April 14, 2024


Define Beauty Yourself

Do microcurrent devices work? Experts weigh in

Beauty insiders and celebrities have long been touting the benefits of microcurrent facials. You may have heard stories about how the treatment produces impressive (and nearly instantaneous) results when it comes to fighting signs of aging.

And while normally, you would have to take a trip to the spa to see if the rumors are true, a number of at-home microcurrent devices have been popping up across the beauty space, allowing people to try it right from the comfort of their own homes.

The thing is, these devices can be pretty pricey. So to see if they’re actually worth the purchase, we consulted two top aestheticians to learn more about how the treatment works and which at-home options will actually provide results.

How does microcurrent work? | Do they really work? | How to use it | Best microcurrent devices | Meet the experts

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Best microcurrent facial devices

How does microcurrent work?

Microcurrent devices use low-level electrical impulses to stimulate the muscles in the face, says Lara Kaiser, an aesthetician in New York City.

The treatment also stimulates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), Los Angeles-based celebrity aesthetician Gina Marí adds. Essentially, you’re stimulating “food” for the cells to allow them to work more efficiently.

“What we always want to do when we’re working with any type of technology when it comes to skin care treatment, is that we want to work on the cellular level,” Marí says. “We want to stimulate the cells, we want to feed the cells and get some activity happening there.”

Do at-home microcurrent devices really work?

Typically, the microcurrent machines that are used during professional treatments are larger and have a higher current than the at-home devices, Marí says. But while they’re less powerful, that doesn’t mean you won’t still see the benefits.

Like traditional exercise, even if you’re seeing a trainer once a week, you’re still going to have to do some workouts on your own to see results. The idea is the same here, Kaiser says. She recommends at-home devices to her clients as a way to maintain results between appointments. They’re also good to have on-hand in moments when you feel like your complexion needs a little boost before a big event or Zoom call.

How to use an at-home microcurrent device

As much as we’d like a quick one-and-done solution for all of our skin concerns, you shouldn’t expect that from this (or any skin care treatment, really). The results are temporary, Marí says. Typically, when starting out, you can expect the results to last a couple of days. “You will see longer-lasting results with more consistency,” she adds. And the more comfortable and confident you get with using the tool, the better the results will be.

According to Kaiser, the device can be used every other day. Once again, just like a workout, “you want to give your muscles a day off here and there,” she says. The amount of time that you use it for depends on the device, but typically, it’s around five to 10 minutes — many have a set timer to let you know when it’s done. Most devices also come with conductive gel that you apply before the treatment. Though some TikTokers have said they use different products like aloe vera or water, Marí advises against it.

“You’re un-intensifying your treatment by not using the proper products to go hand in hand with that,” she says.

Best microcurrent devices

Solawave 4-in-1 Skincare Wand

What we like

  • Very simple to use
  • Also helps soften skin
  • Built-in red light

Something to note

  • Has taken customers about one month to start working

Settings: 1 | Powered by: Rechargeable battery | Serum included? No

In addition to red light therapy and “therapeutic warmth” technology, this skin care wand also uses the power of microcurrent therapy to tone facial muscles and smooth wrinkles, according to the brand. Better yet, it’s said to help fight signs of aging and keep your skin looking and feeling healthy.

Nuface Fix Line Smoothing Device

What we like

  • Portable design
  • Many customers see quick results 
  • Expert-recommended product 

Something to note

  • Some say it’s not long lasting

Settings: N/A | Powered by: Rechargeable battery | Serum included? Yes

If you’re unsure if you’re ready to commit to buying one of the bigger devices, a targeted microcurrent treatment tool is one way to test the waters. Say you have deep 11 lines between your eyes, crow’s feet or wrinkles around your mouth that were causing concern, NuFace’s smaller device could be a good place to start to address those, Kaiser says. Though, she notes that once you start seeing results in one area, you’re likely going to want to tackle other spots on your face, like your jawline or forehead — and that will be harder to do with a smaller tool.

Nuface Mini+ Starter Kit

What we like

  • Many saw results after one use
  • Editor-recommended product 

Something to note

  • Some think it’s too pricey for the size

Settings: 3 | Powered by: Rechargeable battery | Serum included? Yes

The mini version of Nuface’s popular tool is a favorite among multiple Shop TODAY staffers, including myself. I find that when I remember to use it regularly — keeping it by my bed so I can do it at night while I watch TV or read is helpful — I notice a difference in the overall brightness in my face and my skin feels tighter, both instantly and over time.

Shop TODAY editorial director Adrianna Brach says that she’s been using the gadget about once a week for the last five years and adds that it’s “one of the better beauty tool investments I’ve made.”

“It’s so easy to use and I love that I could use it while watching TV on my couch and then see results so quickly,” she says.

Nuface Trinity Facial Toning Device

What we like

  • Many see positive results after time
  • Recommended by experts and editors

Something to note

  • Some say their devices stopped working eventually 

Settings: 5 | Powered by: Rechargeable battery | Serum included? Yes

Nuface’s microcurrent device is arguably the most buzzed-about and most-recommended product in the category — and it was a top pick from both of the experts that we spoke to. To use it, Nuface suggests applying the included Nuface Gel Leave-On Primer and then gliding or holding the device over the natural contours of the face “for an instant, visible lift.”

Shop TODAY editor Julie Ricevuto says that she loves her Nuface Trinity device. “I always see a difference when I’m dedicated to using it,” she says. “Plus, it’s a relaxing way to end your day with a mini spa-like moment while watching TV before bed. It doesn’t feel like a chore!”

Nuface’s range of microcurrent devices has also garnered a fan base on TikTok, with videos featuring the products racking up more than 391 million collective views.

TheraFace Pro Microcurrent Facial Device 

What we like

  • Helps brighten skin
  • Simple to use
  • Editor-recommended product

Something to note

  • Some say it broke quickly

Settings: 3 (+3 LED light settings) | Powered by: Rechargeable battery | Serum included? No

Much like Therabody’s beloved massage guns, the Therabody comes with multiple device heads that you can swap out to target different areas of your face and try different treatments, including LED light therapy, percussive massage and microcurrent.

“I have been using the Theraface consistently for many months now and really love the device for its versatility,” shares social editorial assistant Annie Shigo. “There is red light, blue light, microcurrents and even shaping tools included. I notice a huge difference using it after a shower, and love that the red light therapy tool can be used anywhere unlike many face masks.”

ZIIP Beauty GX 2 piece

What we like

  • Not time consuming 
  • Expert-recommended product

Something to note

  • Some haven’t seen results

Settings: 1+ (more with the ZIIP phone application) | Powered by: Rechargeable battery | Serum included? Yes

Created by aesthetician Melanie Simon, ZIIP Beauty’s microcurrent device also came recommended by both experts. “The cool thing about the ZIIP Beauty is that it comes with an accompanying app where she actually talks you through each treatment setting,” Marí says. There are how-to videos for multiple types of facials and targeted treatments.

The Recovery Lab PureLift Face Non-Invasive Facelift

What we like

  • Three color selections
  • Some saw results in less than one week
  • Expert-recommended product 

Settings: 3 | Powered by: Rechargeable battery | Serum included? No

While the PureLift Face is a pricier option, Kaiser calls it her “favorite,” saying that she loves the results. It features Triple Wave Patented EMS Technology, using varying frequencies, which according to the brand, can target different layers of the skin and muscle. Just apply the conductive serum gel and go.

  • Lara Kaiser is a facialist, brow specialist and beauty expert at Carrie Lindsey Beauty in New York City.
  • Gina Marí is a celebrity aesthetician and skin care expert based in Los Angeles.