we tested the internet’s scariest beauty products
We asked a bunch of i-D friends to test out the most bizarre beauty products we were able to buy online for anything between £2 and £20.
Amazon is full of strange contraptions that promise to make you beautiful. For £7.99 you can buy a face tightening belt that will blur away the deep wrinkles clustering around your eyes. For £3.59 you can buy a three-dimensional nose slimming roller which will give you the cute button nose you've always dreamed of. We've all wasted time gazing into the mirror, scraping off spots and pushing up thick jowls into sharp cheekbones. Not all of us have the finances to be sliced open with surgical knives, have our fat tugged out of us and slack skin pumped full of silicone.
Behind these beauty gadgets -- face muscle trainers and lip plumpers -- lies hope. Those who buy them believe new possibilities will open up; an Instagram swelling with followers and the sort of face that gets you invited to parties.
To explore this fluctuating relationship between identity and beauty, we got our friends to test out the weirdest products on the internet and spoke to them about the sad reality that bandaging your face in a suffocatingly tight lycra is probably not going to dissolve all your chin flab.
According the Amazon seller, the nose brace Pelin wears operates using “physical microwave vibrations” to “stimulate several internal pieces of cartilage” in order to achieve a nose with a “strong, beautiful and high bridge”. It is geared towards giving you that pointy ski jump nose look of Anna Nicole-Smith.
What did Pelin have to say?
“Beauty is not needing to prove anything to anybody. Caring about beauty isn't regressive or progressive. Having no choice is what can feel regressive. But we have choice. Endless. I had fun toying around with the products but once I was told what their actual purpose the fun vanished. No obsession in the world is fun. Obsessions cause stress.”
Maxim is just wearing a face tightener to reduce wrinkles and tone facial muscles. She could just about breathe.
What did Maxim have to say?
“When I feel good, I look good. I think skin is a good example of that. When I'm stressed my skin almost immediately looks dull and unwell. When I’m sleeping and eating properly my skin glows. Everything starts with a balanced diet and drinking lots of water. I don't think anyone can be happy all of the time, so beauty to me is also about accepting that you have off days and that’s okay.
"Every generation had their own way of dealing with their insecurities and ours naturally happens to be a more tech driven. But a lot of people cannot afford plastic surgery and if they feel that these products can help them, I totally support that. However, there’s a danger in playing into people's insecurities for profit.”
Betty is wearing a nose slimming massager. It is “lightweight and portable” so you “can easily carry it wherever you like”. Perfect. It would not be at all embarrassing to wear this vibrating nose sling while squished against stranger’s bodies on the underground.
What did Betty have to say?
“I think beauty comes from the inside. To me wearing all these things felt pretty regressive in terms of beauty standards, especially because a lot of the items were used to alter your natural look rather than enhance it.
"I have never used products like this, I feel like they are constantly forced upon women in our society and it’s exhausting. In my early teenage years I used my fair share of lip gloss plumpers, fake tan and fake nails. But as I’ve matured I’ve realised they do nothing to enhance my confidence and if anything, these products made me feel strange and removed from myself.”
Josephine is wearing a plastic face lifter to suck up all that excess skin that is ruining all our lives and turning us into failures.
What did Josephine have to say?
“I always remember Diana Vreeland saying, ‘The only real elegance is in the mind’. I think of beauty in the same way. Some of the chicest people I know embrace their flaws.
My beauty philosophy is a lot to do with massage and lymphatic drainage. I love using my hands. In terms of products, just keep it simple. Oh, but I've been taking estrogen for a few years now which has gradually changed my skin softness, features and body composition -- so a 10/10 recommendation from me on that one.
These devices promise aesthetic harmony. I didn’t feel glamorous at all. At present I am reading Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth so I'm thinking about why I saw these devices pushing for one specific rather conventional hetero-normative type of beauty. That's hardly going to be universally achievable -- or exciting.”
Sofia wears a facial muscle trainer aimed at reducing excess fat from the cheeks and accelerating growth on the cheekbones. Just do the exercises while watching TV after work and maybe you will get Cate Blanchett’s face?
What did Sofia have to say?
“I think there are two kind of beauties. One which is a social construction and one which comes from being at peace with one’s body and identity. What society thinks of as beautiful might not apply to you, but you can get to a point where you love yourself regardless. To get there, smother yourself with diverse beauty representations.
Most of the facial muscle trainings can be done through exercises without any the need for purchasing products. They just feel like toys made to get money from people.”