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We all know how it happens. Lazy days or bad weather leave us curled up watching trash TV. Let’s just own it — we all get sucked in every so often, okay? After a few hours, we become intrigued and curious about the little gems sparkling during commercial breaks. Those revolutionary As-Seen-On-TV products promising efficient life hacks, gorgeous hair, slim silhouettes, banquet-worthy food creations, and happily-crafting kids. Does anybody ever actually buy those things? Do they really work? What if I looked at that website for a second … That’s a dark path, friends, but this winter’s escalating cabin fever has led me down it. No need to go there yourself, just pick up my breadcrumbs. Actually, there’s no need to order anything: I found all of these items in clearance cubbies at drugstores, and I cannot imagine why they ended up in the discount pile. Big mystery there.

Meet a few of the candidates for our testing…

Ahhh Bra

I pulled this out of the box expecting some sort of miracle fabric and found little more than spandex in the consistency of a light control top on pantyhose. Seriously? How is this supposed to do anything? It’s cut exactly like a pull-on athletic bra but thinner, ostensibly to avoid lines and bulges underneath a shirt. While it does accomplish that claim with no major lines or rolls glaring through my T-shirt, it’s so thin that there are … well, um, uh, how do I put this delicately … other “bumps” that become problematic. Yep, pointing straight out there, leaving nothing to the imagination—my husband certainly said “Ahhh.” I pulled a tank top over my Ahhh Bra, then put on a sweater, just for a comfort-test wear. It is comfortable, but I think I’ll use it as some exercise support … under several thicker layers.

Claims to be the original comfort bra, relieving you from “the barbaric torture” of your bra.

The Ahh Bra turns out to be little more than a very thin exercise bra. As promised, there were no bulges in the back, but there were some high beams visible in front.

Air Curler

Oh the delighted faces of the girls on this commercial. Here they go, hopping out of the shower, daintily towel drying their freshly-conditioned locks, and in just a few seconds, spinning their hair into perfect curls and ringlets. Hard to keep a straight face while reading the Air Curler instructions. The assembly reminded me of Ikea projects and the operating tips, a summary of centrifugal force. This is a salad spinner for your hair, snapped onto your blow dryer, claiming to use a little cyclone to twist strands into perfection. Excuse me, my bad, that’s “air vortex technology” for “amazing results”. My results? Two words: rat’s nest. I had to use my kids’ detangling spray to get a brush through it. How did this item get put into production?

Wow! Look at that magical “air vortex technology”! Perfect for creating rat’s nests all over your head!

Hot Buns

Contrary to the name’s implication, this is not a glute-lifting solution. The Hot Buns hair accessory looks so simple and practical. Pull hair up into a ponytail, roll the end up along the mesh-form doohickey, then snap the ends together into a donut shape, and wrap the attached elastic around the whole thing. Spread out the hair to conceal the form, and spray into place. So simple that a wee tot does it herself on the commercial. A tot with perfectly-coiffed hair and mysteriously glittery eyelashes — obviously en route to her Toddler & Tiaras audition with a stage mother and beauty entourage close at her light-up heels. Perhaps my aging fingers lack the dexterity of the perky models so adept at up-dos, but I tried this dozens of times. I had a friend come over and help me, but the best effort came out not much neater than double-looping my ponytail.  My shoulder-length hair doesn’t have layers, yet it still couldn’t stay secure in the form, leaving me with a lukewarm to tepid bun … definitely not a HOT one.

I swear, I followed the instructions to the letter.

My very best attempt still looks as though I’ve just come from the gym. It would take dozens of hair pins to keep this in place, so what’s the point of the mesh form?

Hot Huez

I only have boys, so I gave this delightful Hot Huez kit to a close friend with darling, blond-haired girls. In my mind, I could just see them happily playing beauty shop together. How fun it would be for sweet sisters to spend a cold afternoon styling each other with their Hot Hues. The application looked simple, just a compact of dense powder clamped around a section of hair, pulled through to deposit the color, that “eye-popping color” advertised. Alas. This is a box of brightly-colored hair chalk. Densely-saturated hues of hair chalk designed for prominence. Chalk has a tendency to sorta rub off on things… like clothes, and sheets, and sofas, and newly-reupholstered wingback chairs. I may or may not have damaged a friendship for the purpose of testing. I fear there could be a retaliatory drum set or pet hamster “gifted” sometime during the next round of birthdays at our house. 

Brightly-colored hair chalk… that smears all over clothes and furniture.

Stretch Genie

This one really excited me. Three precious pairs of shoes in my closet just get way too tight after I’ve worn them for a few hours. I have not had the heart to get rid of them and the Stretch Genie seemed like the perfect solution. I read and reread the instructions, quite determined to get my cute shoes back in circulation and to have at least one of these products be a resounding success. I then had my husband read the instructions just to double-check my understanding. According to Stretch Genie, just spray the solution around the area to be stretched, saturating it completely. Then, put in the handy-dandy adjustable stretchers included. Allow to dry overnight, and Voila! Nothing. Not so much as a bend or crease. Tried it again a second time, leaving the stretchers in for about 48 hours. Zippo. Again, someone, somewhere made a fortune on this magnificent formula.

Had high hopes for this one, crossing my fingers it could salvage some painfully cute pumps.
Alas, there’s no genie in the bottle — even trying several times, no stretching.

Somebody, somehow makes a MINT off these things. Somewhere, there’s a yacht party with free-flowing champagne and jewelry-laden swag bags, all funded by hair-staining chalk. 

I need a gimmick.


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