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  • Penny Smith

At-home skincare devices: Which is right for YOU?

Updated: Jun 29

The number of devices available now for use at home is incredible, even overwhelming. What’s exciting is that the technology behind these at-home devices all have roots in dermatologists offices and aesthetic clinics. But don’t be fooled - just because a device uses the same tech as that found in clinic, doesn’t mean it’s effective. I’ve put together this Cheat Sheet to share with you background on modalities, let you know which modality can benefit which skin concerns and to give you a set of tools to make the best decision for you. Of course, to make the most of the investment in time and money, I recommend you assess your biggest concerns and choose the modality that best addresses those areas.


Rotating devices is just fine. Some modalities can be used in the same protocol, spaced AM/PM and some are best rotated in an out periodically, say every quarter. Below you’ll see my pick of the skincare devices that you can use at home as well as some suggestions on They offer gentler versions of the same technology that you will find in salon and clinic treatments, from laser to radio frequency. While these devices use the same technologies as those found in clinic

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THE MODALITIES


RADIO FREQUENCY

Radio Frequency (RF) works by creating heat within the skin and provides an initial quick ‘tightening effect’ as the heat makes the collagen in the skin contract, as well as a longer term production of new collagen. Most home-based RF devices have been designed to be used on the face and neck, avoiding the thyroid.

At-home radio frequency devices provide the following benefits:

  • Short term collagen shrinkage in the dermis (which is why you’ll see immediate results)

  • Longer term fibroblast stimulation to create revitalised collagen and elastin

  • Stronger skin scaffolding in the deeper skin layers

  • Enhanced cell metabolism

  • Refreshed epidermis/outer layer skin cells


Best for: Tightening lax skin such as jowls and neck. Reducing fine lines and wrinkles giving smoother, more radiant looking skin. At-home RF won't create miracles so best for skin that's not showing too much laxity.

Results after: Immediate but subtle results can be seen after first session but a longer term commitment (1+ months) is required to see any significant changes in the quality of skin, and ongoing maintence is key to retaining lift.

Time commitment: normally 20 mins per day for first month and 2-3 times per week thereafter.

Clinical proof: GOOD to ROBUST, depending on device.

Pain level: Feels like ‘hot stone massage’. Painless as long as device is kept in motion.

My take: I like RF because its one of the few modalities that quickly and effectively addresses the number one concern I hear from my community; sagging and crepiness.

What to look for: Choose a device that is FDA approved, ideally from a company that also makes medical-grade devices.

My picks: I prefer the NEWA as it is the only at-home device that uses 3DEEP RF technology (6 RF generators with different polarities) The result is a deeper heating in the depth of the tissue with decreased heat on the surface. Other at-home RF are more superficial (such as Silk’n FaceTite ). NEWA is made by the company that makes the in-clinic Endymed RF machine (in fact, they both use 3DEEP technology) so it has undergone extensive testing for both safety and efficacy.

US

NEWA (FDA cleared)

UK

NEWA (FDA cleared)

MICROCURRENT

Microcurrent mimics our body’s own natural bioelectrical field and sends tiny electrical currents into our muscles. Microcurrent works, in part, by targeting those muscles under the skin that can cause our facial skin to wrinkle and sag. As we age, our muscles become accustomed to certain expressions and tend to "stick" in these positions (think ‘11s’ between the eyebrows.) At the same time, other muscles in our face aren’t used enough, and they begin to atrophy, which leads to sagging. An example of this can be seen around the eyebrows, cheeks and jaw lines which can suffer sagging or loss of definition as we age.


All micro current devices send waves to the muscles that help strengthen or ‘re-educate’ under-worked muscles. Additionally, some micro current devices have an additional function that will relax muscles to ‘erase’ expression lines. When this happens the face is lifted, firmed and toned to a more youthful appearance. At the same time, micro current improves circulation to your face which stimulates production of collagen, improves tone and texture, and eliminates fine lines.


Beyond effecting muscles, the ATP that stimulates muscles has an impact on all cell types that are involved in keeping our skin healthy. A regular ‘dose’ of ATP is an extremely valuable tool in an anti-aging arsenal. Because ATP is used up very quickly, we need to have a regular regime to ‘restock’ and build our stores. A healthy level of ATP stored in our cells is continually available for skin repair and new cell generation.

Best for: Lifting muscles of the face and neck, supporting skin health via the production of ATP. Some devices have both “Educate” and “Erase” for firming and relaxing the muscles, respectively.

