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For most women, one glance at the supermarket tabloids and their endless photos of celebrities prancing around on the beach brings to mind three words: "Life's Not Fair." It's not just the exotic vacations, gorgeous spouses, and expensive bikinis -- it's the stars' seemingly eternal (and effortless) beauty.
How can celebrities expose themselves to intense UV rays, heat, salt water and stress -- not to mention blazing hot stage lights and layers of make up back on the job -- and still manage to look camera perfect? Truth be told, they can't -- not without a lot of focused effort, that is, and a series of regular cutting-edge beauty treatments.
"Once vacation is over, actresses get back to work -- and that means weekly treatments to deal with wrinkles, remove brown spots and rehydrate the skin," says Dr. Jessica Wu, a Hollywood dermatologist who has Oscar- and Emmy-winning actresses (and actors) parading through her office once summer ends.
Here are the cutting-edge treatments that such stars as Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Diane Lane rely on to keep themselves beautiful, along with effective DIY treatments you can try at home if you're not on a blockbuster budget.
Facial-Contouring Massage at Arcona Studio
Hollywood beauty cognoscenti have nicknamed this treatment the "non-surgical facelift." During this massage, an esthetician's hands and fingers lubricated with a naturally active skin emollient uses a series of upward strokes to exercise the muscles in the face, reversing the gravitationally pull on skin, and stimulating blood flow and collagen renewal.
The result: Lifted eyebrows, a firmer jaw line and cheekbones out to here. It's a little like sending your face out for Pilates classes. "If you do it on regular basis, the process really does make a difference," says Chanel Jenae, the vice president and head esthetician of Arcona Studio, a Santa Monica spa that boasts such clients as Diane Lane, Kelly Preston and Vera Farmiga. The month before a big premier, celebrities will come in several times for the contouring massage. However, die-hard clients regularly come for once-weekly care. But, adds Jenae, "Even one treatment feels so incredible and releases tension -- and tension affects how we look and relate to people."
Facial-Contouring Massage, $85 at Arcona Studio, Santa Monica, CA. For Arcona's line of products, check out Arcona.com.
You can try out an Arcona-style facial massage at home with these hands-on instructions. To counteract the forces of gravity, always apply your face cream in an upward motion. With a nourishing cream -- Arcona's features naturally active ingredients such as vitamins B-5, C and E -- on your hands and fingers:
Step 1: Using your fingers, smooth the fine lines on your forehead upward.
Step 2: Contour your cheekbones by rubbing the palms of your hands in the hollows of your cheeks, all the while lifting your cheek muscles upward and toward your ears.
Step 3: Starting at the inner eyebrow, press two lubricated fingers along your brow; circle down to below your eyes and, starting from the inner eye, gently press the skin. Says Jenae, "This releases stagnant fluid and reduces area puffiness." You can also wrap an ice cube in cotton and massage the eye area with it for a similar effect.
Step 4: Infuse hydrating face cream into your fine lines by placing emollient on your fingertips and gently taping the moisturizer (you can also use a few drops of honey) into the "11" wrinkles between your eyes, fine lines on the forehead, crow's feet or "marionette" wrinkles around the mouth.
Step 5: Try this daily facial exercise to firm the muscles under your chin and jaw: Curl the tip of your tongue up and back and press it against the roof of your mouth. Hold for five seconds. Repeat five times. "A stunning ex-model in her 60's taught me this," says Dr. Wu. "Now I do this in the car while commuting, in the shower and standing in line at the store. It's like a Kegel exercise for your face."
Fractionated Lasers for Brown Spots
Dark pigment accumulates throughout the summer with exposure to UV rays, so when most sun-loving actresses hit the film sets in the fall, they are often a mess of spots and freckles. To even out skin pigmentation and erase age spots, many actresses opt for fractionated laser treatments, which work by drilling thousands of tiny pinholes into the facial skin, shrinking and tightening the epidermis while also stimulating new collagen and normalizing pigmentation.
Fractionated lasers offer a cutting-edge advantage -- the untreated healthy skin cells help speed the healing of the drilled skin. "After the treatment, you look and feel like you've got a sunburn," says Dr. Wu, who performs the Fraxel laser treatment in her office. But after you skin heals, "Age spots fade and you look like you've just turned back the clock about 10 years."
Fraxel and similar laser treatments costs from $1,000 to $2,000, and must be administered by a trained dermatologist.
Nothing, says Dr. Wu, keeps sunspots away more than prevention. "Sunscreen isn't just for the summer holidays," she says, adding that most celebrities treat SPF-containing creams like their "best friend" and are never caught without it. Make applying it a daily ritual by connecting it to other habits. For example, slather it every morning after you brush your teeth, and again before your lunch break. To further avoid producing other dark spots, says Dr. Wu, "Don't pick pimples. They can heal dark, especially after sun exposure."
You can combat existing dark spots with over-the-counter remedies, such as RoC Retinol Correxion. Also look for products with naturally active ingredients such as bearberry (arbutin), coffee berry or soy, such as Aveeno Active Naturals skincare line. Apply to your finger tips and infuse by touching to dark spots.
To get the most of these products, try exfoliating before you apply them, with a home skin-polishing system, such as Clarisonic's Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System ($195), an electric facial brush that removes dead skin and old self tanner, stimulates circulation and increases the skin's ability to absorb nourishing and moisturizing ingredients. "I will sometimes even recommend using the Clarisonic rather than doing a dermabrasion treatment," says Dr. Wu. "Anytime you remove dead skin you are helping your products to penetrate more deeply." But, don't use the brush more than two times a week, cautions the dermatologist; otherwise you run the risk of over-stimulating the natural oils in your skin.
Intraceuticals Infusion Oxygen Facial
Yes, Madonna, who at age 52 still has flawless, wrinkle-free alabaster skin, does seem like a blessed freak of nature to most of us. But like the majority of celebrities, she gets a major beauty boost from regular skin treatments. Before most public appearances, she gets an Intraceuticals oxygen facial, a process that involves a liquid infusion of hyalaronic acid, green tea, aloe vera and vitamins C and E applied through a blast of oxygen from a handheld device. The 30-minute treatment immediately plumps up and nourishes the skin, although the day-after results are even more noticeable. Justin Timberlake and Eva Longoria also swear by this facial. "The treatments are a necessity before every major event," Longoria says.
For a similar burst of beauty, try one of these homemade remedies.
Oatmeal Facial: Combine a tablespoon of uncooked oatmeal with two teaspoons of honey and smooth onto your face. Leave on for 10 minutes, and then using a hot washcloth, lightly scrub the skin. "This is great exfoliant," says Jenae. "It lifts the dead layer of skin off your face."
Egg Mask: Mix the juice of half a lemon with egg whites from one egg and apply it to clean skin. After a few minutes, use a hot washcloth to wipe the mixture off. The result: Toned and brightened skin.
Drink and eat foods rich in antioxidants, such as cranberry juice, strawberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes and salmon. Including such nutrients in your daily diet boosts your body's natural ability to fight skin-aging free radicals, and enhance your skin's glow. Berries are rich in vitamins C and E stimulate collagen production, which serves to keep skin smooth and supple. Nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E and fatty acids, and help skin from becoming dry and dull. Salmon contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps keep water in the cells for hydrated skin.
Which of these beauty treatments would you try? Chime in below!