Vibrating Facial Massage Tools Are Effective — But Are They Safe?

If you’ve ever gazed longingly at a beautiful, crystal-carved jade roller and just wished it had a little more power behind it, you’re in luck. Vibrating facial massage tools — AKA, devices that utilize sonic vibrations and micro-currents to amplify the effects of facial massage — are trending. But are they legit? Dermatologists say… kind of.

“Vibrating facial massagers have a temporary effect on skin,” Dr. Tanuj Nakra, a board-certified plastic surgeon who works with AVYA Skincare, tells The Zoe Report. Some of those temporary effects are pretty enticing, though. Dr. Nakra cites “increased circulation and chemical signals that can lead to pleasant-appearing skin swelling and flushing.” In layman’s terms: plumper skin and a rosy glow.

How does this differ from a typical jade roller or gua sha tool, you ask? “The main difference is sonic vibrations while you roll,” Angela Caglia, a celebrity aesthetician who works with Sting and Minnie Driver, tells TZR. She’s launching her own Vibrating Rose Quartz Sculpting Roller on Net-a-Porter June 28, which emits 6,000 sonic vibrations per minute — the perfect combination of ancient wisdom and modern advancements, if you ask me. “This technology amplifies the benefits of traditional face rolling which include relaxed facial muscles, reduced puffiness, and the temporary reduction of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says. “Your skin feels more toned, lifted, sculpted, and refreshed.”

Angela Caglia

“The vibrations not only help stimulate blood flow and aid in lymphatic drainage, but also create negative ions,” Jillian Dempsey, the celebrity makeup artist behind the Gold Sculpting Bar (you may have seen her husband, Patrick Dempsey, massaging his face with it on social media), adds in an email to The Zoe Report. Boosted blood flow means that more nutrients make their way to the skin (hence, the healthy glow), lymphatic drainage helps eliminate built-up fluid and toxins, and the negative ions released by the sonic vibrations are said to produce positive vibes. Seriously. One scientific study found that “negative air ionization was associated with lower depression.” (This definitely isn’t conclusive evidence, but hey — if there’s even a slight chance you can massage your way to a good mood and good skin, it’s worth noting, right?)

Another reason you might want to reach for a Gold Sculpting Bar or Vibrating Rose Quartz Roller instead of your manual massage tool: “The vibrations do most of the work for you,” Dempsey says. Ah, how I love a lazy-girl skincare hack.

Sonic vibrations are pretty safe, so you can incorporate them into your routine once or twice a day without issue. “I always recommend sculpting for 10 to 15 minutes in the morning — it will help iron out sleep wrinkles and also de-puff and sculpt the face prior to makeup application,” Dempsey says. “Feel free to vibrate again at night for another 10 to 15 minutes, if you want to.” She stresses that it’s important to use these tools on clean skin; some of the materials used (like the 24k gold plating of her Sculpting Bar) can cause discoloration if they interact with leftover makeup. It’s a good idea to apply a serum before massaging, Caglia adds, to help the tool navigate the contours of your face without pulling on the skin.

“While these devices are generally very low risk, there has been a limited association of nerve hypersensitivity with prolonged use,” Dr. Nakra says. You may want to keep most vibrating gadgets away from the under-eye area, too, per Caglia, as the skin here is more delicate. “For anyone taking blood thinners, I wouldn’t recommend it,” she says. So if you are, be sure to ask your doctor before testing out the trend for yourself.

To paraphrase podcaster Ann Friedman, the eight massagers ahead are bound to be your “second-favorite vibrating devices.” Wink, wink.

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