You love your skin. And you want to take care of it. Fortunately, there are many different products to help with this—from cleansers and moisturizers to brushes and rollers.
You may wonder what specific product—or tool—can help you. Especially when there’s so much to choose from in the world of skincare devices, it can be hard to know what’s a marketing mimic and what really works. Never fear: Curology’s dermatology experts are here to help by breaking down what you need to know about several categories of skincare tools.
Ultimately, we believe that skincare tools aren’t necessary to achieve clearer, healthier skin. But if you’re curious about the buzzy products out there, we’re here to give you the information you need.
These facial tools are designed to remove dirt, germs, and dead skin cells. Some feature a simple cleansing brush, while others use suction or vibration in an attempt to clean deep into your pores.
Foreo Luna Play Smart 2: This small silicone brush uses sensors to analyze your skin. A phone app gives you a skin moisture measurement, an overall skin health rating, and a recommended skincare program. Then it uses vibrations during cleaning mode to promote clean skin.
ReFa CLEAR: This USB rechargeable brush uses vibrations in order to remove dirt from inside of your pores.
My Konjac Sponge Pure Facial Konjac Sponge: This soft and gentle sponge is made from fibers of the Konjac plant.
Dermaflash Dermapore Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser: This device uses ultrasonic waves to help clean skin pores and remove dead skin cells. It also has a second vibration mode that is intended to aid in applying lotion to your skin.
PMD Personal Microderm Pro: This tool uses suction to remove dead skin cells and dirt from your face.
Dermaflash Luxe+ Anti-Aging, Exfoliation + Peach Fuzz Removal Set: This tool has a head similar to an electric razor, except that the smaller blades have safety features because they’re meant to be used directly on your skin. This device is intended to remove peach fuzz and dead skin cells from your face.
The Skinny Confidential Hot Shave Razor: This tool uses a razor blade for dermaplaning, which is the process of running a razor along your face with a light pressure in order to remove peach fuzz and exfoliate.
Skincare tools may help you get clean skin, but you don’t want to irritate sensitive skin or over-exfoliate. So a facial cleansing brush or dermaplane device may cause more harm than good. If you already have a skincare brush, use light pressure and limit its use to once or twice per week. Overall, facial tools that clean pores and exfoliate your skin provide a temporary solution. For good long-term results, we recommend a simple (and more affordable) skin exfoliation strategy.
These tools were created to increase muscle tone, improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage, and repair collagen to help promote smooth skin and a more sculpted face.
Herbivore Jade Face Roller: This tool is roughly the size of a handheld razor with a small jade roller head.
Georgia Louise Cryo Freeze Tools: This tool looks like a popsicle with a metal head. Users are instructed to freeze them before use.
Jillian Dempsey Gold Bar: This beauty tool looks similar to a shaving razor, except that the head vibrates. It’s intended to increase blood flow, remove puffiness, and improve the face’s shape and appearance.
BeautyBio GloPro Facial Microneedling Tool: This looks like an electric razor, except that its head is a rotating roller with pins. The idea behind it is that sticking these pins into the skin may help treat collagen-related conditions such as acne scars.
With the exception of a microneedling device, these tools simply provide a facial massage. Gua sha appears to help improve blood flow which may decrease muscle pain (myalgia).¹ However, there’s currently no scientific research proving that it reduces puffiness and inflammation.
Second, since jade has no proven benefits for the skin, we don’t recommend a jade facial roller. And while cold modalities may help reduce pain and inflammation,² ice rollers are not necessary for healthy skin. However, as long as you don’t put them in the freezer (which may cause frostbite), they’re generally fine to use.
A microneedling device may help improve skin conditions such as acne scars.³ However, there are potential side effects such as pain, redness (erythema), and swelling (edema).⁴ Therefore, we recommend seeking treatment by professionals in a clinic, rather than doing microneedling at home.
These tools are based on the idea that electrical microcurrents and specific wavelengths of light may improve skin at the cellular level. Their goal is to help treat conditions such as eczema, acne, and wrinkles.
