Your guide to make-up and more by Lesley Thomas. This week: Bond-style gadgets
Though I am barely capable of getting a BlackBerry or laptop to do its job properly, I am a sucker for any sort of futuristic beauty tool. Indeed, one of my most vivid memories is of my mother and her friends on an “exercise belt”. This early Seventies device looked like an old-fashioned weighing scale, but with a 5in-wide rubber belt attached. Women would lean back against it, flick a switch and it would begin vibrating noisily – to shake cellulite into smooth submission, I assume.
The image of juddering peau d’orange on those primitive machines is burnt on to my memory, and perhaps explains why gadgets offering a battery-powered fast track to loveliness have always held a fascination.
Fortunately, there are plenty of them around – indeed, despite his absence from the recent Bond films, you could be forgiven for thinking that Q is alive and well, inventing gadgets for the beauty industry.
If beauty had a baddie, it would surely be Cellu Lite (even the name is sneaky), a force for evil whose goal is to upset and humiliate the female of our species.
But thanks to the latest gadgets, you can foil her plans from the comfort of your living room. For example, Endermologie, the salon-based cellulite massage technique favoured by Elle MacPherson and Claudia Schiffer, now offers a DIY version. The device includes the mechanical, pulsating rollers offered in the popular salon treatment, which lift and rejuvenate unhappy thighs.
Manhattan women went mad for this “body-sculpting” contraption when it was launched and, despite the £1,000 price tag, there’s a waiting list at Harrods. However, it’s worth booking an Endermologie session.
Ultratone, a more traditional electronic toning technique, has been around for decades. The latest incarnation, the Futura Pro home kit, will tone tummies and bingo wings as well as tackling lumpy thighs. Essentially, it consists of pads that use electromagnetic pulses to stimulate muscle activity, so it’s great for people looking for escape routes from their gym membership, and will also help with skin tone and lymphatic drainage.
Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow use it, I’m told, so it should be very handy if you need to top up your two-hour-a-day workout. There’s also a facial version, which works on the principle that toned muscles will keep your skin smooth and perky.
Kate Moss, meanwhile, was so impressed by Tua Viso, a hand-held device that offers microcurrent facial stimulation, that she bought them for herself, her mum and all her pals. After a couple of weeks’ use the skin appears more toned. Two electrodes covered by soft pads boost circulation and collagen production, warming up sallow skin.
Technology is also being used in the war on wasted energy: you can now style your hair with a reduced carbon footprint. Eco Dry from Babyliss uses 1,000 watts instead of the usual 2,000, but remains just as effective, as the motor uses less heat but has a more powerful airflow.
Even zits can be zapped with Bond-style gadgets. The Zeno is a small, hand-held tool for the removal of blackheads and spots. You apply the machine to the offending blemish and it heats up and speed-dries the spot without damaging the skin. Silent, deadly and it looks like a mobile phone – Q would be proud.