Technology's great and all, but I'd happily sacrifice my iPhone X and light-as-air laptop for my at-home facial steamer and electronic anti-aging massager any day. (Priorities, right?) And judging by the recent influx of new skincare tools that tighten, brighten, and make you overall glowy, I’m not the only one fascinated by the latest in technology.
A casual scroll through the new arrivals at Dermstore and Sephora shows that high-tech, personal use devices are quickly becoming the norm, with LED light therapy masks and microdermabrasion tools displayed alongside serums and moisturizers. But the real question, as always, is this: Do they actually work?
“With at-home devices that are FDA-approved, patients will definitely experience some beneficial effects, particularly in indications such as mild laxity, acne, photoaging, and sunspots,” Dr. Neil Sadick of Sadick Dermatology in New York tells The Zoe Report. In layman’s terms, yes — many of these devices do deliver results when it comes to firming the skin, clearing acne, and lessening hyperpigmentation.
Dr. Sadick particularly endorses devices that utilize LED light and radio frequency. “These mechanisms of action are well documented for several skin indications, and they are safe to be modified for at-home use,” he says.
Perhaps the biggest benefit that this type of technology provides is convenience — after all, the masses use Postmates for gourmet food delivery and book at-home massages with apps, so there there are precious few things people are willing to leave the house for these days. The newest personal use skincare tools fit right into this paradigm, and can extend the amount of time in between professional appointments. It’s important to note, however, that no device can (or should) replace a visit to your dermatologist or esthetician. “They're absolutely designed to serve as a buffer in between appointments,” Dr. Sadick tells us. “For deep wrinkles, severe acne, melasma, or sagging skin, you will need a combination of fillers, neurotoxins, and professional devices to achieve dramatic results.”
To that point, you’ll only notice the benefits of using these at-home tools if you, well, use them. “Using a device once in a blue moon and expecting baby smooth, clear skin is unrealistic,” Dr. Sadick tells us. The suggested usage of every tool is different. Some, like the Lightstim for Wrinkles, can be used every single day, while those that are more intense, like the PMD Personal Microderm PRO, should be kept to a once-a-week maximum.
“There are risks with every device, be it at home or in the office,” Dr. Sadick adds. “Stick to brands that have a good reputation, devices that are FDA-approved, and follow instructions on how to use each device vigilantly.” A couple tools to be wary of include gadgets that claim to “suck” or “vacuum” out blackheads (“You can inadvertently remove the whole sebaceous gland unit at the same time which will damage the whole area,” Dr. Sadick says) and laser hair removal devices, which could potentially damage darker skin, as higher levels of melanin can make skin more sensitive to lasers.
Finally, be realistic about your skill level. While anyone can pop on an acne-fighting LED light mask and reap the benefits, wielding a microdermabrasion tool is a different story. “In the hands of the wrong user, these devices can damage the skin and create more problems than benefits,” Dr. Sadick tells us.
Ahead, 16 new skincare tools to try for every type of skin concern — complete with suggested skill level, frequency of use, and expert input.