No time to wait for results? We combed the country for the newest ways to treat everything from dull hair to dimply thighs — quickly — then asked a few brave souls to put them to the test. The outcome? Nothing short of miraculous.
You want: Shiny hair
Speedy solution: A Kérastase Chroma Perfect salon treatment, $35 to $60
When it comes to insta-sheen, "This is going to replace the gloss," predicts Roman Kusayev, a stylist at the Butterfly Studio salon in New York City. Not only does the professionally applied remedy lay down a layer of light-reflective silicone, it also removes dulling buildup from color and styling products. Your stylist simply paints a special solution onto your tresses after your color service (though it can be applied to non-color-treated hair as well). After a few minutes it's rinsed out, and you're left with superlustrous locks. For information, see kerastase.com.
Road-tester remark: "It made my fried, brittle hair shiny, soft and healthy for weeks." —Kate, 23
Lower-cost option: Top dry tresses with Kenra Platinum Silkening Mist, $15, for a brilliant finish.
You want: Fuller lips
Speedy solution: Restylane injections, $450 and up for the amount required to plump your pout
This FDA-approved hyaluronic-acid filler gives "wonderful and immediate" results, says Yone Tierney, director of training and development at Skin Klinic, a spa in NYC. On the downside, you may require topical lidocaine to numb the area preinjection, and you could swell or bruise at the injection site. On the upside, since hyaluronic acid is found naturally in your body, there's little risk you'll suffer an allergic reaction to it. Results last up to six months. For information, see restylane.com.
Road-tester remark: "In a word: unbelievable. I watched my lips growing." —Didi, 34
Lower-cost option: Smooth on Kinerase Lip Treatment, $38. With repeated use, it can increase your lips' surface area.
You want: Perfect pearly whites
Speedy solution: A "Snap-On Smile," $1,500 for uppers only; $3,000 for top and bottom teeth
Marc Liechtung, D.M.D., a cosmetic and restorative dentist in NYC, has created the Snap-On Smile, which can immediately beautify dingy, cracked, gapped and even missing teeth. The snap-on teeth — no drilling or adhesive is required for use — are made from a flexible resin that covers each tooth like a jacket; a little hole at the bottom of each one allows you to bite down. The teeth can hold their shape and color for three to five years (provided you take them out before bedtime and brush them after every meal with a commercial whitening toothpaste). A minor drawback: Your speech might be impaired for the first few minutes you wear the teeth, while your tongue adjusts to them. For information, see snaponsmile.com.
Road-tester remark: "I feel more confident when I wear my Snap-On Smile; no one knows what changed my face, but everyone loves the results!" —Danielle, 30
Lower-cost option: Although they can't alter the shape of your teeth, using Crest Whitestrips Premium Plus, $37.99, for 10 days will boost brightness.
You want: A line-free forehead
Speedy solution: Botox, $400 and up per treatment
"It's not exactly instant — it could take a week to show — but it's definitely the quickest way to achieve a visible difference," says Skin Klinic's Tierney, who acknowledges that Botox can also yield a "frozen look." "Injecting Botox is not a science, it's an art," she adds. The success of the product relies largely on who administers it and how. Your best line of defense is to flash the person injecting you a big smile, so he or she can take into consideration the way your face normally moves and proceed accordingly. Also, if you're a first-timer, err on the side of under-injecting: "You can always get more," says Tierney. Results last up to four months. For information, see botoxcosmetic.com.
Road-tester remark: "I looked less angry, and consequently felt less angry, and I generally had a more refreshed appearance." —Amy, 32
Lower-cost option: Check out Chanel Precision Micro Solutions Wrinkle Neutralizing Treatment, $185. The ingenious new product comes with a roller device that smooths lines, as well as an invisible liquid adhesive you apply to keep them flat.
You want: A clearer complexion
Speedy solution: The Zeno Zit Zapper, $225
The Zeno, a handheld, rechargeable medical device, works by driving a very precise amount of heat through your pimple — painlessly — for two to three minutes. The heat destroys bacteria, shortening the pimple's life cycle, and reportedly increases blood flow to the affected area, prompting faster healing. "I've found it to be perfect for my clients with mild to moderate acne that resists topical treatments," says Mona Sappenfield, owner of Mona Spa and Laser Centers in Jackson, MS, and Memphis, TN. In clinical trials, 90 percent of blemishes treated with the Zeno disappeared or were significantly reduced within 24 hours. For information, see myzeno.com.
