What are the best at-home beauty gadgets?
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Beauty gadgets have long been an integral part of my skincare toolbox, and I always encourage clients to prolong and amplify their in-clinic treatments by using smart skin devices at home. They can save time, money and, most often, there is little or no recovery time.
Social media has played a huge role in driving the trend, as did lockdown when, forced to become our own facialists, many of us reached to the back of our bathroom cabinets for that long-forgotten device (just look at the rediscovered, and now cult, NuFace microcurrent, which tightens and firms skin using EMS). The interest has only since intensified: the global beauty devices market stood at a value of $51.bn in 2021 and is expected to nearly triple to $144.2bn by 2028.
To untangle this ever-growing world, I like separating devices into analogue and digital. By analogue tools I mean electricity-free and handheld, like gua sha stones or face rollers – brilliant for face massage, to increase circulation, de-puff and aid lymphatic drainage. I particularly like Estée Lauder’s Re-Nutriv ultimate facial massager (£140) or Dior’s Prestige Le Pétale Multi-Perlé massaging tool, which, far from being simplistic or primitive, can really bring about the skin rejuvenation associated with more high-tech machines –although results inevitably take longer. Take microneedling derma rollers, the at-home extension of in-clinic pens: the Swiss Clinic skin roller emulates what in-clinic automated pens do at 18,000rpm, creating “micro” punctures to power cell renewal and boost collagen and elastin – brilliant for treating acne scarring and pigmentation.
Digital or electrical devices have also come a long way (Clarisonic oscillating cleansing brushes, anyone?), and many can achieve pro-like results. I earned my Skin Engineer nickname after I started adapting gadgets for my treatments on film sets, in far-flung or middle-of-nowhere shoot locations where it was difficult to lug my professional, heavy-duty devices along. As a result, and, in order to streamline my packing, I’ve done lots of research on portable electronic and smart devices.
Tasked with achieving the Cinderella effect, an immediate glow, I rely on the TriPollar Stop Vx. The facial slimming device creates a razor-sharp jawline in the time it takes to say bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. The Vx transmits volumetric heat energy with three alternating radio-frequencies to stimulate collagen production, while the dynamic muscle activation reduces wrinkle depth, resulting in firmer, lifted skin.
Another no-downtime gadget that has earned a place in my skincare tool kit is a light therapy mask. NASA became interested in Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology decades ago, and many fully grown cabbages, and myriad studies onboard the space shuttle and ISS later, LED therapy has become a mainstay in medicine where the therapy is valued for its ability to heal and repair biological tissue using a spectrum of light wavelengths, without emitting heat.
Among the bounty of LED gadgets around are those that harness varying wavelengths: my top gadget is the CurrentBody Skin LED light therapy mask. Extra kudos comes from its multitasking add-ons like the neck mask (£250) to combat sagging “turkey neck”, and the LED hand mitt (£199) to reverse age damage to hands. You can treat multiple body areas in the time it takes to do a full-face LED.
Time-poor and always in a hurry, consumers have long craved multitasking devices that go beyond the single-hit. In this category I recommend the TheraFace PRO All-in-One from the makers of zeitgeist massage gadget Theragun (profiled in the magazine last month). The TheraFace is an 8-in-1 Swiss Army Knife for hyper-personalised at-home treatments that includes a vibrating silicone brush to cleanse, LED to treat acne and fine lines, a percussion massage that helps tense facial muscles, cold rings to depuff, and the microcurrent which lifts, sculpts, and tones. Phew!