Results after: An immediatelift can be seen in certain facial muscles, particularly the brows and cheeks but regular use is required for sustained results. Like exercising the muscles, it’s a lifetime commitment!

Time commitment: Depending on areas treated, 20-45 minutes, five to six times per week.

Clinical proof: SOLID (need studies)

Pain level: None

My take: Micro current is one of my favourite at-home treatments. It can be combined with all other modalities and provides both short and long term results. Apart from those with specific contraindications (see manufacturers’ websites), everybody can profit from a commitment to micro current. Personally, this is where I’m prepared to invest - I see myself using micro current indefinitely and, as it combines with so many other treatments and is completely non-invasive and pain-free it can be used year round. I say invest in the best device you can afford!

What to look for:

My picks:

US

Myolift Mini (FDA cleared)

Nuface (FDA cleared)

UK

Nuface


LIGHT EMITTING DIODES (LED) RED LIGHT THERAPY

LED light therapy has an established history of skin uses. Navy SEALs began using it over thirty years ago to help heal wounds quickly and to help repair damaged muscles. Since then, the modality has been extensively researched and used in aesthetic settings. Red light is used for treating the outer most layer of skin, the epidermis. When the light is applied to the skin, the epidermis absorbs it and then stimulates collagen proteins. Newer, healthier skin cells are produced which absorb fluid and hold onto it better than old cells resulting in plumper, smoother skin that reflects light better. Red LED light is also thought to reduce inflammation while improving circulation, which can give you a healthier glow. Like micro current, LED light therapy stimulates the body’s production of ATP, while also igniting your body’s synthesis of collagen and elastin—both elements that govern overall skin health. LED therapy also supports normal cell growth and stimulates the production of new blood vessels for improved blood flow to the skin.


Best for: Preventing laxity, reinforcing collagen and elastin, brightening skin tone.

Time commitment: normally 20 mins, ideally 6 to 7 days a week.

Results after: Depending on the strength of the device, some report an immediate glow, however more profound changes to the epidermis begin to show after the first month and can continue to improve for several months.

Clinical proof for at-home version: WEAK to ROBUST, depending on device. Multiple clinical studies support the effectiveness of red LED therapy in photo rejuvenation. One study reported that 90% of the participants showed a reduction in skin wrinkles and skin roughness. After 12 red LED light treatments 87% experienced a reduction in the Fitzpatrick wrinkling severity score.

Pain level: None

My take: Results aren’t immediate but overtime the right LED can be an excellent investment. In my opinion, nearly everybody should include LED as part of their skincare routine, either in clinic or at home. While LED can help with skin laxity it is best used proactively as skin that has already lost significant laxity is unlikely to show dramatic improvements. In a nutshell. Use a well chosen red LED for maintenance and prevention but not to address significant ageing issues.

What to look for:

Wavelength - is it the right wavelength to impact your collagen? Look for 630-680nm for red, 800-8800nm for near-infrared or a combination of both

Power density - is it strong enough? This is calculated total wattage/treatment area

Size of light/treatment area - is it practical to treat the area you want? A hand-held wand with the right wavelength and power density still may not be practical if it takes 45 mins for your daily treatment.

My picks:

US

LightStim For Wrinkles (FDA Cleared)

Project E Beauty

UK

LightStim For Wrinkles (FDA Cleared)

Red Rush Celluma FACE

Illuminate

Firewave https://www.emr-tek.com/product-page/firewave-1



AT-HOME LASER

There are two different types at-home anti-aging lasers currently on the market; fractional, non-Fractional. Fractional lasers (such as the Tria Age-Defying Laser) treat multiple signs of ageing and stimulate collagen and elastin growth. They work by creating microscopic tissue injuries which gives your body the signal to start producing more collagen. Fractional lasers can impact blood vessels, causes redness and inflammation and do cause some pain.


Non-fractional lasers (NIRA Skincare Laser) stimulate the production of new cells by sending heat signals to the dermis. NIRA uses non-fractional laser to heat the skin to the point where dermal cells send out heat shock protein formation (HSP) stimulating your cells to rejuvenate and increase collagen production. The NIRA Skincare Laser uses a 1450 nm diode that penetrates the lower levels of the skin, giving your body the signal to produce more collagen without damaging existing skin. NIRA does this just below the pain threshold and well below the point where skin tissue is damaged. If you do feel pain while using the NIRA you can simply 'dial down' the control and use it at a lower setting - although ideally you'll work up to a higher setting as you'll see results more quickly. One nice thing about laser devices is that they don't require conductive gels - so no ongoing costs after the initial outlay for the device.

