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.
Even skincare beginners can use this sonic three-in-one cleansing device (it cleans, massages, and can even be used to apply products), which pulsates 6000 times every minute to gently but powerfully remove oil and buildup from your pores. Dr. Sadick approves of this circulation-boosting mechanism as well, noting it is safe to use as directed — twice daily, for 90 seconds at a time.
"For experienced patients that have strong beauty chops and mild aesthetic concerns, personal microdermabrasion tools may be a great way to perform these treatments at home," Dr Sadick says. "Otherwise, for novices I would not recommend these devices." If you're pretty much a pro, give this tool a go once a week. Its exfoliating discs and suction mechanism clear away dead skin cells to deliver an enviable glow, while priming the skin for product absorption.
Firming and Tightening
"NuFACE has been touted extensively as a way to tone the face, as it gently stimulates the dermal and muscle layers of the skin through microcurrents," Dr. Sadick says. "While there may be benefits, they will be temporary and last only as long as patients use the device." So, basically, you need to massage your face with a NuFACE tool for 20 minutes a day at least five times a week in order to keep your facial muscles toned.
From Madonna's MDNA beauty line, this roller is simple and non-invasive enough to be used by anyone once or twice a day, as a way to tighten the facial muscles. “It's the first battery-free device of its kind to harness Ultra-Infrared Energy," Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a New York-based dermatologist, explained in a press release. "Powered by the renewable energy of carbon, it helps visibly improve the skin’s firmness and contour for a glowing, lifted look. It also eases stress and tension.”
"I highly recommend the NEWA from Endymed as a device with radio frequency that can be used at home," Dr. Sadick tells The Zoe Report. "The NEWA is one of the few that has been tested in clinical trials and is demonstrated to improve fine lines and laxity." Its suggested use is four minutes per treatment area, a few times per week.
This three-piece set employs targeted laser technology to promote collagen production deep within the skin, leading to a firmer, wrinkle-free face over time. Bonus: It helps the skin better absorb active ingredients, which is why it comes with two of SkinCeuticals' most effective anti-aging skincare products. The device can be used nightly five days a week, for 12 weeks straight — after which it's recommended to take a four week break.
This wrinkle-fighting LED light tool features an oversize head to target larger areas of the face. To use, simply direct the light (and undetectable wavelength technology) toward the area you'd like to focus on for three minutes at a time; then move on to the next spot. The mechanism stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, and is safe to use on the daily, according to the FDA.
Needles can be scary — except when they lead to plump, glowing skin. With rollers of all sizes to be used on the lips, face, arms, and legs, this four piece microneedling tool essentially pricks the skin in order to boost the production of skin-healing protein, like collagen. Since there is the potential to do some damage here (you're working with hundreds of little needles, after all), this one is best for seasoned (or really careful) beauty enthusiasts every three to five days.
It's safe to switch on this FDA-cleared tool every single day. The combination of LED light and wavelength technology is intended to target wrinkles and fine lines, but Dr. Sadick says it works on acne as well. "LED light has been shown to be effective in killing bacteria and reducing inflammation," he tells us.
The Foreo UFO (Ur Future Obsession) "smart mask" that utilizes T-sonic pulses and LED light therapy to give skin a boost has been around for almost a year — but the brand just released a slew of compatible masks to target different concerns; from the Youth Junkie mask (filled with collagen to plump) to the H2Overdose (made with hyaluronic acid to deliver next-level moisture).
Through epilation (a hair removal technique similar to waxing that grabs the hair at the root, but won't disturb your sensitive skin cells), Braun's Silk-épil device can be used to remove hair all over the body. Results from a single use can last up to four weeks, but the best part? It's waterproof, so you can epilate in the shower.
Using intense pulsed light (otherwise known as IPL) to impair hair growth, this laser can be used every day to target areas including the face, bikini line, arms, and legs. After four to six months, you can expect permanent hair removal. Per Dr. Sadick, though, this may not be advisable for those with darker skin tones as it's not a YAG 1064 nanometer laser (the safest for those with a higher concentration of melanin).