Sola Wave Bye Acne 3-Minute Pimple Spot Treatment: This beauty tool uses red and blue lights with the intention of treating acne-prone skin.
NuFace Mini Starter Kit: This hand-held device uses microcurrent in the hope that it will decrease wrinkles and improve both muscle and skin tone.
Ziip Gx Series: This handheld tool is roughly the size of a phone, and it uses two different electrical currents (“microcurrent” and “nanocurrent”). It aims to improve skin tone.
First, “FDA-approved” generally refers to a product's safety, and doesn’t necessarily support how well a product works.⁵ With that said, LED lights appear to potentially help improve acne-prone skin,⁶ and microcurrent therapy has helped skin burns heal.⁷ However, we generally don’t recommend that our patients purchase these products at this time.
These facial tools claim to help your skin better absorb moisturizers and other skincare products.
Georgia Louise C+/- Pure Ampoules Plus Ionic Wand: This small metal wand is roughly the size of a toothbrush. It comes with a vitamin C powder that users apply to their skin before running the electric wand over it, with the goal of improving absorption of the vitamin C.
Vanity Planet Aira Ionic Facial Steamer: Users put water and essential oil in this tool. Then it creates steam that users apply to their faces. The goal is to increase hydration and clear pores.
Dieux Forever Eye Mask: Users apply their favorite eye cream before applying these reusable patches underneath both eyes. This immerses that area with the eye cream and reduces the waste from disposable masks.
Droplette 2.0: This tool intends to get serums to penetrate deeper into theskin.
Research studies show that the microinfusion device by Droplette may help deliver substances deep inside the skin tissues.⁸ However, there isn’t enough research on the device to prove that it’s effective.
Ionic wands, however, have been used clinically to apply topical formulas as part of treatments for infections, wounds, and diabetes.⁹ With that said, there isn’t much research on using ionic wands or facial steamers for general skincare.
Overall, these tools aren’t known to provide additional benefits in and of themselves. Rather, the benefits of skincare products largely depend on their ingredients, rather than their method of application.
Curology was founded in 2014 to remove the economic, geographic, and psychological barriers that keep many people from getting the dermatology care they need. We believe you don’t have to shell out on fancy devices to get skincare that works for you—for many, a simple three-step routine works just as well!
In general, no. Most people can have healthy skin by following basic skin hygiene principles and using a few simple products.
Many people report benefiting from using skin care devices. However, there needs to be more research before we can say with certainty that these devices work.
There are a wide variety of facial tools available to trained professionals. The specific tool used depends on the condition treated by the skincare specialist. Also, many of these tools are not commercially available and require advanced training.
Nielsen, A., et al. The effect of Gua Sha treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue: a pilot study in healthy subjects. Explore (NY). (September-October 2007).
Dzidek, A. and Piotrowska, A. The Use of Cryotherapy in Cosmetology and the Influence of Cryogenic Temperatures on Selected Skin Parameters–A Review of the Literature. Cosmetics. (September 2022).
Pathania, V., et al. Single-handed vampire facial: combining microneedling with platelet-rich plasma for single-hand use. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (February 2021).
Gowda, A., et al. A Systematic Review Examining the Potential Adverse Effects of Microneedling. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (January 2021).
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Is it really “FDA approved”? (2022, May 10).
Diogo, M.L.G., et al. Effect of Blue Light on Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review. Sensors. (2021, October 19).
Tsolakidis, S., et al. Wireless microcurrent stimulation improves blood flow in burn wounds. Burns. (August 2022).
Pulakat, L., et al. Transdermal Delivery of High Molecular Weight Antibiotics to Deep Tissue Infections via Droplette Micromist Technology Device (DMTD). Pharmaceutics. (2022, April 30).
Sadaf, A., et al. Ionic liquid-mediated skin technologies: Recent advances and prospects. Biotechnology. (2022).
Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.
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Meredith Hartle, DO