Best for: Fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.

Time commitment: Depending on device and areas treated, but quite quick - each eye takes one minute with the NIRA

Results after: Initial changes can sometimes be noticed at the three to four week mark; full results from eight weeks

Clinical proof for at-home version: SOLID

Pain level: Low (NIRA) to moderate (TRIA)

My take: At home laser is very interesting for those who want to avoid using botulum toxin yet want to address the classic ‘crow’s feet’ around the eyes or ‘barcode lines’ around the mouth. The NIRA has been tested around eyes and mouth but, in theory, there’s no reason you can’t use NIRA on forehead and other lines/wrinkles. I prefer the NIRA over the Tria because if offers less downtime and is less painful yet offers similar results.

What to look for: Like its in-clinic counterpart, at-home lasers can be painful. And like other home-based modalities, compliance is key to seeing results. My advise is to be honest with yourself about the level of pain you're wlling to endure.

My picks:

US

NIRA

UK

NIRA



INTENSE PULSED LIGHT (IPL)

While most people associate home-based IPL exclusively with hair removal, a new generation of IPL has emerged that also tackles ‘skin rejuvenation’. IPL devices send short, concentrated, pulsating beams of light to irregular skin. Unlike laser where a single spectrum of concentrated light is applied to the skin, IPL uses many wavelengths. More wavelength mean more uses/applications on the skin - from a single device. In the case of both the Faustina IPL and the Viss IPL, a simple switch of cartridge on the device means you can use it for facial rejuvenation, acne AND hair removal. In all cases, the light bypasses the epidermis and gently heats the cells in the dermis. Using the skin rejuvenation cartridge, the wavelength specifically act on fibroblasts which start to produce more collagen, improving texture and fine wrinkles. The new skin that forms is smoother and firmer. The acne cartridge reduces acne bacteria in the pores of the skin and reducing blood supply to the sebaceous glands whereas the hair removal cartridge focuses on the safe destruction of the hair follicle.


Best for: Broken capillaries, localised pigmentation. It has a lesser effect on improving skin texture through collagen stimulation.

Time commitment: A full face treatment with the Faustina takes 10-15 minutes, done two times per week.

Results after: Some changes can be observed after a few weeks (particularly changes in capillaries); full results from one to three months.

Clinical proof for at-home version: SOLID

Pain level: LOW - feels like a light snap of a rubber band.

My take: I’m a big fan of the Faustina IPL - to date the only home-based IPL that I’ve tried.

What to look for:

My picks:

Faustina

The power: 3.5 – 5.1 j/cm² or 19.89 joules for the lamp window. this makes FAUSTINA 3IN1 on the top of the similar IPLs in the market.

Platinum

Each wavelength will treat different skin issues.

400-700nm will treat Acne

550-900nm will rejuvenate the skin

640-900nm will remove hair

LOW-FREQUENCY ULTRASOUND for MESOPORATION

Low-frequency ultrasound works by activating skin metabolism and stimulating the regeneration of skin cells. Oxygen to the cells increases and waste is removed from the pores throughout your treatment. Immediate plumping of skin and thickening and brightening after a few weeks.


Ultrasound vibrations at 90,000 waves per second with only a slight warming of the skin.

The device measures the same frequency as a professional-grade laser device, but the energy is low and does not damage the skin like the heat from a laser treatment.

Ultrasound waves cause a vibration of the surrounding skin tissues, which removes wastes, strengthens, lifts, and plumps the skin.

The rapid oscillation of tissue action of ultrasound will induct collagen.

The skin tightening and the plumping effect occur as you are using the device.


Product penetration

Cell to cell communication, activating fibroblast activity

Tissue heats slightly

Refine pores

Brightens and breaks down pigmentation


Best for:

Time commitment:

Results after: Immediate plumping of the skin.

Clinical proof for at-home version: NONE

Pain level: NONE, some flushing

My take:

What to look for:

My picks:

https://trophyskin.com/products/jenu (Emits 356,000 pulses of ultrasonic energy per second)

https://www.amazon.com/Karloz-Multifunctional-Frequency-Tightening-Anti-aging/dp/B081378YY3/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=karloz&qid=1590940035&sr=8-1


How to chose?


Can I combine?





FAQ

Can I combine peels with at-home-devices?

Can I combine microneedling with at-home devices?

Can I use xxx device in conjunction wiht yyy device, perhaps at different times of day or different days of week?




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