Are DIY facial gadgets worth the big price tag?

With salons shut and consumers forced to spend all week staring involuntarily at their own Zoom faces, DIY facial gadgets have reversed their sales decline and seen remarkable triple-digit growth during the past 12 months. Pricey “microcurrent” devices such as NuFace Trinity (from £167), Foreo Bear (from £179) and DermaWand (£99) use very low levels of electrical current (typically much weaker than in equivalent salon devices) to “re-educate muscles” to tone up, resulting in a firmer, more youthful-looking face. None is at all difficult to use, but they’re something of a faff, depending on your commitment levels. The round Foreo Bear is awkward to hold and, as with all microcurrent devices, the face must be oil-free before treatment (not that comfortable for many of us). Then one applies a hyaluronic gel (plumping in itself) and moves through a number of simple positions detailed in the instructions and tutorial videos. This feels relatively quick, but when and if we get back to rushing to work via the school gates, it may feel a task too many.

I do believe that facial muscle massage – whether via exercises, professional therapists, Chinese gua sha tools or microcurrent gadgets such as NuFace – gives a noticeable, short-term perkiness and firmness to many (including me), and is a nice addition to an already diligent skincare routine of cleansing, exfoliating, protecting and renewing with a proven ingredient such as retinol. But gadgets’ claims of longer-lasting firmness don’t quite stack up for me, as it isn’t facial muscle that causes a loss of firmness in the first place – it’s the depletion of skin collagen and elastin. It’s not true that facial muscles somehow atrophy as we age; in fact, they’re the one group of muscles that get a lifetime workout, as we emote and talk throughout. And so focusing on the underlying muscles for the long-term firming of skin is a bit like ironing your vest because your blouse is creased. There are additional claims about microcurrent stimulating collagen production, but there’s scant evidence to support this, though anecdotally many owners swear by these devices.

Gadgets offer something extra to people who can afford them, especially those who, for whatever reason, are against more effective and lasting methods such as injectables. Would I spend hundreds of my own pounds on any of those I have been sent? I wouldn’t. But, right now, I’m all for whatever gets you through.




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