Our Beauty Editor Put At-Home Microcurrent Devices To The Test — The Results Are In
Last year, I wrote about the best holistic facial treatments that help improve the quality and health of skin with noninvasive procedures. I'd experienced a microcurrent facial once or twice before, but I could never afford a package of them. One session typically runs for $250, and they recommend a month or two of facials. That's $1,000 or $2,000 to justify spending on my face—and while I'm certainly not frugal when it comes to self-care, I just couldn't get there.
But I was interested in seeing the cumulative benefits of microcurrent. Instead of committing to months of weekly or biweekly treatments, I investigated the world of at-home microcurrent. YouTubers and influencers claim they get great results, so I went ahead and tried two of the most popular devices on the internet—the NuFace and the ZIIP.
Microcurrent: what is it?
Microcurrent delivers an electrical current to your facial muscles. Not unlike the ab belts of yesteryear that promised to give your abs a "workout" sans sweat and effort, microcurrent contracts and tones the muscles of your face. "Microcurrent isn't about erasing fine lines. It's much more about lifting, draining lymphatic fluids, and contouring," said esthetician Jennifer Rasa, owner of Pretty Please, a spa in New York offering facial services.
Typically, estheticians use a range of probes that deliver the microcurrent to your face. Some are short and narrow; others are round and cylindrical. Using a conductive gel, the esthetician moves them around on the face, sculpting the skin and muscles. In my experience, they focus on the contours of the face, the jawline, orbital eye bone, and cheekbones.
At Rescue Spa, deemed by editors everywhere as the best facial in New York City and Philadelphia, microcurrent plays a key role in the most-requested bio-lift facial. "The use of electric currents stems from physical therapy treatments used to speed up the healing process," Rescue Spa founder Danuta Mieloch told mindbodygreen. "It assists in better penetration of products, improves facial contour, softens wrinkles—it is literally a workout for your skin and the muscles of the face. It helps you get that natural noninvasive lift that clients keep coming back for."
My two favorite microcurrent tools.
I'd heard great things about the NuFace from green makeup artist Katey Denno, so I gave the NuFace Mini a whirl. It's a palm-size wireless machine with two round metallic globes that conduct the current. Priced at $200, it will pay for itself in a week worth of use.
I also used the ZIIP, which comes in one size and runs for a hefty price tag of $500. I hesitated on this one, but when I read that Taryn Toomey used the ZIIP microcurrent device (have you seen her skin?) I knew I had to try it. To be clear, both brands sent me devices to use for the sake of this article.
After trying both, I've concluded that the NuFace is the right choice for beginners. It's ideal if you're on a budget and want to get the microcurrent experience for less. It works! But if you're looking for the luxury experience at home and/or you're looking to mimic the results of professional microcurrent facials, the ZIIP is for you. There are different settings you manage on the app (e.g., sensitive and "instant glow" have a significant difference in voltage you can feel). Sometimes, the ZIIP was almost too powerful for me—I stuck with the sensitive and normal versions most of the time, but it was nice to know that more intense and effective options were there.
Finding the technique.
Each device comes with an app that you download and use to coach you through specific routines…but let's be honest, I watched hours of YouTube videos on it, too, and there was a common thread among them all—you will find your own groove after a few days of repetition.
Here's how I would use the microcurrent tools—each step would be three strokes.
First, coat your entire face including your neck, lips, jawline, and hairline with a generous amount of conductive gel. Don't skimp on this…if you do, the microcurrent might feel prickly.
Starting with the jawline, I'd move the device from my chin to my ear.
Then I'd contour my cheekbone, with the flesh of my cheek between the probes, by swiping from my nasolabial fold up to the top of my ear.
Then, I'd hold the nasolabial fold up with the probes and stay.
Next is the eye. Focusing on the browbone, I would hold it up with the probes and stay.
Starting with a brow hold, I'd slide the device up my forehead and outward.
I'd focus on the "11s" in the middle of my brows with a push up and hold.
Then I'd repeat all on the other side.
Finally, I'd run it over my top lip.
This routine takes five-minute sessions for the whole face, and if I found myself with some extra time I'd do ten. Now that this experiment is over, I do it a couple of times per week, and I think the sweet spot for my skin is doing a treatment every other day.
To date, the only two tactics that have worked to help the stubborn hormonal acne around my chin are daily high-grade Manuka honey masks and microcurrent. Like most facial interventions, I found that microcurrent works best when you're doing it regularly. When you stop, the results tend to fade. I also noticed significant contouring, especially around my cheekbones, and lift around jawline and nasolabial folds.
More than anything, though, it was fun to set aside 10 minutes and have a facial massage moment. If you're not disciplined about making time for self-care, the apps that come with these devices (or sitting down with a YouTube video) make it fun, easy, and a treat for your skin.
Heal Your Skin.
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Lindsay Kellner is a freelance writer, editor and content strategist based out of Brooklyn, NY. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and psychology at New York University and earned a 200-hour yoga certification from Sky Ting. She is the co-author of “The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self Care,” along with mbg’s Sustainability Editor, Emma Loewe.