Life’s full of choices—and beauty products are no exception. There’s a gadget or gizmo (or twenty) out there for just about every need, and you undoubtedly already have some you call favorites. In the spirit of sharing, here are some of ours: eight tools that can improve your appearance and help you maintain healthy skin, hair, nails and more, as recommended by Laura Hittleman, corporate director of beauty services at Canyon Ranch in Tucson.
Regular exfoliation is essential for clear, radiant skin. Without it, dirt, makeup and oil can get trapped in your pores, and the buildup can make your complexion look dull and unhealthy—and even cause your pores to get bigger. While there are a few different exfoliating brushes on the market, the Clarisonic® uses a patented sonic frequency that’s been shown to improve skin’s appearance and texture and remove makeup six times better than cleansing with your hands.
How to use it: Every evening, put a small amount of cleanser on the brush head and press the power button; then, gently move the brush around your face and décolletage in soft, circular motions. The internal timer will power down the device after one minute. Follow up with your usual nighttime serum and moisturizer.
2. Dry Brush
In addition to sloughing off dry skin, dry brushing also boosts lymphatic drainage, which encourages the removal of toxins from your body, helping your skin glow. Additionally, it increases cell renewal and blood flow, resulting in a tighter, smoother complexion. Opt for a natural-bristle brush, ideally one that’s vegetable-derived, since synthetic materials can be harsh on your skin.
How to use it: Before your morning shower, stimulate skin by making long sweeps with the bristles against your skin, starting at your feet and moving up your legs on both sides. Then brush your arms, starting at your hands and brushing toward your chest. To avoid irritation, always brush toward your heart—which encourages natural lymphatic flow—and never brush too hard or in back-and-forth motions.
3. Exfoliating Bath Mitt
Once you’re in the shower, continue the exfoliation with a bath mitt. While you may be tempted to buy a loofa, these can sometimes be too rough on skin. They also have a tendency to get moldy because they take so long to dry. Just be sure to thoroughly clean or replace your mitt every three months since the dark, damp shower is a breeding ground for bacteria. (A netted sponge is another helpful alternative.)
How to use it: Apply a quarter-size dollop of body wash onto the mitt and massage in a circular motion starting at your feet, moving up your legs and torso toward your heart. Cover all areas and rinse thoroughly.
4. A Good Razor
If your go-to method for leg and underarm hair removal is to shave with a razor, you’ll need a good one. While you could save money by buying a pack of inexpensive, disposable razors, it’s best to choose one with multiple blades and a moisturizing strip. This will give you a closer shave and prevent the risk of cuts and nicks. In general, razor blades should be replaced every eight to 10 shaves; you might need to replace the razor after every five shaves if your hair is especially coarse.
How to use it: Give your skin and hair some time to soften by shaving toward the end of your shower routine. Apply shaving gel or cream (avoid soap) to the area and, starting at your ankle, pull the razor up your leg for the closest shave. If you tend to experience razor burn, try shaving in the same direction that your hair grows. When shaving your armpits, pull your skin taut so it’s easier to catch the hairs; a razor with a pivoting head can also help.
5. Electric Toothbrush
While you can get your teeth clean with a regular toothbrush, many dentists agree that you’ll optimize the look and health of your mouth if you use an electric model. Traditional electric toothbrushes spin or move back-and-forth to replicate the motion of your hand, but do so 3,000 to 7,500 times per minute—at least 10 times faster than you can do alone. Sonic varieties move forward and back or in a circular rotation 30,000 to 40,000 times per minute and vibrate, which can help better move the water and toothpaste in between teeth and around your gum line. Thanks to their speed, these brushes are highly effective at removing plaque and keeping gums healthy.
How to use it: Wet your brush and apply a pea-size amount of toothpaste. Think of your mouth as four quadrants and start brushing in one of the top ones, pointing the brush at a 45-degree angle up toward your gums. Be sure to cover the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth, as well as your tongue. Avoid applying too much pressure to prevent gum damage. Spend about two to three minutes to clean your entire mouth before rinsing. Optional: Use a fluoride-based mouthwash for 30 seconds after brushing.
Whether you want to pluck a few stray eyebrow hairs or need to remove a splinter in your finger, a good set of tweezers is a beauty tool that’ll always come in handy. Since hair removal is likely what you’ll use your tweezers for the most, look for ones with a slanted tip, which will help grip the hair you want to pluck.
How to use it: Pluck eyebrows after a warm shower; the steam will soften skin, making your job easier. Brush eyebrows into place and then use the tweezers to grab stray hairs at their root and pluck in the direction of the hair growth. Avoid plucking a large area with tweezers to prevent ingrown hairs.
7. Nail Clippers and Cuticle Remover
When you can’t make it to the nail salon, a good pair of nail clippers will help you avoid jagged nails and hangnails when performing your at-home manicure. Look for stainless steel nail clippers, which hold up better over time than ones made with other metals. Ideally, the handles will also have a good grip, so the tool doesn’t slip out of your hand. When it comes to removing thick, tough cuticles—if you choose to do so—skip cuticle stones, which can be too rough and damaging to the cuticle bed. Instead, opt for a cuticle remover cream, which is a more gentle way of removing this dead skin.
How to use it: Clip your nails straight across, being careful not to cut them too short, which can be painful. With a file, smooth the tips and round the corners, and then rub moisturizer thoroughly around each nail, finger and the rest of your hand. When using cuticle remover cream, soak hands in warm water for a few minutes first. Apply the cream to your cuticles and, once you notice them soften, push them back off your nails (a cuticle pusher can help you do this). Then remove the cuticle buildup and rinse your nails.
8. Microfiber Hair Towel
If you wrap your hair with the same terry cloth towel you use to dry your body after your shower, you may be harming your hair. Towels made from terry cloth can actually cause hair to break when working them over your wet strands, leading to frizz and split ends. Microfiber hair towels, on the other hand, are gentler on your mane and will absorb more water, cutting back on drying time and resulting heat-styling damage.
How to use it: You can choose to work the microfiber towel over your hair, drying sections as you go, or wrap the towel around your hair in a gentle twist.