Beautiful Secrets

By staff August 18, 2010

You do know that movie stars don't look that way on their own, don't you? Unlike models, few actors have perfect faces and bodies. Even mega-names like Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston have a team of transformers creating their looks and need an army of stylists with a multitude of tricks to keep them in top form. But you don't have to take the red-eye to L.A. to find expert beauty aid. Right here in Sarasota, we have topnotch products and resources to turn you into a hometown star. Check 'em out.

TREAT YOUR FEET Summer means being sandal-ready, but there's a lot you can do between pedicures to keep your feet soft and supple. First, heal your heels. Some poor soles think they're doomed to be dry, but not so. Step into Bliss foot-softening socks ($48) to hydrate feet in 20 minutes with scents of eucalyptus and rosemary, grapefruit and sage or peppermint (Lotus, 941-906-7080, and Saks Fifth Avenue, 941-364-5300). Try Persnickity Cat & Company's (941-923-8340) delicious-smelling Grapefruit Shea Body Butter to instantly plump sun-ravaged skin. And to repair a seriously reptilian dermis, use MD Formula Pedicreme with a whopping 18 percent glycolic acid content. Then slip into a pair of Sensi sandals ($29) with incredible contours for comfort and 100 little holes for draining sand and water (both at Body & Soul Spa, 941-358-5105).

SAFE TANS Porcelain skin is making a presence on the runways for the first time since Coco Chanel began touting the tan, but it doesn't really work if you're covered in age spots, varicose veins or cellulite. And besides, this is Florida; we love tanned skin for summer. What we don't love are the aging and poisoning too much sun can deliver. The best compromise? Applied tans. But be careful-the days of streaking, stinking, orange skin are not completely behind us. Definitely do a patch test, especially on your face, as some tan formulations result in breakouts.

Passing our test for instant, believable color that was quick drying, non-staining and without any unpleasant odor: HSN's Tantowel, Flavour's spray bronzer and, if you goof, Freedom's self-tan eraser (available at the Hair Color Center, 941-923-1079). We especially like the hand-sprayed tans at Hollywood Salon and Spa (941-366-3322) and the Tanning Den (941-925-9998). The latter, though more expensive, have the added advantage of letting you shade arms and legs to create the look of toned limbs or even spray a six pack on slightly flabby abs. Tan products and services from $20 to $60.

PUSH-UP POWER Strapless, backless, stick-on bras known as fashion forms come in versions to fit anyone with up to a D cup. Self-adhesive silicone supports create cleavage and lift without back or shoulder straps, so not only can you wear strapless tops, you can sport backless, plunging, and cut-out styles. Fashion forms let you wear sweaters without back bulges and revisit styles in which you normally wouldn't be caught dead. Name brands include Nubra, Bring-it-up Breast-lift and Braza Reveal (a lacy, teardrop-shaped version). These washable bra forms (the Nubra featherlight version dries in under two minutes) come in nude and black, padded and non, with clear vertical straps for additional lift. It may be time to revisit the halter top. $9 to $60 at area department stores and specialty shops such as Preston's (941-922-1911), and L. Boutique (941 906-1350).

CRUCIAL COVER-UPS Sometimes it's not the bra that's the problem, it's see-through sportswear or evening gowns. But you can keep from showing more than you want to with palm-sized nipple covers. From silver-dollar-sized silicon discs to padding-free, latex-free disposable adhesive strips, these products promise to tone down "headlights." Found under a number of cute names including Nippits, Breast-buds, and Breast-petals (we find "Dimmerz" particularly apropos), these concealers, which also come in heart and flower shapes, ensure that your blue hue is the sole sign of a chill in the air. Especially good for sports-minded but self-conscious teens, they work well in the pool and help fellow tennis players keep their eyes on the ball. $6 to $34 at area department and apparel stores.

SUPPORT SERVICES Almost every body out there can benefit from the new generation of tummy trimmers, thigh thinners and bottom boosters, made by the likes of Nancy Ganz, Bodyslimmers and Spanx. Including slips, camis, bras and smoothers, these light compression products are hailed by stars as diverse as Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow. Some undergarments even use special seams to create "the great divide," a far cry from the flat butts of yesteryear's support services. These belly-blasting, body-sculpting undergarments are quite comfortable. The fabric wicks away moisture and feels kinder than a corset, more forgiving than a girdle and definitely more viewer-friendly than some of the contraptions women wore in the '50s. $22 to $72 at area department and specialty stores.

