Photosmart R967 Camera Black pants are slimming and fad diets can slough off the pounds. But for the latest get-skinny-quick gimmick, Hewlett-Packard...

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Photosmart R967 Camera

Black pants are slimming and fad diets can slough off the pounds. But for the latest get-skinny-quick gimmick, Hewlett-Packard would have you reach no further than the nearest Photosmart R967. Simply take a picture, view it, choose “Slimming” from the Artistic Effects menu and watch as your subject shrinks. Sadly, the camera can’t eliminate unsightly rolls or awkward pant creases; it just sort of sucks in the whole picture and elongates the image for an understated Modigliani effect.

I wouldn’t buy a camera for this feature alone — but this 10-megapixel baby with its three-inch LCD screen is delightfully idiot-proof; the camera manual is actually in the camera, so features such as fill-flash and macro focus are explained, and you can get an instant review of your work. (Let’s hope the camera doesn’t suggest that the “Slimming” feature would improve your self-portrait.)

$350 at Best Buy stores and

— Anne McDonough

Beauty Samples by Mail

I love samples: I can linger in beauty stores for hours, examining this lipstick, sniffing that lotion. NewBeauty magazine’s product sampling subscription, TestTube, attempts to deliver that try-before-you-buy joy straight to your doorstep, up to four times per year. Two weeks after I signed up, my first tube arrived in the mail, bearing six boutique-brand goodies, including Jane Iredale mineral face powders and a GoSmile travel kit, plus a full-size bottle of Obagi Professional-C Serum (worth $75 on its own). I didn’t waste a minute getting started.

A week later, I was sold on the kit’s Dr. Brandt Laser Tight firming lotion — just the thing to perk up my skin on two-coffee mornings. Unfortunately, the full-size version costs $110. I also found love with Babor’s intensely moisturizing yet fast-absorbing HSR Lifting Eye Cream. This care package probably won’t keep me out of Sephora, but it does offer another great way for me to try my samples on for size.

$25 per tube at

— Michelle Thomas

Green Apple Body Wash

There’s a lot to recommend organic skin-care products — they’re better for the environment, and they’re often less harsh on your skin. Eminence Organic Skin Care’s Pear & Green Apple Yogurt Body Wash (try saying that three times fast) smells deliciously fresh and is certainly natural — the short ingredient list is free of impossible-to-pronounce chemicals. Most noticeably absent is sodium lauryl sulfate, a common foaming agent that some organic-product manufacturers have targeted as a skin irritant.

But the yogurt-based cream gel is watery: The missing lather meant I had to use twice as many pumps as with my everyday, chemical-laden body wash. With such a hefty price tag ($35 for a cleanser?), more than one pump is too many. Organic is nice, but there’s something to be said for conservation.

For more information go to

— Michelle Thomas