1. DIY: Microdermabrasion
Microdermabrasion treatments are one of the fastest ways to reduce fine lines, lighten dark spots, and brighten your overall complexion. But since they often cost $200+ per session, our wallets were thrilled to learn that at-home versions can produce similar results. “In-office is a little more intense, but we’ve shown that about three at-home treatments is equivalent to an in-office procedure,” says dermatologist Dr. Frederic Brandt.
DIY with: dr. brandt® microdermabrasion skin exfoliant
Go to a Pro for: Full-Strength Chemical Peels
Chemical peels can cause an array of scary side effects like burning, redness, and even scarring. A dermatologist can help minimize these risks by selecting the right peel for your skin type and concern, monitoring you during the procedure, and performing a skin analysis first, which could be a lifesaver. “A sunspot that you’re trying to eliminate with a peel could be an early skin cancer,” says Houston dermatologist Dr. Paul M. Friedman. Dr. Friedman says at-home kits can help maintain the effects of an in-office procedure, but only when purchased from an accredited doctor. (Read: Steer clear of cheap kits from sketchy websites.)
2. DIY: Eyelash Extensions
Nothing supercharges your eyes like a few strategically placed false lashes. To apply them like a pro, Michelle Dinsmore, owner of Brows on Upper 15th in Denver, says to ensure that you attach adhesive to your lash—not the lid. “The bond doesn't stick to the lid, and just won’t last as long,” she says. And don’t forget to apply mascara first, so you don’t disrupt the placement of your lashes.
DIY with: Benefit they’re Real! Mascara and Georgie Beauty Winks
Go to a Pro for: Brow and Lash Tinting
Dinsmore performs a patch test on every client to ensure there are no allergies to the dye. “It can be very serious if you have a reaction,” she says. A trained professional can also help pick the shade that best complements your hair and skin tone: Options include deep black, blue black, and even purple.
3. DIY: Allover Hair Color
Covering up a few grays? Changing your color by 1–2 shades? At-home color is fine, but follow these tips: “Never choose anything marked as 'golden'—it will turn out orange,” says Ben Everin, Senior Colorist at Antonio Prieto Salon in New York. “Choose ‘ash’ instead.” Going from dark to blonde? Visit a salon first, then maintain at home, so you don’t end up with what Everin so aptly terms a “dark green disaster on your head.” (Unfortunately, we've been there). Bonus tip: A deep-conditioning mask designed for color-treated hair will help lock in color.
DIY with John Frieda® Hair Colour and Kérastase Masque Chroma Captive - Treat
Go to a Pro for: Highlights
File this under: money well spent. “Highlight kits tend to bleed and cause damage,” Everin says. “You’ll only spend more money trying to get it corrected at a salon.”
4. DIY: Waxing
We recommend leaving your bikini area to the pros (make sure they don’t “double dip!”), but waxing other areas is definitely DIY-doable. First, “discontinue any exfoliators or retinoids several days before and after you plan to wax,” says Dr. Friedman. Apply wax strips in the direction of hair growth, then remove in the opposite direction. Follow up with a soothing moisturizer to minimize irritation and a hair-inhibitor to slow future growth.
DIY with bliss® Poetic Waxing® Starter Kit, Shaveworks The Cool Fix™ Targeted Gel Lotion, and Whish Shave Savour Hair Inhibiting Gel
Go to a Pro for: Laser Hair Removal
While some at-home lasers produce fairly good results, they’re just not as effective as a professional treatment. Especially if you have darker skin, you should always go to a dermatologist or licensed aesthetician first. “Utilizing an improper setting or device on dark-skinned patients carries a much higher risk of causing blisters, discoloration, or other side effects,” says Dr. Friedman.