STUCK ON YOU You may never sport that famous plunging neckline J. Lo dared at the 2000 Grammy Awards, but you are likely to confront gaping garments, falling hems and slipping shoulder pads. These fashion fiascos can be easily resolved with hypoallergenic fashion or toupee tape. Available in multicolored contour and straight strips as well as in rolls, fashion tape is perfect for safely sticking fabric to fabric or gluing garments directly to the skin. (Duct tape hurts!) Use fashion tape (Hollywood and Max's are two of the many brands available) to hide straying bra straps, close the gap of a button-down shirt, keep wrap-style tops and skirts from swirling open, hem pants and dresses, secure strapless tops and bathing suit bottoms, even apply fake beards and mustaches. Did you think celebrity gowns stayed put by themselves? $2.95 and up; available online as fashion tape.

BROW BEATERS Brows can make or break your look. Correctly defined brows can make eyes appear larger, eliminate a scowling expression, slim the face, emphasize the cheekbones and add polish. Brow stencils allow you to choose your favorite shape, width and degree of arch ($20 and up, at Bloom Organics, 941-362-4194). And thin brows age you. The ultra-tweezed brows of Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo made them look like fabulous 40-year-olds in their 20s. So if you've overplucked, it may be time to grow your brows back. Sometimes too-thin brows are the fault of brow-waxing technicians. Eyebrow wax spreads when you apply pressure, sometimes taking off more than planned. (We love Bloom Organics, Diva and Ana Molinari for eyebrows.) Tweezing and waxing can also make the hair follicle dormant. Products like Rogaine, Browboost and Regrow require two to six weeks to see results but can make a world of difference (about $20 at area pharmacies). In the meantime, fill in sparse brows and above all, resist the urge to pluck.

And the best-looking brows do not always match hair color. Blondes should go one or two shades darker to avoid looking washed out, while brunettes often need to lighten up a shade or two. You can go to a salon for eyebrow tinting or bleaching, or you can use brow pencils or powders at home. For control, use a clear or tinted gel- Glowbrow gel can also cover errant gray brow hairs. Color products available at area drugstores and department stores; tinting at salons, $10 to $25.

BRIGHT AND WHITE White teeth are an imprimatur of youth. There are options aplenty for creating brighter teeth, and certain things you want to watch out for. Inexpensive whitening strips available at the grocery store can do the job, but the whitening can be uneven. Custom dental trays with bleaching agents available from your dentist and costing up to $500 can cause mouth ulcers and tooth sensitivity. In-office whitening techniques using bleaches and light have gotten less expensive (now about $350), and a similar technology is available for at-home use through companies like Ionic White, which promises dramatic whitening in 21 minutes. If your teeth issues go beyond color to shape and placement, you can correct all these problems at once with porcelain veneers, which can cost $1,000 or more per tooth. Sarasota has a number of dentists versed in these procedures.

FAREWELL, FROWN LINES If Botox ($250 and up per application) doesn't appeal to you, Frownies may be the low-tech, $17 solution for deeply etched frown lines. These paper-like stick-ons are applied at night to the forehead or around the eyes and mouth. Actress Rene Russo told Good Housekeeping that she used Frownies to battle forehead wrinkles. 144 pads for $16.95; available at Bloom Organics (941-362-4194), drugstores and various department stores.

FACING THE LIGHT Sometimes you need to bring out the big guns. If you want to see major changes in the pigment and tone of your face, neck or hands, go for an intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment. The procedure, which takes about an hour, consists of zapping prepared skin with a beam of light to break up darkly pigmented cells so they can rise to the surface and slough off. The treatment also stimulates collagen production, so that in three to six months, skin looks fresher and tighter as well as more uniform. Three treatments performed three weeks apart are recommended to start. Subsequent treatments may be done annually. IPL is relatively painless, requires almost zero downtime and oh, the difference! Available at Neoderm, (941) 951-0388, and other skin-care emporiums. Prices vary-about $200 per treatment for face and neck at Neoderm.

