By Sarah Walter
Updated Aug 14, 2014 @ 3:14 pm
Credit: Micaela Rossato

A gadget that claims to smooth out cellulite or zap away wrinkles? We played bad cop and called BS on loads of product promises. Now you can shop staff-tested miracle workers (aren’t you just dying to know what this mask does?) and score winners that won’t let you down.

DIY Lip Plumper

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How: Position the open end of the cylinder over your mouth, and suck in small puffs of air until your lips are smack against the sides of the tool and the plastic feels firm around the mouth.

The pro says: Pushing your lips into a small space and holding them there with suction power increases blood flow to the area, says Dr. Francesca Fusco. That in turn may cause lips to swell a little (temporarily).

InStyle Beauty Guinea Pig Says: Um, ouch. “My lips were throbbing for a few minutes after I used the device. Once I put on the gloss, though, I thought my mouth looked a bit bigger," says one tester. Says another: "After squeezing my lips into it for the recommended time, they did get puffy-and a little red." While the Fullips manufacturer says results should last a few hours, our testes estimated the duration was a little south of 60 minutes. Game to give it a go? Testers said to get better results, wet your lips first.

Bottom line: 1 (out of 4) thumb up.

Microcurrent Face Lift

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Wow: Low-level microcurrents stimulate facial muscles so they tighten, contouring your jaw and chiseling your cheekbones. In the long term, this daily stimulation is said to boost the production of skin-firming collagen (NuFace Mini Facial Toning Device, $199;

How: Cleanse skin, apply the primer (which provides greater conductivity for the current), and run the gadget over and under cheekbones and along your jaw, for three to five minutes per section. As you do this, the metal probes shoot microcurrents of positive and negative energy through the skin and into the muscles, causing them to contract.

The pro says: If the idea of using electricity to lift your sagging cheeks sounds far-fetched, know this: The stimulatory effect is actually legit, even if it only lasts a day or so. “It’s as if you were to drop and give me 20,” says Dr. Fusco. “You’ll see a slightly more defined look right away because the muscles are responding to the microcurrents of energy by contracting and tightening.” Love the results? Dr. Fusco says, “You may want to commit to using it every day.”

InStyle Beauty Guinea Pig Says: It’s simple to use and easy to stick with, says our tester. “I do it every morning, and it makes my face look toned and refreshed—even after a night of soy-sauced tuna rolls.”

Bottom line: 3 (out of 4) thumbs up.

Cure-Free Gels

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(Day 1 — Day 14)

Wow: A few layers of color and topcoat deliver the super-shiny, unchippable surface of a gel mani, minus the UV light and $50 tab (Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish, $10 each; at drugstores).

How: A reaction between the color coat and topcoat (in which high-tech polymers meet light-reactive molecules) creates a bulletproof finish. You can ride out your inky blue mani for up to 14 days, or wipe it away with an acetone-soaked cotton ball before cracking open a cool new metallic hue. (There are 47 shades to pick from.)

The pro says: New York City manicurist Jin Soon Choi found the application hard to mess up since the consistency of the hybrid formula is similar to regular polish (“not too thick or watery”). The nail pro also liked the end result: a “shiny, saturated look” that’s this close to gel-like. The drying time is more old-school: “It’s the same as traditional polishes,” she says.

InStyle Beauty Guinea Pig Says: We thought at-home gel kits were game changers, but these may be game enders—as in, you may not want to paint with any other type of polish again. Our tester says, “My nails were a gorgeous blood red for almost a week before I saw my first nick. I didn’t remove the color for 16 days!”

Bottom line: 4 (out of 4) thumbs up.

For more of our beauty innovator ratings, pick up InStyle’s September issue, available on newsstands and for digital download Aug. 15.