[By Mona Ling]

In a world obsessed with beauty and perfection, it is easy to get sidetracked by empty promises and alluring adverts. We get down and dirty to find out what works and what doesn’t so you don’t have to. Does the fountain of youth really lie in a bottle or are there more promising treatments that can deliver a visible difference? This no-holds barred critic of the most popular aesthetic treatments out there will give you the true insight to looking younger, fresher and more radiant using science, not fiction.

 

Wrinkles + Botulinum Injections

What it is:

Botox, Dysport, and the new Xeomin—all made from variations of botulinum toxin type A—erase wrinkles by blocking the nerve impulses that cause muscles to contract.

The cost:

Approximately SGD$500 every three to six months. There is no downtime, so you can return to work after 30 minutes. You’ll see full results in a week.

My take: [ 5/5 ]

“Hands down, Botox is the easiest way to get rid of wrinkles. Forget anti-wrinkle creams that only deliver a slight difference if any. This is the real deal for wrinkles and lines you have always hated but couldn’t do anything about. Four days after my first injection, the stubborn lines were gone, but my face still looks natural. How natural you look will depend on the skill of the doc. Like a good hairstylist, go for someone you can trust.”

Insider info:

Don’t go to just any doctor: Make sure they have a lot of experience with injections and that they take the time to study your facial expressions. There is little discomfort under experienced hands. For needle-phobes, ask for numbing cream prior to injections. Skip alcohol the night before to reduce chances of bruising.

Faking it:

Unfortunately no product can mimic the amazing effects of the real deal, despite what creams may claim. Needle-phobic? Try bangs that will hide your forehead lines.

 

Thin Lips + Lip Filler

What it is:

Injections of hyaluronic acid (Restylane and Juvéderm are our favorites) helps erases lipstick bleed lines and give upper and lower lips an instantly plumper pout.

The cost:

Approximately SGD$900–$1,500 once or twice a year; lips will be puffy for the first 24 hours.

My take: [ 3/5 ]

“Lip fillers are a bit more painful than botulinum toxin (aka Botox) injections, but with a numbing injection prior, the procedure was painless. I love the fact that my smoker’s lines and lipstick bleed lines have been erased and my lips look full but natural.”

Insider info:

Go for a numbing injection prior to procedure, and you will feel close to no pain during. There is 24 hours of swelling and ice packs during this time can help. Less is more in this case as you don’t want to end up with a trout pout. The latest look is au naturel. Remember if you don’t look like you are born with you, you are overdone.

Faking it:

Try lip plumpers that can give you a transient lip plumping illusion. Alternatively, line lips with a pencil the same shade as your natural lip color: Trace just outside the contour of lips. Top with a light-hue gloss.

 

Dark eye circles + Undereye Filler

What it is:

Hyaluronic acid shots under the eye—placed carefully between the bone and the muscle—hide dark circles by smoothing contours so light bounces uniformly off the area.

The cost:

On average, SGD$600–$1,000 every two months. Minimal swelling goes away within a day. You can wear makeup and undereye concealer immediately after.

My take: [ 4/5 ]

“I should have done this long ago instead of going through tubs of undereye cream which made little difference to my weary peepers. Immediately after the treatments, my dark eye circles are brightened, I look refreshed and my lines are softened. To minimize bruising, lay off blood-thinning omega-3s, green tea, and aspirin for 3 days prior.”

Insider info:

The eye area is delicate so less is more in this area. If you have overfilled the area, you may end up with visible bumps under the skin. To get optimal results, go back for repeat sessions, and you will have the most natural yet optimal result safely and effectively. There are many types of hyaluronic acid fillers, get your doctor to choose the finest one to avoid lumps and bumps.

Faking it:

A good undereye concealer can do wonders. Try Clé de Peau concealer that will brighten even the darkest of circles.

 

Acne +  Steroid Injections

What it is:

An anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, injected directly into a pimple, reduces swelling and speeds the healing time of large cysts.

The cost:

Approximately $75–$150. The injection takes seconds; you’ll start seeing the benefits in 24 hours.

My take: [ 2/5 ]

“This is a godsend if you need instant gratification to calm angry zits. The pimples subside within a day or two. But it is not a long-term solution to an acne condition. I see it as a quick fix.”

Insider info:

If you expect the shots to work in a few hours, you will be disappointed. It will take at least 24 hours for the zit to fully subside. Cortisone can thin skin, so injections should be saved for major occasions like your wedding or a hot date. Too high a dose of cortisone can result in skin depressions, so beware.

Faking it:

Try this makeup-artist trick: Crush soluble aspirin and dab it with a wet cotton ball onto your zit. It will help calm redness and reduce inflammation.

 

Flabby thighs + Coolsculpt

What it is:

Liposuction without the blade. Coolsculpt uses cold technology to break down 20-25% of fat non-invasively each session. Your body will excrete the fat via its own metabolic processes over the next month.