Road-tester remark: "Five minutes after zapping my pimple — one of those deep-down, painful ones you can feel coming on for days — it was less red and considerably less sore. By the next morning, only a minuscule red mark remained." —Genevieve, 33
Lower-cost option: Apply Skindinavia Akne-Oil-Pore mask, $39; rinse after 10 to 15 minutes to reveal dramatically diminished redness.
You want: Fewer areas of discoloration on your hands and/or chest
Speedy solution: Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL), $200 to $300 per treatment (you may need four to six)
Unlike spot-zapping lasers, IPL does not cause scabs to form on treated areas, so it's truly considered a lunchtime procedure, explains Tierney. Another big plus: IPL works on red as well as brown splotches (in other words, it can be used to improve rosacea in addition to sun spots). However, you must be diligent about sunscreen use while receiving treatment, and after, or discoloration will return. For information, see aad.org.
Road-tester remark: "I've had lots of freckles since I was a teenager. After a couple of IPL treatments, the spots faded away, and now I look younger than ever." —Meghann, 40
Lower-cost option: Spot-treat discolored areas with Tri-Luma Cream, $80 to $100, a prescription salve that contains bleaching and exfoliating agents. Dab it on the offending splotches and expect to see results in as little as a week. As with IPL, continuous use of sunscreen is a must.
You want: Longer hair
Speedy solution: Great Lengths extensions, $1,400 and up, depending on number and length of pieces
"The wax bond that attaches Great Lengths extensions to your hair is made up of protein and keratin [substances already found in hair], so they're not damaging," explains Nikki Ray, a stylist at Salon A-K-S in NYC. In addition, "they allow your hair to grow underneath," she says. The attachments can last four to six months (with monthly touch-ups that are included in the price). And when you're over them? "A special liquid melts them right out," says Ray. One caveat: For the most realistic effect, your natural hair must be four to five inches long, otherwise the add-ons can look puffy.
Road-tester remark: "Before attending a wedding recently, I added about six inches to my shoulder-length hair with Great Lengths. I couldn't believe how natural it looked. People just thought my hair had grown." —Erin, 25
Lower-cost option: Attach a few clip-in extensions from Hair U Wear's Put On Pieces, $60 to $279 (depending on type and length), to your mane to create temporary length or volume.
You want: Cellulite-free thighs
Speedy solution: TriActive LaserDermology System by Cynosure, about $1,000 per treatment
"We have embraced the TriActive LaserDermology System because it has FDA approval [as of April 2005] and seems to work better and faster than anything else out there — though some people need up to 16 treatments," says Mona Spa's Sappenfield. The noninvasive laser treatment is said to break up the fat cells associated with cellulite, shrinking them and smoothing the skin. Plan on receiving three treatments the first week, two the next, then going weekly until you've completed 16 sessions. You may need a touch-up visit in subsequent months — and, of course, all bets are off if you gain a lot of weight. For more information, see cynosurelaser.com.
Road-tester remark: "I saw superficial smoothing after the first treatment — and real results after just three." —Misty, 33
Lower-cost option: Massage Olay's new Smoothing Concentrate Cream Gel, $9, onto dimply patches to better hydrate your skin cells and improve the look and feel of the area in an instant.
You want: Longer nails
Speedy solution: A Creative Nail Design Custom Blended Manicure, $80 and up
"A custom-blended manicure allows you to walk into the salon with ragged, bitten nails and walk out with a perfect 10," says Roxanne Valinoti, celebrity nail technician for Creative Nail Design. The fake tips are made from powderized polymers that are painted on like acrylics. However, unlike acrylics, the powders can be manufactured in any color (including your skin tone). They feel about as thin as three coats of polish and can stay on for three weeks or more — at that point, you'll need the base filled in to mask regrowth. You can polish over them when you're craving a new color or, to remove them, just soak in an acetone solution. For information, see creativenail.com.
Road-tester remark: "My custom-blended mani looked exactly like my favorite sheer-pink polish, but it lasted for three solid weeks without a chip." —Valerie, 35
Lower-cost option: Pop on Revlon Flex-to-Fit Glue On Nails, $7.99. They adhere comfortably to your tips and come in four user-friendly shades.