Women's at-home beauty routines are getting amped up these days, thanks to the introduction of new high-tech pampering gadgets that promise to do everything from zapping your zits to banishing wrinkles. But when do you channel your inner bionic babe and when do you hand over your upkeep to a trained aesthetician? We took a look at some of the most popular devices and compared them to the professional service they seek to duplicate so you can decide when to plug in and when to check in.
CLARISONIC VERSUS A FACIAL
Clarisonic

  • What it is: The Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System is a handheld device that massages your face with 300 movements per second.
  • What it does: It removes dirt and oils and promises to improve skin tone, refine pores and increase absorption of other products.
  • Cost: $195
Facial
  • What it is: A facial is a salon procedure that typically involves a deep cleansing and various techniques from steaming and exfoliation to the extraction of blackheads and whiteheads.
  • What it does: Booking regular facials at an experienced salon is ideal for cleansing your skin, especially since a professional aesthetician will use proper extraction techniques to remove blackheads.
  • Cost: Around $80 to $125 per visit
Plug In or Check In
The Clarisonic has been clinically proven to deeply clean skin, and can only benefit your face. But if you have nagging issues, such as stubborn blackheads, you may still want to book a monthly appointment with a seasoned facialist for the best results.
ZENO HOT SPOT VERSUS ACNE TREATMENT
Zeno Hot Spot
  • What it is: The Zeno is a palm-sized, FDA-approved device that uses heat to tackle the acne-causing bacteria that causes pimples.
  • What it does:  In short, it's a zit Acela! Apply it to the affected area for less than three minutes to see a difference. It promises visible blemish clearing within one hour and the elimination of up to 90 percent of blemishes within 24 hours.
  • Cost: $39
Professional Acne Treatment
  • What it is: A professional acne treatment can involve anything from cortisone injections to acne lasers, and is usually performed at the offices of a dermatologist or at a medical spa.
  • What it does: Cortisone injections reduce zit inflammations and heal skin within a few days, while lasers destroy the bacteria that causes acne.
  • Cost: $200 to $500 per treatment
Plug In or Check In
Acne-treating gadgets do work for inflammatory acne, but dermatologist, author and BeautyRx founder Neal Schultz advises that they do not work for cystic acne and the scarring that often accompanies it. Use the Zeno if you have occasional pimples or need a swift fix, but turn to a professional who can prescribe topical antibiotics or cortisone injections for a more permanent solution.
LIGHTSTIM VERSUS BOTOX COSMETIC
LightStim
  • What it is: The handheld, FDA-approved LightStim uses wavelengths of amber and red and infrared LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
  • What it does: The light penetrates the top layer of skin to stimulate collagen production, which reduces fine lines and wrinkles. Use it from five to seven days a week for three minutes on the affected area.
  • Cost: $249
Botox Cosmetic
  • What it is: Botox is a protein that is derived from a botulism toxin that is injected in low doses underneath the skin.
  • What it does: This injection is directly administered into the muscles to block nerve impulse to them. This in turn relaxes facial muscles and moderates severe frown lines and wrinkles.
  • Cost: $350 to $600, depending on the aesthetician
Plug In or Check In
If you want instant transformation, opt for Botox. But if you want a less dramatic and more believable reduction in wrinkles, especially lacking the frozen-muscles effect, devices such as the LightStim can be an excellent alternative. "All these devices work to a certain extent," says Schultz, who adds that the FDA is more "concerned with safety than efficacy" when it approves a gadget like LightStim. In other words, LightStim is safe to use even though the results may not be dramatic as those experienced by Botox users.
TRIA HAIR REMOVAL LASER VERSUS PROFESSIONAL HAIR REMOVAL
TRIA Hair Removal Laser
  • What it is: The first and only handheld, FDA-approved laser for at-home hair removal.
  • What it does: It produces a focused laser beam that aids in disabling hair follicles. It promises smooth, stubble-free skin when used regularly (at least once every two weeks for six months).
  • Cost: $395
Professional Hair Removal
  • What it is: A professional hair removal can also use laser technology.
  • What it does: Salons like American Laser Center, for example, use a combination of energy- and heat-producing lasers to destroy hair follicles. You'll need to come in for regular sessions over several months.
  • Cost: Varies, depending on the area
Plug In or Check In
The TRIA may be a worthwhile investment so you can skip the regular salon visits. It has FDA clearance and offers permanent results using laser technology that targets the hair follicle and permanently disables it from growing back.
SONICARE TOOTHBRUSH VERSUS PROFESSIONAL TEETH WHITENING
Sonicare
  • What it is: An electric toothbrush with a high vibration speed of 31,000 brush strokes per minute.
  • What it does: The electric toothbrush uses sonic technology to deeply clean your teeth beyond where the tips of the bristles touch. It also promises to remove 100 percent of your teeth plaque.
  • Cost: $90 and up, depending on the model you choose
Professional Teeth Whitening
  • What it is: A professional teeth whitening treatment (or in-office teeth whitening) uses power and safe bleaching techniques to rapidly whiten teeth.
  • What it does: It bleaches teeth safely and extremely rapidly using peroxide gels.
  • Cost: Approximately $300 to $500 per treatment
Plug In or Check In
Professional teeth whitening at a doctor's office is extremely effective but expensive. Given how advanced at-home teeth whitening has become, especially in terms of removing stains, a combination of using the Sonicare daily along with teeth-whitening products such as Crest Whitestrips, Go Smile and stain-removing toothpaste will be your ticket to a beautiful set of pearly whites.
When would you plug in or check in?

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