A shirt which clears up your acne. A pair of armbands which whip your arms into shape. Fitness and wellness companies have come up with ever more intriguing products to help you keep trim and fit.
Take Toronto-based company SunSoul's range of outdoor clothing, which uses advanced fabric technology to treat skin problems.
Asked if such a product works, Dr Wong Su-Ni, a consultant dermatologist at Pacific Specialist Practice, said: 'It can possibly work but the million-dollar question is 'How well?'.
'The fluorescent material basically filters out unwanted ultra-violet wavelengths while allowing certain wavelengths, such as blue light for acne treatment, to pass through. With regular exposure, blue light has been shown in clinical studies to reduce inflammatory acne.'
Mind Your Body gets seven journalists to test seven products for two weeks - from a new anti-stress head massager to a vibration platform - and clues you in on which new-fangled products work and which are just plain strange.
$628, from Osim stores and www.osim.com
When friends and colleagues heard I was testing out Osim's latest exercise machine, the uRobic, they almost fell off their chairs laughing.
I don't exercise - iFaff, iLoll, iEvenRoll, but anything aerobic, iDon'tDo. I steer clear of anything that expends more calories than walking up and down Orchard Road with shopping bags. But always up for a challenge, I accepted the mission: Exercise on the uRobic for two weeks and see if, as advertised, I burn 11cm off my waistline.
Figuring the only time I'd have to test it out would be while enjoying my celluloid dose every evening, I set the uRobic in front of the television in the living room.
Now, the uRobic comes with weights that you strap to your wrists and a DVD instruction manual. The DVD teaches you how to move your body in various counter motions to the machine so as to purportedly tone your arms and inner thighs and tighten your abdominals.
There are also four speed levels which you can set, according to your "prowess" with the machine.
My first warning to anyone who wants to try out the uRobic is this: If you don't have a good sense of balance, please start at Level 1. Also, do not attempt to stay on the machine for more than 30 minutes at a go.
You see, I got ambitious - then I got horribly giddy and nauseous.
Once you get used to it, however, the uRobic is a breeze to use.
I'd say it is nearly impossible to get tired from using the machine, even for a couch potato like me, which probably means it isn't as effective a cardiovascular workout as, say, running.
Verdict: While I can't say I've turned into a carrot julienne, I'm certain that with sustained, regular use, some users might just see some reduction in measurements.
Michelle Tay, Money Desk reporter
$32,500, from F1 Recreation Pte Ltd, 1 Kallang Way 2A, 02-00 Xpress Print Building (tel: 6846-7666)
Vibrate your way to a leaner, fitter and more flexible body. That is the promise of VibroGym, a vertical vibration platform said to have been first developed by the Soviet space programme. When I turned up at VibroGym's showroom, brand manager James Loh said that using the machine would burn more calories than a normal cardio workout.
I was sceptical, did my workout maths, consulted my internal probability tables, looked the steel beast up and down and decided I didn't believe that a pithy 15 minutes on it would trump my regular jogs.
I was wrong.
My first training session on the VibroGym started off easy enough. First, I sat with my legs stretched out on the vibration platform for about two minutes, a pose which apparently increased the blood flow to my legs. So far, so easy.
Later, I had to do two minutes of quick step-ups. Two minutes? I started on that, thinking it would be a breeze but ended up panting as if I had done a 200m dash. Abdominal and arm exercises were next and I barely had time to catch my breath.
I was glad when the 15-minute session came to an end. It felt like I'd gone out running for 15 minutes. Or maybe I was just unfit.
The next two sessions I went for were just as tough but I realised that they complemented my 30-minute running stint the day after. Somehow, it felt easier to complete it.
What really sold me on the vibration platform though were the exercises which James taught me to increase my flexibility.
Standing on the vibration platform, I bent down to touch my toes and, for the first time in my life (yes, I would never have made it as a gymnast), my palms met my feet.
At that moment I could have kissed my knees with joy.
June Cheong, Mind Your Body reporter
CALORIE BUSTER SLIMMING PANTS
$49.90, from Inner Affair, 01-56 United Square or 02-101 VivoCity; Basic Beauty, 03-07 The Heeren; Citrusox, 01-28 Bishan Junction 8; Kai Boutique, 02-35 Bugis Junction
Taiwanese celebs swear by this three-in-one wonder, Mind Your Body writer June Cheong trilled as she waved a press release in my face.
"Flattens tummy! Lifts butts! Shapes thighs!" the marketing copy gushed. I was sold - anything good enough for svelte stunners was good enough for me. Besides, I'd been shopping for a girdle to hide my last few stubborn inches of post-natal bulge and that is essentially what this is.
I must confess, though, that I had second thoughts when I first beheld the scrap of elastic fabric: Even my 16-month-old son would have trouble squeezing into this, I imagined.
This thing looked so tight that it would kill your appetite, hence the slimming effect, I told June.
Still, I bravely tried it on under a slinky dress. To my surprise, tugging it on wasn't as strenuous as I'd expected. Neither was it the mediaeval torture device I'd imagined it to be. Besides spending a few extra minutes yanking it on and off when in the loo, I hardly remembered I had it on.
Best of all, the seamless design was hardly visible under skin-tight clothes, unlike many options in the market. So happy was I with it that I wore it four more times over the next two weeks. I doubt if my body was any more toned or my fat cell count any lower - that must entail something sweaty called exercise, surely?
What's for sure, though, is that my search for the ideal girdle has ended.
