Award season is endlessly intriguing—the red carpets, parties, and A-list run-ins alone have me stimulated with celebrity gossip and photographs for weeks to come. More so than anything, though, is the line-less, pore-less faces and super-toned bodies each celebrity shows off come showtime. It's a mix of great genes (naturally), hard work in the gym, and a few treatments with which I've recently become very familiar. I found a few procedures that have become quite popular with the celebrity set come Oscars time. After talking to the aestheticians and doctors that perform them, I made a list of the ones I most wanted to check out.
For years, Natura Bissé has treated the A-list ahead of the Academy Awards. Last year, I received a tailor-made experience performed inside a bubble of pure air. It's completely free of polluting particles as well as viral, bacterial, and allergenic agents. This year, the bubble was the same, but what happened to my face inside was quite different.
The brand's 3-D Collagen Shock Facial is a regenerative treatment that works in just three steps. First, a warming gel (to promote cell oxygenation and increase the penetration of the active ingredients to follow) is applied. It feels so good. Employed throughout this step is what the aesthetician calls an "active face contouring technique," which uses massage to redefine your skin and sculpt your facial contours. It works by boosting microcirculation and improving lymphatic drainage. (Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Anna Wintour swear by this one.)
Next, a concentrate of three different types of collagen is applied. It's designed to increase firmness, enhance your facial contours, improve elasticity, and boost hydration. Each type has a different molecular weight in order to better work on different layers of your skin. My face felt detectably plumped and my skin bouncy.
The third and final treatment step—meant to seal it all up—is a mask made of pineapple and green tea that both activates the prior ingredients and infuses them into your skin. I got up and looked in the mirror to find actual cheekbones sans makeup. I felt like Angelina Jolie circa Maleficent. Oscars, here I come.
"We now have the ability to add projection, elevation, and improved contour irregularity in the buttock without implants or surgery," Neil Sadick, MD, of Sadick Dermatology explained to me over email. Apparently, this is something the celebrity set love before a big red carpet. Three treatment sessions (each about 20 minutes) are all you need. "This is a more expensive commitment," Sadick says, "so each treatment runs usually anywhere from $3000 to $6000."
Rather than go all-in, topical anesthesia and all, I decided to simulate the results with less invasive procedures. I slathered my bum post-shower in Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Bum Bum Cream ($45), a thick cream with guarana—a native Amazonian plant whose fruit contains one of the most potent forms of caffeine on the planet. Caffeine equals tighter, smoother skin. The product also includes moisture heavy-hitters cupuaçu butter, açaí, and coconut oil.
Next, I found the best bum-sculpting workout for my shape. Apparently, the best way to create more definition is to get all the muscles involved. "Hitting your glutes from all angles and in different ways will maintain firmness and help you keep the shape you want," instructs Xavier Quimbo, co-founder and expert trainer at Speedplay. After 10 to 12 reps on each leg, I moved on to my absolute favorite: the spray tan.
St. Tropez finishing expert Sophie Evans works with a ton of celebrities to contour around the abs, arms, legs, and butt. After spraying on an even coat, Evans goes in with a smaller airbrush to get the proper contour—she darkens the curves underneath each cheek and shapes the right and left sides. By the end, my butt looks lifted and nicely rounded, and the rest of me looks decidedly slimmer. You can DIY the process with a makeup sponge or brush and your favorite self-tanner. I'm partial to St. Tropez's Gradual Tan Everyday Body Lotion in Medium/Dark ($25).
After meeting with New York–based plastic surgeon, Scott Wells, MD, I decided to take the Botox plunge—that is, after meeting with Wells and doing a ton of research and serious soul-searching. This decision has not come about lightly, that's for sure. Wells explained, "Botox will diminish the deterioration of the skin by weakening the muscles that continually pull on the skin. Over time, expressions that we frequently make will strengthen those muscles and cause imbalances. We're not using the Botox to make a line or a crease go away; we're using it in smaller, more subtle, more broad strokes to re-posture and rebalance muscles."
He continued, "When you talk, sometimes you frown, and these muscles are strong," he said, pointing to my furrowed brow. "It's kind of like a tug of war." As illustrated in this graphic, I had six total injections, three along my forehead lines and three more around my eyes. The result? My face is still my face—just less squinty. The biggest difference is the decrease in fine lines and puffiness along my former crow's feet. (Which, honestly, is like a dream come true.)
SculpSure, a noninvasive laser treatment, is meant to permanently remove fat. Mitchell Chasin, MD, the founder of Reflections Center for Skin and Body, explains, "It works by heating fat cells just beyond their limit, causing them to die and be permanently removed by the body's natural metabolism. The machine delivers controlled and targeted energy without harming the skin." You can treat a single area, or multiple, during the 25-minute session.
I chose to do my love handles, a part of my body that feels especially annoying in fitted dresses. (I'm pretending to be a celebrity after all.) The doctor told me to expect a 24% reduction in stubborn fat and boasted a 90% patient satisfaction rate. He attached metal panels to my flanks as I sat and scrolled through Instagram. The system heats up for 40 seconds. (It gets just hot enough to be uncomfortable, and then switches to cool.) This goes on, from hot to cold, for the duration of the session. Since results are reported to show up in six to 12 weeks, I haven't seen any changes yet. But, honestly, I'm optimistic.
Usually lasers can cost up to $800, but the Laser Genesis Treatment (aka The Runway Facial) averages between $200 and $400, making it far more accessible. According to Sadick, this is the treatment Naomi Campbell, Adriana Lima, and Cindy Crawford swear by (!!!) before any red carpet or runway show. And it only takes 20 minutes.
The instrument, a long-wavelength, short-pulsed YAG laser, targets collagen, blood vessels, and melanin. It is almost totally painless—my skin became a bit sensitive toward the end but nothing too uncomfortable. Afterward, my pores were basically nonexistent, and any lingering pigmentation and acne scars were smoothed. No joke, my skin has never looked better.
To sustain my glow until Sunday night, I stopped by to see David Colbert, MD, for Jennifer Lawrence's favorite facial. Colbert developed the Triad Medical Facial, a three-part treatment that offers both immediate and month-long results. After the microdermabrasion, laser toning, and a gentle chemical peel, I was ready to go. My experiment was complete, and I haven't worn foundation since. See you on the red carpet!