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I’ll never forget the first time I noticed the static wrinkle that runs straight across my forehead. I told myself I would get Botox for it one day. Fast forward to years later and guess what? I still haven't tried Botox, and the wrinkle is still there. Paying up to $500 every three months for injections isn't a commitment I’m ready make just yet, so bring on the at-home skincare tools! NuFace is one of those devices I'd seen everywhere (seriously, so many NuFace reviews) and on everyone's lists of at-home microcurrent faves, but as of a month ago, I had yet to try it myself.
I'm no stranger to microcurrent facials, and I've always loved how tight and smooth my face looked afterward, but those were treatments performed by aestheticians. Would I be able to replicate the same experience myself with an at-home tool? Welp, I was gonna find out! And so I began my month-long trial with the NuFace Mini. Keep reading to find out how my experience has been so far, plus insight from dermatologists on at-home microcurrent therapy devices.
If you're new to microcurrent therapy (welcome!), the NuFace Mini is the perfect starter tool for you (it's the one the one that I tried for this article, too). A travel version of the NuFace Trinity (the older sibling, if you will), the NuFace Mini is smaller, cheaper, and simpler but still uses the same microcurrent technology. More than just a facial massager, this tool actually sends out electrical current into your skin and muscles to give the face a more sculpted, tighter appearance. Along with the device, you also get a 2 oz. bottle of Hydrating Leave-On Gel Primer to use with it.
FYI, I went through the entire 2 oz. bottle in a month, so you'll want to make sure to factor in the cost of regularly replenishing your activator when figuring out whether NuFace fits in your budget or not. The gel primer dries quickly and you need a lot of it, so you’ll likely have to reapply mid-session. I highly recommend a pump applicator to make it easier.
If you're not new to microcurrent therapy (welcome back!) you might be more interested in trying the NuFace Trinity, which comes with a detachable head that you can switch out with other attachments to target different concerns, like the Eye and Lip Enhancer and the Wrinkle Reducer red light therapy attachment, all of which I've conveniently linked for ya below.
As far as the science goes, microcurrent therapy is a non-invasive treatment that sends weak electrical signals into the body and stimulates the muscles under the skin, which in turn gives the skin a lifted appearance. “Just like injectable chemical neuromodulators smooth the overlying skin (think of the forehead after Botox), a device like this can help to smooth wrinkles,” explains Tracy Evans, MD, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology. As far as improving collagen and elastic, Dr. Evans points out that more evidence is needed to say for sure. “While claims have been made that these devices stimulate collagen production and cellular regeneration in the skin, this remains to be determined by true placebo controlled clinical trials,” Dr. Evans notes.
That said, John Diaz, MD, plastic surgeon and cofounder of Honor MD, previously told Cosmo that these devices may be helpful as part of a combination of treatments, and Corey Hartman, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness, agrees. “I like to recommend them to patients as an adjunct treatment to things they do in the office,” Dr. Hartman says. For instance, if you receive a radiofrequency microneedling treatment (a tried and true method of stimulating collagen and elastin) once a year, you can maintain that improvement at home with a microcurrent device.
Will it stop me from thinking about Botox every time I look at my forehead? Meh, probably not or at least not completely. “It does not replace injectables, such as neuromodulators or fillers, or excellent skincare, but it can enhance one’s appearance, especially for a night out,” Dr. Evans says.
I’ve used it daily for four weeks now, and at this point, I'd say the results are pretty subtle, but you be the judge (see exhibits A and B below). The biggest differences I can see so far are in my brow and cheekbone areas, which look a little more lifted and chiseled after each session (see how my earring shows more in the second photo?). Without side-by-side photos, I don't know if you'd notice that much of a difference, but the little instruction card that came with the device recommends keeping a pace of five times a week for 60 days, so I've still got some time to go before I do a final before and after photo for longterm results. Here's the thing though, you have to be consistent and diligent. If you do see any results, it won't be from haphazardly running it over your face one time.
I wish I could say that all you have to do is use this device for a few weeks and you'll never age a day again, but that would be a lie. To see any kind of results, the brand recommends you use it at least five days a week for 60 days, and then to maintain those results, you'll have to continue using it two to three times a week. And just like anything else in skincare, consistency is *key.*
Either! What's most important is that you're using it, no matter what time it is (just make sure you wait 24 hours between each session). “Just like sit-ups or crunches, if you want this look to be last, you have to keep doing it,” says Dr. Evans. “It does not have long-term or cumulative results on its own without repeated application.”
I tried using my NuFace both morning and night and personally prefer to use it in the morning because 1) my nighttime routine is already way too long 2) it's a nice way to wake up in the morning and get rid of a sleepy, puffy face. Here's what my morning routine looks like: I cleanse first, then apply the NuFACE Protect and Tighten Super Antioxidant Booster Serum. Once that's soaked in, I apply the gel and get to work with the NuFace Mini. I then rub the leftover gel into my skin and finish with my moisturizer and sunscreen.
Not only does the brand say that you need to use some kind of an activator in order for the current to properly penetrate the skin, but from my experience, it also kinda hurts without it. When your skin is dry, the metal ball tips pull and tug on your skin rather than glide against it. And you know that electric current? You can't really feel it when you have enough gel on your face, but if the gel starts to dry or you don't use enough, you definitely feel a tingly sensation that's not enjoyable.
The NuFace Trinity has been FDA-cleared to be used on the neck, and the device actually comes with a little instruction manual that explains exactly how to use it on both your face and your neck. Once you've been using it a while, you might try some of the more advanced techniques, but I stuck with the basics during my time with three swipes on my neck, three swipes on my jawline and cheek area, and three swipes on my forehead—all repeated three times for a total of 5 minutes. Like an electric toothbrush, the NuFace has helpful little beeps that let you know when it's time to move to the next swipe. Watch the video above for a proper demo.
It might be an at-home device, but that doesn't mean everyone should use it. “If you have a pacemaker or other implanted electrical devices, you should not use this therapy before consulting with your healthcare provider,” Dr. Evans says. It's best for people who are pregnant or who have seizure disorders, epilepsy, or migraines to pass on NuFace or be cleared by their medical provider before trying it, K?
If you have $209 in the skincare budget, then yeah, why not! Give it a try. You might like it better than a fancy face cream of the same value that's not nearly as satisfying (seriously, NuFace feels like a massage). “If it’s something that brings you joy and a moment of self-care, then go for it,” Dr. Hartman says. But if you're expecting dramatic improvement, wanting instant results, or you're not willing to be consistent and diligent with your skincare routine, then you might want to pass. A couple hundred bucks is a lot of money to spend on a decoration for your bathroom counter if ya know what I mean.
As for me, I'm 30 days down and another 30 days from forming my final opinion, but I like what I see so far. And I especially like that it's made early morning wake-up times suck a little less, so this is one cosmetic commitment I'm willing to make.