Tee Hun Ching, Urban editor
$598 (including one free therapy card), from OTO counters, such as those in Plaza Singapura and VivoCity
Years of lugging all my earthly belongings with me in a big bag has finally caught up - in the form of a very stiff left shoulder and shooting pains down the sides of the neck.
So I jumped at the chance to test the OTO e-cell, a device that uses PEMF, or extremely low pulsed electromagnetic field, to treat pain.
PEMF has been used by Nasa to fight muscle atrophy by encouraging cell regeneration, so I was glad to have rocket science help solve my problems.
The nifty device, shaped like a computer mouse, comes with a little card not unlike the SIM card on a mobile phone. There are 12 cards, each targeting a different part of the body that needs pain relief.
There is also a strap to hold the OTO e-cell in place at the problem area, as the treatment duration is 30 minutes each cycle. I can use it as frequently as I like.
In my case, wearing it like a neck brace, I found it slightly uncomfortable as it limited my head movements. There is no vibrating motion, no heat generated and just a faint, barely discernible humming.
After three weeks of on-and-off usage, including while working on the computer in the office, watching TV in bed and lugging a heavy suitcase around on holiday, the stiffness in my neck appears to have lessened and I can now turn my head freely without difficulty.
But I fear my pain in the neck is a deep-seated problem that will keep haunting me until I quit carrying huge shoulder bags.
Suzanne Sng, sub-editor
SUNSOUL BLUMOD WOMEN'S SHIRT
$170, from selected clinics. Email email@example.com for a complete list
For a month now, I have been spending a few hours a week in a fluorescent blue shirt and cap, in the hope of attaining blemish-free skin.
It all started when I learned about SunSoul's products. SunSoul, a Canadian-based company, had come up with a clothing material it claims converts sunlight into a healthy fluorescent light beneficial to the skin.
In other words, it is like getting a facial while out in the sun. The fluorescent material used is believed to block out the harmful UV rays and convert sunlight to improve the appearance of skin. There are two technologies - blumod and yelomod - used in the products.
Blumod, in its blue products, is said to clear skin blemishes while yelomod, in the yellow products, is supposed to reduce wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin.
When I wore the blumod shirt and cap, I glowed blue. Wearing a body-hugging, long-sleeved shirt in our tropical weather was also a bit of a challenge. But the blumod shirt was soft and comfortable so it did not feel as though it was sticking to me when I perspired. There is also a front zipper, in the chest area, that my friends and I presumed provided ventilation should there ever be a need to use it.
Each time after using the blumod products, I would scrutinise my skin. While there were no visible changes, I felt that my face did not feel as dry despite my being in the sun for hours without sunblock.
As I spend a lot of time in the sun, using blumod products saved me the hassle of applying sunblock each day. The shirt has a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 45 and its lifespan is approximately 30 washes or when the colour starts to fade.
SunSoul recommends at least two hours a week in the sun and, for better results, to direct the sunlight to areas with blemished skin for a longer period. With another 10 washes to go, I'll probably head to the beach to maximise any results.
Caroline Chia, photojournalist
OSIM UCROWN (top picture)
$268, from Osim stores and www.osim.com
One look and it didn't seem to matter if this anti-stress head massager lives up to its claim of relieving headaches, fatigue, a stiff neck and sleeping problems.
The device's clunky design is just about stressful enough for me to not want to use it very often even though it did make me feel better.
While not overly heavy, the bulky headpiece feels more like a cumbersome helmet - it's almost as if you are putting on a piece of head armour or are being hooked up to some scary lie-detecting contraption.
I also did not find it very comfortable to wear lying down.
What works fairly well is the user-friendly remote control and the quite relaxing sensation of the various massage programmes. What may not sit too well with the iPod generation is the limited choices of music it provides.
Nothing really wrong with these soothing sounds. It is just that most people are so used to being able to customise their music these days that having to stick with the choices the uCrown gives takes getting used to.
It would be great if a later model allows for the downloading of one?s own choice of music or even comes with a no-music option. And while the uCrown is portable, it's very noticeable. If you crave a massage while driving or simply sitting in the office, don't expect to use it without attracting some very pointed stares from others.
Hong Xinyi, Urban reporter
CALORIE BUSTER ARM SHAPER
$29.90, from Inner Affair, 01-56 United Square or 02-101 VivoCity; Basic Beauty, 03-07 The Heeren; Citrusox, 01-28 Bishan Junction 8; Kai Boutique, 02-35 Bugis Junction
Described as an "arm shaper", it promises to massage and tone the upper arm "through friction caused by body movements". There is more. On the box, it also claims to promote blood circulation and kill "stubborn fat cells". Wow.
Huge promises indeed for two skin-toned bands resembling the knee-braces sportsmen wear. But these bands are said to be different, made from "special wave-like weaving technology from Japan".
When I tried them, I was asked more than once if I had injured my arms. "Er, no, I'm just trying to kill the fat cells in my flabby arms."
Initially, my finger tips felt numb. It was as if the bands were cutting off my blood circulation instead of promoting it.
After two weeks with this band-aid for about two hours a day, I sadly have to report that none of my fat cells had perished - at least as far as I could tell.
That apart, I was not thrilled that I got a "muffin top" when wearing the bands because they were not designed to cover the entire upper arms, up to the shoulder joints.
Prettier colours and designs on the bands would be good too so users won't be mistaken for having arm injury.
Lee Yee Hwa, sub-editor
This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times on Oct 23, 2008.