we rewind all the musical movie-makeover montages repeatedly — but you know what's more exciting than a new head-to-toe look? Taking what we already have, making just one little change, and getting a high-impact result in return. So, we sent three of our editors to get beautified — and we're not talking a quick trip to the salon, either.
We like to call these mini-makeovers: small enough to do in an afternoon, big enough to be remarkable. One of us took the pro-whitening plunge, another tried eyelash extensions, and one editor was even brave enough to get Botox. (Oh yeah, we went there.)
Did the effort pay off? The before-and-after pictures don't lie, so read on to find out!
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The Makeover: Lash Extensions
Where: We went to Liliana Felleti, formerly a co-owner and the resident lash pro at L.A.'s Beba Beauty, but now an NYC transplant working out of the Rita Hazan Salon.
How Much: $200 for a synthetic mink full set; $60 for touch-ups after that (recommended every three to four weeks, for ideal upkeep)
The Experience: "This took a lot longer than I thought it would. For some reason, I had the idea in my head that I could be in and out in an hour and half, max, but this was more of a two-and-half hour process. You go in with a clean face, you lay down under a blanket, the lash expert tapes your bottom lashes down with an under-eye moisturizing pad, and then brushes out your top lashes. And then, she basically goes through and glues an individual lash extension to each one of the hairs on your upper lash line. It's critical that she's careful not to let one extension stick to two lashes, or it'll end up pulling both lashes out when it falls out, so the whole thing takes a lot of separating and careful, focused attention (on her part, not yours). But in the meantime, you're awake, laying still, and keeping your eyes shut, while they inevitably feel a little itchy and irritated. For over two hours. It's not fun, but it also didn't hurt. And then I got to open my eyes, and my lashes looked pretty great."
Was It Worth It? "This is an expensive habit that I probably couldn't keep up regularly, but it's definitely worth it for special events (parties, big dates, weddings, getting your picture taken...) when you want to feel like a better version of yourself. I asked that mine look lush but not at all fake, and I think that's what I got here. I like these because they feel subtle enough that I don't look in the mirror and think, Oh, I'd like to bat my fake lashes—they're so lush. It's something more along the lines of, Oh, this is what my life would be like if I just had pretty lashes, instead of three little wisps of straight gray lashes that don't want me to be happy. It's a sort of confidence boost every single morning, when I look in the mirror and feel just a bit more doe-eyed, and like I don't need to put on makeup (although, I obviously did for this picture)."
The Makeover: Teeth Whitening
How Much: $275
The Experience: "It's not as though my teeth looked like corn cobs, but they weren't exactly gleaming — which is why I was excited to go in for a professional whitening treatment. Except, when I arrived at the dental office, my neurotic tendencies pushed me into panic. I'd heard horror stories of intensely painful whitening sessions, and I was worried that the process would make my teeth distractingly white. So, by the time Dr. Ruof walked in, I was sweating and gripping the dental chair. Fortunately, she assuaged my fears by saying that hardly anyone feels pain from Opalescence Boost, the whitening procedure she recommended for me. First, she polished my teeth and had me wear a plastic gadget to keep my lips away from my teeth. She then painted on a guard to keep the chemicals from touching my gums. Next, she brushed on the whitening solution. I kept waiting to feel pain, but...nothing. After three 15-minute sessions, we were done, and my teeth looked brighter and whiter — but not obviously 'done.' Later that night, I did feel some mild, dull pain in my lower teeth, but it dissipated by the next morning."
Was It Worth It? "The results were pretty much what I had hoped for: removal of superficial stains and an overall brighter smile. I wanted whiter teeth, but I didn't want to reveal a row of Chiclets when I smiled. Blindingly white chompers would have made me feel self-conscious, because it would have been so obvious that I'd had my teeth whitened. Instead, the results are noticeable, but they don't look fake. Interestingly, since the treatment, a few people have asked if I lightened my hair — which makes me think the teeth are making everything look a little brighter. Price-wise, it's not cheap but not as pricey as other in-office options. I was actually expecting the treatment to cost more, considering how quick and painless (and effective) it was. I'd definitely do this again next year, but in the meantime, I'm staying away from coffee and red wine."
The Makeover: Botox Cosmetic
Where: We went to Dr. Paul Frank, the director of the 5th Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center.
How Much: $1,000
The Experience: "It went by much faster than I thought it would — I think I was at the office for just 45 minutes, total. First, a nurse put numbing cream on the areas Dr. Frank would be injecting; I needed to wait about five minutes for it to take effect. Then, Dr. Frank came in and walked me through the different kinds of injectables on the market and the different strengths I could get. For guys, he advised it's best to go subtle so there's not a frozen look — obviously, I agreed, as I didn't want to look like one of those Hollywood stars. He asked me which areas were bothering me, and I told him I had noticed some fine lines on my forehead, around my eyes, and on the sides of my nose.
"The actual injections were relatively painless. There was a slight punch and a crunch as the needle went in, but that's it. I was surprised at how little it hurt, actually. Afterward, I was given an ice pack and held it on my face for 10 minutes. There were some clear puncture marks on my face and a lot of redness, but I went out to dinner that night and no one noticed."
Was It Worth It? "I'm wary of anything that could make me look like a zombie, but I have to admit that the overall result is really subtle. I can still move my forehead and make expressions, but the fine lines definitely smoothed out where I wanted them to. A lot of friends and co-workers told me that I looked 'refreshed,' without knowing that I had had any type of procedure. Apparently, the full effects of Botox can take more than a week to set in. (Personally, I didn't notice any difference until about four days after the treatment. I'm curious if it will strengthen in the next couple of weeks.)
"Basically — and I know I'll take a lot of heat for this — I wouldn't be opposed to getting Botox again. Many doctors have told me it's a preventive measure that can stop wrinkles before they set in. Now, that's not to say I want to be completely wrinkle-free — I think lines give a guy character. But, I'd also like to avoid looking like the Crypt Keeper, a real possibility as I do like to get some sun in the summer. I think it's just important to tell the doctor you just want it to be very minimal. I promise, I don't look like a freak!"