With technology constantly evolving, many people are turning to gadgets for beauty fixes rather than seeking the aid of cosmetic and medical professionals.
There are special brushes with “sonic cleansing technology” promising to better clean our skin; there are laser hair removers that allow for discreet at-home use; there are even devices that promise to tone skin and reduce signs of aging.
There’s a lot of appeal here for consumers. First, there’s the convenience of tending to issues at home – no appointment to make, time saved by not traveling to appointments, and more sensitive treatments done in private. Plus, many consumers view devices as investments that are less costly than the long-term expense of professional procedures or spa treatments.
But they’re only good investments if they work.
Carolyn Doe, director of The Umstead Spa in Cary says most are OK, but they shouldn’t take the place of consulting with professionals. “Users can’t analyze their own skin to determine if the beauty gadget is addressing the skin condition that its use was intended to correct,” she says. “However, most beauty gadgets are great to use in conjunction with regular visits to an aesthetician or cosmetic professional, at least seasonally, to determine how your skin is affected by weather changes and how to adjust your skincare routine appropriately.”
A consistent negative with many of these gadgets is cost, which can range from $100 to $500 or more. Consumers may somewhat benefit from less expensive “knock-off” devices, says Doe, but she notes that with the various cleansers in particular, the more expensive models usually have more than one purpose and might be more worth the investment.
“Consumers have to make a purchase that will fit their budgets,” she says. “But if used correctly, most brush cleansers will exfoliate the skin.”
Here’s a rundown of some of the more popular devices on the market, along with pros and cons.
Clairsonic Skin Cleansing Brush, $99-$265
The Clarisonic is designed with a patented sonic cleansing technology that allows it to oscillate at a frequency that the company says produces over 300 movements per second. “If cleansing devices, such as the Clarisonic and FOREO Luna, are used correctly and consistently, the skin will be exfoliated and toned, resulting in an illuminated and smooth complexion,” says Doe.
Note: For best results, apply a cleanser that foams well to the brush. . For normal skin types, try Origins Checks and Balances. For normal to oily skin, try Chantecaille’s Rice and Geranium Foaming Cleanser. For drier skin, try Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter. A good cleanser for men is the Anthony Glycolic Facial Cleanser.
- Clarisonic also offers a men’s version: Alpha Fit Cleansing System.
- 1-3 year warranty depending on the device.
- Users can use their favorite skincare products.
- Brush heads must be replaced, at a cost of $27-$32 each.
FOREO Luna Facial Cleansing Device, $139-$199
The FOREO Luna works as a two-in-one product used for cleansing and for anti-aging purposes. After cleansing, the anti-aging mode can be used on problem areas, where low-frequency pulsations are said to work to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- The silicone is gentle and it’s good for those with sensitive skin.
- Double duty: It both cleanses and may help smooth fine lines.
- Each full charge lasts up to 450 uses.
- Comes with a two-year warranty.
- Entire device is replaced after two years.
Tria Hair Removal Laser 4x, $449
This hair-remover laser may benefit those with suitable hair and skin conditions, but “it’s considered a very diluted home laser system,” says Dana Combopiano, a licensed medical electrologist and laser hair practitioner in Cary. “It uses diode technology, which has been used for a long time in the practice of laser hair reduction.” The Tria Laser Hair Precision ($299) can be used to supplement the Laser 4x for targeted areas, such as the bikini region. However, Combopiano reminds us that “there is no comparison between a home device and a professional laser operated by a professional with specialized training and education in the field.” She also warns users not to get discouraged when they don’t see immediate results: “For any method claiming long-term or permanent reduction, it takes numerous treatments to see progress over time.”
- It’s cleared by the FDA.
- You can perform laser hair removal in the privacy of your own home.
- 90-day money-back guarantee.
- It’s not for everyone. Some users may not achieve the best results due to various factors, like skin type, hair color, use of various medications, etc.
- Users are advised not to pluck or wax while intermittently using the device.
- It may take a long time to see progress.
- It’s quite an investment, especially if you supplement the 4x with the Precision model. But keep in mind that a typical visit for professional hair removal can cost from $45 to $900, depending on the service, and multiple visits are usually required.
Clarisonic Opal Sonic Infusion System, $185
This Clarisonic device delivers 7,500 gentle micro-massages per minute, which allows skincare products used around the eyes, such as moisturizers, to penetrate the skin better.
The Umstead Spa’s Doe says it “works well when used on a regular basis. I would recommend using the device before bed. The only downside is you have to remember to use it.” Hydrating anti-aging creams work best with the Opal.
- You can use the device with your favorite skincare products.
- Has a 2-year warranty.
- Only works well with regular use.
- The applicator tips must be replaced regularly. A 4-pack costs $15.
NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Device, $325
The device, which has been clinically tested, is intended to improve facial contour, skin tone and reduce visible signs of aging. Doe says, “If used correctly and consistently, toning devices can help with energizing the many muscles in the face to help the skin look more healthy and youthful.” But to see the best results, Doe says the machines must be used at least three times a week. A travel version, the NuFACE Mini, is available for $199.
- Some users have reported instant results; other see gradual success after repeated use.
▪ One-year warranty.
- Users are encouraged to use the NuFACE skincare products, which can limit those who want to use their favorite skincare products.