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These At-Home Beauty Tools Are Worth The Investment

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It all started with the Dyson Airwrap I lent Emily Ferber a couple weeks ago. As she shook her shiny, impossibly sleek hair like a Pantene ad (am I remembering this moment correctly?) she casually dropped that there’s a magic number of professional blowouts per year which would make the Dyson practically pay for itself. It got me thinking… what other beauty investments net out to a practical purchase in the long run? When it comes to the latest in at-home tech, it’s nothing but a numbers game. And for the math-averse, don’t worry—I did all the hard work for you.

Dyson Airwrap ($549)

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9 Blowouts at Drybar NY ($49 + tip)

The hair tool to end all hair tools really gives a salon trip a run for its money. Sure, the Dyson can’t give you a scalp massage like Drybar would, and it doesn’t come with a fancy salon shampoo, but it does come with everything else. It's like the way we used to talk about apps when apps were a new thing. Need to figure out what song is playing in your local trendy cafe? There’s an app for that. Need your hair to be sleek and straight, curled like a Bachelor contestant, or just plain bouncy? There’s a Dyson head for that. There are two types of people who get blowouts: the ones who save it for a special occasion, and the ones who get them often and maintain with dry shampoo. Monthly blowout gal will love the ease of not having to go to a salon and pay $50—special occasion blowout user will enjoy having “done” hair for occasions far less special. Wins all around.

NuFace Trinity Eye and Lip ($429)

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2 Facials at SB Skin ($225 + tax + tip)

Sure, this isn’t an exact one-to-one comparison, because professional microcurrent machines at places like SB Skin are stronger and therefore work better than at-home microcurrent. But, on the other side of the coin, using an at-home device like the NuFace every night for a year is definitely more effective than going for a sporadic pair of facials—as with all skincare, consistency is key. Even professional aestheticians who practice microcurrent will tell you that the only thing sporadic treatments will do is provide a quick-fix tighten and lift. If you really want to see results—and aren’t ready to commit to monthly microcurrent facials—an at-home device is the way to go.

Infrared Sauna Blanket ($499)

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8 sessions at Higher Dose ($65)

Infrared saunas heat your body from the inside out, so you get all the blood flow-increasing, muscle-soothing effects of a regular sauna without the hoopla (steam, heat, naked strangers) of a regular sauna. Unless you’re Angela Lindvall, you probably don’t have an infrared sauna in your house. But, you can purchase an at-home infrared sauna blanket from the very same people who offer the professional experience. Is this one worth it? I’m not sure. It seems kind of involved to use, and you’d have to lay on a surface that you wouldn’t mind getting all sweaty when you stand up to get out of it. Maybe eight infrared treatments—basically once a month for eight months—is enough? Maybe try it out at Higher Dose before splurging.

LightStim ($249)

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5 LED facials at Chillspace ($55)

Similar to the NuFace, LED facials are cumulative—it’s not like you hit a certain number of LED facials where your results kind of plateau. If you want to see results from LED, you have to go somewhere like Chill Space and do them consistently, and often. Though LED facials aren’t too expensive, they do feel like quite the splurge when you realize you’re just… sitting in front of a light and paying to do so. LightStim’s at-home device is priced more reasonably than others on the market, and is a good way to get your LED fix at home. Plus, you can choose between red (fine lines) and blue (acne) light, depending on your skin’s needs.

PMD Personal Microderm Pro ($199)

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1 Microderm Treatment at Christine Chin ($180 + tip)

The difference between an at-home microdermabrasion machine and an in-office one comes down to the type of exfoliation used—the PMD uses tiny crystals and a vacuum, while an aesthetician or derm will probably use a diamond tip—this is what's used at Christine Chin. The crystal method is generally recognized as being more abrasive and inconsistent than a diamond tip, which is why it’s not usually preferred by professionals. Plus, since manual exfoliation is easier to overdo (the brand recommends to only use the PMD once a week) I don’t know if I’m sold here. On the other hand, the at-home and professional versions are pretty much the exact same price. If you know you’re going to want multiple treatments, it makes sense to spend your money on a product you can use again and again.

Silk’n Infinity Hair Removal Device ($399)

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3 Underarm Laser Sessions at Manhattan Laser Center ($150)

As with microderm, laser done at home and in-office are fundamentally different. The Silk’n uses IPL, which is actually intense pulsed light. Both laser and IPL use heat and light to zap hair follicles, but professional laser is more focused and more intense (which is why it hurts more, too). While professional laser tends to work better—meaning fewer sessions and fewer top-offs, too—IPL is still an effective method of semi-permanent hair removal. And though the price of an at-home device will get you about three sessions of single-area professional treatments at Manhattan Laser Center, you’ll more likely need five to ten. If you can stomach doing it yourself, the Silk’n makes sense. And it’s also safe for use on all skin tones, which many lasers are not.

17 boxes of Crest Whitestrips ($39)

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1 Professional Treatment at DNTL ($575)

Crest Whitestrips actually work, guys! They just don’t work as quickly as the professional whiteners your dentist uses. Whitestips use a lower concentration of bleaching agent, which is why they take longer. And while professional whitening can be painful and sensitizing, at-home strips can be harsher on gums—however, a mold you can get at DNTL minimizes the bleaching agent's contact with your gum line. After using a full box of Whitestrips, your teeth should reach their most white—though you’ll have to maintain them with touchups to keep them that way. On the flip side, you also have to maintain professionally whitened teeth! For $39, Whitestrips seem like a pretty good place to start.

—Ali Oshinsky

Photo via ITG