MAKE-UP MAGIC Just as TV's What Not to Wear has Carmondy to work make-up wonders, Sarasota has make-up artists who can transform your look. Good make-up can do more than add color and shadow, it can change the focus of the face. Bad make-up can make you look older, washed out, even ill. And make-up artists are trained to achieve new trends with techniques that take a little practice. This season, for example, big eyes with realistic-looking false lashes are the rage. Trust us, eyelash glue requires dexterity. Whether you want to update your look (too many of us are still doing make-up the way we learned when we were 16), learn about new products (wrinkle-filling silicon products and lip plumpers are awesome) or be the belle of a particular ball, try calling in the experts: Greg Payne from Elan, (941) 955-2770); Ana Molinari, (941) 365-1415, of the eponymous salon; and Alison Pollack, (941) 544-4868 at The Parlor all rock. Starting at around $50 an hour.

INTO THE CLOSET You might have a wonderful wardrobe, but if you can't find your clothes, what's the use? Organizers like Kathleen Miner of Miner Changes (941-365-8652), and Dina Taylor of Easily Organized, (941-921-5066), can recast your closets to look like art. Custom-designed closets make a world of difference. Getting things shipshape is not only visually pleasing, it really does save time, and equipment like the closet valet-a bar that extends to hold dry-cleaning or your evening's outfit-help you remix the clothes you already own. There are a pile of closet decluttering options in Sarasota. For bigger projects that require heavy installation, Contemporary Closets, (941-951-6400), has a stellar rep. We also like Closets by Courtois, (941-915-8608); it's still small enough for owner Roger Curtois, a licensed contractor, to take a personal interest in your project, and the prices, starting at $500 to $900, are ultra-reasonable.

CHANGE YOUR LIFE(STYLE) When you finally admit that your high-fry diet and no-impact couch-potato exercise regimen aren't cutting it, you may still not be ready to do what it takes to get fit. Change begins in the mind. That's why housewives, corporate types and church groups are signing on for Deniese Kragel's Healthy Challenge seminars (941-923-8608). Co-author of the book Healthy at Work, Kragel is a certified lifestyle-change educator, personal trainer and nutritional specialist. Her 10-week Lifestyle Change seminars include information and inspiration on body type, how to eat, when to eat what, whether to supplement, great recipes and an exercise plan. Participants weigh in each week to chart and discuss progress and challenges. Custom seminars available for four or more. Prices vary.

What's Your Favorite Beauty Product?

Some Sarasota fashionistas and style setters answer.

Kristin Joyce Guy, account executive, Clarke Advertising: "Bobby Brown's SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm. It has a fantastic whipped base, is very light, plumps and adds a healthy gleam, not a greasy shine. It's great if you don't like make-up in general."

Barbara Roane, formerly of Saks and Mettlers, now at Annabelle's: "When a customer came in raving about the new line of Fresh Skin scents and hair products, I looked at her face and hair and decided to give them a try, and I absolutely love them. I use the Soda shampoo to tame my very curly, out-of-control hair, and Rice face wash-great results."

Deborah Blue, fashion-savvy attorney: "I love the Bare Minerals line of make-up [mineral-based foundation with natural sunscreens approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation]. I always noticed the place where my make-up ended, and with Bare Minerals, you don't see that. A big problem for women as they age is facial peach fuzz, so I go to Neoderm for dermaplaning. I also love ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream. It's not gooey, it goes on evenly, it feels and smells great, and my skin definitely looks better."

Wendy Getchell, owner of Lotus Boutique: "Bliss Lemon and Sage Hair Shine and Body Gloss is a cool new product that you put on both your skin and hair for a great sheen and oh, the smell. I'm addicted!"

Sally Schule, manager, Saks Fifth Avenue: "Strivectin. Love it. Ran out of it for a few days and was miserable. [Originally developed to soften cow udders, Strivectin is supposed to erase lines and smooth stressed skin.] I'm also big on Laura Mercier bronzing powder and Chanel lipstick-it stays on forever and the colors are amazing."

Joanne King, co-owner of Willow: "I use the Proactive line [a three-step skin-care regimen created by dermatologists]. I've used it for five years and whenever I quit, my face breaks out again. It's a lifesaver."

Susan Dabney, local beauty and socialite: "My favorite product these days is called Au The Rouge [cologne] by Bulgari from Saks. Here's what's in it: pepper, fresh orange, bergamot, red tea and organic plum. Sounds like you could eat it, doesn't it? It's soft and subtle and unique."

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