Growing up I had a friend that my mom would refer to as Gidget because her hair was always flipped dramatically up in a brown bob that never moved. Even when we were playing soccer or the morning after a slumber party, her hair always had that flip, and her perpetually peppy personality added even more to her Gidget doppelgänger quality.

As an awkward middle-schooler with braces and frizzy, difficult-to-tame locks, Gidget's flipped-out hairstyle was the epitome of chic to me. I imagined myself playing on the beach in a retro polka-dot, ruffled bikini, with sun-kissed skin, flipped hair and light pink, kissable lips.


Phylia de M.'s product line

I spend entirely too much time thinking about my hair. What if I bleached it? Hacked it off like Debbie Harry in Blondie's "Rapture" video? Dyed it red?

All talk and no action though: a messy topknot is the extent of my follicular wheelhouse, in spite of my unending rumination. I blame it on my first 17 years being trapped (completely willingly) in a too-short cut. I've tried desperately in vain to grow it out since then but get lazy and keep creeping back to an inch off here and there, mustering up the confidence to get a 'do that will somehow be completely different than my middle school Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail-inspired crop.


It all began at an editorial meeting. FashionEtc's publisher, Andrea Greeven, had seen a TV segment on women undergoing non-invasive procedures to stave off surgery. Many were starting in their 30's. Thermage, Ulthera, Zerona, these women were doing everything not to have to go under the knife, and they were impressed with the outcome. "Does anyone want to try this?" she asked.

I raised my hand.

I wasn't about to go to just any doctor, mind you. I did my research, online and through friends. Several women I spoke to had been to see Dr Mark Schwartz. They raved about him, and about the Ulthera treatment they had done in his office.

I was impressed with Dr. Schwartz's office and the friendliness of his staff. They answered all my questions patiently, even the wackiest ones. I have a fear of pain, and they promised me they would make me as comfortable as possible.

As for Dr. Schwartz, if every doctor was like him, this would be a better world. Smart, patient, kind, funny, he walked me through the procedure and gave me all the information I needed.

"Ulthera is a relatively new treatment that's been FDA approved for about a year and a half now," said Dr. Schwartz. "It harnesses ultrasound energy to target the muscle layer under the skin. The energy from the ultrasound heats the muscle, the muscle shrinks, and what happens in turn is the skin lifts up. There is very little downtime—you can have it in the afternoon and host a dinner party for 50 people at night and no one's really going to know.

"The other thing to consider—it's not the most pleasant sensation, it does sting as you're having it done—but it's the kind of thing that comes and goes very quickly. You feel it while you're being treated, but an hour later you won't be in pain.

"Because of the science, it takes about three or four months to see the final results. It's not a quick fix. It's the kind of thing where you'll see gradual results, which I think is a positive thing because it ends up looking more natural."

How long will it last? I wanted to know.

"The studies tell us that it lasts about two years, because even though this will help to mildly lift your skin up, we're not going to cure gravity. I've had the machine for about a year, so in my anecdotal experience it will last at least a year," he continued.

Is it better than Thermage?

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Many moons ago, a college film professor told me I reminded him of Catherine Deneuve's character in Repulsion. Stunned to be compared to Catherine Deneuve's character in anything, I thought to myself, "Wow, something I'm doing must be working."

Somehow I wasn't clued into the fact that he was talking not about my beauty routine—which, at the time, involved rousing myself at noon and haphazardly slapping on some tinted moisturizer to cover my tracks—but about a psychological resemblance occasioned by my final project, which was basically an arty, claustrophobic mess. When I saw the movie two years later, it all clicked into place. However, while Deneuve's character isn't one to emulate lifestyle-wise (for what it's worth, I've really been trying to get out more) her makeup look is still enviable.

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