The cost:

Approximately SGD$1500 per-60-minute session; clients have said visible improvements are apparent from the first session though 3-4 sessions per area is optimal. No downtime, but some minor bruising in occasional cases.

My take: [ 4/5 ]

”I hadn’t expected much when I got my inner thigh treated. I had a fat bulge there from when I was 12 and so my expectations were pretty low. The doctor at The Sloane Clinic told me I would need at least 3 sessions for that area. Three weeks after the first session, the area literally slimmed down before my eyes, and my fat bulge was visibly reduced! Needless to say, I am hooked.”

Insider info:

This isn’t as dramatic as liposuction but the downtime and discomfort is considerably less as well. The fat reduction is visible even from the first session. There is some aching and tingling session post treatment that lasted for 4 days but nothing that would deter me from undergoing this again. Don’t expect to lose weight from this procedure though. This is good for localized fat and not for an overall fat reduction, which would do better with diet and exercise.

Faking it:

Tanned skins look slimmer so invest in a good spray tan to camouflage sorry-looking inner thigh flab. Try anti-cellulite compression garments such as Solidea and Spanx to help boost lower limb circulation, touted to help reduce cellulite and hopefully give you the appearance of endless legs.

 

Acne Scars + Chemical Peel

What it is:

To reduce acne scars, blemishes and boost radiance, dermatologists brush on acid blends—AHAs, salicylic, lactic, and glycolic are the most common. The exact concoction may depend on your skin.

The cost:

Around SGD$200 each. You will experience flaking of the skin after and you’ll begin to see results a week after. Four to six sessions spaced two to four weeks apart will deliver a clearer, more even complexion.

My take: [ 3/5 ]

” I started shedding a day later and didn’t stop for four days. I was disgusting at first, but a week later people were complimenting my dewy skin. While my pores and superficial blemishes were lighter, the peel did nothing for my pitted acne scars.”

Insider info:

Don’t do this 2 days before a hot date unless you ant to look positively reptilian during your dinner. It is vital to use heavy sunscreen for weeks afterward to prevent pigment problems. If you want a dewy glow, chemical peels are cheap and effective, but don’t expect it to treat deeper problems such as pitted acne scars. Those will only improve with targeted treatments such Fraxel restore or Mixto lasers.

Faking it:

If you crave some glow, try a facial scrub and a home peel. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel or Sloane Inc Sleeping Peel gives nice results with consistent use.


Hairy armpits + Laser hair removal

What it is:

Laser hair removal targets follicles, destroying hair without damaging surrounding tissue. Hair begins to grow back finer until the follicle becomes dormant.

The cost:

Price varies per area, approximately SGD$350 for underarms; six appointments are often required for maximal hair removal.

My take: [ 5/5]

“I should have done this in my teens instead of subjecting myself to painful epilators and endless waxing sessions. The laser was quick and simple, and my hair was sparser and finer after the first session. My underarms were hairless after my sixth session and have never looked back since”

Insider info:

Darker skin types or Asian skins beware. Certain devices such as IPL are more suitable for fairer skins; they can burn dark or tanned skin. I used Gentle Yag laser, which is safer for darker skin types so if you are like me, opt for that. You shouldn’t shave a few days before the procedure so your doctor can treat you effectively. Go to a doctor with a variety of hair removal devices so he can choose one that is safe your hair and skin type.

Faking it:

The two-step Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo depilatory erases hair without irritating skin. Otherwise try waxing for a clean finish.

 

Broken Capillaries + Vbeam

What it is:

Vbeam is the gold standard therapy for skin redness and broken capillaries. It shrinks the tiny blood vessels in the face that cause the flushing dreaded by rosacea sufferers.

The cost:

On average, SGD$600 per session; can take up to five sessions, but less may suffice depending on your skin problem.

My take: [ 5/5 ]

“This is it! There is no other substitute that can rid your skin of redness and unsightly broken capillaries. I’ve had patchy redness on my cheeks and nose after recurrent bouts of teenage acne. After two sessions of Vbeam, I ditched my concealer as my skin looked calmer, more even and my broken capillaries had vanished. Seriously life-changing.”

Insider info:

There is little downtime when Vbeam is performed at a lower power setting, but for enhanced results done at a higher setting, you may see some redness for a day, and some pigmentation such as freckles may darken transiently before fading off (another bonus). It also reduced my acne and made my pores seem smaller so that was a nice surprise.

Faking it:

Multitasking BB creams, such as Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector to even out skin tone and soothe inflammation. Use skincare with calming ingredients such as green tea. Try Sloane Inc Perfecting Dew to settle and balance sensitive skins. Power ingredients such as azelaic acid may also help treat unwanted redness, try Sloane Inc Skin Rescue for a more targeted anti-redness solution.

 

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4 thoughts on “The Real Deal”

  1. Creams will never deliver the sort of results that aesthetic treatments can. it will depend on your expectations. if you are happy with mild improvements, creams will suffice. but for more visible enhancements, creams won’t do the trick.

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