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How Much Is Too Much?

Over-bleaching, over-tweezing, over-Botoxing.... The craze in upkeep has women so hooked, doctors and industry pros are now turning them away.

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However, walk into the tony Manhattan department store Henri Bendel on any Saturday and you'll still be surrounded by trout pouts and shiny, lasered skin. But you'll also be reminded of another, increasingly important part of the antiaging landscape: dermo-skin care, which has stolen at least some of the attention from more drastic interventions. "The majority of people I see want to know about skin care first," insists Lancer. "Five years ago, people came in saying, 'I need this laser or this chemical peel.' This is a positive step backward."

And in the meantime, as we watch overworked Hollywood faces broadcast their cartoonish perfection like JumboTrons, it becomes increasingly clear that the ever-evolving buffet of available antiaging procedures will only complement the things we've known all along: that you also need sunblock, water, and a sensible diet if you're going to look like Demi Moore well into your 40s. And that the most elusive nonsurgical factor — happiness — is the real silver bullet.

Over-Whitening

Marie Claire Photo of Woman with White Teeth

These days, cosmetic dentistry is all about The Great White Way. "We've had to create new porcelain colors to keep up with the bleaching trend," says New York dentist Dr. Gerald P. Curatola. Newfangled strips and trays are flooding shelves to meet the demand for what he calls "toilet bowl white."

But the victim of a blinding-white smile could be your health. During the stain-removal process, peroxide releases carcinogenic free radicals, destroys healthy bacteria, and makes enamel more porous, says Curatola.

To stay safe, he suggests limiting bleaching to once every three months, thoroughly rinsing the mouth with water immediately after lightening, and using an enamel-strengthening toothpaste (like Sensodyne ProNamel) instead of whitening toothpaste. "You want Soft Scrub for the mouth, not Ajax," he says.

Over-Plucking

Marie Claire Photo of Woman with Tweezers

Brow grooming — like white hair yanking and blemish zapping — tends to bring out the OCD in everyone. Overzealous tweezing in the guise of perfectionism can lead to emaciated brows and bald patches, where hair only grows back very irregularly. Beverly Hills brow guru Anastasia Soare suggests using protein-spiked brow gels to stimulate healthy growth and brow fillers to shade in the problem areas. She also counsels clients to step away from the magnifying makeup mirror: "These mirrors are dangerous — we tend to tweeze every small hair until our brows are bald!"

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